The Dorset Coast Path Weekend

Posted on May 22, 2011
This weekend I was joined by my friends Steve and Richard as we completed our third and most arduous section of the Dorset coast path between Lulworth and Worth Matravers. We travelled by train from Winchester to Wareham where we were picked up by our B&B host David who drove us to his house at about 14mph and introduced to his Asian wife (Hong Kong) who basically worked as his happy slave. Like all couples who own B&B’s David and Ann are a trifle odd, but unlike a lot of B&B’s I have had the misfortune of visiting, their hospitality could not be faulted and their premises were immaculate, undoubtedly polished from top to bottom by the over worked Ann who had the stick thin figure of a highly trained marathon runner.

David’s main involvement in the business revolves around finding any method of making a shilling or two, be it offering Ann’s services for evening meals and lunch boxes or for him to drive you to and from pick up points at a rate that is allegedly half the price of the local taxi driver who, it has to be assumed, doesn’t have David on his Christmas card list. I shared a room, but not a bed, with Steve, though Ann was leaving nothing to chance as our dressing table had a nice wicker bowl complete with a box of tissues and a large tube of Vaseline which, I must add, remained in tact, as did our respective bottoms.

Friday evening was spent getting tucked in to a few pints of Real Ale at the excellent Square and Compass pub which is conveniently nearby. This is my kind of pub, cockerels meander around the premises that are frequented by a combination of yokels, Goths and walkers like us. The interior is musky and rustic and the beer is served direct from barrels with a food menu that consists of home made Cornish pasties, cheese and vegetable pies or porky scratchings. It is the type of place that if you have the audacity to order a pint of Fosters you are likely to be dragged outside and publicly flogged for crimes against humanity. Because of this and its rustic nature, it is completely chav repellent which makes it a friendly and fun place to be.

Our slave made us a hearty breakfast on Saturday morning then David, not missing an opportunity to add to the tab, took us to Lulworth where our walk was due to start. It was a complete an utter shock to all three of us that we were greeted with an immediate ascent of several hundred feet whilst bacon and eggs still bulged through our waistlines. Halfway up, I genuinely thought that I was not going to make it, the small of my back, my Achilles on both legs and my right knee were all under prepared and creaking alarmingly. My knee is like a bike with a loose chain, it can work fine and then suddenly without warning, it buckles and stops working. I was concerned this was a cliff too far and that I was likely to be carried off in a coast guard helicopter. We barely spoke until we reached the top, all of us sweating profusely and gasping for oxygen. A young woman passed us with her dog, nervously saying good morning before shooting off because if you are in your forties, wearing socks, shorts, hiking boots and a sweat stained shirt, a woman in her twenties will take the safety first policy of assuming you are on the sex offenders list.

As time past our bodies settled and we made a decent pace in surroundings that it has to be said, are just spectacular. Over every brow and around every corner there was something new to be seen in this stunning part of the English coastline, I was in awe of its beauty, the photos in this blog do not do it justice. Along the way we met several people at varying stages of their walk, all of them friendly, whether they were hardened walkers or just crumbling wrecks like us, all exchanging little stories of their day so far. In total we walked about fourteen miles which included over three thousand feet of ascent then descent, often going from sea level to several hundred feet up in quick succession. It is, and I am not trying to be martyr here, one of the hardiest coast walks you are likely to find, but then if it wasn’t, it wouldn’t look so spectacular.

The sight of the pub was a welcome one, a pint of beer has rarely tasted so good, and it felt like decent reward for the shift we had put in. We then got another lift from you know who in to Swanage where I broke the world record for eating a bag of fish and chips before setting off back to the Square and Compass which was rather disappointingly, packed to the rafters with people watching a Folk/Punk band who appeared to have little discernible talent but were immensely popular all the same. We found a quiet area where all three of us were candid enough to admit that at the start of the day we had individually, without voice, carried concerns for our ability to go the distance, such was the draining nature of the start of the walk at Lulworth. After a few more pints we meandered off home and I can’t really remember going to bed I was so tired, I drifted into a deep and contented sleep noting this morning that the vaseline was still sealed for another day.

After a brief meander and a coffee in Swanage this morning we made our way back home via an open top bus to Bournemouth then a train to Winchester, reflecting on what was, ultimately, a successful weekend despite our aching limbs and sunburn. If you do get the chance to walk the Dorset coast while your limbs are still working, get out there and get on with it, it is a lovely part of the world that needs to be appreciated by people who lay claim that Britain is shithole and that’s why they are emigrating to Spain. They can stick Spain up their up their arse, give me three seasons in one day in Dorset any time, I can’t wait to go back again soon.

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