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The Lazy Photographer's Guide 05 - South-East England (pt1)

by Chris Maddock

 

This article is the fifth of a series of articles covering much of the UK. It is basically a list of locations I have programmed into my GPS Satellite Navigator - most of which I have visited, the rest being places I intend to get to some day. It is not a comprehensive guide to the Dales, only the parts I have been to and photographed - or intend to.

It will not contain any photographs, the intention being simply to provide information about location, access and likely subjects. I have photographs of many of the locations in my Dorset, Hampshire, Sussex and Wiltshire galleries at www.f22.org.uk if you want to see what you could see before setting out.

I've called it The Lazy Photographer's Guide since most of the locations are less than half a mile from road access.

As the area covered is big and I can't think of a better split (since I also have a large number of locations in the southwest too, I've split the south roughly at the western borders of Dorset and Wiltshire), this is a large list. Accordingly I've done it as two pages. This is page 1, page 2 can be found here


Amberley Wildbrooks
Arlington Bluebell Walks
Avebury
Birling Gap
Black Venn cliffs
Bosham
Botany Bay
Brighton Piers
Burnham Beeches
Caen Hill Locks
Castle Combe
Chapmans Pool
Cherhill Down

Chesil Beach
Corfe Castle
Cuckmere Haven
Denny Lodge

Dungeness
Durdle Door
East Harnham
East Head, West Wittering
Eggardon Hill
Elmley Marshes
Farlington Marshes
Frensham Ponds
Gold Hill, Shaftesbury

 


Amberley Wildbrooks
An area of wetland adjacent to the River Arun near Amberley in Sussex

Access - park in Amberley village, GR TQ 031 132, and take the footpath that runs north. If you can't park in the village there is a large car park at Amberley station, GR TQ 027 118

What to see - wetland plants and wildlife, including wintering wildfowl

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Arlington Bluebell Walks
A farm adjacent to spectacular bluebell woods, has walks open during the bluebell season. Many of the paths are wheelchair friendly and they have some wheelchairs/scooters available for use free of charge.

Access - turn off the A27 at Wilmington Green heading for Arlington and follow signs for the Bluebell walks. Bates Green Farm is at GR TQ 552 076, free parking is available in a field opposite the farm entrance.

What to see - bluebells, harebells, wild garlic, woodland.

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Avebury
A World Heritage Site, Avebury stone circle in Wiltshire is one of Europe's largest prehistoric stone circles partially encircling the village of Avebury.

Access - Follow signs to Avebury from the A4 or M4 and to the car park just outside the village. It's pay and display but free to National Trust and English Heritage members.

What to see - stones, big ones and lots of them, LOL. Also the earthworks on which the circle was erected. Wild flowers at appropriate times of year and downland views.

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Birling Gap
A low point in the middle of the famous Seven Sisters chalk cliffs in East Sussex

Access -turn off the A259 in East Dean on to the road signposted for Birling Gap and Beachy Head. Pay & Display parking is available.

What to see - shingle beach, views along the base of the cliffs both east and west, at low tide the harder chalk layer is exposed with rock pools and associated marine plants & wildlife

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Black Venn cliffs
Just west of Charmouth on the Jurassic Coast in Dorset, Black Venn is the biggest coastal mudslide in Europe.

Access - Charmouth is signposted off the A35 between Morecombelake and Axminster. Parking is available close to the beach. Black Venn is along the beach to the west.

What to see - the beach and rock pools, the Venn itself with scrubland vegetation and associated wildlife, views across the bay to Lyme Regis or east to Golden Cap. You may even find fossils around the lower extremity of the Venn.

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Bosham
An attractive little coastal village in West Sussex Bosham lies in the waterways of Chichester Harbour.

Access - Signposted off the A27 and A259 between Chichester and Havant. Parking is available in the village. Note -if there is a sign that the road floods at high tide, they do mean it!! My parents ran a stall in a craft centre there for some years and lost count of the number of people to whom they lent cups to use as balers.

What to see - the village and harbour, mudflats, salt marshes and associated shore birds. A good view of the harbour and village can be had from slightly further down the creek, along Shore Road at around GR SU 801 032. Other good views are from Chidham on the opposite shore or from West Itchenor or Birdham looking at Bosham Hoe instead.

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Botany Bay
An unusual name (or so it seems to me) for its location, Botany Bay is on the far southeast tip of Kent, between Margate and Broadstairs.

Access - Botany Bay is at Kingsgate, off the B2052 Broadstairs-Margate coastal road at GR TR 391 711, parking is available.

What to see - sandy beach, rugged cliffs and sea stacks, good for sunrises.

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Brighton Piers
Sadly much destroyed by a combination of storms and fires, the West Pier is little more than a skeleton now. The Palace Pier is occupied by amusement arcades and fun fair rides.

Access - the West Pier is at GR TQ 303 040, Palace Pier a little way east at GR TQ 313 038, both on the A259 coast road. There is some metered parking along the main road, or several pay & display or NCP car parks in Brighton town centre.

What to see - not much at West Pier now, although the skeleton can make for good interest in sunrise/set shots. Palace Pier is good for night-time illumination shots. The starlings which used to roost on West Pier appear to have relocated to Palace Pier and still give spectacular dusk displays. The shingle beach between the piers is of interest, as are the gulls which live in the area and an assortment of boats on display on the waterfront.

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Burnham Beeches
Burnham Beeches in Buckinghamshire is regarded as one of the best examples of ancient woodland in Britain.

Access - between Beaconsfield and Slough, Burnham Beeches is just off the A335, with parking at GR SU 956 850

What to see - ancient beech and oak woodland, some of the trees believed to be up to 800 years old. Other plants and wildlife, grazing pigs and other livestock.

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Caen Hill Locks
Just to the west of Devizes in Wiltshire, Caen Hill Locks is a flight of 29 locks on the Kennet & Avon Canal, 16 of the locks being in a straight line.

Access - take the A361 west out of Devizes and turn right onto the B3031 to Rowde. About half a mile along, the turning to the Locks is in the right, leading to parking at the top of the 16-lock straight section, GR ST 986 616.

What to see - the spectacular flight of locks, you can walk down the towpath to the bottom to get the view looking up the line of gates. Also canal boats of all shapes and sizes, wildfowl and plants beside the side-ponds.

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Castle Combe
A pretty little village near Chippenham in Wiltshire.

Access - Take the A420 and B4039 west out of Chippenham and follow signs for Castle Combe. Parking is available at the top of the hill in Upper Castle Combe at GR ST 846 777

What to see - traditional Cotswold village buildings, with stone walls and split stone tile roofs, the church, bridge and river.

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Chapmans Pool
A sheltered bay at the eastern end of Dorset's Jurassic Coast, Chapman's Pool is just outside Worth Matravers.

Access - From the B3069 Langton Matravers-Corfe Castle road, follow signs for Worth Matravers and carry on through the village, turning left at Renscombe Farm. The car park is 100 yards along on the right at GR SY 963 773, no vehicular access is allowed beyond this point. A footpath leads west across the fields to Chapman's Pool, about half a mile.

What to see - in the cove itself you can see the cliffs, foreshore and rock pools complete with ammonite and other fossils. If you take the clifftop path before reaching the cove, good views may be had of the cove and the coast beyond. Continuing along the path for about a mile you come to St Aldhelm's head with a chapel and the old coastguard station at the end.

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Cherhill Down
The home of one of the many white horse chalk cutouts in Wiltshire, Cherhill Down lies immediately south of the A4 near Cherhill.

Access - there is a layby beside the A4 between Avebury and Calne just east of Cherhill village, roughly GR SU 043 701. This offers a good view of the Down and the white horse, whilst footpaths offer access to the top of the down if you wish.

What to see - Wiltshire downs landscape and the white horse.

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Chesil Beach
Chesil Beach is a spectacular natural shingle barrier, extending some 18 miles across the eastern end of Lyme Bay in Dorset

Access - parking is available at both ends of the beach, beside the A354 between Weymouth and Portland at GR SY 668 753 and on a minor road out of Abbotsbury at GR SY 559 845. The beach itself is a high, steep-sided shingle bank and takes some effort to climb up once you have got down to the shoreline.

What to see - the huge shingle bank leading off into the distance. The Fleet, the lagoon enclosed by the shingle bank is one of the few remaining brackish-water lagoons and is home to various species of sea creatures, plants and shore birds.

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Corfe Castle
The spectacular remains of the 1000 year old castle built in a gap in the ridge of the Purbeck Hills in Dorset. Largely destroyed by Parliamentarian troops during the Civil War, the fact that so much remains is testament to the strength of its construction.

Access - Corfe Castle village lies on the A351 Wareham-Swanage road. Free parking is available at Castle View, 10 minutes (according to the National Trust website) walk north from the castle at GR SY 958 825

What to see - the ruins of the castle, the Swanage Railway just to the east of the castle. Views from further afield may be had from the minor road to Church Knowle or from the B3069 to Kingston

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Cuckmere Haven
The mouth of the Cuckmere River, Cuckmere Haven lies at the western end of the Seven Sisters chalk cliffs in East Sussex.

Access - Parking is available at Exceat on the A259 between Seaford and Eastbourne, GR TV 518 995. Footpaths lead down to the Haven, about a mile south.

What to see - the tidal River Cuckmere with its spectacular meanders , especially visible from the upper path which runs up the hill to the east. Down at the Haven, shingle foreshore, chalk cliffs, remains of coastal wartime defences and the view along the first part of the Seven Sisters. Associated wildlife, salt marsh and chalk downland plants.

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Denny Lodge
This is one of the many Inclosures in the New Forest, comprising a large area of deciduous woodland.

Access -Denny Lodge is accessible from the B3056 Lyndhurst-Beaulieu road. The turning is on the outside of a sharp bend at GR SU 334 069 and is signposted for Denny Lodge Camp Site. Drive through the camp site itself to a parking area on the right at GR SU 333 066.

What to see - deciduous woodland with associated plants and wildlife. There is a bird feeding station on tree stumps just over the fence from the parking area, visited by a variety of birds including coal & marsh tits and nuthatches. The older woodland to the northwest of the parking area is very good for fungi in the late autumn. Footpaths to the east lead to Shatterford Bottom, an area of (sometimes) marshy heathland good for plants and wildlife that prefer such habitat.

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Dungeness
Dungeness is a large shingle bank protruding into the English Channel from the Kent coastline. It is an important wildlife habitat, providing home to more than 600 species of plants, along with a wide variety of birds and insects. The spit, lagoons and old gravel pits behind the shingle beach are managed by the RSPB and English Nature and are used by large numbers of wintering wildfowl and migrating wading birds. Right at the tip of the bank is located Dungeness nuclear power station - so watch which way you are pointing those long lenses ;-)

Access - the RSPB site is signposted from the Lydd-Dungeness road and is located at GR TR 067 185. For the shore itself, there is parking available on the Dungeness-New Romney road, at Lade (GR TR 084 208) or you could travel down on the Romney Hythe & Dymchurch miniature railway which stops at Dungeness. There is also parking at the RH&DR station at Dungeness.

What to see - wild plants and birds, the shingle shoreline, fishermen's huts and boats, the RH&DR miniature steam trains. On an island in the lake between Lydd airport and the sea (near lade) are the acoustic listening mirrors built to give early warning of the approach of Zeppelins during the 1st World War. These can be accessed through guided tours but not otherwise.

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Durdle Door
This is the well-known rock archway on the Dorset Jurassic Coast, a mile or so west of Lulworth

Access - turn south off the A352 at Winfrith Newburgh or west off the B3070 just as you enter West Lulworth. The car park is through a caravan site at roughly GR SY 811 805, with a short walk down to the Door itself.

What to see - well, there's the Durdle Door rock arch itself, along with the curved beach leading to it from the west. From the headland of which the Door is the end, there is a good view both ways along the coast to St Oswald's Bay in the east and Bat Head to the west. Around April and September the sunset will illuminate the north face of the Door, at other times in the year it sets too far south to reach the rock face or too far north so the surrounding cliffs cast their shadows on the Door.

Note that commercial photography is not permitted without prior permission from (and payment, where required, to) the Lulworth Estate

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East Harnham
An area of water meadows around the River Avon to the southeast of Salisbury.

Access - from the A36 or A338 follow signs to Britford, GR SU 160 283, various footpaths lead out over the meadows.

What to see - wetland scenes, plant and wildlife. Views of Salisbury Cathedral.

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East Head, West Wittering
This is a sand and shingle spit at the mouth of Chichester Harbour, formed by the process of longshore drift. It is a SSSI owned by the National Trust.

Access - from the A27 Chichester bypass, take the A286 and B2179 to West Wittering, then the track to the beach and car park at GR SZ 769 981

What to see - the sand/shingle dunes of East Head, plant and wildlife, views across Chichester Harbour, the shingle shoreline and groynes along the mainland coast.

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Eggardon Hill
The site of a large hillfort near Beaminster in Dorset, with well-defined iron age field systems visible on the hillsides around.

Access - from the A35 turn north through Askerswell and up the hill to the car park at GR SY 548 947. The fort is a few hundred yards to the west.

What to see - the fort and field patterns, the latter being best shown with low sun so that the shadows highlight the patterns. Also the downland views and downland flora & fauna.

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Elmley Marshes
On the southern shore of the Isle of Sheppey, Elmley Marshes is an RSPB reserve, attracting thousands of ducks, geese and wading birds in the winter, as well as various raptors. In the summer, many wading birds, including the avocet, breed on the reserve.

Access - the access track is signposted off the A249 Isle of Sheppey road, a mile or so after the Kingsferry Bridge. Parking is available at GR TQ 938 679 and a footpath leads across the reserve.

What to see - birds, birds and yet more birds.

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Farlington Marshes
A headland in Langstone Harbour near Portsmouth Farlington Marshes is a nature reserve managed by the RSPB and Hampshire Wildlife Trust. It comprises a mixture of marshland, and scrubland surrounded by the largest expanse of mudflats on the South coast. It attracts large numbers of breeding sea birds and wintering wildfowl and waders. It is the winter home to a high proportion of all the Brent Geese that winter in the UK, part of an estimated 10,000 wildfowl and 40,000 wader population.

Access - turn off the A27 at the Portsea Island junction (between the M271 and A3(M) junctions), and take the small turning located between the A27 westbound "off" slip road and the A2030 Portsmouth road, it's easy to miss. Follow this road to the end where there is room for twenty or so cars to park. Access to the reserve is though a small gate leading to the western sea wall or a larger gate and up a track leading to the middle and eastern side of the marshes. The sea wall is passable all round the reserve, meeting up with the track through the middle.

What to see - birds, birds and yet more birds, especially in winter.

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Frensham Ponds
An area of common heathland with two ponds just south of Farnham in Surrey, owned by the National Trust.

Access - from the A287 Farnham-Haslemere road, turn off just south of Millbridge - to the east for the Little Pond or west for the Great Pond. There are car parks by both ponds, at GR SU 859 417 for the Little Pond and SU 844 405 for the Great Pond.

What to see - heathland habitat with associated plants and wildlife, such as sand lizards, smooth snakes, woodlarks, Dartford Warblers and nightjars.

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Gold Hill, Shaftesbury
A picturesque, steep cobbled street in Dorset, made famous by the Hovis bread television adverts.

Access - Shaftesbury lies at the junction of the A30 and A350 roads between Salisbury, Yeovil, Warminster and Blandford Forum. There are several car parks in the town. The top of Gold Hill is accessed through a covered cutway off the High Street at GR ST 862 229

What to shoot - a steep, cobbled hill with pretty cottages on the left, a stone embankment on the right and the view out to the southwest beyond. The lane is narrow and falls away quickly so lighting is tricky. It's probably best photographed on a cloudy but bright day otherwise either the cottages or the wall will be in shadow or you're looking into the sun.

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All text and photos are copyright © Chris Maddock, 2007