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The Things I've Seen: The Agglestone

THE AGGLESTONE is a 400-ton lump of iron ore that was dropped by the Devil. He was on his way to Salisbury to flatten the cathedral with it, but the load became too heavy for him, so he abandoned it. Out on the heathland of Dorset, it stands alone, triangular and grim. This is a good place from which to watch the ships coming up the English Channel.

I went by ferry to the Isle of Purbeck. The ferry boat was new and hauled itself along on giant chains which lay on the seabed. I came ashore and joined a smooth road heading south.

The Agglestone is a mile from the road. There is a problem with erosion: the land is being washed away. The paths and tracks are badly worn. Cycling is not allowed: I had to carry my bike most of the way. Perched on top of the sparse hill, the Agglestone looked out of place: it has resisted erosion, while the soft rock around it has gone. It casts a long and sinister shadow.

A man watched as I approached, carrying my bike. 'You're not supposed to ride bikes up here,' he said.

(Photograph omitted)