Along the southern coastline of England lies the beautiful Jurassic Coast of Dorset. Whether you come here for hiking, photography, camping or a few days away by the sea, you will not be disappointed with what Dorset has to offer.
Sometimes it’s easy to forget the beauty you have at your own doorstep, and we often overlook exploring our own country, and because we think we can do it anytime, the idea of travelling abroad is more appealing, but the south coast of Dorset is up there with some of the best landscape I’ve seen.
I won’t lie to you, the main reason I came to Dorset was for my friends’ wedding, but I took the opportunity to stay a couple of days more to explore a region of the UK that I hadn’t previously been to.
As I do with any trip, I look around on Google Maps to check out any potential landmarks, photo spots or areas worth visiting. My friend recommended a few places to me, two of which were Durdle Door and Corfe Castle. I instantly recognised the two spots from a photographer I follow on 500px and after seeing the potential these two places had for photography, my heart was set. Using an app called TPE (The Photographers Ephemeris) I checked out the sunrise and sunset direction for both locations to determine which times to shoot for each, and chose to shoot Durdle Door at sunset and Corfe Castle at sunrise.
To get to Durdle door I parked up at a car park between Lulworth Cove and Durdle Door itself. I had some time before the sun went down, so I checked out Lulworth Cove first.
After taking a few snaps of the cove I stopped to enjoy a fresh crab sandwich and buy a couple of postcards before heading towards Durdle Door. The walk from the car park is around 1.5 miles and you have to walk up quite a steep hill, but once at the top of that hill the views are incredible in every direction.
The trail goes along the coast for some way, so if you’re a keen hiker, it would be an amazing walk. In fact, the South West Coast path covers 95 miles of the Jurassic Coast from Old Harry Rocks to Exmouth. You can find out more information about this route and others here.
I reached Durdle Door just in time for the sunset, and the conditions were perfect. I moved around a few place looking for the best composition, and I finally settled with the composition you can see in the picture below. As the sun dipped behind the cliffs the sky flourished with orange, pink, purple and blue. It was beautiful.
I sat in my spot taking another exposure every couple of minutes, capturing every change in light and colour, in fear of missing the best moment. Each capture was just as good as the next in its own way, but the one above was my favourite. Although everything was perfect, my only wish was for a wide angle lens, so that I could get more of the landscape into frame.
The next day I was up at 4.30AM to make sure I arrived at Corfe Castle in time for the sunrise. I had already scouted my spot the day before so I knew exactly where to set up. The spot I chose was on a hill that looks over the castle, it has a public footpath leading to it, and you can see around for miles. I wanted the shapes of the castle to stand out clearly on the horizon, so I chose to set up a little further down the hill, there there were some bushes which made for good foreground, and using the rule of thirds composed the shot so I had the horizon along the top third with the castle at one cross section, and the small building in the opposite cross section to balance the composition. All I had to do then was wait for the sun to rise, again taking exposures every few minutes to capture each change in light and colour. To capture the warmer, orange glow you see in the picture below, I set the white balance to manual, and adjusted to about 8000K.
On the way back, the low level of the sun created some great shadows on the surrounding fields, so I stopped to capture the image below, again using the rule of thirds with the castle and the gate as focal points.
As I mentioned before, I came to Dorset for a wedding, which took place in Christchurch. This is a lovely picturesque town not far away from Bournemouth, and it gives you a feel of the ‘real’ England; lovely stone houses with thatched roofs, castle ruins and Gothic churches. Not to mention the lovely countryside surroundings.
I had a wander around Christchurch the day before the wedding, and I was really charmed by it; for a small place it had a lot of scenery to offer.
There is a walk along the river, which is particularly pretty in spring as the trees are flourished with pink blossom. There are some castle ruins along the way too.
The owner of the B&B I stayed in recommended this place to me. The wedding was the night before, so with a sore head I left Christchurch and made my way to the coast.
Hengistbury head is just ten minutes drive from Christchurch, and overlooks the harbour, where you will find colourful beach huts, some worth 6 figure sums. There is big car park where you can leave the car and take a walk along the stony beach, or walk up the hill of Hengistbury Head for great views of the harbour and surrounding beaches. At the end of the hill you can head down to the sandy beach on the harbour for a closer look of those expensive beach huts.
There we have it, my short stay in Dorset summed up in a few pictures and words. This county has so much to offer, and so much I didn’t see (including the famous Cerne Abbas Giant, which is basically a huge man carved into the chalk hills with a very noticeable erection). I can definitely see myself coming back here in the future, it’s just such a beautiful part of England.
Thanks for reading, catch you in my next post.