Early autumn has been a bit of a challenge at ArtPix and Arcane towers, and in the midst of it all, we seem to have forgotten to pause and look around us: we moved to Dorset to explore the countryside and find inspiration, but the pull of "real life" has been stronger than anything else lately and we have not spent as much time as we'd wished walking around the stunning countryside of our newly adopted county.
Yesterday marked our return to "nature proper" and we have promised ourselves that we would allow more time to discover the landscape and history of Dorset this autumn and winter. There is still so much to see!
Dorset is a county like no other, and its landscape bears the marks (or scars?) of its history. Everywhere you go, and provided you possess a modicum of imagination and curiosity, you will stumble across something that will take you back hundreds (if not thousands) of years, will stimulate your imagination and creativity - sometimes, these will be man-made - at other times, it will be Nature itself, with all its beauty, danger and mystery...
So yesterday, we made our way to Black Down - a treeless, moody view point dominated by the austere Hardy Monument, a local landmark erected in 1844 in memory of Vice Admiral Sir Thomas Hardy (he participated in the Battle of Trafalgar, and Nelson died in his arms...). Up there, the views are stunning - although yesterday, unfortunately, the sky was dreadfully overcast... A warning for today's rain...
A lot of work had been happening on Black Down and it was really good to see how the landscape is being managed in order to maintain a healthy wildlife.
One way to manage the heathland on the Down has been the introduction of a stunning herd of Belted Galloway cattle. I call them the "Art Deco" cows: look at them! Aren't they amazing? The "Beltie" really is a gorgeous breed: their coat is thick and fluffy with extremely distinctive markings. They are growing in popularity and have their very own website HERE!
A new feature on Black Down is a new visitor car park and picnic area, complete with a fantastic work of art inspired by the ancient history of the place (more of which later).
For me, anything that celebrates ancient rituals and beliefs, strange natural phenomenons and "the eeriness of the English countryside" can only be a welcome asset to an area literally covered in reminders of dark and ancient times... Indeed, the South Dorset Ridgeway is called "The Land of Bone and Stone" (a fantastic title for a novel or an album, it hasn't escaped me, believe me!), due to the sheer number of Bronze age burial mounds, Iron age hill forts and other remnants of ancient history. It is very easy there to feel removed form the modern world and find oneself walking an ancestral landscape seemingly untouched by the ravages of so-called civilisation. What a place to be a writer...
Dorset seems to have acquired a new stone circle... A contemporary work of art by artist and architect Amanda Moore, the Black Down Stone Circle: five "totems" made of local Forest Marble stone with a Portland stone in the middle. One of the totems is aligned with the north and the other four with the midwinter/midsummer solstice sunrises and sunsets.
There is a multitude of paths to explore, taking in the stunning views of stretching to the sea... I will probably need to go back on a sunny, clear day to take pictures of the 360 degree views as yesterday was not a clear day!
The video below shows you the breathtaking beauty of the area.
Personally, I would have chosen a much darker, haunting and epic soundtrack...
I think therefore I write.
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