A trip up Britain’s tallest spire – Salisbury

Recently I have heard a lot about Salisbury and it’s impressive cathedral, so I took a day out to investigate what all the commotion was about.

You can get a behind the scenes tour of Salisbury cathedral and its impressive 123m spire.

2 hours in length and 664 steps passed quite quickly as we squirrelled our way up the tower and back down. Our wonderful tour guide led us gently through the thousand odd years of history that has made the place what it is today.

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Salisbury Cathedral

The first factoid that was made clear was just how much the spire weighs (itself about 6500 tonnes). If you look closely at the columns that support the centre, you can see how they bow outwards under the strain. It has also sunk, being that the entire cathedral is build on marshland (specifically 4 feet worth of gravel).

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enhance!

Due to a small thing called history and the creation of the Church of England (Google Henry VIII for details), there are few surviving examples of the original Catholic decor in the church.  There are various glass works from various centuries, and below is an example of some of the surviving medieval glass, rich in colour and dotted with impurities.

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Rich colours and richer materials

A few steps up some narrow spiral stairwells and we arrive at the rafters which we are told has been rebuilt at least once.

When Sir Christopher Wren was invited to advise on the structure of the cathedral, he suggested taking a 40 foot ships mast, splitting it down the middle and use it to reinforce the rafters to stop it from shifting.

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Rafters of Green Oak – Contains ship parts

Entering the tower itself, we are granted a spectacular mix of scaffolding. From medieval ironwork fastened using woodworking techniques to Victorian iron wrapped in wool pulling the spire together. All of these modifications over the years have kept the spire standing when similar specimens have long since collapsed. However, they have left it without a stone spiral staircase. So in order to progress up the tower, we need to trek up this wooden spiral staircase (See bottom right of picture).

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A head for heights is needed, and small feet.

A portion of the spire is closed so that the peregrine falcons nesting can have a chance to flourish.

 

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Bird nests galore

The mid portion of the tower is adorned with graffiti and window etchings, giving a small glimpse into past lives.

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Sponsored etched window panes.

After another climb up an even narrower spiral staircase, we reach the top of the tower and the base of the spire. From here the views are simply stunning.

 

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Museums and homes of clergy-persons.

We were fortunate that our time on the balcony was during a break in the storm.

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Ominous clouds over Salisbury

As for the spire itself, the tour stops at the base of the ladder thankfully. The interior frame rarely touches the sides of the spire and instead hangs down from the top, keeping the pressure necessary to hold it together.

 

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From here the hardest part of the journey began, 332 steps back down.

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A walk along the coasts of Fife

During the summer I found myself in Fife, Scotland. I took advantage of the wonderful sunshine and found myself exploring the coast. My journey started in Pittenweem, a small fishing village about 10 miles from St Andrews. Known for Saint Fillians Cave, it has been my home away from home for many years. I’d recommend the fish and chips if you ever get the chance.

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Pittenweem – Fife

A short walk westwards along the coast and you will find the tidal swimming pools, which in all my wisdom, I forgot to take a photo of. Well worth a skinny-dip in the summer.

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Tidal Pools found to the right, off camera…

Passing along St Monans church via the beach, I came across the ruins of Newark Castle.

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Newark Castle, long since abandoned

I’d recommend giving it an explore and if you are feeling brave, you can jump up to reach the spiral staircase.

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Newark Castle – Cellar

A short ramble further along and you will reach the Ardross Farm Shop and Catchpenny Safari Lodges (Glamping). The farm shop proves helpful to those walking in the sun without water..

After a refreshing drink and a short amble along the beach, I stumbled upon the Lady’s Tower.

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The Lady’s Tower – Elie, Fife

Apparently (according to googles) it was built in the 1760 for Lady Janet Anstruther for use as a changing room prior to her morning bathing routine.

All I know is that the view from it is lovely.

It was at this point, a magical taxi appeared and whisked me off to St Andrews. Now I heartily recommend giving St Andrews a visit, it’s a wonderful town rich in history and good food. It has some amazing ruins not limited to the Cathedral, Castle, Old Wall, Chapels, and Port.

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St Andrews Cathedral (Left) and St Rule’s Tower (Right)

A short drive from St Andrews and on the east coast of Fife you will find a wonderful place called Kingsbarns. It hides a 2 mile long golden sandy beach, littered with rock-pools.

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Kingbarns Beach, Fife

You’ll also notice multiple signposts directing you towards Scotland’s Secret Bunker. I’ve never been myself but it’s on my to-do list.

Anyway, I returned back to Pittenweem, and decided to go for a walk eastwards up the coast towards Anstruther.

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WW2 Coastal defence labelled by the locals

Another wonderful walk where I came across a peculiar sight.

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Blurry Photo

It was a small beach made entirely of intact sea-shells. It made a oddly crinkling sound as if walking on glass.

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She sells, sea-shells, on the sea-shore…

I ended up paying a quick visit through Anstruther, and toured the Dreel Burn (river) for a bit.

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Bridge across the Dreel Burn in Anstruther

Before shortly returning to the coastal path back home to the cottage.

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Anstruther Bay