This past weekend Jean-François organised an officially un-official postdoc hike to Durdle Door. We had originally planned on going in February, but had to postpone due to the big storm that hit the region that particular weekend. I might have been the only one that thought that it would have been a good idea to go anyway. In my mind the giant waves would make for some awesome photos. It was probably a good idea that more practical minds made the decision. Some of the remnants of the destruction were still evident now, with destroyed walking paths and pieces of rock that had been displaced. Due to the change in schedule some people that were originally planning on going were unable to make it. The people in our car had stuck together since the second postdoc hike. But people come and go in a place like Cambridge, and Harnik who was part of the original team had moved back to India. So the last few hikes the team had consisted of Miriam, Andy, Tüzer and myself. However, Miriam made sure that even if there were not always six cars going, our car would still be Team 6. This weekend Tüzer was away in Turkey, so Diana who was visiting our lab got to join the now infamous Team 6 car. Let’s just say we have a bit of a good spirited competition between the cars, especially with Martin, who this time named his car team Martin’s Angels.
Our car’s plan was to leave a bit early on Friday to avoid the traffic and to make a detour to some scenic places on the way, however our quick lunch turned into a three-course affair at Carluccio’s that lasted about two hours. What we didn’t realise (or perhaps Miriam, our driver did) was that this slight delay meant we would get stuck in the rush-hour traffic on our way out of London. In the end we had to skip our detour to Winchester and make straight for Lulworth Cove. We arrived at the hostel around eight, got the keys and headed to the pub for some well-deserved dinner.
The Durdle Door is a big cliff formation that has been eroded so that there now is an archway standing out in the water. We got up fairly early, had a leisurely breakfast then headed out on the trail. The plan was to walk west, have lunch somewhere along the way, then double back and return in the evening. It was a beautiful walk along the coastline. Getting up early and walking in a new place makes time seem to stretch out, and it was still morning when we reached the Durdle Door. We took a break on the beach and Fjóla brought out a bottle of wine that she had bought en route and shared it.
After this relaxing break the walk got a lot steeper, but the view was quite amazing from the peaks that we passed. After lunch the scenery started to change, and we got into a more forested area, passing what looked like an abandoned house with a pirate flag. The original plan was to return by the same route, but we decided to walk a bit further inland to walk on more even ground. This took us through sheep grazing territory. A couple of us started approaching the sheep to try and get a nice close-up photo, but the sheep being sheep were not as interested in the prospect of human interaction. The two closest sheep turned around and ran away, which caused a few other nearby sheep to start baa-ing and moving in the same direction as their peers. This effect cascaded and soon the countryside was filled with baa-ing sheep, with more and more of them coming up the hill and running past us.
Back at the hostel Fjóla took charge of the cooking, which she had prepared the day before. After a delicious meal we decided to play a game of Mafia. The people playing the game get assigned different roles. The goal of the game for the townspeople is to identify and kill the mafia, while the mafia is trying to kill off the majority of the townspeople before they are discovered. This was the first time I played it, and I drew one of the three paper slips with “Mafia” written on it. This meant I would have to maintain a good poker face, pretending to be just another townsperson. Andy and Miriam also got the Mafia card. We decided to kill Fjóla but our efforts were foiled by the doctor. The game entered the next phase and the first question asked was from Diana who had played the game before. She asked me if I was Mafia. I told her no, but I must have grinned like a fool, because I got voted out pretty much right away. The upside was that now I was free to keep my eyes open all the time, and could capture a few photos of the other people playing. The second and third game I got to be a townsperson, which was a lot more comfortable, but both times we got outsmarted by the Mafia.
On Sunday we packed up our things and headed out with our cars to a second trekking location. Our initial plan had been to walk east, but that part of the coast was closed this weekend for a military exercise. As you can see from the photos this part of the coast was equally beautiful. On the way out we walked on the ridge, and then we returned along the beach. Some parts of the route were a bit tricky, and I went ahead to be able to capture the other people’s descent. The others were silhouetted against the sky, or backlit against the mountainside. After coming back to the village we had lunch out in the sun, and then afternoon tea in a local tea house.
So what new did I learn this time. I guess I am still struggling a bit with the 20 mm lens, need to remember to get closer and fill the frame. Photographing in manual mode is getting easier, and I am starting to become more comfortable with dialling in the settings. Hiking is a lot of fun, and the coast around the Durdle Door is very beautiful.