An interesting walk with your dog.
The New Year is upon us the nights are starting (albeit it slowly) to get lighter, there is more inclination to adventure further afield with your four legged friend.
Following the cold winter months of trudging the muddy paths and using the hosepipe (much to the dog’s displeasure) to wash everything off before going back into the house – The pleasure of a lovely walk along paths and lanes, which are starting to come to life with buds swelling in the hedgerows and on the trees and birds beginning their annual nest building activities. Daffodils and snowdrops are starting to show themselves on the verges. Soon the Bluebells will be with us again and carpeting the woodland with their vibrant colour.
There is a maze of footpaths and lanes which meander through the Dorset Countryside, connecting chocolate box villages with great pubs and tea rooms for refreshment. The best map I have found is the Ordnance Survey – Explorer OL 15 covering Purbeck and South Dorset.
One of my favourite walks, with the dog is up on Blackdown Hill above Portesham where there are panoramic views of (on a clear day) Weymouth Bay, (in geological terms the view is known as The Weymouth Anticline) the unique Fleet and Chesil Beach to the South and the rest of the rolling Dorset Downs to the North. On a clear day the Isle of Wight can be seen from the site of Hardy’s Monument – this is a towering monument that was built in 1844 in memory of Vice-Admiral Sir Thomas Masterman Hardy, Flag Captain of HMS Victory at the Battle of Trafalgar. Amongst other things, Hardy became famous as it was in his arms that Nelson died, saying the immortal words ‘Kiss me Hardy’. The footpaths are clearly marked and give access to a variety of walks of varying length and you can tailor to suit your requirements; from those wanting to have a quick half hour leg stretch, there is limited parking available at the top of the hill, to making a full day of it by parking in Abbotsbury then walking along the disused railway line to Portesham, up to the monument via one of the many footpaths from the village.
The recent harvesting of trees here has enabled the natural heath environment to re-establish itself and dogs just love the open space and freedom to roam – It is good idea to keep an eye on our four legged friends, it is incredible how a very well trained dog can all of a sudden become “selectively deaf” once they have their nose on a scent of an animal! Other things to consider are that many walks are near farmland and footpaths cross fields containing sheep which will soon be lambing – keep your dog on the lead when in these fields to avoid any upset.
On the way back to Portesham it is worth stopping at the disused Rocket Quarry – this is where much of the stone for houses in Portesham was quarried including the stone for Hardy’s Monument. There is also a great example of an “algal limestone sheath” formed when the water level of the lagoon rose the trees of the woodland -were drowned and the lime-rich lagoon water colonised the area around the trunk.
Following the walk returning home for a well earned rest (hopefully no need to wash the dog!) and cup of Dorset Tea and of course some Dorset Apple Cake!!!
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