Friday, 18 June 2010

East Side Story

Another beautiful start to another summer's day, and ideal conditions for a search for my very first Wall Lizard. Probably only laziness has stopped me recording this smart little reptile, as the site is well known and the creatures often obliging on sunny days. Starting my walk alongside one of several 'active' quarries on Portland it was just a short distance to Cheyne Weares and the 'east side' of the Island.

Coombefield Quarry

Across the road, both Whitethroat and Peregrine were already active and within a matter of minutes I was looking at my first

Wall Lizard

Some of the rock formations at the site.

Many years of water flow have left these calcium deposits.

Also in this area there were a pair of Robins feeding young as a singing Lesser Whitethroat seemed to be working its way north up the Island. Taking the East Coastal Path, I next headed for

Church Ope Cove, followed by

Rufous Castle. Built between 1432 and 1460 by Richard, Duke of York and named after William Rufous, son of William the Conqueror, it is also locally known as Bow & Arrow Castle and with so much passage of time its not surprising it needs some renovation!

Starting to climb the hill again the walker soon comes upon ancient grave stones associated with one of the 2 St Andrew's Churches built on this site. The first dates from the 13th century and was the Parish Church right up to the 18th century, but damaged by the Southwell Land Slip of 1675 much of its stone was used in the construction of St George's Church at the top of Reforne.

All of these graves bear dates from the 1700's with this one also showing scars of shrapnel from German aircraft in the Second World War.

also battle scarred.

A base of one of several columns, now lost.

This sarcophagus was of great interest to my 2 daughters as we used to discover Portland when they were children. The scull and crossbones drummed up thoughts of pirates and I would embellish the stories.

Another laying close to the one above.

Continuing up through the old church arch,

you get great views of both the church and the castle,

and later enter the only area of mature woodland on the Island.

The gateway leads to

Pennsylvania Castle, build around 1800 by John Penn grandson of William Penn who was the founder of the US State of Pennsylvania. When we first lived on Portland in 1967, it was a 'fine' restaurant since when it has been a private residence, one time the home of Mr Singh owner of New Look ladies clothes shops.

At the top of the hill and at the bottom of Wakeham is Avis Cottage (front view), named after the heroine of the Thomas Hardy novel 'The Well Beloved'.

The Museum (rear view) was founded in 1930 by birth control pioneer Dr Marie Stopes, then passed onto Council ownership and recently has been taken over by private fund holders. My fondest memories here, were taking the girls to talk with local celebrity Ned Skinner who was 51 years a quarryman, before becoming the museum curator. Now there was a man who could tell a story!

and here are a couple of 'memory jerker' photographs for Julie and Lisa, the first showing Reforne Close, their first home,

and this is No3 where both girls were born in the bedroom to the right.

Lacrimose Mountain Tanager

Stygian Owl

White-tipped Quetzal

Yellow-crowned Redstart

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