Sunday 18 September 2016. The weather during this holiday has been fabulous with just two wet mornings during the last 13 days. I managed to get out walking every day and finished off this morning with just a couple of miles on the nearby Sika Trail.
During the 13 days I totalled 79 miles with 11,330ft of ascent. The coastal walks on the SWCP were just superb although the ups and downs at Lulworth Cove were a little severe.
Looks like autumn is here.
Saturday 17 September 2016. Last week I walked from Langton Matravers down to Dancing Ledge and turned right to follow the SWCP to St Aldhelm’s Head. Today I decided to make a similar start but to turn the other way (east) when reaching Dancing Ledge. I followed the SWCP as far as Durlston Head Castle. I didn’t think that I would meet too many other walkers but I was wrong. Coming the other way was a crocodile of charity walkers who had set off from Swanage on either a 16 mile or a 27 mile route. Rather them than me, although I can well understand their wish to do something for a good cause.
My turning point at Durlston Head was well placed being half-way through this walk and affording me the chance to have a late breakfast in the castle’s cafe. I’ve visited before but on a walk out of Swanage. Rather than going back on the same path, I opted to follow a higher level route across the top of the downs with great views and fewer ups and downs. The walk was 6.9 miles with a total ascent of 1,170ft.
Thursday 15 September 2016. The “ladies” dropped out today leaving me to do this walk on my own and for the remainder of this holiday. I think that the prospect of over 1,000ft of ascent put them off. I parked at the end of the road just outside the village of Kingston and walked out to Swyre Head (682ft); the highest point in the Purbeck hills.It was at this point that I had something of a “wow” moment. The view across to Kimmeridge Bay can’t be seen before reaching the summit of Swyre Head and it is something to behold. It really took me by surprise. There was a strategically placed bench at the top and I stopped for coffee and to drink in the view.
From here is would be downhill to Kimmeridge Bay and back uphill at the end of the walk. The question was which way to go? I decided to descend by the steepest route which would take me directly to the coastal path and to return via a slightly easier route through the village of Kimmeridge although there really wasn’t much difference.
Heading west on the coastal path I had great views of the cliffs away towards Lulworth Cove and beyond. Shortly before arriving at Kimmeridge Bay I passed Clavell Tower which has been moved 25m inland to stop it fallinginto the sea. There isn’t much at Kimmeridge Bay so I pressed on to the village where I’d planned to stop for a diet bar for lunch. This plan was quickly abandoned when I stopped in the Clavell Cafe for a sausage baguette and chips washed down by a pint of lime and lemonade.
Perhaps I should have given my lunch more time to digest before setting of on the climb up Smedmore Hill. It was something of a struggle on a very warm afternoon.I was soon at the top and then had a level walk with sea views on the way back to the car. The walk was 6.9 miles with a total ascent of 1,100ft.
Wednesday 14 September 2016. We set off today from the NT visitor centre on a walk that would take us to the site of Thomas Hardy’s grave and later to his birthplace nearby. The walk across fields at the start was very nice but we had a near-miss with “white van man” on a narrow country road forcing Karen and Josephine to jump into the hedge. Peace was restored as we took our coffee break sat in the graveyard of Stinsford church overlooking Hardy’s grave or at least the final resting place of his heart.
A lovely walk alongside a small stream and across more fields followed before we entered the edge of Puddletown Forest. The path was badly overgrown so we soon diverted onto a nearby road. This was a very odd place and whilst I have no personal experience, it gave the appearance of being a local hotspot for “dogging” or “cottaging” with one strange guy wandering in the undergrowth and cars parked on the roadside.
We were glad to turn off the road and back onto forestry trails, stopping for lunch near Swallet Holes. From here it should have been an easy and short walk back to the car via Hardy’s cottage. However, the forest was a maze of unmarked tracks and I must admit to taking a wrong turn or two. Hardy’s cottage is owned by the NT with admission being limited to pre-booked time slots. I didn’t want to go inside and was quite happy just to take a picture from the garden. The walk was 7 miles with a total ascent of 700ft.
Tuesday 13 September 2016. While much of the UK sweltered in the highest September temperatures for almost a century we had to contend with a thunderstorm and torrential rain. We set off to Corfe for a look around the Castle before a doing a walk nearby. The cloud was thickening as we walked from the car park up into the town and by the time that we had stepped inside the Castle grounds large spots of rain were falling. We retreated to the local bakery for bacon baps and then sat out the storm under the parasols in the courtyard of the cafe attached to the “model village”. There were loud cracks of thunder and regular flashes of lightning. It eased sufficiently after about an hour for us to walk back to the car without getting too wet.
We had our picnic lunch back at the ladies holiday accommodation before going out for a short walk in the afternoon through Wareham Forest. Josephine’s knee was sore and it started to rain again so we cut it short and made our way back.
The morning walk was just 1.25 miles and the afternoon walk was 3.6 miles. It wasn’t very much but after the exertions of yesterday it was probably enough.