Yesterday I had a fantastic l o n g walk – 35.3 miles to be exact, from sunrise to sunset……and it was great! Now, you will know that I love walking, and that I enjoy long walks, usually between 12 and 20 miles but I really fancied doing a marathon walk so I decided to give it a go. I confess that at my age I wasn’t totally certain that I would make it all the way so I had my wife on standby to pick me up at any point if it became necessary but in the end she wasn’t called upon and I made it all the way – according to my GPS it was 35.3 miles at an average of 3.1 mph walking speed and a fraction over 12 hours! At the end of it I was a bit weary but really pleased too so I thought I’d blog my day in pictures!
I hasten to add that the pictures are all snaps with the compact camera and all were taken ‘on the run’ so probably not the best pictures – well when you are walking that distance, you just don’t have time to stop for long!
The day started early as I caught the first ferry from Sandbanks across the Poole Harbour entrance to Shell Bay. It was a fabulous morning with a beautiful atmospheric and misty sunrise – a really great morning to be out!
Coming off the ferry, I walked for three miles along the Shell Bay Beach with no one about apart from a dog walker who had got off the ferry with me.
I walked along the beach as the sun rose and reached the bay and village of Studland.
Having gone through the village with just a few early cyclists about, I walked out to the cliff tops at Old Harry Rocks, and climbed up over Ballard down to drop down agin into Swanage.
Usually when I am walking, I try to avoid towns and stay in the countryside as much as possible but I do think Swanage is an interesting place especially along the sea front where the old railway lines are still evident.
And towards the southern end of Swanage you pass the ‘derelict’ building below – it is of course not derelict, that is a mural painted on the building. Quite clever I think!
After Swanage, I climbed up over the downs to reach Durleston Head and Anvil Point with its old lighthouse.
And then on along the Dorset Coast Path, passing Dancing Ledge which is an old quarry. The name comes from the fact that the ledge where boats used to moor to be filled with rock is the same size as a ballroom dance floor.
From Dancing Ledge, I continued westwards passing the quarries of Seacombe, Headbury and Winspit to climb up to the top of St Aldhelm’s Head with its tiny Norman chapel and its row of old coastguard cottages. Unbelievably, the building on the left was originally the boathouse although I am not sure how they got the boat down to sea level! The cottages are now privately owned although the coastguard lookout is still manned albeit by volunteers.
St Aldhelm’s marks the start of a series of stiff climbs as the path drops down to sea level before climbing up ‘the staircase’ to the top of Emmet’s Hill, before dropping down to sea level again at Chapman’s Pool, to climb up again to the top of Houns Tout. It is a tough section of the walk!
The end of the coastal section was at Kimmeridge with Clavell Tower overlooking the bay. This tower built by John Clavell was derelict and in danger of crumbling down the cliff until The Landmark Trust took it over and dismantled it stone by stone to move it 30 meters inland. It is now used as holiday accommodation – what a great place to stay!!
From Kimmeridge I headed inland, climbing up over two inland ridges to the Creech viewpoint where I turned eastwards to walk along the Purbeck Ridge, passing Grange Arch, a folly erected by the owners of Creech Grange which is a stately home in the valley below.
Half way along the ridge I dropped down into Corfe with its ruined castle and then climbed up again to the top of the ridge that you see the other side.
Nearing the end of the day, a mist started to creep up the valley below which made for a rather atmospheric view looking back towards the fading sun.
Then after several miles of ridge walking, I had to drop down to the road before climbing up the other side to the Obelisk which stands on Ballard Down. The Obelisk commemorates the coming of the first fresh water supply to Swanage. It had to be taken down during the war as it could be used by enemy aircraft as a navigation aid and when it was re-erected after the war, the bottom stone was found to be damaged. The Obelisk is therefore now not as high as it was originally. By this point, the sun was going down.
In fact, by the time I reached the ‘Rest and be Thankful’ stone seat, the sun was disappearing behind the hill. From this point though I just had to drop down into Studland and then retrace my steps along the beach with the gentle lapping of the waves and the gradual appearance of stars as the light faded to night. A magical end to the day!
I did make two mistakes on this walk! The first was that I forgot to take a hat – or in reality I failed to anticipate how warm the day was going to be! So I had to create a rather fetching beany out of my shirt otherwise I would have burned quite badly! The picture below is posted thanks to my son Paul who thought I should put it up – I don’t normally do self portraits!!! The other mistake was that I didn’t take enough fluids with me but fortunately I knew the route passed through a farm which has campers in the summer so I guessed there would be standpipes in one of the fields!
Sorry it is a long blog! My purpose in putting it up is not to boast of my ‘achievements’ but to encourage those who might think they are ‘past it’ or who think they are too unfit, to just get out and do it – I don’t think you will ever regret it. It doesn’t have to be 35 miles, a short walk is just as great! I’m just grateful that at my age I am blessed with good health that enables me to still get out and enjoy this wonderful county of Dorset!
Thanks for reading the ramblings of The Dorset Rambler!
The Dorset Rambler