I was clearing out my office today when I came across the journal I wrote during my first end to end walk……….so I thought I would post it !
Most of my walks are circular day walks but I like nothing better than just taking off with a pack on my back and walking wherever the mood takes me. No car, just my legs………and hopefully a B&B at the end of a days walking (not as easy as you might think!). This walk was quite some time ago now and the pictures are therefore quite old.
It’s here at last! Something I’ve always wanted to do – an end to end walk over several days. Someday perhaps I’ll walk the whole of the South West Coast Path, but for now, this is great – a 4 day walk along the Dorset coast starting from Osmington and reaching wherever. Around 15/20 miles a day, can I do that for four days whilst loaded up? We will soon know!
Early in the morning my ‘taxi’ arrived as a friend was giving me a lift to my starting point. I was ready and waiting although still debating which waterproofs to take, how many layers I needed, whether to wear boots or shoes – it’s so difficult to know in this country! It was 11.30am by the time I actually set off walking.
Osmington is a really nice village, very unspoilt and pretty with lots of cottages. The first part of the walk took me through the village and along a lane which became a farm track where I caught my first glimpse of the famous white horse etched into the downs above the village………actually ‘grey’ horse was probably more accurate as it had lost some of its whiteness! It’s strange but when I actually reached the top and stood by the horse, it looked like nothing, just some unrecognisable bare patches in the grass. I guess life is a bit like that – things often look clearer from a distance!
Walking along the top of the ridge was lovely, there were lots of lambs, and the skylarks were out in force – it was beautiful to hear them. The day was perfect, quite balmy and still, and although the sun wasn’t out, it was a bright day. The only downside was that it was hazy so I couldn’t fully enjoy the amazing views. I took my life into my hands a couple of times as I had to walk through some fields of cows. Now sheep, they are lovely, friendly, cuddly things, but cows, they are a different kettle of fish altogether ! Anyway, I survived the ordeal!!
I had lunch near Bincombe and then dropped down into the village to have a look round the old church…..and to take some photos of course! It was a lovely old church but a bit of a nothing village, so I passed on up the hill. I must say I had no problem route finding, with my map/book and the clear waymark signs it was straight forward. In fact I surprised myself!
Leaving the village, I could see my next target in the distance, about 7/8 miles distant. It was The Hardy Monument and I set myself a goal to not stop until I reached it. This was a goal my head had set but my feet hadn’t necessarily agreed with! And they started to complain about it too – not verbally of course, but in every other way!! Note to self – set shorter goals in future! But as always with me, a goal once set cannot be changed or it means FAILURE ! So I trudged on – and it was a bit of a trudge towards the end! But I was determined! And I made it, too, without too many sore places, and no blisters.
I rewarded my feet by letting them have some air as I sat beneath the monument – i.e. I took my shoes and socks off. I could hear my feet audibly sigh with relief! It was funny how all the other visitors disappeared at that point ! Ah well, its one way to get the place to yourself. I was really pleased as I had covered 10 miles in 4 hours and I was ahead of schedule. I could afford to take my time a bit more for the last 4/5 miles.
Having aired my feet for half an hour and taken on some energy, aka food, I set off again. After a mile or two the promised rain came but it was a bit of an apology of a downpour, thank goodness. I didn’t even need waterproofs so they had the luxury of being taken for a ride without having to work for it. I eventually dropped off the hill through yet more sheep with lambs, some clearly called Shawn as they had no wool, and into Abbotsbury, my stopping point for the night. It was 6 o’clock when I checked into a B&B.
What a fantastic day! I thoroughly enjoyed it! And I thoroughly enjoyed my hot shower and cuppa too ! In fact, in the evening I was so energised that I went out for a walk, climbing up to St Catherine’s Chapel that sits at the top of a hill overlooking the village. By then, the haze had cleared and there was even a bit of a sunset, although the emphasis was on the ‘bit’! When the sun had gone down, it was time to retreat to the local hostelry for a well earned drink.
A great end to a great day!
Surprisingly after a poor nights sleep, I was up early. I was dressed and down for breakfast at 8.00 and a great breakfast it was too – full English with toast, marmalade and tea. Just what I needed to set me up for the day.
I was out and walking before 9.00, first of all climbing back up to St Catherine’s Chapel before dropping down the other side to Chesil Beach. It was a fabulous sunny morning. I expected my first few miles to be nice and easy as they are flat but I forgot they followed the edge of Chesil Beach which means walking on shingle – hard work! It’s just the greatest place though and I spent some time trying to capture the essence of the place with the camera.
All along this part of the walk through West Bexington and on to Burton Bradstock, there was a fantastic display of wild flowers of all colours and they were picked out beautifully by the bright sunlight. The footpath after Burton Bradstock was lovely too. There were only minor climbs and lots of nice flat, wide grassy paths – very kind to feet and knees ! They didn’t complain a bit even after yesterday’s exertions.
After a few hours I dropped down into West Bay, which was just as well as I was hungry and also had no water left – this hot weather exhausts the water supply very easily. Mind you, I had to take quite a detour before West Bay, going inland through a caravan site just to get across a narrow stream – it would have been quicker to have taken my shoes and socks off and paddled across rather than walk all the way to the bridge and back on the other side.
I also had quite a detour in West Bay too, but that was of my own making as I kept going up walkways only to find there was no way across the harbour entrance and having to retrace my steps – should have checked the map first…….but that is far too easy and sensible, and after all, I am a man ! Anyway, my spirits lifted when I saw a sign over a kiosk saying ‘bacon rolls and tea’, so I just about ran over to it – and got them to fill my water bottle as well. I sat and ate beside the harbour wall with just the starlings for company – they kept landing on the table right in front of me and looked longingly at my roll. I almost felt guilty at not giving them some – almost, but not quite! I figured my need was greater than theirs!
It was time to get on the road (or path) again so I said a cheery goodbye to the starlings - and they just ignored me. Well they were probably put out with me! With lunch inside me and 10 miles behind me, I walked with a new spring in my step – until I saw Golden Cap, the highest point on the south coast of England, in the distance. I would have to climb that later, but there were numerous others before and after as well. Its funny how sights like that can suddenly sap your energy ! Anyway, I ignored it and carried on.
The views from the top of each peak were amazing…….but why do they have to make them so difficult to get to? Why can’t someone invent an eco friendly country escalator? Golden Cap, when I reached it, was a difficult climb, especially after 15 miles of walking. My feet and legs were now complaining in unison! My body was soaking up water like a sponge too and I had very little left. But when I reached the top, it was worth it…….because I could sit down ! The annoying thing was that there were people on the top which meant I had to pretend to be climbing it easily – well it wouldn’t do to let people know I am not a superwalker ! There is a need to create the impression that I am strong, energetic and young. Vanity, vanity!!
The disappointing thing was that having reached the pinnacle on this days walking, I still had another three and a half miles to walk…..and more climbs! In fact the last climb of the day was the toughest, with a heavy pack and virtually no water, I was relieved when I reached the top. I just kept telling myself that all I had to do was keep putting one foot in front of the other, one step at a time and I would get there. Simples! Yeah right!!
From this point, my route took me down hill into Charmouth where because of cliff falls I would have to follow the road into Lyme Regis, my stopping point for the day. Walking along a road with noisy traffic flying past is not my idea of fun but I was determined that I would still walk it even though I had already walked 20 miles. And then, after a mile or two of torture I spied……..a bus stop! And not only that, but a bus was due in 5 minutes ! It was just meant to be, so I did!
Tired but happy, I checked into a B&B – which was no easy task as they were all fully booked! It was something of a disappointment after last night’s accommodation but I was so tired that I didn’t care! After a refreshing shower and cuppa, I went off for……..you guessed it……..a walk!
Day 3 – to follow next time
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Until next time,
The Dorset Rambler.
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