Springtime sunset cruise – The Jurassic Coast revealed

The Jurassic Coast Team and Trust – along with nearly 100 supporters – enjoyed a wonderful evening last Thursday on a springtime sunset cruise boat trip from Poole Harbour. The trip took in the eastern end of the Jurassic Coast from the iconic chalk stacks of Old Harry Rocks, past Swanage and Durlston Head, and along to Dancing Ledge.

Old Harry makes a great backdrop for a quick selfie.
Old Harry makes a great backdrop for a quick selfie.

As the boat sailed across the harbour and everyone tucked into their fish and chips, Sam Scriven and Anjana Ford from the Jurassic Coast Team were on hand providing expert commentary on the spectacular geology and landforms of the coastline. For many on board it was the first time they’d seen this part of the coast from the sea – a wonderful opportunity to appreciate some familiar landmarks from a fresh perspective.

The distinctive chalk stacks of Old Harry Rocks.
The distinctive chalk stacks of Old Harry Rocks.

Following the shallow, tranquil waters of Poole Harbour and sheltered Studland Bay, the towering stacks of Old Harry mark not only the start of the Jurassic Coast, but also a noticeable change to the choppy waters and bracing winds of the English Channel. It’s certainly an impressive way for the 95-mile long Jurassic Coast to announce itself, as if part of the gleaming white headlands of the Ballard Downs have decided to make a break for the open sea, only to come to a staggered, stuttering halt a few hundred yards offshore.

The Jurassic limestone cliffs west of Durlston Head.
The Jurassic limestone cliffs west of Durlston Head.

Beyond Swanage at Durlston Head, the Cretaceous chalk gives way to the jagged, blocky strata of the Jurassic limestone that dominates much of this part of the coast. The cliffs here also provide shelter for a variety of seabirds, and a number of guillemots were seen darting just above the surface of the water in their characteristic blur of wing beats. Some on board were also lucky enough to spot a few puffins – a real treat to spot these wonderfully charismatic seabirds.

At Dancing Ledge – so named because at certain times the movement of the tidal waters makes the ledge appear to dance – it was time to turn round for the return journey. Thankfully, the leaden clouds and heavy downpours that had persisted for much of the day had cleared by late afternoon, and conditions remained blustery but dry for all but the last few minutes of the trip.

Serena Unsworth was the lucky winner of the raffle.
Serena Unsworth was the lucky winner of the raffle.

There was also a raffle on board to raise funds for the Jurassic Coast Trust. Congratulations to Serena Unsworth who won a trip for four people with Lulworth Rib Rides. Our thanks to City Cruises Poole for providing the boat and crew and putting on a fantastic trip – we hope to put on some more events later in the year, so watch this space!

Paul Mitchell

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