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A Jurassic walk in the sunshine

Friday (2nd October) we had a day out for the first time this chilly year.

The Indian summer was about to break so it was the last day likely to be clear. The day dawned misty, clearing to a gloriously sunny day, cloudless blue, but with a chilly east wind, reached 16C.

Our plan was to take a long drive to the Swanage area on the south coast of England and if feasible visit a secluded bay. Afterwards I intended to take the opportunity to visit the small Swanage Met Office weather site to take close-up photographs, if time permitted.


Chapmans Pool, Jurassic coast (c)2015 E H Channon

Sitting on a rock in the warm sunshine, gentle sea, beautiful place, a perfect day.

This south west facing bay is over the headland from Swanage but still protected from the most ferocious of the Atlantic storms. It was warm out of the east wind. From the top of the headland on a clear day you can see Alum Bay cliff at the west end of the Isle of Wight 27 km away. To the west the Isle or Purbeck (as in marble), often known loosely as Portland, also about 27km away. Here we are on the recently christened Jurassic Coast where there are extensive exposed fossil beds.

These cliffs are unstable shale containing uncountable fossils. All the time on a day like this you can hear grains and pebbles of rock raining down, best watch for anything larger.

To the right in the picture the high cliff from 400 ft is starting the slump, sometime over the next geologically few years or so there will be a fall. It’s already eating the main access path. Water seems to be pooling high up, flat areas colonised by rushes, all part of the erosion process. (you can see this in aerial pictures)
In the photo those rocks came from a fall, happens regularly along the coast, with injuries and deaths not unusual.

As an escapade we faced a question, given the state of our aged joints, would we be able to climb down 400 feet? On reaching the edge and seeing the sea: down there; me down there; no way. We both gulped. Lovely day, plenty of time, slowly, take no sudden risks, get into trouble here… you are on your own.

Much of the way is through in brambles, autumn, lots of blackberries. A few shy birds, “little brown jobs”, flitted around, generally not much obvious wildlife although I suspect rabbits are present. We did see a dragonfly, surprising for an exposed place.



(c)2015 T N Channon (cc ), sea grass on exposed layer of rock. Not tilted since the land hasn’t since the sedimentary rock formed/

Notch is cut by a small stream. The shore “sand” is coarse grit.


Fossil embedded in the flat bed of rock at the water edge. If you pick up recently fallen fragments they can be broken with your fingers. Only takes a few minutes to find minor fragments of fossils.


This image is a composite of 7 images, about a 90 degree view. (clickable) Technically it is poor, good enough.

From an interest point of view I am showing this to illustrate the geological degradation over time. I was standing on slumping land, there is more cliff behind me. Across the bay is both a recent looking clean face and a slumped region on it’s way into the sea.

Image joining by Hugin .

Categories: Photography
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  1. October 19, 2015 at 15:14

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