Wednesday, 5 September 2012

A walk in an English Jungle


One of the walks I have always wanted to do, is to walk the Undercliff from Seaton to Lyme Regis. The undercliff was created by a number of landslips. The first one occurred on Christmas Day in 1839 when 20 acres of farmland fell 300 feet. Two leading scientists were in the area and it was the first landslide recorded in Britain.



Lyme Regis Undercliffe


They called the detached land that fell away Goat island and it became a very popular excursion for the Victorians. The farmers soon realised that they could make some money out of it and started charging the visitors and providing teas! Since the 1950's this area has been a nature reserve and has Britians largest self-sown Ash forest. It is a challenging walk through the wilderness, with the path having many twists and turns throughout its 7 mile (11km) length.  There are no diversions off the path and the walk takes about 3-4 hours.



This house was abandoned but nature has found a new use for it.



It is so different to other coastal walks in Dorset with only a few glimpses of the sea, although the sound of the waves crashing against the shore can still be heard in the distance. 


Our path took us through dense vegetation, the tall ash trees and oaks providing shade from the sun and the undergrowth being covered in bracken, ferns and ivy. It has been called England only jungle.




We didn't see or hear as much wildlife as we expected. We watched a few silver-washed fritillary butterflies and we tried to get a photo of them, but they were too fast feeding off the nectar of one plant and flying onto the next one.
 However this ringlet butterfly was more obliging.....



There are over 400 species of wildflowers that have been recorded in this area alone!

Clematis vitalba (Old man's beard)
The land is home to badgers, foxes and adders, as well as the butterflies, we even caught a glimpse of a buzzard overhead.


Part of the French Lieutenant's Woman was filmed here. The film crew found this such a difficult terrain to work in that they produced  T shirts with the slogan "I hate the Undercliff ". We found it a wonderful place to be and I would love to do the walk again in the spring. At the end of the nature reserve the the land opens out and glimpses of the Cobb at Lyme Regis can be seen.

34 comments:

  1. Sarah - what a delightful post, I loved it. That is definitely somewhere that I will remember next time I am in Dorset. Even your Clematis vitalba looks lovely, I am just trying to get rid of some from Beech hedge.

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  2. What a lovely and very interesting place; I've never heard of it. Great pictures too, as always x

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  3. Hello Sarah:
    In all the years when we used to spend time at Lyme Regis we never did this walk. Now, reading your description and looking at your pictures, we rather wish that we had.

    You may know, or if not be interested in, 'The Undercliff' by Elaine Franks with a Foreword by John Fowles. Looking now at our copy we see it was published in 1989 and so may well now be out of print. It is delightful and something which we think you would much enjoy.

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    1. I remember finding this lovely book in a second hand shop many years ago, I wish I had bought it now! It sparked my first interest in wanting to explore this area. I have just googled it and the illustrations are just as good as I remember. John Fowles lived in a remote farm in the Undercliff too.
      Sarah x

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  4. It's gorgeous, and what I am left with from your photos is the lush green landscape and vegetation, really lovely post:~))

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  5. How interesting. I'd never heard of the Undercliff before. The things you learn through blogging!
    June

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  6. Hi Sarah,

    Looks like you had a wonderful day out and I enjoyed seeing your lovely photos.
    Great that it is home to so many amongst all the beautiful lush green trees and vegetation.

    Happy week
    Carolyn

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  7. Hi Sarah, what a fantastic post, beautiful photos and makes me want to visit! Is old man's beard a weed? It is a very bad one (noxious - love that word!)here in NZ. Funny what plants the settlers brought with them, or maybe it snuck in with some more desirable plants? S:)

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  8. Yes old man's beard is a weed over here but I haven't heard it being out of control. Around Christmas it looks wonderful in the bare hedgerows. It's fascinating tracing how plants arrived in a country and how some can cause such problems becoming so rampant. Sarah x

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  9. Thank you so much for taking me on the walk with you! Ada :)

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  10. This looks like a very interesting walk, I'd love to do it one day.

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  11. Fascinating, beautiful walk
    Thea x

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  12. Great walk Sarah and lovely pictures, we were in Seaton yesterday, but didn't walk to Lyme, our dog had had enough after walking arund Honiton and Lyme Regis! Julie xxx

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  13. Thanks for sharing your walk and loved the historical bits too, I used to live on the south east coast of ireland and funny enough there was a similar piece of land that had slipped away also called goat Ireland ? hmmmm http://www.travelblog.org/Photos/4215439
    Annie x

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  14. What an amazing walk - I wish I could do it with you! I love the photo of the house being taken back by nature. It somehow reminds me of the adventure/island stories I read as a kid.

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  15. I loved your ramble through the countryside I feel like I came with you - you described it all so well and as usual beautiful photos - love the clematis would like this in our wood in Scotland but not sure I could cope with seeing an adder. Where are we going next week? Viv x

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  16. Such beautiful piece of land right by the sea. It does look like a jungle. Walking through it must be a wonderful experience.
    Bye,
    Marian

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  17. Stunning and beautifu and interesting, Sarah and your photos are professional! It sweetens my day! Thank you! Christa

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  18. So lovely - we've been to The Cob, but not the area you visited. Wish we had seen it. The weather has been beautiful this week, hasn't it?!

    I'd love to invite you to 'Blogger's Tea' in London - it would be great to meet you! Pop over to my blog for details :)

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  19. Pictures are just stunning!

    Love the blog, just started following.

    Jan @Door251

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  20. That sounds like a lovely walk with plenty to see and as usual I enjoyed your photos, always so beautiful.

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  21. It sounds and looks like a beautiful walk Sarah. We have never been to Lyme, but saw it in several costume drama's. Hopefully we will visit one day.

    Have a lovely evening!

    Madelief x

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  22. Hi Sarah,
    what a beautiful, but very exciting walk. Many years ago we visit Lyme Regis, unfortunately I don't knew from this great path along the coast... but I remember my first Creme Tea at a lovely Café :-).
    Have a great weekend
    Bine

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  23. What a wonderful walk! I have visited Seaton and Lyme Regis many, many times but never realised one could travel between the two in this way.

    The Cobb looks almost empty, were the photos taken this last week after the children were back in school?

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    1. No it was before the schools went back but it is quite windy and about 4 o'clock the cafes were busy with lots of cream teas being taken!
      Sarah x

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  24. What a really wonderful walk - I have been wanting to visit Lyme for many many years, and I want to even more now!

    Pomona x

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  25. Hello Sarah,
    I have my computer back.
    What an amazing story you tell about this part of Dorset.. Your photos are beautiful.. even some tropical type plants.
    I love the photo with the butterfly
    Nature at its best.
    wishing you a happy weekend
    val

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  26. 400 of wildflowers, wow. England looks so green and wild, it's amazing. I love it. The more I visit english bloggers the more I fall in love with the country and winder how come I didn't manage to visit yet. Oh, yes, because of money, right...

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  27. I have found one of the great benefits of blogging is meeting bloggers from other countries and seeing and learning so much of their homelands too. So although we can't afford to visit them,it's the next best thing!
    Sarah x

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  28. That is a beautiful part of the world in which you live - lovely photographs
    Best wishes
    Jenny

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  29. What a marvelous walk this must be and the views are breath taking. I am so happy that I found your blog. Every visit is an adventure. Thank you, Connie :)

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  30. What a beautiful place for a nice stroll. Just amazing. Thanks for the photos. Have a wonderful weekend.

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  31. Your photos are always lovely and your text very interesting. I did not know about this Goat Island – 400 species of wildflowers! Wonderful! I guess it was not too warm during your walk? Yesterday we walked in a Civil War park and it was 94 degrees F (34 C) and humid, so I tried to walk under trees when possible.

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  32. It was quite warm walking under the canopy of trees although the highest average temperature in Dorset for August was about as about(26C). We find when we go aboard that 34C is quite uncomfortable for walking around in probably because we aren't used to the heat.
    Sarah x

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