And so we arrive at September….
It was a busy old month. The early part of it was lined up for a couple of day’s hike and wild camp along the Southwest Coastal Path (this was the hike with HBX that got postponed from August).
We planned to drive down to Swanage, park the car and then get the bus back up to Poole harbour to pick up the start of the path. We reckoned that over the space of a couple of days we could make it down to Lulworth Cove before getting the coastal bus back to Swanage.
After executing the first part of the plan flawlessly (driving to Swanage, via the glass & chrome monument to money that is Sandbanks, and parking the car) we hit our first stumbling block. Delivered in charming fashion by a cheerful pensioner at the bus stop in Swanage, she told us of 2 issues with our plan:
A) The MoD firing ranges at Lulworth would be closed to the public for live firing exercises. We needed to cross them towards theend of our route, so this translating to a circa 8 mile detour before hitting the Cove.
B) The coastal bus wasn’t running.
Bugger. She smiled the smile of an old lady who still knows a thing or two, we thanked her, got on the bus and rejigged plans. New plan: Walk as far as the ranges, turn round, walk back. Not ideal, but when your coastal path is a coastal path you’re pretty well directionally limited to ‘forwards’ or ‘back’.
The bus ride back up to Poole trundled along without incident and we ambled down to the start point near the chain ferry. The first part of the route runs along the beach so I spent the first few miles hiking barefoot through the ebb and flow of the sea, boots dangling from my pack. The sun shone and it was glorious.
After a pretty short walk we had to stop and wait whilst an air ambulance landed on the beach to pick up some unfortunate soul. As we waited the realisation dawned that we were midway across a nudist beach. The commotion from the helicopter piqued the interest of our fellow beach dwellers and they started appearing in the dunes like naked wrinkly meerkats. I wouldn’t say it was a particularly scientific study, but based on that day’s observations I would put the average age of a south coast naturist at about 60.
If you look closely you can just see the chopper (fnarr).
We walked on. Eventually the beach ran out and we climbed to the top of the cliffs. At Old Harry’s Rocks we sat for a while and watched dogs and schoolchildren get alarmingly close to cliff edges, before setting off towards Swanage (again). More cliffs and prickly bushes came and went before we descended down to another beach and a short walk into the town to find fish and chips and water.
After eating we pressed on again, past lighthouses and climbed through woods (the woods eliciting such a moan-fest from HBX that I briefly considered pushing him into the sea at the next opportunity). Eventually we cleared the woods and emerged into the last of the day’s sunshine. It was low on the horizon, making the sea glitter hypnotically and generally making everything right with the world.
As the light started to fade we started looking for a good spot to camp. After a short clamber down a bit of a ridge to a small plateau in the cliff we found our room for the night.That’s HBX rifling through my tent for food.
We sat on a big rock with whisky & hot chocolate and watched the lights on the shipping moving across the horizon before calling it a day.
After a night punctuated by owls, rabbits and snoring the sun rose to this
That’s our ship-spotting-whisky-and-hot-chocolate-drinking rock.
We carried on for a few more miles stopping off several miles short of our intended destination at a ruined military emplacement to eat lunch before heading back the way we came.
So, coastal paths. The views are amazing but I love the mountains more. For a start there’s more than oneroute to most destinations. There’s less nudists too.