Durlston Country Park is located about a mile to the south of Swanage. It is nestled up against a corner of the coastline – at the point at which the South West Coast Path stops heading south and turns true west instead. At the point of this corner is Durlston Castle. It is not a true castle, but a Victorian folly from the late 1880’s which was designed as a restaurant. In its early days its roof was also used by Guglielmo Marconi for experimental wireless transmissions to the Isle of Wight. It is now a Visitor’s Centre for the park.
Situated behind the castle, in the estate grounds, is the Great Globe. This is most certainly worth a visit. It just looks like a ball of rock, right?
Wrong! The Great Globe is actually a map of the world. It measures 3 metres (10 feet) across and weighs in at 40 tons – that’s almost 6,000 times as heavy as I am! Can that be right? All of the sources I have seen say it weights 40 tons although I wonder if they meant tonnes and not tons, which would only make it 525 times as heavy as me. Either way, it is big and it is heavy. It is said to be one of the largest stone spheres in the world.
Constructed in 1887 of local Portland Stone, the Great Globe is surrounded by stone panels which were completed in 1891. At the base of the globe are comparative dimensions of the Moon and planets of the Solar System. It also includes the least and greatest distances of each planet from the Earth. Note Pluto is missing – it wasn’t discovered until 1930, some 40 years after the Great Globe was made. Neptune is there – it was discovered in 1846.
On the walls around the globe are further stone panels, carved with quotes from the bible and famous poets, and with facts about the Earth and other heavenly bodies. Did you know:
- At the equator the Earth’s motion is 1,040 miles per hour. This is compared to the carrier pigeon which flies at 40 miles per hour; and the swift which flies at 200 miles per hour.
- At its equator, the Sun moves at 4,500 miles per hour.
- The exact time it takes for the Earth to revolve around the Sun is 365 days, 5 hours, 45 minutes and 48 seconds.
- The Moon moves around the earth once every 28 days, and also revolves on its axis at the same rate. This is why the same part of the Moon always faces the Earth.
The Great Globe even has stone panels specifically designed as a graffiti wall: “Persons Anxious To Write Their Names Will Please Do So On This Stone Only” – and what do you know? Everybody seems to respect this request!
Points on this part of the walk (copy and paste the co-ordinates into Google Earth):
- Durlston Castle: N 50° 35.708 W 001° 57.190
- The Great Globe: N 50° 35.695 W 001° 57.117
Walk #77 Statistics (of which this post forms the second part):
- Date of Walk: 27 December 2014
- Walk #77 total distance covered: 9.55 miles
- Coast of Britain Walk Total Distance Covered: 651.00 miles
- CLICK HERE FOR LINK TO INTERACTIVE MAP!!!
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Pluto isn’t a planet anymore, so the list of planets is accurate…
I guess they were ahead of their time when the list was carved 😛
I just KNEW someone would start the is-it-planet isn’t-it-a-planet argument!!!!!
Sorry – I wasn’t arguing 😦
I just came across this topic a couple of weeks ago and
it’s fresh in my mind….
No I know you weren’t arguing, Jill, but when I wrote that post I had this sneaky suspicion someone was going to respond on the topic of Pluto…
… And of course it had to be me 😛
Actually, if it hadn’t come up a couple weeks ago, I
wouldn’t have thought anything of it – until then, I
hadn’t realized that Pluto wasn’t a planet anymore…
(I’m still getting used to the idea) I couldn’t pass up
the opportunity to put my new-found knowledge to
To me, Pluto will always be a planet, when not a cartoon dog. It has 5 moons for Heaven’s sake. How much harder could it have tried? RH ps this post has made me want to go to Durlston, if only to write on the designated board…
What a great idea for graffiti! And the globe is wonderful. I’m really going to enjoy following your family’s walk around Britain.
THanks for your comment! I thought the graffiti wall was a very good idea – particularly because everyone seemed to respect it.