Cave Hole, Portland

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Cave Hole (and the Blow Hole) is a large cave with a blow hole and a wooden crane (Broad Ope Crane) situated on the cliff top. Cave Hole lies on the south east side of the Isle of Portland, in Dorset, England. It is found half a mile (800 m) north-east from Portland Bill. The interior cavern is 50 feet (15 metres) square and 21 feet (6.3 m) high.[1]

Background

Cave Hole was originally known as "Keeve's" and often appeared in many of Portland's smuggling tales.[2] The cave represents the first stage in cave collapse, and is a depression 12 metres inland from the sea-cliffs where the roof of an underlying sea-cave has collapsed. Over previous centuries, the surrounding area of the cave, like much of Portland Bill, has been quarried around the cliff edges.[3]

Cave Hole is made up of a series of caves with steep roof sections, tunnels and ledges. The cave is also the prime Deep Water Soloing (DWS) area on Portland, as well as being a well protected site.[4] The cave is popular with climbers, as the area dispels the myth that Portland is all flat walls full of crimpy holds.[5]

A local mythical tale has surrounded the cave. The tale states that the cave is home to Roy Dog - a black dog, as high as man, with large fiery eyes, one green, one red. It is said that the creature emerges from the watery depths to seize any traveller passing by Cave Hole, and drags them down into his dark watery domain.[6] The Roy Dog was subject to a tale in the book Dark Dorset, written by Robert Newland and Mark North, who even used an artist's impression of the creature for the book's front cover.[7]

Wrecks

Various small craft have been driven into the cave by south easterly gales. The largest of which was a 40-ton vessel from Cowes in 1780.[8] Ann Davison, who was the first woman to single-handedly sail the Atlantic Ocean in 1952, was involved in a shipwreck at the cave. With her husband Frank Davison, she purchased the yacht "Reliance". The boat required more refurbishment than anticipated and Frank was unwilling to compromise on standards. Debts grew, and with a writ of repossession about to be nailed to the mast, Ann and Frank set sail for the West Indies, with the boat unfinished, and into the teeth of a gale. After intense hardship they were wrecked at Cave Hole on the east side of Portland Bill on 4 June 1949, where Frank drowned but Ann managed to scramble ashore.[9]

In 1952 Davison published her first autobiographical book Last Voyage, which detailed the ill-fated purchase of Reliance, and the wrecking.[10] Later recalling the event Davison said "I did not look back at the sea. I knew I had beaten the sea for myself, but only for myself. Everything else the sea won from me."[11]

The Blow Hole

The cave's blowhole stretches far into the solid rock, and allows people to look down through an iron grill into the sea cave. The roof of the cave had broken through to the surface, lying in a hollow for decades. Whenever a powerful easterly gale occurs, the sea snorts up through the fissures. Soon after the blow hole was created, visitors were protected by the placing of steel bars. During the late 1980s, Weymouth and Portland Borough Council decided to block off the hole with heavy stone slabs as the hole was believed to be too dangerous. In January 2004, the same stones were placed over the hole again, however the waves successfully broke and tossed them around as before. The latest arrangement in 2007 saw the council adding a second set of new bars, whilst new heavy stones have been placed around the edge of the grid, allowing visitors to now look down into the blow hole.[12]

References

  1. Legg, Rodney (1999). Portland Encyclopaedia. Dorset Publishing Company. pp. 22, 23. ISBN 978-0948699566.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. Legg, Rodney (1999). Portland Encyclopaedia. Dorset Publishing Company. pp. 22, 23. ISBN 978-0948699566.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. "Portland Bill - Geological Field Guide". Southampton.ac.uk. 2012-10-19. Retrieved 2013-07-10.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. "Cave Hole". Climb Dorset. Retrieved 2013-07-10.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. "UKC Logbook - Cave Hole". Ukclimbing.com. 2008-11-03. Retrieved 2013-07-10.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. "Cave Hole on Portland in Dorset and the ghostly Roy Dog". Visitweymouth.co.uk. Retrieved 2013-07-10.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. Lovegrove, Benjamin (2009-03-12). "Atmospheric & Haunted Places: Portland Isle Sea Caves & a Ruined Church". Atmospherichauntedplaces.blogspot.co.uk. Retrieved 2013-07-10.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. Legg, Rodney (1999). Portland Encyclopaedia. Dorset Publishing Company. pp. 22, 23. ISBN 978-0948699566.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. Davison, Ann (1956). My Ship is so Small. London, Peter Davies.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. http://www.amazon.co.uk/Last-Voyage-The-mariners-library/dp/0246132914
  11. Attwooll, Maureen (1998). Shipwrecks (Discover Dorset series). Dovecote Press. p. 7. ISBN 978-1874336594.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. "Portland Blowhole and Waterfall". Geoffkirby.co.uk. Retrieved 2013-07-10.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

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