It was a doozy in that we did a tour of the Dorset Coast (which to me sounded easy and relaxing) except we have at least 3 scheduled destinations which means coordinating 41 students off and back on the coach at least 3 times! Also not having been responsible for one yet, I was stressed it was an excursion I hadn't been on, or places I'd either not visited or had only done so, maybe once! Thankfully, the sign up sheet peaked over 40 and at that stage, a 2nd teacher (guide) is justified. Sam was kind enough to come with me (she didn't have to) and I assured her that I while I needed her to show me the ropes (just managing the basic things: the coach driver, what you tell the students, how you "do" it), I would do the heavy lifting. I was lucky as well that the coach driver was helpful and knew Dorset so well he did a fair amount of the "tour" info giving part. I had highlighted notes but he did it so naturally as he knew the area and has spent a lifetime driving all sorts of coach tours. So thank you Tony!
Many of you know I'm an avid hiker. NOT. My thighs burn going up the stairs at school to my afternoon class! And the first half of the Dorset Coast excursion includes two grueling hikes. D'OH! Well obviously I survived it, though my leg muscles are aching as I type. Having Sam on the excursion ended up with her leading the students up and down the hikes with me at the rear "gathering" and "waiting on" students - all code for me resting. Ugh! The views are stunning but I don't think I'll jump to sign up for another one because if I were to have to do it again and NOT have another teacher, I'd be screwed. I would have to waive everyone ahead of me and I'd be the last one on the coach - not the other way around which is kind of how it should be!
We did three stops: Durdle Door, Portland and Weymouth. We also drove through Wareham on the way which I will have to visit another time, just a charming little village! Anyway, Durdle Door is stunning and is one of the most photographed features of the "Juraissic Coastline" as it's called! The "door" is actually a big hole in the rock where the limestone has been eroded by millions of years of the water lapping against it. Durdle Door beach is beautiful (no potty though so you have to go pee way before at the car park before the hike down). Then we hiked up from the beach and then over a couple of the Purbeck hills to arrive in Lulworth Cove, which is stunning. The coach dropped us off at Durdle Door and collected us at Lulworth Cove so hiking was the only way to get a lift onto the next place!
Above pic: me in front of Durdle Door
Before you hike down or up, you get to enjoy this stunning view of Man of War Bay. You can just see the top of the "door" if you look carefully.
This was from Durdle Door Beach and facing the first of the 2 grueling hikes (up that way!)
Here we were waiting for the final students. While we "waited", I caught my breath and tried to loosen my fatigued muscles. After this we turned around to head down to Lulworth Cove...
Once I made it to Lulworth Cove (and all the students did too and we had about 30 minutes to eat and check out the beach there), we headed to Weymouth with a pit-stop en route in Portland. I don't understand really why this is part of the exursion as it's a bear to get to and you get a vista of sorts: you look out onto the water and can take pictures of the lighthouse but after Durdle Door and Lulworth it's just not all that. Thankfully it's a flat walk from the car park to the lighthouse which was good because a) we were pressed for time so I had them out and back on the coach in 15 minutes and b) my legs were jelly and might have given out under me if there had been an incline. However, I did learn that Portland is famous for its quarries and in fact Sir Christopher Wren (who was from Dorset) asserted that all the new buildings in London (after the Great Fire of 1666) he was responsible for designing should be made from Portland stone. And so, St. Paul's Cathedral, for example, is made from the stone there.
Above picture is Lulworth Cove from atop the 2nd hike.Our final stop was Weymouth which was a fishing village until the 1700's when King George III visited there for health reasons and loved it so much it became a trendy, holiday destination on the coast. Weymouth has its charm (better than Ports O'Call in San Pedro lemme tell you!) with a lovely beach (Chessle Beach), a marina and lots of character shops and buildings. The students (as well as Sam and me) had about 2 hours in Weymouth before the drive back to Bournemouth. It was a bit cloudly by the time we got there (though the temperature was lovely) so I didn't really take photos - they always end up so dark (blame my iPhone) when it's cloudy. But we enjoyed a sumptious cream tea and wander around the shops. Got back to the school just after 6. I motored home, picked up Abby (who was with Nancy all day) and was glad I had survived the hike, made some extra money and saw a few places I definitely want to take Mom and Shannon when they visit!