Anthony T. Hincks said “Mother Nature doesn’t set out to be beautiful. She just is.” The same is true for Dorset. This beautiful city getaway is not just a travel destination. It’s home to many nature lovers across the world.
If you have not heard of International Dawn Chorus Day, then you’ve missed out big time! It is usually dedicated to the first Sunday in May. One of nature’s great wonders is the dawn chorus, an early morning concert featuring birdsong such as black cap, blackbird, chiffchaff, robin, thrush and wren. If you are in Dorset, your concert starts around 04h30. You have the choice of simply opening your windows and listen to nature’s symphony over a steaming cup of coffee/tea, or a sunrise stroll.
If you decide to do the sunrise stroll, watch out for Dorset’s native bluebell flowers. They have a vertical row of flowers and a very distinct droop. Contrary to the Spanish or hybrid varieties that have multiple rows of flowers and no droop whatsoever. They can be seen at Ashley Wood near Blandford Forum, East Stoke Fen near Wareham, and Holway Woods near Sherborne.
During April / May you’ll smell the pungent scent of wild garlic growing in abundance in Dorset’s woods. Just like basil leaves make a mean pesto, you can use wild garlic leaves instead. The flowers of wild garlic can be used in salads for a taste of garlic. In addition to these uses, wild garlic leaves can also be bagged and frozen for use throughout the year.
From April to June, you’ll see an abundance of pink clover-like thrift blooms. Alternatively known as sea pink and cliff clover, you’ll find them at Chesil Beach, Eype, Hengistbury Head, Lulworth Cove, Portland, Seatown and West Bexington.
Pop in at the Fine Foundation Wild Seas Centre and get yourself a Seashore Spotter’s sheet. Having collected your sheet, you are ready to identify the marine flora and fauna in Dorset’s many rockpools.
Then, take a seashore safari at Kimmeridge Bay. The marine creatures and plants include brightly colored anemones alongside shellfish like limpets and barnacles. If you’re lucky you might even spot shrimps, crabs, and sea worms hiding on seaweed thickets and crevices in the rocks.
The Hollis Mead Hedgehog Hotel adopted over 40 of the spiny creatures to take up residence across about 15 miles of hedgerows packed with worms in the incredibly healthy soil. All of this can be experienced at Hollis Mead, an organic dairy farm near Beaminster.
Start your journey to Broke Lane at St Lawrences’ beautiful stone-built Folke Manor House that dates to the late-15th/early 16th century, with some external structural changes during the 17th century. Then walk along the avenue to 1½ gates. Watch out for the signposts ‘Bishop’s Down 1’. Once into the field, turn right and follow the path along the Manor House Garden’s walls and hedge to the corner trees, followed by the footpath-signed steps down into the hollow-way lane, known as Broke Lane.
Purbeck is known for its stunning scenery from Portland (in the west) to the Isle of Wight (in the east), which includes fabulous vistas of the villages of Steeple Church Knowle and Corfe Castle below the Purbeck Chalk ridge slopes.
From 2019 to April 2021 the Roy Dennis Wildlife Foundation (RDWF) have released twelve sea eagles on the Isle of Wight. The white-tailed eagles with a wingspan of up to 2.4 m (8 feet) are the world’s fourth-largest eagle. They are carefully monitored and fitted with a lightweight satellite transmitter. This 5-year project’s highlight will be no doubt be their nesting in about 2023/24.
Your treasures are the many parish boundary markers, beautifully crafted by local artists and backed up with fascinating stories on the landscape they stand in, along the coast path from outside Lyme Regis to Abbotsbury.
Visa and COVID-related documents.