I should make something quite clear. I prefer to walk mountains, moors and high places. Ok, so I sometimes I walk the dog on one of our local beaches, but I’m not a beach walker – I want ups and downs, and views that change with almost every step, things that you don’t get walking a beach. Mind you, anyone familiar with the coastline of the UK will tell you that you are often in for a surprise if you go expecting a flat, easy beach walk.
Our walk over Dartmoor (see post #97) a couple of days earlier had been uncharacteristically benign. A cool but bright day had eventually turned to T-shirt weather, something of a rare event on Dartmoor in my experience. This had been followed the next day by storm conditions, and we had considered heading back for home. Instead we soldiered on, heading for the Jurassic Coast of Devon and Dorset.
The promise of fine weather soon had us out on the trail. The plan was to walk a short section of the South West Coast Path, including the highest point on the path, the distinctive Golden Cap at 191 metres. Our start point was the hamlet of Seatown – from there we headed inland, skirting round Langdon Hill, heading for the ruins of St Gabriel’s Church.
The church dates back to at least 1240 AD, but became derelict in the late 18th Century as the local population dwindled, though there could never have been many people living here as the church is tiny. From St Gabriel’s we pressed on over Chardown Hill, a mere 194 metres high, but three metres higher than Golden Cap. However, those three extra metres added little of interest to an otherwise unremarkable hill.
We pressed on along the side of Stonebarrow Hill, before starting to drop down to the South West Coast Path. As we walked there were impressive cloud formations ahead of us, with the flat tops sometimes associated with storm clouds. Not today though, and in a short time they had sorted themselves out into fair weather cumulus – no nasty weather surprises then!
Having established ourselves on the South West Coast Path, it soon became obvious that the trail was following the usual coastal formula – plenty of ups and downs. The fragile nature of some sections of the trail soon became apparent, with the cliff edge crumbling away in places, sometimes quite close to the path. Our dog ‘Mist’ seems to enjoy peering over these edges, and I made a mental note to keep a close eye on her on snow cornices this coming winter.
On coastal paths, every uphill is followed by a downhill, but in our case it was taking us back to Seatown, where our camper was parked up. As luck would have it, the Anchor Inn was welcoming and dog friendly, which meant that we weren’t going to be doing any driving for the rest of the day.
Before the pub, we just had to take a look at the beach – the storms of the previous couple of days, combined with a stiff breeze, made for a ‘lively’ sea, with not a bucket and spade in sight. We shared the view with a handful of hardy fishermen!
Our walk had been a short 10kms, but we had managed to include a total height gain of 550 metres, despite the highest point on the walk only topping out at 194 metres. That’s coastal walking for you! The next day we had a short walk out in the Lulworth Cove area, and it looks as though Durdle Door may warrant another visit. There might be something in this coastal walking after all!
Text and images © Paul Shorrock
p.s. We had a great trip down to the South West, but I was soon looking forward to being back amongst the hills in the place I now call home – North Wales …. (You can join me there in the blog next week)