Archive for the ‘Long Distance Walks’ Category

Walk from Weymouth to Worth Matravers

Monday, March 16th, 2015

14th March 2015 Dorset Coast – South West Coast Path The much needed weekend break had arrived and we were on the 1800 train to Weymouth. As John works with train sets we were treated to first class and the journey was very civilised. Selma greeted us at Weymouth and, despite our large snack en route, we were soon tucking into a fine tandoori meal served by one of the most polite waiters I have ever come across. I think the restaurant was called Weymouth Tandoori – not very imaginative but worth finding. The walk back to the B and B was the dark side of Weymouth with lots of drug and alcohol crazed rather menacing people hanging around the streets. The cleverly named B and B – called Weymouth B and B was modern, clean and served up a good breakfast. The view from our room perhaps wasn’t the best. (Cost about £80.00 for a double room)

Inspiring View from B and B Window - if you like Bricks

Inspiring View from B and B Window – if you like Bricks

Weymouth is a handy place to start a walk as it can be reached swiftly by train from London. Our first day was to be a short walk to Lulworth Cove – about 12 miles away. We set off at a lazy 10 am on Saturday morning. Sadly Selma wasn’t to join us for the walk as she is recovering from an ankle injury so John, Grit and myself pushed off along the grand sea front towards the hills. We called in at a busy little café at the end of the beach to buy some sandwiches for lunch but they would only sell things with bacon so we had a cup of coffee and pushed on up the hill. There we found a really splendid café called The Lookout who would make us some sarnies for lunch. It had a very appetising menu. Next time we will have coffee here!

The Lookout in Weymouth

The Lookout in Weymouth

The imposing white Riviera Hotel in a Spanish style looks slightly smaller as you get closer. Soon a rather splendid outdoor centre looms beside the path. There are some long and intricate zip wires and diabolical swings which must be pretty character building for the hard hatted children who looked like they were enjoying the experience. The path is not for people who don’t like hills. Although this section is less arduous than the North Somerset and Devon sections it is nevertheless very hilly indeed. One year I was walking it and there was an ultra marathon taking place. They were so knackered that we were able to overtake most of them by walking at a brisk pace. It is said that the South West Path has the same ascents as climbing Everest twice. I believe it is Europe’s longest continuous path but I could be wrong. For March it was quite cold dropping to 2 degrees at night and only touching 7 during the day. Add a bit of wind and you can soon chill off. I wore a pair of merino long Johns with Montane technical trousers on top and two Devold merino tops with a Montane Event jacket on top. A merino hat, Devold wool mitts and merino snood were donned when necessary. It was a good choice as I never got cold or hot. I had a Rab belay jacket and waistcoat for when we stopped for lunch. At Osmington Mills there is a normally very attractive pub but on this occasion masses of flood defence work was being carried out and the place looked like a bomb site. I’m sure it will get restored to it’s former glory soon As we approached Burning Cliff we found a little wooden church. It was rather Norwegian. The cliffs around here have been known to catch fire. In 1826 this cliff burnt for a year. Soon we were climbing to White Nothe and preparing ourselves for some splendid walking along the whalebacks of this wonderful coast. Durdle Door is a popular spot for tourists and in this case almost entirely Indian visitors – not sure why! After Durdle Door there are just a few more beautiful miles before reaching Lulworth Cove where we once again met Selma at about 4 pm. We were booked into the very posh Lulworth Inn which was quite a treat compared to some places I’ve stayed in. (cost about £105.00 for a double room) John and I decided to do a bit of hill running before our evening meal. In the morning we left at about 9.30am as we had intentions of getting to Worth Matravers for lunch. If we had bothered to think about it we would have realised that that was virtually impossible without running shoes. The path from the bay was closed due to a cliff collapse so we walked back through the village and over the fields. In fact we could have saved ourselves a big hill by walking around the beach! Mupe is a lovely anchorage sheltered from the South West by a ridge of rocks. Soon we were in the Ministry of Defence firing range where we were attracted to a sign saying danger keep off hanging on a tank with the inevitable consequence. This section of the path is more demanding than the day before with some corking great hills. Those Ultra Runners must have been crestfallen when they saw some of the paths, many of which need steps to achieve the gradient. At Kimmeridge the surf was up and about 50 surfers were out there enjoying the waves. There was a group of kayakers riding the waves too. The oily stone at Kimmeridge can be turned on a lathe to make unattractive ornaments. There is a working oil well on the cliff. Once we reached Chapmans Pool we needed to turn away from the gorgeous Dorset Coast and head inland. Chapmans Pool can be a good overnight anchorage but nowadays the Sunseekers from Poole Harbour tend to snatch the space before the slow yachts can get there. Just a few more miles inland and we arrived at what must be one of Britain’s finest pubs – the Square and Compass. What a heavenly pie (and a pasty) and tasty pint! Can life get better?

Another Hill

Another Hill

Yet Another Hill!

Yet Another Hill!

Oil Well

Oil Well

John and Myself on a Tank

John and Myself on a Tank

Durdle Door

Durdle Door

Burning Cliff Church

Burning Cliff Church

Mupe Bay - A lovely anchorage

Mupe Bay – A lovely anchorage

Along the Dorset Coast

Along the Dorset Coast

 

Walking from Dover to Deal

Sunday, August 25th, 2013

10 miles

Sunday 18th August

One of the good things about bad sailing weather is that it is often good walking weather. When the forecast appeared rather uncertain for bringing Sumara up the Thames Estuary we decided to go for a walk instead. Poor Sumara hasn’t been used so much this year and I was amazed at the growth of weed. Luckily it just wiped off with my soft broom. We forgot to throw out the rubbish too so it was a worthwhile clean up visit.

This “Walk” was actually going to be a “Run”. Grit and I set off walking along the seafront from Wellington Dock with the intention of starting to run once we hit the path. The path started in a part of Dover that I have never visited before tucked behind the main ferry port in the eastern part of the dock. In a very picturesque street there stood the sad site of a closed down Shepherd Neame pub. Once we eyeballed the path leading straight up the cliff it was decided to continue walking then begin the run at the top. The path was pleasantly busy on what ended up being a fair and sunny day. Our run was rather short lived. Grit didn’t have her heart in it and would have preferred to have walked the whole path so she could take in the views. I ran on to the lighthouse and doubled back. There is a café at the Lighthouse called Mrs Knots Tearoom which looked good and seems to pick up five star reviews.We walked down to The Coastguard Pub in St Margaret’s Bay and were just in time (1430) to order lunch. All the food looked very good and our fish and chips was first class. We sat outside in the lee of the cliffs and could watch the ships in the channel and some yachts heading south. One was under full sail looking splendid but the two motor-sailing were looking very awkward in the surprisingly bumpy se with their mainsails flapping as they pinched to hard on the wind.

We walked on. By now the path was less busy. On reaching Walmer we turned down a narrow street with pretty cottages to find the sea again, and The Zetland Arms. We didn’t stop but the following week Philip Main invited us for dinner there. Coincidently he lives in one of the cottages. The pub has recently been taken over by Shepherd Neame and it was bustling with people enjoying evening meals. My Steak and Ale pie was one of the best I’ve had. So in just one 10 mile walk there are two great pubs.

The final stretch of the walk is flatter and takes you on to Deal which was heaving with people enjoying themselves listening to live music.

We saw the old Time Ball used to set the chronographs on the ship at anchor in the Downs. Time was against us to explore any more. We caught the eight minutes past hourly train back to Dover. The train was full of suntanned ramblers.

A great, varied and easy walk and a potentially good hill run.

Dengie Peninsular

Tuesday, November 20th, 2012

Approach to St Peters

St Peter’s Chapel, Bradwell on Sea

The Sea Wall protecting the Dengie Peninsular

Salt Marsh on the Dengie Peninsular

Maldon Mud

Maldon

The Jolly Sailor Maldon

John on the Sea Wall

Heybridge Basin

The Green Man Bradwell on Sea

Dunlins on the mud

Dunlins Flocking

Dengie Mud

BAe Base Station

John and I set off on the 0855 train from Liverpool Street to Burnham on Crouch and just over an hour later we were tucking into a full breakfast in a little café by the seafront. It is incredible to think that you can walk for 14 miles from here without coming across any houses or shops. This is the Dengie Peninsular which is perhaps the wildest place you can get to in an hour from London.  Apparently it was the inspiration for both H G Wells “War of the Worlds” which features Maldon and for Hitchcock’s “The Birds”. In just a few minutes you have walked past the posh yacht clubs and are on the sea wall with reclaimed land to the left and mud and estuary to the right. Soon the few moored boats disappear into the mist and the mud turns to salt marsh. We had prepared ourselves for a fairly bleak walk and in some respects we weren’t let down. It was flat and grey but surprisingly interesting walking along the wall. A few twitchers strolled by. We were entertained by flocks of thousands of dunlins. Second world war pill boxes were strategically placed and eventually we came across what seems to be a secret radio establishment owned by BAe with strange ariel structures. At this point we turned inland towards Bradwell. We wanted to save visiting St Peters Church until Saturday when we would be joined by Selma and Grit. We would have walked 14 miles and it was quite enough for the first day.
We booked into the Green Man Pub where we had one absolutely massive room and one very much smaller one. There was a roaring log fire and we had a tasty meal. The Apprentice Ale was top notch. Altogether a good place to stay but perhaps a bit expensive for a simple walking holiday (Large double £80, small twin £70).
On Saturday we walked out to St Peter’s Church. It is Britain’s oldest church (654) and was apparently built in Syrian style! It is a simple square building which was once used as a farmers barn. Nearby is a small Christian Community built as a place of peace after the war. Anyone can stay there of any religion or no religion. After a brief stop at the church we carried on to the sea wall. There is a small copse and a sheltered Bird Watching Sanctury with benches overlooking the salt marshes. The salt marshes are gradually eroding and old barges have been sunk to act as wave breaks.
We strolled along the wall as far as the radio ariels, this time approaching from the north. We turned inland along the St Peter’s Way. The area is a Ramsar Site, named after a convention in Iran in 1971 to protect wetlands of international importance. The area is also an SSI, a special protection area, and a special area of conservation. Soon we found ourselves in Tillingham where a pub tempted us for lunch.
We stayed a bit too long and so we needed to keep up a fair pace as far as Maylansea briskly walking across some rolling low hills overlooking the Blackwater Estuary. We had walked for at least 11 miles and it was clear that it would be dark by the time we reach Maldon. Selma decided to sensibly opt for the bus while we plodded on. Instead of following the winding coastal path we decided to carve our own way through the field paths. To our surprise the paths all existed and even in the dark we found our way across ploughed fields to the bridges across the many ditches. The last field was the site of the Battle of Maldon. The Vikings were camped on Northey Island so Brythnoth decided to get an army assembled to defend Maldon from attack. It was easy to defend Maldon because the Vikings could not get across the causeway from the island. The Vikings complained that it wasn’t fair and they should be allowed into the field to have a proper battle and Brythnoth made the poor tactical decision to allow them across. They went on to defeat Brythnoth’s army but were too weakened to attack Maldon. They went on to attack Sheppy. I learnt this tale and lots of others from Peter Caton’s book “Essex Coast Walk”. The book is so entertaining that I intend to read it cover to cover over the winter. Highly recommended to anyone intending to walk around Essex.
Bang on time, we walked into The Jolly Sailor, Maldon to be greeted by Peter and Mara as well as Selma. After two pints of Doom Bar we headed of for a meal at a restaurant called something Italian. The meal was really enjoyable but no thanks to the food. My sardine starter was appalling and Peter complained about his courgette and lobster. The carrots were rock solid and the steak and wine was poor. I was ill afterwards and didn’t fully recover until Sunday evening. However the staff were a laugh and the company was wonderful.
The rooms in the Jolly Sailor were clean and good value. The beds were strangely low with a solid edge. I suspect IKEA has tried to redesign a standard bed to produce a less satisfactory version. Breakfast was great but the Full English for the third day was beginning to be too much of a good thing. We met up with Peter and Mara for coffee and persuaded them to join us for a gentle stroll to Heybridge Basin and along the canal. We decided not to continue to Tollesbury, or Witham, or Colchester as originally planned.
After a gentle four mile circular walk admiring the Thames barges we got a taxi back to Bradwell to pick up Selma’s car. A very pleasant and interesting weekend.