Sue and Martin above Zermatt - 2018

Sue and Martin above Zermatt - 2018
Showing posts with label SWCP 2012. Show all posts
Showing posts with label SWCP 2012. Show all posts

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

SWCP 2012 - Durlstone Head to South Haven Point, Poole (Monday 4 June - The End of a Long Walk)

Waking to overcast skies, we were pleased to find that overnight rain had passed and we would enjoy yet another dry day on the trail.

Numbers increased again today, with Colin, the original organiser of these trips, arriving with Simon at Primrose Cottage. Meanwhile, Sue, Andrew and I picked up Gaynor and Jacqui from Ammonite B+B. G and A then strolled into Swanage whilst Sue and I provided Jacqui with a tour of the Bee Orchid beds that she'd missed yesterday.

Somehow the whole group eventually managed to coagulate - for the record:

Organiser Sue and David
Stalwarts Betty and David
Sisters Jacqui and Gill
Gaynor and Hilde
Liz and Rachel
Martin, Sue and Andrew from 'up north'
Nelia and Jonathan
Colin and Simon

The very scenic stroll around Durlston Head got the three of us off to a great start, though I think others may have short-cut this section. After admiring the orchids and the sea birds - mainly guillemots and gulls, plus a few scavenging jackdaws - we found ourselves back at the car park 50 minutes after setting off. A fine walk to Peveril Point (pictured - top) and its National Coastwatch Institution lookout point maintained the quality of today's outing. Then it was a stroll along the sea front to Swanage and a morning coffee.

The rest of the party had long since moved on from here, so we continued as a threesome out of the seaside town, past beach huts whose occupants were sporting Royal Family masks. It's QE11's diamond jubilee weekend.

The rocky spikes of Old Harry soon beckoned, beyond a golden buttercup meadow (pictured - middle) and by the time we reached the headland (pictured - bottom) known as Handfast Point we had caught up with half of the rest of our party. Lunch was taken here, in a zone of wide tracks, vertiginous cliffs and whizzing mountain bikes, whilst the vanguard had moved on towards Studland for lunch on the beach.

Wonderful wild flower meadows on the stroll to Studland sported a variety of species, including broomrapes and lilies - providing Sue and me with a foretaste of our forthcoming Alpine adventures.

From Studland the SWCP ends in style, with a stroll along the beach all the way to its conclusion at South Haven Point, where one sign indicates the start of the classic trail and another sign alerts one to the fact that it's 650 miles of coastal walking to reach Minehead.

Today we traversed the beach soon after high tide, so the sand was firm enough to grant us an easy passage. There's a nudist zone where today a lone elderly man played (frisby) with himself in a rather ostentatious manner. Not a pretty sight!

We all finally met up at the end of a walk that only two of our party, Sue and David E, had actually completed in full. Congratulations were in order. And self-timed photos. Then a tanned gent turned up and watched as many of us fumbled to find our old age bus passes.

"I started from Minehead on 26 April" he observed "it has taken me six weeks. And you?"

"We started in May 1997" chimed Sue E, proudly demonstrating her mathematical expertise by adding "it has taken us fifteen years..."

A number 50 bus curtailed that conversation and whisked us back to Swanage, where a street party was in full flow. We adjourned for tea and cake/biscuits at our various lodgings before reconvening at Primrose Cottage for a barbecue and beer celebration. Sue and Colin both received presentations in recognition of their organisational efforts and I think I spotted the odd bottle of champagne being quaffed.

The evening climaxed after dark, when most of us (Sue, me, S+D, B+D, J+G, Andrew, Liz, Simon + Jonathan) took a stroll under a full moon up Knowle Hill to admire a selection of firework displays and try to spot some of Dorset's many jubilee beacons. It was a perfect activity with which to round off the mini era of our SWCP travels.

What next for this group? Who knows?

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Sunday, 3 June 2012

SWCP 2012 - Gaulter Gap to Durlstone Head (Sunday 3 June - a Bee Orchid Day)

Today we managed somehow to deposit some cars at Durlstone Head, then our friendly local taxi got 15 of us (numbers having been swelled by the arrival of Nelia and Jonathan) back to Gaulter Gap for about 10.30.

Gaynor, perhaps distracted by yesterday's memory of prostrating herself in front of a pirate, missed the crocodile and headed off in the wrong direction, but by the time of our CCS stop below Eldon Seat she had caught up and could enjoy the goodies.

Today's weather forecast foretold of steady rain all day. Luckily for us the legendary pessimism of the BBC's forecasters proved to be the case. Not a drop of rain fell on this pleasantly temperate day.

It was a classic 18km section of coastline. A few ups and downs put paid to some of the less fit members, and Liz, Betty and Jonathan soon headed off to a strategically placed car in Kingston.

The rest of us continued on past some warblers - whitethroats I think - to a sheltered spot for lunch in a field to the south of well named Emmett's Hill.

Shortly afterwards, National Coastwatch Institution volunteers provided more tea and cake in return for a small donation, though I suspect that we and they do not approve of the government cuts - minuscule in general terms - which are forcing coastguard operations to rely on charity.

Nearby was a field of poppies and St Aldhelm's Chapel, a unique and fascinating place dating from before the 12th century.

The walk to Dancing Ledge was easy and uneventful apart from a short appearance of the sun. Numerous climbers were enjoying the warm rock on the cliffs above the crashing waves.

As we progressed towards Anvil Point, Sue spotted some Bee Orchids, the first time she has seen them in the UK. Quite a find, although my reference book describes their occurrence as 'frequent, locally common". One of them is pictured above, underneath some cliff scenery typical of today's walk.

Tea and cake at Primrose Cottage was followed by another meal at the New Inn with coffee and chocs back at PC before the long drive home to Norden House.

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Saturday, 2 June 2012

SWCP 2012 - East Chaldon to Gaulter Gap (13 go for a roller-coaster ride)

18km (11 miles) doesn't sound much, but today's route along the Dorset coast was anything but a soft touch, especially for 13 folk with a wide spectrum of age and fitness.

There were some steep undulations - totalling around 1000 metres for the day, hence the 'roller-coaster' analogy. Some found these enjoyable - one of the Davids romped on ahead so far that he missed his lunch. Others suffered, particularly Liz, who claimed not to have been for a walk since last year's portion of this coast path. So she and Rachel baled out at Arish Mell and strolled up to the pub in East Lulworth for a taxi back to Church Knowle, where this year's SWCP HQ is situated in Primrose Cottage, next door to the New Inn.

The pub is so close that they offered to serve dinner to the 13 of us either in a private room, or a Very Private Room - Primrose Cottage's garden. That would have been good if today's hot, humid, mainly overcast weather hadn't deteriorated to the extent that waterproofs would have been needed for the 'garden' option.

Sadly the dull weather precluded stunning images from our amateur photographic skills - there were however a plethora of stunning white cliffs (pictured above), and Durdle Door (the lower picture) is a coastal rock feature that probably looks good in any weather.

From time to time one of the Sues slewed to a halt and brought out a gas stove. This allowed everyone to catch up and rest for a while. Andrew's crappy (sic) legs were consequently able to last until the very last stile before cramping up. It took him several minutes to hobble across the car park, before being whisked with the rest of us back to Primrose Cottage for tea and cake.

Earlier, the other Sue, a staunch Royalist, had produced a huge slab of CCS (chocolate caramel shortbread) emblazoned with a Union Jack that she claimed was food colouring. But why had my box of Humbrol enamel paints been left on the kitchen table?

Anyway, now there's only half a Union Jack.

The walk didn't have the sublime scenery of the Cornish sections of this trail, but it was enlivened by rugged coastal features and by the colourful flora - particularly dominant amongst which was Viper's Bugloss, Thrift, Herb Robert, Kidney Vetch, Bird's Foot Trefoil, Spurges, Red Valerian, Dog Rose, Speedwells and many more.

Today's route was highly populated between Durdle Door and Lulworth Cove. I have a clear memory of a visit to Lulworth Cove a few years ago. I'd spent a while compiling a report to the DPP (now known as the Crown Prosecution Service) on someone I considered to be a bit of a rogue. To my surprise, the case was taken up, and allocated to an enthusiastic novice in the police force. It eventually came to court in Dorchester. I was called as an 'expert witness' (I wasn't, but that meant there would be some nominal payment for my time - the police knew that there had been no payment up to that point). I waited in Dorchester for three days whilst the defence interrogated a series of bankers, and on one of those evenings I took the opportunity to visit Lulworth. Next day I was summoned and underwent extreme interrogation on the precise detail and timing of events several years in the past. I learnt a lot. Memorising my contemporaneous detailed notes during my days of waiting certainly helped. Being asked to describe 'fraudulent trading' in layman's terms to the jury was an ordeal. Fraudulent trading cases are not usually understood by juries, they are notoriously difficult to win. My evidence ended at lunchtime on the second day. I drove back to my office in Manchester without stopping. A message awaited me from the policeman who I'd been helping on the case. 'Plea changed. Guilty. Five years for Richard Lee.' The defence's abortive efforts to discredit my evidence had been their 'last throw'. So, Lulworth Cove brings memories.

Apologies for that interlude in this rather disjointed posting... Today we passed numerous burnt out tanks, and for part of our walk we were directed between a narrow band of yellow posts. The left hand posts warned of unexploded shells should we venture beyond them. The right hand posts warned of eroding cliffs that would deposit us into the surf far below should we stray beyond their bounds.

Single file seemed appropriate.

Tonight we enjoyed our private alcove and our meals at the New Inn. Especially Betty, who took great delight in slowly consuming her lonely dessert in front of twelve slavering spectators.

That's - sleep is taking over, but first - congratulations to the 'pixies', Andrew and Kate, on getting up Skiddaw, and thanks to Andy for all your comments - I was quite excited when I turned the phone on and found so many comments....

Goodnight.

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Friday, 1 June 2012

South West Coast Path (SWCP) 2012 - Norden House

This trip usually comes immediately after the TGO Challenge, but 2012's Bank Holiday timings allowed a week of relaxation to intervene.

I still didn't manage to process all the TGOC photos though. One day...

But our bathroom leak has been fixed. Thanks again JJ.

Norden House, pictured, should prove to be an excellent base for our final assault on the SWCP - the section from East Chaldon to Poole will complete (apart from some missing links that vary from person to person) the route from Minehead that we've been following for the past dozen or so years.

There's a campsite here that would have been fine, but Andrew appears to have booked us into a luxurious guest house. Not that we are complaining, we trained hard for such indulgences on our TGO Challenge route.

There are up to 14 of us doing this section of the SWCP. We should meet up in the morning. Perhaps...

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