Christmas Winter Sun 2009

After chaos in England due to snow just before Christmas, I managed to escape London to spend the time with family in Bournemouth. The south coast was blessed with sunny days, even if a bit cold. This gave opportunity for a few walks along the coast and to a couple of famous hill forts. Naturally, my camera tagged along yielding some great scenes in the low, winter sun.

Christmas Eve: Time with family, for this is our Christmas. Brothers, nieces and nephews running around my Mother’s place followed by great food.

Christmas Day: a brief visit to Badbury Rings before heading out to lunch. Getting the exercise in before devouring food knowing that neither the light or my body would support such activity afterwards. Badbury Rings is one of the more famous hill forts in Dorset, shown clearly in the picture below.

360 panorama of Badbury Rings in Dorset

360 Panorama of Badbury Rings in Dorset, © Peter Watts

Boxing Day: Walk with brothers from Sandbanks Ferry to Studland for a meal at the Banks Arms pub. No camera that day, very overcast, windy with a bit of rain. Stunned at how much the beaches have been eroded, with high tide marks all the way up to the sand dunes. Not like I remember as a child at all.

27th December: Visit to Maiden Castle near Dorchester followed by visiting various parts of extended family. Maiden Castle is one of the largest and most extensive Iron Age hill forts in Europe. Surrounded by rings of steep embankments, ramparts and ditches the fort has a commanding view over the surrounding countryside. Hard to take a panorama that gives a good impression, but I had a go – there are more on Panoramic Earth:

Maiden Castle - 360 Panorama

360 Panorama of Maiden Castle - © Peter Watts

28th December: The last day before returning to London. A slightly misplaced attempt to get to Dancing Ledge placed us at Worth Matravers, a small village on the south coast. From there it was a short, but very muddy walk (more like squelch for much of it) down to Winspit:

360 panorama of the view over Winspit in Dorset

360 panorama of the view over Winspit © Peter Watts

This is part of the famous Jurassic Coast and a World Heritage Site. Winspit has a disused quarry and, while on private land, is open to the public at their own risk. Children love clambering over the rocks, around the caves and the cliffs. The more fretful amongst the HSE inspectorate would never allow it, but I am glad that in some rare places like this adventure predominates fear.

Worth Matravers also contains one tiny Saxon / Norman St Nicholas Church, in the graveyard of which is the grave of a Benjamin Jesty who, in 1774, infected his family deliberately with cowpox in a successful attempt to protect them from an outbreak of smallpox. This was about 20 years before the much better known Edward Jenner.

All in all, it was a great few days involving family, fun, walks and sun.

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