Sunday, 31 August 2014

Exhibition at Devon Guild of Craftsmen

It's ten weeks since I finished the walk and after many long days in the studio, with inks melting in the heat, I have finally finished producing the work for the exhibition in September. I feel very privileged that the Devon Guild have asked me back to show the work from the second half of the walk in the Riverside Gallery (details here).

The next stage of Outline South West has already started - I have been awarded an Arts Council Grant for a project called 'Postcards from the Path'. Working in association with Villages in Action, Artsreach and the Devon Guild, myself and four other artists have collaborated to produce artworks in response to the experience of walking the path. These pieces will be shown as part of my exhibition and will go on tour next year (project blog here).

Finally, next week I will have a few pieces in the annual show by the Press Gang Printmakers at Harbour House in Kingsbridge. We are a lively and friendly group who meet in Salcombe Art Club during the winter months to share ideas and techniques (details here).

Friday, 13 June 2014

Week 9: Abbotsbury to Poole - Day 60

Swanage to South Haven Point
8 miles
Word of the day: Contemplation

Walking in long trousers today to protect my sunburnt legs. Stopped on Ballard Cliff to sketch some Hawthorn Trees on Ballard Down - apparently this chalk ridge used to connect up with The Needles on the Isle of Wight.

On to Old Harry Rocks, detached chalk pinnacles formed when rock arches collapse. Took some cracking photos from very close to the edge of some pointy pinnacles which I found far more attractive than the much photographed flat tops. 

Having sketched the pinnacles we moved on to Studland and photographed Fort Henry - constructed to protect VIPs during practices for the Normandy landings. Particularly poignant as it is almost exactly 70 years since D Day.

Walked along the beach at Studland Bay dodging the naturists and dead jellyfish before arriving at South Haven Point and the sculpture marking the end of the path.

On reaching the end I was quite pleased that it was a quiet contemplative finish tinged with much sadness - the sort of feeling you get when you finish a really good book. Of course it isn't the end, I can come back at any time and I have a long list of places that I know I will revisit many times.

Walk complete, now to finish the artwork and write the book!

Week 9: Abbotsbury to Poole - Day 59

Kimmeridge to Swanage
12 miles (walked 8 from Chapman's Pool)
Word of the day: Skylarks

Logistics didn't allow us to walk the first bit from Kimmeridge to Chapman's Pool so we started at Worth Matravers. Walked out onto St Aldhelm's Head, stopping to sketch Chapman's Pool on the way. Took some photos of the 400 year old graffiti in the chapel which was refreshingly cool inside.

We went underground at the old stone quarries in Winspit - massive caverns held up by natural rock pillars, the roof made up of a fossilised sea bed. To get away from the heat we stopped for lunch under a tree at Seacombe - many comments from the dozens of walkers that passed us. Did a quick sketch whilst digesting.

Walked on with increasing discomfort in the windless heat of the afternoon under a blistering sun. Stopped briefly to photograph the very stumpy Tilly Whim Lighthouse and then walked up to Durlston Castle for a well deserved ice cream and some serious rehydration.

Today was the last day of Dorset Arts Week and I visited exhibitions at Durlston by Frances Hatch, Robin Mackenzie and Caroline Parrott. I hope to be having an exhibition here next year.

The last half mile into Swanage was along a rather smelly foreshore in spitting rain - then got lost trying to find the Youth Hostel (a kind man gave us a lift in his car).
Later had a swift half in the Square and Compass at Worth Matravers - a quirky half pub/half museum, then a celebratory last supper in La Trattoria washed down with a very good bottle of Sicilian Syrah. Not a good day for sketching - just too hot!

Week 9: Abbotsbury to Poole - Day 58

Lulworth Cove to Kimmeridge
8 miles
Word of the day: Ranges

Started the day with a bacon butty on the beach at Lulworth Cove. Whilst walking through the artillery ranges we visited the fossilised forest that had tree stumps that were hundreds of millions of years old.

After a stiff walk up Bindon Hill we stopped to sketch on the way down to Arish Mell - had to move on quite quickly because it was too hot.

The walk was graded Severe today and after the awesomeness of yesterday I enjoyed the walking but didn't sketch a lot. I find some days I prefer to absorb the landscape knowing I will be able to recall it from memory later.

Relocated to Tom's Field in Langton Matravers - a great camp site. We last stayed here 22 years ago when it was literally a field with a tap owned by Tom!

Week 9: Abbotsbury to Poole - Day 57

Wyke Regis to Lulworth Cove
14 miles (walked 7 from Osmington Mills)
Word of the day: Chalk

It's been a fabulous sunny day, very strong easterly wind giving us wind burnt faces. Rolling green valleys, more eroded cliffs with landslips and undercliffs. We were spoilt by turquoise seas with lacy white edges against orange yellow sand. Tidelines of seaweed, dusting of silver on the surface of the sea. Too windy to use paint so had to do tonal sketches. Favourite place for me was Bat's Head. Massive white chalk headland with striations of silver grey.

First glimpse of the iconic Durdle Door - had to draw it even though it's been done so many times before.

On to Lulworth Cove which appears to shut down at five in the afternoon when all the coaches go home. 

Back to the campsite for a meal and to claim our pub quiz prize of a round of drinks - we had large glasses of wine!

Week 9: Abbotsbury to Poole - Day 56

Around Portland
8 miles
Word of the day: Lighthouses

After a very rainy night we awoke to sunshine. Our first stop on the round-island walk was the sculpture park - an eclectic mix of artworks carved in Portland stone. Walked along the cliffs of the west coast and stopped to sketch the path leading to the old light. At Portland Bill we stopped to watch the waves and sketch at Pulpit Rock. Although not so high, the East coast was more interesting with disused cranes, beach huts and fishermen. Met Ann Dowsett who, with her partner, is due to finish the path the day before us.

After eight weeks of using public transport to get to and from the walks it's all change this week and we are using the print bus as both daily transport and overnight accommodation. Very nice to have somewhere warm and dry to sleep last night. 

Moved campsite to the Red Lion in Winfrith Newburgh and immediately got stuck in the mud and had to be towed out. But, afterwards, we won the weekly pub quiz!

Week 9: Abbotsbury to Poole - Day 55

Abbotsbury to Wyke Regis
10 miles
Word of the day: Fossils

Chesil Beach: 29km long, weighing 300,000,000 tonnes and very tiring to walk on - so we didn't! The path diverts inland at Abbotsbury and for the rest of the day it follows the shoreline of the Fleet, an inlet of the sea running for miles along the landward side of Chesil Beach. Famous for being used by Barnes Wallace to test the bouncing bombs used by the Dambusters. The usual detritus washed up on the beach including dead seabirds, Japanese cigarettes and dried dogfish!

Had some spare time today so visited the Dorset Museum in Dorchester to look at fossilised dinosaurs. Then went to Charmouth beach to try and find one for ourselves - no luck but did do some really good sketches of the beach, sea and sky. We could have bought an ammonite but it didn't seem right - and they weren't even from Charmouth! Stopped to sketch a field near Langton Herring.
Spent the evening in a couple of pubs, developing sketches, writing this blog and drinking Tribute (for the first time since leaving Cornwall).

Monday, 2 June 2014

The Last Leg!

Finally, after two years and two months we are setting out on the final week of this epic adventure. I'm really looking forward to this final stretch, the Dorset coastline is so interesting and so different from anywhere else on the path. It's only ten days since we finished week 8 but I have managed to complete most of the daily's already. The two shown here are: 

Day 50 Undercliff
Day 52 East Cliff

Week 9 Itinerary

Jun 4  Abbotsbury to Weymouth
Jun 5  Around Portland
Jun 6  Weymouth to Lulworth Cove
Jun 7  Lulworth Cove to Kimmeridge
Jun 8  Kimmeridge to Swanage
Jun 9  Swanage to South Haven Point

Saturday, 24 May 2014

Week 8: Torquay to Abbotsbury - Day 54

West Bay to Abbotsbury
9 miles
Word of the day: Erosion

Woke to a sunny morning but you could see that rain clouds were forming. This however made spectacular skies and perfect light on the cliffs. I made some sketches using the soft yellow ochre rock, sea water & ink. I could have stayed all day but knowing that we had to get home by several buses and
trains forced us to crack on with the 
last stretch to Abbotsbury.

It has been a great week, legs have held up well and the sun gods have been smiling on us, better late than never!

The sudden change to the Jurassic coast provided me with renewed enthusiasm. The rolling hills and eroded cliff edges were such a contrast to the more robust broken and angular landscape of South Devon.

Walking through new landscapes has been exciting as well as a little daunting. Knowing how long it takes to really understand a place makes me uncertain that I can represent it by just walking through. On the other hand I found that the familiarity of my home stretch made me not look with fresh eyes. I guess you get different things from first contact compared with the deeper understanding gained after many visits. With less than 100 miles to go and the finishing line almost in view I am starting to reflect on the journey, thinking about the huge variety of landscapes on the way and noting places that I would like to revisit.

The next post will be from the studio.

Week 8: Torquay to Abbotsbury - Day 53

Charmouth to West Bay
9 miles
Word of the day: Meadows

Went for the healthy option at breakfast this morning - no fried food but not sure if croissants are any better! After being heckled by an OAP in Charmouth ("'allo ramblin' hikers - what have you got all that kit for?"), a long slog up Stonebarrow Lane brought us out onto the cliffs above St Gabriel's Mouth. Beautiful sunshine and blue skies today. Stopped to sketch Golden Cap from the west with Portland clear on the horizon.

Puffed our way to the top and had lunch whilst sketching the coast spread out beneath us like a map. Met 18 members of the Hallam Community Youth Club (Walking Section) who were having a fabulous time on one of their biannual walking holidays. 

On the way down to Seatown I stopped to sketch some trees - the ice cream at the bottom of the hill was gorgeous. Up and over more roly poly cliffs to our final nights rest for this week. West Bay is a hotch potch of architectural styles but the place is dominated by the brooding presence of the East Cliff - featured in TV's Broadchurch and the title sequence of Reggie Perrin. Even when you're lying in bed you can feel the cliffs - just waiting!

Week 8: Torquay to Abbotsbury - Day 52

Branscombe to Charmouth
10 miles
Word of the day: Undercliff

After a lovely night in the hut we headed down to Branscombe Mouth for breakfast in the Sea Shanty Restaurant. Walked through the Hooken Undercliff, formed in 1790 when a huge chunk of countryside (complete with hedges and a stile) slid 150 ft down the cliff.

Stopped just after Beer Head to sketch the chalky headland of East Ebb between Beer and Seaton. Sat on the beach in Beer and celebrated our imminent arrival in Dorset with a farewell photo of the Devon flag. 

The path was closed so we had to bus it to Lyme Regis; we reversed the path into the Undercliff - it was like like stepping into a lost world. 

Trudged round the inland diversion to Charmouth and were very pleased when we finally arrived at Ladder House - our B & B for the night courtesy of Andy & Judy.

Week 8: Torquay to Abbotsbury - Day 51

Ladram Bay to Branscombe
8 miles
Word of the day: Huts

Bit more windy today, a nice change from the heat of the last three days. Did the waterproof shuffle a few times as the rain tried to make up its mind. Sketched Jacobs Ladder and walked along the sea wall with a backdrop of impressive graffiti scratched into the red sandstone. Stopped in Sidmouth for supplies and a nice cup of coffee in the Pea Green Boat.

Walked up the first of three big hills and enjoyed the bluebell woods on Salcombe Hill. Stopped on a seat on Dunscombe Cliff overlooking Weston Coombe. Had lunch and sketched the cliffs and beach. Dropped down into Littlecombe Shoot to stay in one of the huts clinging to the side of the cliff. Thanks to Flo Pearson and her family for inviting us to stay in such a special place. Apparently the hut sits on an old 'Plat' that was used as a market garden until the 1950's. Went to sleep to the sound of the sea and distant thunder. Marvellous!

Week 8: Torquay to Abbotsbury - Day 50

Exmouth to Ladram Bay
10 miles
Word of the day: Stacks

Leaving Exmouth we passed the monument marking the start of the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site - a slender pyramid of Portland stone inlaid with rocks from the various geological eras present on the coast. Having skirted the bustling Sandy Bay holiday park the simple act of going through a gate in a hedge takes you to another world of impressive sandstone cliffs and pastoral farmland. 

I stopped to sketch above Littleham Cove, and then we dropped down into Budleigh Salterton for lunch on the pebbly beach (pebbles originating from the bed of a river flowing from Normandy millions of years ago - apparently). The transition from caravan park to cliff seemed to reawaken my creativity which had been sadly lacking over the previous couple of days whilst walking through a number of seaside resorts.

Having walked half a mile inland to cross the River Otter I stopped later to sketch Brandy Head. Walked on to Ladram Bay with its amazingly sculpted rock pinnacles. Slogged up to the top of High Peak (508 ft) before dropping down to Lower Pinn Farm for the night. Liz very kindly ran us down to the Kings Arms in Otterton for a lovely supper.

Week 8: Torquay to Abbotsbury - Day 49

Teignmouth to Exmouth
9 miles
Word of the day: Closed

Hot and sunny today as we left Teignmouth on the first of numerous diversions - all resulting from the January storms that trashed this coastline. Dawlish and Dawlish Warren are achingly typical English seaside resorts. Complete with candy floss, arcades, mini-golf, hordes of children, dogs and larger than life characters.

A boring road walk inland to the Starcross Ferry was relieved by a pint at the Anchor overlooking Cockwood Harbour. Whilst waiting for the ferry we watched a flock of about twenty Turnstones flipping pebbles over on the foreshore. A very pleasant ferry crossing (thanks Mark & Andy) brought us to Exmouth and a night with our friends Steve & Gill Price. Not an inspiring day due to all the diversions and my inability to re-engage with the walk - hoping for better things tomorrow.