Day 3 dawned much as day 2 had ended, with damp mist hanging over the coast. We made our way back to Musselwick Bay where we left off yesterday, both hobbling somewhat. We were wondering in our minds how we would approach this potentially long day and debating whether ‘discretion should prove the better part of valour’ and we should shorten the day.
As always, there were coastal flowers everywhere……and plenty of wet grass, bending over with the weight of moisture so that it wet our feet and legs as we walked.
Musselwick Sands looked very atmospheric with the mist softening the sharp shapes of the rocks, and we turned west to head out along the coast towards Skomer Island. We looked back across Musselwick Sands and the headland we had crossed yesterday evening.
We soon reached Martin’s Haven where the Skomer Ferry lands and we climbed up onto the headland the other side to get a view of Skomer and its near neighbour, Skokholm. When we got there, there was not much of a view, the islands being largely lost in the mist. Had we had more time, we might have considered catching the ferry and spending some time with the residents – puffins and voles, as well as half the world’s total population of Manx shearwaters during nesting season. Instead, we sat on a rock gazing out to sea, hoping the mist would lift.
Having given our aches and pains a rest sitting on our rocky seat near the Coastguard lookout post, we made our way southwards, passing Deadman’s Bay, another very rocky cove.
The ever present mist created some interesting photo opportunities!
Gateholm came into view, looking like a headland – in fact this is really an island although it is attached to the coast by a thin strip of beach. Comprising red sandstone, this diminutive island once supported a large population and 130 Iron Age hut circles were discovered there. It was also thought once to be home to a Monastic Community. Now, there is just wildlife.
We had been tipped off that there was a good cafe not far from this point so we made our way inland for some lunch. By the time we walked back to the coast path, the sun had come out, driving the mist away. Marloes Sands looked beautiful in the now warm sunshine.
A rather interesting sign here reminded us of how crumbly the coast can be here!
The beach looked particularly inviting so we dropped down off the coast path. When we got there, the sea looked equally inviting so we couldn’t resist the temptation to take time out from our perambulating to go for a swim. Although the sea was chill to start with, we soon acclimatised and eventually came out feeling very refreshed. Of course, having no towels, we just had to sit in the sunshine too dry off before climbing back up onto the coast path to continue our walk.
Of course, there is always plenty of wildlife to photograph. I took pictures of a sand hopper, what I believe is a tree bumblebee, and a large skipper butterfly, all in the space of a few meters as we climbed up off the beach.
At the southern end of Marloes Sands, we passed the now disused RAF Dale Airfield. With runways still intact, this once busy airfield now provides pasture for sheep. I wonder if the sheep really appreciate the awesome position of their pasture as they gaze out to sea 🙂 !
At the southern tip of the airfield and completely out of view from it stands The Hookses. This cottage with various outbuildings nestles in a little hollow right on the coast at the end of the main airfield runway. It was once a farm until the airfield replaced the farmland, and it was bought and restored by author, evangelist and church leader John Stott. He wrote most of his books here and let out the main buildings as a retreat centre. After his death, he was buried at Dale. His legacy continues though!
Just past The Hookses, we reached Westdale Bay and here, decisions had to be made! The coast path continues in a large 5 mile, 3 hour, circumnavigation of St Ann’s Head to reach the coastal town of Dale. However, there was a shorter stroll down the valley that would take us into Dale much more easily. Having consideration for knees and feet, we chose the latter and made our way via the short route into Dale.
At this point, we had our first distant view of the refineries that would be a feature of our walk tomorrow. We passed Dale Castle, originally from the 13th century but much changed and remodelled in the early 20th century to create a dwelling house in the style of a fortified manor house. Entering Dale itself, we passed an awesome display of vibrant valerian.
Dale was once a busy trading and fishing port but has become a holiday destination and water sports centre. With its stony beach and quiet bay, it makes a very pleasant place to spend some time, especially on an evening such as this. We stopped at the pub for food, which we ate on the decked roof terrace with lovely views out across the bay. With such a delightful setting, it will come as no surprise that we ended our walk there, although we did manage to hobble a mile or two more afterwards.
In the late evening light, we just took a gentle stroll out to the Pickleridge. Had we continued our walk, this was the time we would have to have been there as when the tide comes in this part of the coast path becomes flooded and impassable as the Gann Estuary fills. This, and Sandy Haven Pill which sits just a mile or two farther on, are the two points along the coast where you have to get your timing right or be prepared to detour several miles inland to get around the inlets.
Not that that concerned us on this occasion and we made our way back towards Dale. It was a fitting place to end our walk for the day. Despite the earlier weather and our various ills, it had been an awesome day’s walking. Tomorrow would bring issues of its own, but for now, we were satisfied!
Thanks for stopping by.
Until next time,
The Dorset Rambler
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