Geotourism: The world's best geological bus trip
Article by Stephen Pickering
Catch the no.50 bus from Bournemouth rail station for one of the best geological sightseeing tours. Even better some of the buses, which run hourly, are open topped in summer. From the train station, the bus first winds through the opulent suburbs of Bournemouth, Poole and Cranford Cliffs before arriving at the glorious large natural Poole Harbour. From here the bus takes you through magnificent scenery to Sandbanks and across the ferry to Shell Bay, Studland and thence to Swanage. At Swanage walk along the seafront and then walk (circa 2 km) or catch another bus (no.5) to Durlston Head. The country park includes Durlston National Nature Reserve and a restored Victorian Castle, with visitor centre and excellent cafe.
Durlston Castle rests on Purbeck Limestones (a local building stone quarried at Anvil Point) but look northwards (as in the photograph) and you can see the Purbeck Limestones at Peveril Point, beyond that Shep’s Bay is where the Wealden and Greensands have been eroded. The more distant headland is the steeply dipping Chalk Group with Old Harry Rocks at its termination. Just offshore Elf Enterprise Caledonian carried out exploratory drilling in block 98/12-1. Beyond Old Harry lies Bournemouth Bay and the offshore extension of Wytch Farm.
Looking westward along the cliff top from Durlston you can see St Aldhelm’s Head (Portlandian), capped by an unusual and enigmatic square boxed chapel with a stone roof. The chapel was built according to legend by a local man in 1140, after he tragically watched his daughter and her new husband drown as they rowed to their home along the coast. Also highly recommended is a walk along the cliff top from Durlston to St Aldhelm’s.
The no.50 bus journey takes about an hour. Of course one of the benefits of retirement is the bus pass (my season ticket to heaven), but in case you do not yet qualify the fare is just £8.50p Return including the ferry, and worth every penny.