Peter Reynolds

The life and times of Peter Reynolds

Posts Tagged ‘Sutton Poyntz

Paradise Valley

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Heaven On Earth

It’s that time of the month again!

No, no, no ladies.  Happy times!  Another walk in Paradise Valley.  See here.

Written by Peter Reynolds

September 18, 2010 at 3:27 pm

Paradise Valley

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Heaven On Earth

Surprise!

For the latest on Paradise Valley please see here.

My Babies

Written by Peter Reynolds

August 21, 2010 at 11:38 pm

Paradise Valley

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The latest instalment in my rural idyll is here

Paradise Valley

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The latest instalment in the extraordinary story of the most beautiful place on the planet is available here.  Don’t miss it!

Heaven On Earth

Written by Peter Reynolds

June 17, 2010 at 7:06 pm

Paradise Valley – Heaven On Earth

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pvalleyparas

Today I started a new blog on Paradise Valley, the beautiful heaven on earth where I am so fortunate to live.

This will be where I write about walking my dogs , Capone and Carla, and all our adventures in deepest Dorset.

Paradise Valley

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I’ve lived in Sutton Poyntz for six months now. A mile to the south is the sea. A mile to the east is Osmington and half a mile to the north but up a very steep hill is the “top of my mountain”. Walking my dogs around this wonderful area has fulfilled every dream that I dared hope for when I first arrived.

The Mysteries Of the East

The Mysteries Of the East

We have perhaps half a dozen standard walks that we’ve learned, each one of which can be varied with diversions, extensions or shortcuts. Usually we walk for about and hour and a half. The one delight that is always there is a succession of dramatic and quite beautiful views. I never tire of these wonderful vistas across the valley, to the sea, the Isle of Portland and beyond.

I believe that being able to see some distance is fundamentally good for your psyche. Even in the midst of our ghastly capital city on the 12th floor of a vile 1970s tower block there was some consolation to be gained from

Go West Young Man

Go West Young Man

the view. In Paradise Valley the views move me every day as they change and develop with the seasons. Quite why just looking can make me well up and seems to touch my soul, I do not know but it fascinates me that the dogs will do the same thing. We reach the peak of a hill or come round a corner and they will stand on a wall or look over a hedge – and just look.

After one false start, spring is here. In the great national blizzard we got off lightly with merely an inch or so. A fortnight later though and we had our own intense Dorset storm and we woke up to four inches and twelve hours without power.

Taking In The View

Taking In The View

Another fortnight on and the daffodils and crocuses are out. There is already some intensity in the warmth of the sun and all around gardeners are beginning to dig and to sow, to dream of runner beans and strawberries. Up on the hill they were burning the gorse. Quite why I’m not sure. Then this week they brought in a formidable machine which seemed to crawl up and down the sides of the mountain completely demolishing the gorse bushes  and leaving an apparently smooth and fresh sward of pasture.

This required immediate investigation and so the dogs and I struck out for the top. Up closer we discovered a compact bulldozer on caterpillar tracks with a vicious flail mounted on front. The driver told me that it weighs bulldozer-workingsix tons and guiding it across the slope sometimes it would slip andbulldozer slide and nearly give him a heart attack. He explained that the gorse needs to be cut back simply to keep it under control. He’s a braver man than me. Perhaps he doesn’t know that others deliberately throw themselves off the mountain underneath paragliders.

So in a deepening wamth, for the first time since winter took hold, I find time to sit. With the absence of movement, without having to worry about negotiating the hills and the fields, with time just to sit and contemplate, the valley bursts into life. It’s like sitting in a huge and magnificent amphitheatre but there’s not just the single focus of a sport or contest. Every single part of the valley throbs with activity. A family of deer watch the dogs in trepidation.carla-watches-deer1 Countless beautiful, big, brown buzzards soar and swoop. A pair of kestrels hover over the gorse bushes. The biggest rabbit warren I have ever seen, a city full of bunnies, teems with bobbing white tails. The trees are developing that slightly misty look as millions of buds begin to swell and fill. The insect population is burgeoning and heading towards a total that must surely be in the billions, surely exceeding even the number of humans across the whole of our world.

Paradise Valley is blossoming and as it blooms with it will come ever more intense beauty and experience. This, surely, is one of the most beautiful places on the planet and I live right here. For me it truly is paradise.

kestrels1

Walking The Dog 12

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We returned to lashings of ginger beer and a plateful of scrumptious ham sandwiches.  That’s not the actual menu but as we had been struggling in Kimmeridge clay all morning, the Famous Five comparison felt right, particularly as we’d just had a huge adventure, even bigger than we’d expected!

It wasn’t the Famous Five that set off from Ringstead that morning but the Intrepid Three: Carla, Capone and me.  We were set on continuing our Jurassic Coast walk and so drove to the end of the last episode – and the beginning of the next!

The White Nothe

The White Nothe

We were heading for the White Nothe headland.  It’s the tallest and furthest headland you can see from the top of our mountain above Sutton Poyntz.

We left Ringstead Bay but then cut back towards the beach and descended using the sort of steps that are just pegged shuttering into which the hill slides.  Onto the beach and the dogs wanted to swim but there was no time for that.  I planned to keep along the beach as far as possible and then climb up the fallen clay cliff before we reached the towering chalk cliffs of the the White Nothe itself.

burnwavSo, at what seemed a sensible point, I turned away from the sea and started to pick my way up through the clumps of clay, each surmounted with a brush of coarse grass.  Climb up further and there are vicious gorse bushes and and little trees with thorns like hardened steel.  In some areas a raw wound of open clay has appeared where a minor landslip has taken place.  This was almost real climbing, all the weight on the feet but still reaching up at head height and above for support.

The Burning Cliff

The Burning Cliff

This, in fact, is the Burning Cliff.  In 1826 a landslide uncovered deposits of gas and oil which caught fire and famously smouldered for about three years.

At last, at the very top, the thickest brush of all so, heroically, I rolled into it with my back and the dogs slipped through underneath me.  Then a semi-tropical glade, completely enclosed by thorn and flower.  A strange, even light and ferns of all sorts rooting in the carpet of leaves.  We were trapped.  The way back out was prickly and difficult. In every direction was more thorn and bramble.  I swung at some branches to clear a path and I was cruelly shot in the eye by a sloe berry hurtling back towards me, an eclipse of the sun seared in my eyeball and I actually felt dizzy and slightly feint.  Had she been there, George would have immediately volunteered to go for help.

No such rescue was open to us though.  Forcing our way back out through the thorns I picked, slipped and slid a perilous path back to the beach.   No option for it but to go back up the way we had come down.  That was hard work too.  We wearily resumed the footpath but when I saw that we had made exactly half a mile’s progress from our start, discretion proved the better part of valour and and we returned to the car.

Undaunted, undefeated and determined to reach our goal we returned this morning.  Avoiding the pull of the sea and the beach itself we stuck to the path winding upwards through an area that reminds me of Fern Gully, near Ocho Rios in Jamaica where are there is supposed to be a greater variety of ferns than anywhere else on the planet.  Here, now safely above the Burning Cliff, this area has a similar ambience.

Finally up onto moorland then close to the edge of some truly scary cliffs.  This was “Vertigo City” for me and I was filled with that priomordial fear that at any moment I might flip, run and throw myself headlong into space.  Concerned only as to who would look after the dogs, I restrained myself and we made the summit.  There we sat and communed with nature until that intense moment of peace arrived.  It comes very easily.  You just sit, look around you and wait.  The very moment you forget yourself it arrives.

So Carla and Capone scampered down the hillside with me in close pursuit.  Another thrilling and exciting adventure completed!  I wonder what will happen on our next visit!famous-five1

I Must Go Down To The Sea Again…

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My first few weeks in Weymouth are brim full of experiences, pleasures, delights and precious few disappointments.

Here I am, nestled away in the delightful village of Sutton Poyntz in a deep cleft in the chalk hills in the biblically named valley of the River Jordan.  Behind me, to the north (for an old sea dog always looks towards the water!) is my mountain.  In fact, my recent purchase of an Ordnance Survey map has revealed that it achieves only one quarter of the height needed to qualify as such.  Believe me, when you climb it, as I do most mornings, it seems plenty high enough.  I used to think the miles that I walked with Capone and Carla around Chichester Harbour meant I was fit but in Dorset there are hills!

To the south is the most stupendous view across Weymouth Bay to Portland.  The Jurassic Coast tumbles away towards Lulworth.  The monstrous cliffs of Portland join the town’s Esplanade along the great shingle isthmus that is Chesil Beach and the sky, usually blue, reminds me every minute that I must be close to paradise.

It is not always a peaceful scene and I look forward eagerly to some vicious winter storms.  Last weekend, Portland was hosting its speed trials and, sure enough, a 40 knot wind was blowing across Chesil Beach.  The wind and kite surfers sailing parallel to the road were clearly outstripping the cars and the breeze was very much more than brisk.

I parked up, released the beasts and we set off to walk west over the shingle spine.  The wind was as fierce as any I have known.  Carla whimpered.  Capone struck on.  I struggled.  Chesil shingle is large pebbles, difficult to walk through and with the blast in our faces almost impossible.  As my head peeped over the crest I remembered what real wind means.  Reaching the top I could lean my whole weight into it and riding the gusts, stand like Kate Winslet at the sharp end of Titanic, supported on air, resplendent in space.

We stumbled down the far side, an awe inspiring sight before us.  Eight foot monsters pounding down.  Spray flying thirty feet high.  The majesty of the ocean before us.  The huge, roaring, raging, thundering of the shingle dragged back in the undertow.  A lump in my throat, my tears mixing with the stinging spray.  The overwhelming, compulsive, massive power of it.  I am part of an island race.  The salt must run in my veins because this is being alive.  Nothing can be more complete, more absolute, more real.  Time stands still while the incomparable terror and beauty of nature displays itself.

The walk back is much easier with a helping hand up the hill and in the lee of the shingle mountain the wind now feels gentle and modest.  This is why I came to the ocean.  This is what feeds my soul.

I remember more than 20 years ago standing on the north coast of the island of Iona with my four month old son in my arms and being similarly overcome.  If this is what Weymouth offers me in the first month then i am here for life.

Today, it was blissfully calm.  The sea at Bowleaze Cove was as flat as the millpond at Emsworth.  Above a million feathers of high cirrus cloud, slightly below, scudding cotton wool puffs, dark at the edges, a Dali-esque caricature of a sky but real not surreal.  This is my new home and I love it!

The Eagle Has Landed

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I have now found my feet in Weymouth or, to be more accurate, the delightful, picturesque village of Sutton Poyntz – and what a place it is!

This is the view from the “mountain” behind my house.  Any words are simply an injustice…

So this is my first post in weeks.  At last my broadband is on and my office is beginning to come together.  

Expect much more soon!

Written by Peter Reynolds

October 3, 2008 at 11:43 am