Dorset, UK

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.

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Durdle Door

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.

Lulworth Cove

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.

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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.

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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.

Durdle Door

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.

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Durdle Door at sunset (18mm / ƒ16 / 1s / ISO 100)

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.

Corfe Castle

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.

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Corfe Castle at sunrise (18mm / f16 / 1/50 secs / ISO 100)

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.

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I loved the way the light created shadows in this shot, and the sun streaks through the trees from the mist (18mm / f8 / 1/200 secs / ISO 100)

Christchurch

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.

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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.

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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.

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Christchurch Castle

Hengistbury Head

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.

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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.

Lago Di Sorapis

Somewhere in the Italian Dolomites awaits a beautiful lake like no other. At the end of a two hour hike through the stunning mountainous landscape you will find Lago Di Sorapis; a lake with unbeleivable colour.

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Yes, the water really is that colour; no Photoshop here. Why is it that colour? A very simple explanation actually, it’s due to the limestone which lines the bed of the lake, giving it the stunning blue colour and it’s milky appearance. Beautiful isn’t it?

Tempted to go for a dip? Be warned, the water is icy cold. You are about 2000m high in the mountains afterall. Which brings me on to the next part of this article – getting there.

Getting there

Sorapis is not accessible by road, it’s roughly a two hour hike along trail 215 which you can find here:

It’s along SR48 delle Dolomiti, not far from Cortina d’Ampezzo, with space along the road to park, but on busy days it may be difficult to find space.

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This is the start of the trail towards Sorapis, also sign-posted as Tre Croce.

 

The Hike

As I said before, you are in the mountains so pack some warmer clothes and waterproofs, even in the summer, as it can get a little chilly, and if it rains (like it did for us) it can get very cold! We didn’t quite realise how high up in the mountains this place was, and foolishly forgot to check the weather. It was only when it started to rain did I check the weather and discovered that thunderstorms were forecast all day, and coming from Ferrara in Italy at the beginning of June where the temperature was about 32C, we were dressed in shorts and t-shirts.* We were about 30 minutes into the hike at this point, and we had planned to come here months ago, so we weren’t going to turn back now, besides the rain wasn’t too bad at this point. Stubborn and determined to reach our destination we carried on.

*Without the rain, shorts and t-shirts would have been fine, as it was cool but perfect hiking temperature.

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As I said before the hike itself takes about two hours depending on how fast you walk (it’s about 5km each way) with some tricky parts along the way, such as narrow paths and steep drops, but there are guide ropes to hold on to. I would also recommend wearing hiking boots as it can be a little slippery in places. There are also parts of the trail which have metal stairways built into the steeper parts of the trail. If you have a fear of heights I would take these factors into consideration. It was this reason that I decided not to bring my dog, because as we discovered in Bled, he does have a fear of heights. If you are unsure, you can actually walk along the trail ‘virtually’ using google maps, and view the entire trail in 360 degrees.

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The views along the way are spectacular

The rain eased off about half way, but it was only a tease, as no more than 20 minutes later we began to hear rumbles of thunder and rain began to fall again. The clouds behind us didn’t look very friendly and they were heading our way. We made a quick assessment and decided that whether we carried on or turned back we would still get caught in it. We knew there was a hostel near the lake, and we were already past half way, it made no sense for us to turn back, miss out on seeing the lake and get wet either way so we pressed on again, but picked up the pace a little.

The rain grew heavier but our destination grew closer; we passed some other hikers on their way back who said it was only another 15 minutes until the lake. With light at the end of the tunnel our spirits lifted and we marched on.

Only ten minutes later the lake revealed itself to us and what a sight it was. Cold and wet, we had made it. Relief, joy and awe struck us; it truly is a beautiful place. Unfortunately because of the rain, we couldn’t really spend long here and enjoy it as much as we would have liked, so we quickly took some snaps, dipped our hands into the water, and dashed to find shelter at the nearby hostel as thunder rumbled over head and the heavens opened, pelting us with hail.

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Fortunately we weren’t alone and managed to get someone to take this picture of us.

With luck never in our favour, the hostel was closed, but we weren’t alone; other hikers were trying to take shelter by the side of the building. It wasn’t ideal but it kept us out of the direct rainfall. Why it was closed on a Friday in June I don’t know, but there would have been some very grateful hikers that day if it was!

Luckily, the rain passed and with the day growing late, we took our chance and headed back along the trail. The rain held off the whole way and we made it back to the car in around an hour and a half.

Lessons learned: Check weather, and bring appropriate clothing!

The trip hike to Sorapis was actually part of a two day trip we had planned, and our next stop was a hotel near the beautiful Lago Di Braies only 40 minutes away, which was a blessing for us, being tired, cold and wet. Needless to say the hot shower was bliss!