Take a Walk on the Gentle Side of the Jurassic Coast

Sarah ActonSarah Acton is the Jurassic Coast’s poet-in-residence. She is exploring the poetry of East Devon and West Dorset as part of a residency spanning the Jurassic Coastline, taking inspiration from natural landmarks and earth history, and working with local museums, schools, and other organisations along the way to create a body of site-specific poetry.

Actively enjoying the Jurassic Coast isn’t all about high mileage long hikes, completing the coast path, or striding out into the wild frontier edge-lands between sea and sky, though it can be all of these adventures, and more. It can also be as small and quiet as studying a pebble on the beach, or talking about how the cliffs were formed and listening to a poem whilst staring into their faces. But both dynamic and reflective activities seem to be life-transforming for those of us who experience them.

There’s lots of advice around telling us that connecting (re-connecting) with our local natural environment improves health and wellbeing, and many of us understand this. We’ve experienced the tingle of wind on cheeks after climbing a hill, and that feeling of excitement and awe that comes from stepping out of time when we stare out from West Bay pier, or Portland Bill. I know that any time spent outside on the Jurassic Coastline affects my mind, body and soul, whether it’s an hour at lunchtime, or a long anticipated day trip. It’s an essential part of my own creative practice as a poet and human being.

It’s an important part of my work to inspire, stimulate and open up creative pathways for others through participatory events along the Jurassic Coastline, where we are guided by our senses, listen to readings, and explore our own personal response to the natural landscape in the here and now.

I’m really proud to be part of Dorset ANOB’s Stepping into Nature programme, it’s an initiative to connect people to nature in their local areas, and especially to encourage older people including those living with dementia and their carers to enjoy the natural and cultural landscape in Dorset and all of the health and wellbeing benefits this brings. The activities are gentle, and aimed to be accessible to all, but absolutely anyone of any age or ability can sign up. There will be a mix of ages and interests at each.

I’m taking bookings for a new series of FREE* walks and workshops along the West Dorset area of the Jurassic Coast, from Lyme Regis to Portland as part of this programme. We’ll be reading and taking inspiration from poems and prose, talking, thinking, and perhaps even writing our own creative words in response to the immediate landscape. The walking part is gentle, and there will be lots of benches to sit and reflect. The workshops will have an outdoor element also.

Participants will be asked to register at the start of the activity, and fill out an evaluation after, and this information is used to support further good work to help people find out for themselves how much good comes from a lung-full of air and thoughts of earth history, landscape and simply being in the wider world.

Bring a pen and paper, appropriate clothing for the weather, and an open mind, and enjoy!

Any questions, please contact me: blackvenpress@gmail.com

Event details here and at: https://www.dorsetaonb.org.uk/stepping-into-nature/guided-activities

*workshops participants will be invited to make a donation towards refreshments, suggested £1/£2

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