AROUND West Dorset Colin Varndell’s name is synonymous with extraordinary wildlife photography.

So when you hear he and wife Susy have a book out called The Natural Beauty of Dorset is might be an obvious assumption it will be a coffee table picture book full of his work.

But The Natural Beauty of Dorset is as far from just a pretty picture book as it is possible to be.

It does feature 200 pictures – but the 60,000 words also cover the geology, history, the natural history and industrial and cultural heritage of Dorset, as well as a look at a selection of towns and villages.

Colin and Susy Varndell were flattered to be approached by London publishers Hale who wanted the couple to write the book.

Suzy said: “Of course it was very flattering. It is different from other Dorset books that I have seen because it is so wide-ranging.”

She said it was a difficult job to select the 200 photographs but the publishers were adamant that was all they were allowed.

But there were other challenges over the year it took to do the book.

She said: “There was quite a lot of research but it has been absolutely fascinating.

“You think you know Dorset and then suddenly you realise that, no you don’t. We discovered absolutely masses and it is just enchanting some of the things we found out. It was a lot of work but it is a labour of love. You enrich your own lives but money is not the prime motivation.”

They each chose the chapters they would research and naturally Colin did the largest natural history chapter and also the geology.

Colin said: “I am not terribly interested in history but Suzy is. But I found the geology fascinating.

“I didn’t know a thing about it when I started. I didn’t have a clue but now I find it is the basis of everything.

“I have always been aware of the media attention on the Jurassic Coast and have spent a lot of time photographing it but hadn’t ever given a thought to how it all evolved.”

So now when he photographs East Cliff in West Bay he knows how and why it looks like it does – and is enthusiastic to pass that knowledge on.

He said: “I could tell you lot. East Cliff is made up of bands of rock, some hard and soft. The soft layers were laid down in a rough sea during thousands of years of turbulent weather. It was only the heavy grains of sand that could settle on the sea bed and form the sediment because they are angular cannot bind together.

“Then there is a couple of thousand years of very calm weather and during that time the organic debris can settle with the sand and bind the gaps to become hard bands of rock.

“And there are 44 metres of it on East Cliff and another 400 metres under the ground and that represents only a few million years.”

He is already well-known for his talks on the Dorset countryside and wildlife but now the book will form a new presentation called the Natural Beauty of Dorset.

He’s already tested it out on an audience in Milborne St Andrew and it went down well, he said.

The new presentation is likely to be launched officially in September either in Bridport or Kingcombe, he added.

The book costs £16.99.