On Thursday 27 February, half a dozen members of the Geology Group joined with a geology group from the Open University and members of the Jurassic Coast Trust to explore the area around Abbotsbury. The event was organised by the JCT as a test run for future public walks and was lead by Vincent Sheppard, the leader/instructor of the U3A Geology group and who is also a JCT Ambassador.
The walk started in the centre of Abbotsbury and we were told some of the early history of the village. This included the area being a gift by King Canute and later Henry VIII to their followers and courtiers.
The walk continued up the hill, eventually to the Ridgeway. On the way, Vincent explained features of the geology, including an iron ore outcrop that was hoped could be exploited commercially and lead directly to the establishment of Abbotsbury’s now-abandoned railway line. Further on, we crossed the Abbotsbury Fault, which caused the whole of the area to sink by some 300 metres and occurred at the same time that the Atlantic was opening up. (It’s all quite safe now). From the Ridgeway itself we admired local round barrows and distant views over Lyme Bay.
Returning to the village, we ascended to St Catherine’s Chapel where Vincent explained the history both of the Chapel and St Catherine herself and then returned for a description of the Abbey ruins. Finally we visited the historic village church.
The walk was voted a great success. We can recommend that U3A members who are interested in history, geology, geography or just a very pleasant walk should look out for the repeats in the future when they will learn much more than they have heard here.