Of castles and fairies…

The sun came out yesterday and the English went to the seaside, or so it seemed. It was the first lovely day for weeks and it seemed as if everyone was taking the chance to get outside into the fresh air and sunshine, ourselves included. We had decided to take a weekend walk on a Saturday, as more rain was likely to fall on Sunday, and with rucksacks packed, we drove the 80 or so miles to Corfe in Dorset.

Corfe is the site of a fabulous ruined castle, founded in the 11th century on the site of a Saxon Motte & Bailey castle, built probably during the reign of King Edward the Martyr, who died in 978 AD. After the Normans arrived the castle was built and added to during the 12th and 13th centuries, and very wonderful it must have looked then. It was owned by a family of Royalists and after the defeat of King Charles in the Civil War, the Parliamentarian forces mined under the castle and caused extensive damage to it.

It has been in a ruinous state ever since, and at the moment work is having to be done to maintain the Keep, which is dropping great lumps of masonry. So, as the pictures show, Corfe castle has the builders in. But to my eye it still looks like a story-book medieval castle. With some odd angles!

Leaving the village we set off south towards the sea, passing through fields where farmers were cutting, turning and baling the hay. It is too early yet for the wheat harvest but people seemed understandably anxious to save the hay crop.

Nice view of a red tractor hard at work with the castle behind it. And below you can see the long rows of grass ready for the baler to scoop them up.

As we approached the sea, another farm was engaged in the same activity, with 4 tractors working in this field, 1 baling, 1 collecting the big bales and 2 with trailers to carry the hay away.

This part of the Dorset coast is lovely. To the east we could see as far as the Isle of Wight and to the West to Portland, Thomas Hardy’s Isle of Slingers. It is just visible in the blue distance in the picture below, about 12 miles from where we were.

And here the sky is so blue and so is the sea.

High up on the cliff top we could clearly see these 2 small sailing boats beating up the English Channel…
…and here on the edge of the cliff we found clumps of the fabulously named Viper’s Bugloss (Echium vulgare) . As a child who grew up in the city I was always fascinated by the name and had never seen it growing wild, and here was a great swathe of these lovely flowers. .Many years ago it was thought that the plant could be used as a cure for snake bites – hence the names. Rob has some lovely close ups. I will get one of them from him and post them here.

At the most southerly point we swung east and after a short distance came across this view…

… followed but a steep descent down about 200 high steps. Half way down, sheltered from the prevailing westerly winds, I spotted this and immediately thought of-

I know a bank whereon the wild thyme blows,
Where oxlips and the nodding violet grows
Quite over-canopied with luscious woodbine,
With sweet musk-roses, and with eglantine:
There sleeps Titania some time of the night,
Lull’d in these flowers with dances and delight
“A Midsummer-Night’s Dream” (2.1.260-5) “

……and imagined Titania sleeping on this carpet. Its worth looking at the bigger version of the picture by clicking on it. Such lovely little flowers.

We turned back inland, following a valley for part of the way, where in a sheltered place between some trees , a large number of buddleia bushes had established themselves.

The flowers were in full bloom and scented sweetly of honey. The air was full of the hum of bees and butterflies glided noiselessly from blossom to blossom. This is a marbled white on Knapweed.

It felt hot in this valley, properly like summer, and we climbed gently for about half a mile before the return view of Corfe appeared.

And just to complete the visually rewarding trip, as we arrived back at the car park, one of the steam engines that runs along the line from Corfe to Swanage on the coast announced its arrival by a whistle. I just had to take a picture. And no, not all English trains are this pretty!


2 thoughts on “Of castles and fairies…

  1. Ohhh…heaven on earth!!!!
    What a magnificent walk, and thank you so much for taking us along.
    The castle is magical…and ah to be in the land of Shakespeare!

    One of these posts you could include a picture of your good self, couldn’t you?

  2. I might! I’ll get the other half on the case! Have a fabulous trip this week and post your lovely views when you can. Good stitching!

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