Yes, if that means sweating from places I didn't know existed. This summer has ranked among the record breakers in the UK. Hot hot hot. Normally I'd love this, New York is hot in the summer, I love the beach, I love soaking up that vitamin D - because - there is a respite. Air conditioned interiors, no matter how crappy the used unit you bought from your old roommate's, brother's now ex-girlfriend, you have a cool cave to air out in. NOT SO in the Bard's country. Fans and the like cost quadruple (no joke) what they do in the US. I invested in a measly fan and some black out curtains (which I hate) to try and keep the blazing sun out of our greenhouse of a top floor flat. However, the British are ecstatic over this weather since it's not something they normally experience, but I digress... lets talk about what you came here for!
The Jurassic Coast! We took a road trip during the unseasonably hot bank holiday in May and the country was out in full force. Pale bodies and all (note: I also have a pale body now so I can say this). Such a sight to behold, I've never seen such frolicking! Maybe I should be afraid they were this happy to see the sun...! Though it brought insane crowds, with the weather came an almost tropical atmosphere, partying, swimming, kayaking, boating, cliff jumping, snorkeling - every water activity you could name.
The Old Harry Rocks are like a prehistoric playground. Or prehistoric puzzle pieces. Both work I can't decide. Anyway, they're bonkers cool. Its about a half hour walk out to the actual coastline from a small car park in Studland. This is the easternmost point of the Jurassic Coast which is a UNESCO World Heritage site. The Old Harrys Rocks are part of the National Trust as well. The walk is part of the SW Coastal Path which spans 630 miles and runs along the coast from Minehead in Somerset to Poole Harbour in Dorset. I'd love to do the whole walk one day.
We stuck around the Old Harry Rocks most of the afternoon on our first day out on the road trip. We'd gotten a late start and it was a bank holiday weekend so the traffic had slowed us down quite a bit. It was a blast people watching in No Man's Land (the land mass the the Old Harry Rocks jut off of). Cyclists, thru hikers, sun bathers with a full picnic spread. Flying my drone above the area while plopped in the middle of the warm sun soaked grass was a welcome break from London and pressures of being a new resident. There were a few other people flying drones so just be aware if you're looking to fly when you go. Try to go on the early side in the morning, we went in the late afternoon, which I always forget is more like midday in the US. The days are much longer in the UK summer (perks!) so hours with softer (or magic) light are much later in the day closer to 6 PM. The harsh light did make the water look completely different from each angle. Unless I'd told you I just don't think people would guess these areas are in the UK. Just so brilliantly blue and clear.
After the Old Harry Rocks we made our way to the Durdle Door. The last and only time I'd seen what I fondly call "The portal to another world" the beach was deserted minus an old man, his dog and one lone photographer taking a time lapse video in December of 2016. This was not the case on our visit this time. Again the English were out hurr. Camper vans, portable BBQs, food stands, picnics and the like. You actually had to weave your way through the crowd in the main entryway, parking lot and beach. Interesting and quite fun in its own right but so not what I had envisioned. Looking back I should have known - it was just like any semi-easily accessible beach on hot weekends in Manhattan. Packed like sardines, beach towel to beach towel, sitting just as close to the stranger on your left as your friend on your right. It's just one giant beach party, which was hilarious, crazy and so not ideal for picture taking! Of course I carried on anyway.
I think its best to walk 20 minutes past almost every popular nature site viewing point. In many places it yields a much quieter, more peaceful experience. We walked through the field on top of the famous Dorset cliffs on the SW Coastal Path towards Swyre Head, bathed in the setting sun. We only passed only two other humans. A world away from the massive camper parties at the entrance and crowded loud beach. It was a beautiful sight, looking east or west, but despite the grand Durdle Door in the east - west was actually my favorite. There's another small rock arch at the opposite end of the beach and it was lit up by the sunset in a dreamy far off pink.
After the sun set we made our way to Lulworth Cove and stayed the night at a lovely inn in the village. The following morning I ventured out onto the rocks before most people were making their way onto the beach. Aside from Lulworth Cove itself there are a few alcoves and rock formations to climb up to, on and around throughout the day. The morning light was beautiful and the breeze kept the heat at bay. Once we'd had breakfast a walk on the beach was a must. The pebbles and rocks are huge and the going was slow. We plopped somewhere away from the crowds and let the sun beat down on us. The water was absolutely freezing, it was still early May despite the summer temperatures.
Our last stop on the way back to London was more off the beaten path. Chapman's Pool requires a bit of a walk and a climb if you want to get down on the beach. We wandered through farmer's fields, over fences and right up to the edge of the Coastal Path. Instead of climbing down we stuck to the path and I flew the drone over the cove, taking in the beautiful cliffs and greenery from above.We saw more cows than people on the path. One of the things I love about walking (British hiking) is that many of the National Trust hiking paths just go through farmer's land or residents property. It shows an innate sense of trust and understanding between the landowners and hikers. No one bothers the livestock, no one bothers the owners, and hikers get to see the country from its most beautiful viewpoints.
There will never come a day that I don't obsess over my aerial shots. The limestone that gets eroded on the shoreline creates such awesome patterns in the water from above. Like these little boats have just been placed on a watercolor rendering. This happens all along the English coast and the limestone cliffs are some of my favorite natural sites to date!
^^ Encounters with farm friends. Feel free to comment with any questions and/or suggestions for other locations in Dorset, I'm sure we didn't hit them all. Hiking/walking trips are a bit less "google-able" than city breaks or destination ventures so I'm happy to help where I can! Thanks for reading crew and as always please share with friends and fam or anyone visiting the English Coast! xx