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Dorest

When a friend suggested that we might like to use her flat as a holiday haunt for a ‘long week-end break’ we accepted with alacrity. For her flat was situated on the Sandbanks Peninsula that lay beyond Poole in Dorset. And it was an area that was renowned for the scenic beauty of its spectacular surroundings. And we all packed our bags at once, and set forth by car along the various motorways that led from London to Dorset.



Hitherto Bournemouth had been the most westerly point of Dorset that I’d visited, and the remainder of the county represented totally untrammelled terrain as far as I was concerned. This would provide the perfect opportunity to explore some of the rest of the county. When we arrived at our final destination, however, we were almost tempted to forego all thoughts of further sightseeing! For our friend’s flat occupied a stunning location at the end of the peninsula, and overlooked a scenic aspect of sand and sea, and even views of the distant horizons of Canford Cliffs and Poole Bay.

It was the sort of place where one could happily spend any number of days without moving outside the confines of the flat itself! Fr it was the first floor flat of a two storey building, and the huge balcony that it possessed seemed to extend across its entire spectrum, offering not only unparalleled views of the coastline but also an opportunity to enjoy both sun and sea- air in perfect privacy from dawn until dusk! The Sandbanks Peninsula seemed to be ‘in a league of its own’. Most of the properties appeared to be ‘holiday homes’ and it seemed to represent a ‘mecca’ for the yachting community. We did spend one whole day dividing our time between relaxing on the balcony and walking along the full length of the long sandy shore. It was a day that symbolised ‘peace personified’!

Then, on that second day we succumbed to that affliction that can only be described as ‘Wanderlust’! We drove away from the peaceful serenity of our week-end holiday base and headed for the sights of ‘pastures new’! Driving through Poole proved to be a slow process, the traffic being particularly busy. Poole’s port is described as having ‘the most extensive anchorage in Europe’, and it’s claimed that its sandy beaches boasts ‘more Blue Flag awards than any other shore in the United Kingdom’. We parked briefly at a spot within walking distance of The Quay, where we had coffee at one of the waterside cafes, and gazed out at the myriad boats that lined the harbour-front.

Here Poole’s 2,000 years of maritime heritage seemed to have lost none of its appeal, and boats of every size, shape and description seemed to be moored together en-masse. Our next destination was to be the legendary Lulworth Cove, but on leaving Poole we first took a slight detour in the direction of coastal Swanage in order to view the famous ‘Corfe Castle’ – which we had previously noted was situated five miles north west of Swanage itself. The ‘Corfe Castle’ ruin is described as ‘one of the grandest sights in the country’, and is a National Trust preserve. And we found ourselves suitably awed by its dominant contours.

Perched on the summit of a hill, Corfe Castle is claimed to have once been ‘one of the most impregnable fortresses in the land’, and it dates back to the reign of William the Conqueror. Several sinister incidents infiltrate its history – King John, it is claimed, having tossed more than a score of French knights into its dungeons where they starved to death! And it was here too that Edward II was imprisoned prior to being murdered…… The castle’s destruction took place when it was attacked by Cromwell’s troops in 1646! The ‘Corfe Castle’ ruin was certainly a sight worth seeing, and interesting too was the ‘Corfe Castle Model Village and Gardens’ where a model of the original castle can be viewed. Built by Eddie Holland, the model took two years to complete and has been created out of Purbeck stone. The ‘Corfe Castle Model Village and Gardens’ is described as ‘Three Venues in One’ since some extensive gardens and a Courtyard Café also form part of this particularly popular tourist attraction.

By following as minor road that led seawards from the main A352 Road, we finally reached Lulworth Cove. Described as ‘one of the country’s best known beauty spots’ the reality seemed to even surpass its description. Certainly, I would definitely describe Lulworth Cove as being one of ‘the most breathtakingly beautiful beaches in Britain’. Almost circular in shape, the beach is backed by towering white limestone cliffs that rise to 440 feet, and almost seem to enclose the equally white coated bay. The tranquil deep blue sea appears to resemble a vast ‘ocean lake’, while above the towering white cliffs an oasis of green land seems to stretch into eternity.

It was a scene that was so beautiful as to be almost ‘beyond description’. Nor could any camera ever quite capture the loveliness of its setting. There were a few small boats floating in the sea, and one boatman offered to transport us out of the bay so that we could view the area’s other famous landmark, namely ‘Durdle Door’, known as ‘the cliff that had been sculpted by the sea to form a magnificent archway carved from the coastal limestone’.

Rather than undertake the mile long walk to view ‘ Durdle Door’ from the top of the cliff , we accepted the boatman’s offer. And viewing the spectacular ‘Durdle Door; from the proximity of the ocean was a ‘never to be forgotten spectacle’, for it was both stunning and awe-inspiring! In fact, it’s a view that has ‘carved’ itself into my memory for all eternity……

In the course of our stay we also visited Pulpit Rock by Portland Bill, which is situated at the end of a peninsula that stretches out to sea over a distance of more than four miles. At the most southerly tip of this peninsula stands the famed Portland Bill Lighthouse. And this area of Portland is particularly renowned for its famous ‘Portland stone’ – from which both St. Paul’s Cathedral and Buckingham Palace have been built. And we visited the spectacular Chesil Beach too, described as ‘a vast expanse of pebbles worn smooth by the sea which extends for about 10 miles’.

But there were so many other places in Dorset that were ‘begging’ to be viewed, and we resolved to return there and book a ‘longer holiday’ so that we could see all the famous sites that we had hitherto missed

Roberta Crookes has worked as a newspaper journalist throughout most of her life, writing news stories, editorial features, advertisement supplements, and reviews. And in the course of her work she has interviewed many famous people from all walks of life. She has also managed to combine parallel careers in both journalism and acting, and, being Welsh speaking from North Wales, her main television featured parts have been Welsh language roles with BBC Wales.