Day 24 21 July 2013 Kingston to Weymouth

I arrived last night at about 8ish, just in time to walk down to the Scott Arms in Kingston – the view is marvellous – overlooking Corfe Castle, the food is reasonably good (I had some very jumbo Jumbo Prawns), but the service is not brilliant.  I think the young lad is still washing the same pile of dishes as he was toying with last month when we called in for a drink after our diversion up from Chapman’s Pool.  The coast path is still closed because of landslides so I followed the diversion out of Kingston towards Kimmeridge.  Kingston is so improbably pretty that even a chocolate box might be embarrassed to sport a picture of it on the lid.IMG_4153

Today is easily the most spectacular so far.  The weather has been superb – at least 28 degrees all day with barely a cloud in the sky.  The colour of the water was so vividly turquoise it was difficult to believe it was the English Channel, not the Mediterranean.  The cliffs are a brilliant white, and oh, so steep!  The path climbs up, then drops steeply over and over again, for some 20 miles.  I can imagine it was an absolute haven for smugglers with tiny coves hidden between steep cliffs.IMG_4188

There were droves of people at Kimmeridge, and then further on at Lulworth Cove and Durdle Door.  The sun had brought out a wide expanse of flesh –a Tattoo Parlour’s Style book on the move.

One person I encountered was a complete mystery.   I have to say “person” as I am not sure of the gender.  I first saw what I took to be a woman coming towards me at Kimmeridge.  She had the musculature of a fell walker, but even more extreme, with every sinew showing.  Unlike everyone else she hadn’t a word of greeting, just a grim expression on her face as she raced along.  An hour or so later as I was toiling up the worst slope of the day at WoRbarrow, she passed me going up – from the rear, I decided it was actually a man.  I assumed he/she was doing a round trip to Kimmeridge, but then a couple of hours later, I ran into him again, moving back east a ridiculous pace, still with the same fixed expression.  Very odd.

As I walked along, I was amazed at the quantities of butterflies – clouds of them – peacocks, tortoiseshells and those white ones that look as though they have been embroidered all over with black thread.  I have never seen so many.  In the distance, I could see Portland Bill.

I passed Tyneham- a village that was requisitioned during the war by the army, and which has never been relinquished.  I did not make the detour to the village from WoRbarrow Cove but could see the houses from the cliff top.IMG_4202

On past Lulworth and Durdle Door, then down into the delightfully named Scratchy Bottom, before another haul up to Swyre Head.  IMG_4229Down again to Middle Bottom, then up to West Bottom, after which it became less vertiginous, but still drops fairly sharply to Ringstead.  IMG_4233IMG_4244Just after Ringstead I came to the Smugglers’ Inn – an absolutely gorgeous pub with an excellent garden and a very traditional pub menu – no pan-fried yam root drizzled with balsamic vinegar from Timbuctoo here – just excellent pie and mashed potatoes and very nice looking burgers.

I decided to stop for late lunch/early supper, before strollling the final 4.5 miles into Weymouth in the evening light.  I had considered paddling at the end, but, disappointingly, Weymouth beach is another shingle beach.

A very good day – 22.5 miles in total.  Probably the hardest day with all the undulations, but definitely the most rewarding.

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Day 23 23 June 2013 Swanage to Bournemouth

I am afraid I went backwards today!  Racked by guilt at having done the Swanage bit before finishing Bournemouth, I was keen to get out early.  The logical thing, given car complications was to start in Swanage and go east.  Jane and I set out at about 10.30am.  The first leg was a steep drop and then up again onto the headland which leads out to the Needles.  The cliffs were quite different from yesterday – less wooded and flatter.IMG_4124IMG_4115

It was a beautiful day and there were plenty of other people on the walk.  From the headland, we could see all the way down to Studland, Poole Harbour and Southampton.  It seemed odd to be walking with sea on my right and the sun behind me.IMG_4122

We came down from the cliffs and reached the beach at Studland around 11.30.  From there, it was 3 miles or so of beach – trying to keep to the firm sand at the water’s edge, rather than the soft sand which is difficult for walking. IMG_4134The sand was much paler than that at Bournemouth, which is quite golden.  We crossed Poole Harbour on the incredibly noisy chain link ferry, and then continued along Sandbanks and Bournemouth beach before heading back up to the station.  The houses overlooking the sea at Sandbanks are very grand – apparently extremely expensive too, but I preferred Swanage.  It was an uneventful day – I am quite blasé about naturists now and took the naturist beach completely in my stride.   Having felt yesterday as though I were finally in the south west, I felt right back in a semi-urban world again – very keen to start travelling west again – in the right order and direction!