Promoting the Jurassic Coast… Day 1
As a Jurassic Coast Guide and Ambassador I was given the opportunity to guide Frank Peters from the Netherlands. Frank was coming to the UK to visit, experience and capture the Jurassic Coast so he could write an article to promote the World Heritage Site for a national newspaper in the Netherlands.
Frank is a renowned adventure photographer, journalist and film maker, his work has taken him to all corners of the world. He has won many awards for his work and continues to grow his portfolio of skills from doing so.
As a Coastal Leader I put myself forward to guide and assist Frank as much as possible during his trip. I know the Jurassic Coast extremely well and knew I could take Frank to the best locations and give him the experience he needed to write a good article. As well as being a guide I’m also a keen amateur photographer so I knew good locations to help him capture that perfect shot.
Frank arrived from the Netherlands during the Monday afternoon. Due to unknown arrival times I was unable to guide Frank on his first day. On his arrival he had some free time to visit the coastline around Portland where he was staying for a couple of days.
I met him the following morning outside the Charmouth Heritage Centre with Jurassic Coast Trust Ambassador Steve Snowball. To start the day off, we took him down on to the beach at Stonebarrow for a fossil hunt and to talk about the geology of the cliffs. We hunted for fossils along the foreshore and located ammonites on the shale beds that had become exposed from the low tide that day.
Steve is extremely knowledgeable when it comes to fossils and the different layers of the cliff formations, so I left him to infuse Frank with the area…. I took this as the perfect opportunity to fossil hunt for my own collection! After a few hours it was decided that lunch was near and we would make our way back to the Heritage Centre and visit the cafe for a coffee.
After a break and a visit to the Charmouth fossil shop… which is under the Heritage Centre, the next stage of the day was for me to guide Frank to Golden Cap. I wanted to take him there so he could experience the extensive views from the top. Golden Cap is 191 metres high and is the highest point along the Dorset coast. It gives you far reaching views to the east, where you can see Weymouth and Portland. To the west you can see right down into Devon. In my opinion it’s one of the best locations to view a good chunk of the Jurassic Coast and see the changes in the colours of the cliffs denoting the different dinosaur periods.
The walk from Charmouth to Golden Cap takes you first along the South West Coastal Path and up on to Stonebarrow Hill. I always love walking along here as it is this hill that produces some of the best fossils in this area… I always think about all the fossilised Ichthyosaurs, Plesiosaurs and Ammonites that are waiting to be discovered in the ground below my feet!
From here Frank witnessed the views for the first time and in his mind, started to build a picture of how he intended to capture the coastline through his photography. He was beginning to understand why this part of the coast was a World Heritage Site and why people like myself had so much passion for it. This was why I was so insistent that he went there to experience it. I was asked to model for several of his photographs so he could capture the vastness of the developing coastline.
As we walked through the valley I stopped Frank and asked him to stand and listen… I wanted him to experience how quiet and remote it can be while out walking on the Jurassic Coast. It was a stunning day and all we could hear was the wildlife and the sea as the waves hit the beach. From here we readied ourselves for the ascent to the summit of Golden Cap.
Once at the top, Frank set his equipment up and began taking several pictures of the landscape. Whilst there we discussed the geology, the importance of the World Heritage Site and my work with the Jurassic Coast Trust. From the top you get a fantastic view of the cliffs below showing the different layers of rocks, this made it easy for him to understand as he could visually see the geology. I also talked about the landslides in this area, how they happened and the way they changed the shape of the coast. I explained that it is this process that reveals the fossils which have been preserved and hidden for millions of years. The weather that day was good and although a little hazy, he was able to take the pictures he needed.
After half an hour at the summit we descended and made our way back to Charmouth. Whilst walking back we had a laugh and talked about life, family and work. It was fantastic to get to know Frank on a more personal level… we had a lot in common and the conversion was easy and fast flowing……seemed like we’d know each other for much longer than a day!
From Charmouth we made our way to West Bay. On arrival I took him down onto East beach to show him East Cliff. The tide was on its way back in but luckily there was enough beach for Frank to set up his equipment on and capture the breathtaking colour and texture of the cliff.
While he set his camera up for some timed exposures I went into town for refreshments. It was late in the afternoon and I was desperate for a coffee, after many hours of walking, talking and photography… we were both in need of a pick me up! I only found one shop open that was still serving. I ordered two coffees and chocolate doughnuts to go and returned to the beach. Frank was grateful for the drink and the doughnut was welcomed with a smile. He had to make the most of any sun that afternoon as it was fading rapidly. Time was getting very precious!
When finished at the cliff we both walk around West Bay harbour and along to the pier where he was able to set his equipment up ready for the setting sun.
Frank specialises in sunsets and he wanted to capture the changing colours of the cliffs as the sun was setting. That afternoon the cliffs changed from a golden yellow to a golden orange as the light faded. It was a first for me to see as I’ve never stopped for long enough in this location so late in the day. It was a real treat to sit and watch the changing light and colours on the cliffs. I’d say it’s a must for any visitor to the Jurassic Coast.
Whilst waiting for Frank to finish his timed exposures I mentioned that we could visit Hive Beach if he wanted to get a better view of the coast looking back towards West Bay. This was only a 5 minute drive in a car and he decided that it was a good idea. He wanted to go there to catch the final stages of the setting sun. We hastily headed back to the cars and on arrival at the National Trust car park, headed down on to the beach.
Once again he set up the camera and filters and started a timed exposure….. The sun was setting fast at this stage but the light was perfect for Frank to catch the sunset he was so eager to photograph. He showed me one of the developing pictures on his camera and I was amazed at the colours he had managed to capture.
It had started getting late and the tide was also coming in. The cliffs are very dangerous on this stretch of beach so it’s not advisable to get close to them. We retired back to the beach car park and it was at this point that I concluded my guiding for the day. Frank wanted to stay for a while longer and capture a night scene with the stars in the background.
The following day Frank was going to be introduced to the Lulworth Estate by their Rangers… I wished him an enjoyable day and we agreed a meeting time on Thursday for his second day with me. We said our good byes and I headed off home, after a long day that passed surprisingly quickly. During the journey home I started to plan how and where I would guide him next…..
Part two to follow…
Websites of interest…
Frank Peters website
Jurassic Coast Trust
Tweets from Steve Snowball
Hertiage Center & Fossil Shop