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