80d – Durdle Door to Bat’s Head

The natural sea arch of Durdle Door stretches its arm parallel to the coastline, pointing out the line of old cliffs which once stood tall but were broken by the steady but persuasive action of the sea.  You can follow this line and discern darker shades of blue beneath the water.  These show the rocky line of the cliff base, now submerged and drowned.

Durdle DoorThere are a number of places where the teeth of the old cliff bases struggle to retain a presence above the sea’s surface.  These rocks poke up defiantly above the waves; in one sense they seem a vanguard to what lies beneath, but in reality they are the dying remains of a crumbled past.  They are called The Bull; The Cow; The Blind Cow; and The Calf.  They form a line between Durdle Door and Bat’s Head, just over half a mile to the west.  Here is the lonely Bull:

The BullBat’s Head itself is a sharp chalk promontory, poking out into the sea.  It too has a natural sea arch, Bat’s Hole, although compared to Durdle Door this arch is a baby, suckling at the sea which passes through it.  Standing just to the east of Bat’s Hole is another geological feature – a chalk stack known as Butter Rock (for a description of how these stacks are formed see my post on Old Harry Rocks).

Bat's Head and Bat's HoleThe cliffs between Durdle Door and Bat’s Head rise and fall in unforgiving gradients, but the scenery took our minds off the climbs.  At one point a Portland Coastguard helicopter flew by us.

Portland Coastguard HelicopterWe watched it as it circled what appeared to be Stair Hole, stopping to hover every now and again in more or less exactly the same spot.  All of a sudden, something was lowered out of the door.  Was it a person?  A stretcher?  We couldn’t tell.  I tried to see through my zoom lens, and managed to take a photo before the helicopter was lost from view as it descended behind the cliffs.  It was a stretcher, surely?

Portland Rescue HelicopterAn hour or so before we had been at that very spot.  There were a group of people getting changed into wetsuits who I thought at the time might be preparing to go coasteering.  Had one of them gotten into trouble?

A little while later the helicopter rose from behind the cliffs and headed off east and inland.

After we finished our walk we scoured local news boards outside newsagents, looking for headlines about dramatic rescues.  There were none.  I even stopped at a newsagent to see if there was a local evening paper which mentioned something.  Nothing.  When we got home we searched the internet, including the Portland Coastguard site.  Again, we found nothing.  Perhaps it was only an exercise.

Points on this part of the walk (copy and paste the co-ordinates into Google Earth):

  • Durdle Door:  N 50° 37.270 W 002° 16.620
  • Bat’s Head:  N 50° 37.360 W 002° 17.462
  • Butter Rock:  N 50° 37.356 W 002° 17.373
  • The Bull:  N 50° 37.260 W 002° 16.806
  • The Cow:  N 50° 37.269 W 002° 17.503
  • The Calf:  N 50° 37.260 W 002° 17.630
  • Stair Hole:  N 50° 37.070 W 002° 15.140

Walk #80 Statistics (of which this post forms the fourth part):


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5 Responses to 80d – Durdle Door to Bat’s Head

  1. Jill says:

    That first picture should be your new header photo 🙂

  2. Agree with Jill, the first photo is really lovely.
    It’s amazing how often you see helicopters hovering around the coast. I hope nobody was badly hurt. Perhaps, as you say, it was just an exercise.

  3. Missed this – glad I caught up!

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