South West Coast Path – Abbotsbury – West Bay Walk – 02.04.2011

“Fossil Hunter!”

I was meant to be dressed as a walker but obviously not!! (well that is what some locals called me :-)) I was about to embark on a the South West Coast Path – along Dorsets Jurassic’s Coast (and no Mr Spielberg did not film Jurassic Park here!!)

The walk started from the beautiful village of Abbotsbury.  I came Across St Nicholas, the local Parish Church – very different from first church of St. Peter which was built in Abbotsbury, which was apparently ravaged by Saxon raiders (around 500AD).   Abbotsbury became a stronghold for Saxon pirates, particularly as the “Fleet” (a shallow lagoon nearby) provided a safe anchorage for their boats. By 650AD the Saxons finally established themselves in the region, adding it to their Kingdom of Wessex.

My walk took me to Abbotsbury Swannery although I did not go in.  The Swannery was established by Benedictine Monks who built a monastery at Abbotsbury in the 11th Century. St Peter’s monastery was destroyed in 16th Century during the dissolution.  It is shame I did not have time to visit since apparently you get to walk through a colony of nesting mute Swans…

Realising that this was not the way to the South West Coast path, I turned back towards village.  Walking past Strangways Village Hall – which was at one time the local Village School, I eventually found a small turning with a sign to Chesil Beach.  The walk was take me up “Chapel Lane”.

From 2011 – 02.04.2011 – South West Coast Path – Abbotsbury – West Bay

The sun came out to burn off any of any mists that were hanging in the air – particularly as I headed more towards the coast. It was wonderfully warm, and again as I have mentioned before in another blog, it felt like an early summer 🙂 I was rather pleased to see a Coast path sign – it has been quite a while since I have walked the South West Coast Path – (see my Devon and Cornwall Blogs!).

I did not quite know what to expect when I reached Chesil Beach, but it was definitely quite difficult to walk on!   It is a huge bank of pebbles.  Although the coast path runs behind the beach.  I could not resist to join the walkers already on top of the beach.  It was struggle but worth it for the view.    It is an odd sensation to walk along but I must admit it is the longest beach that I have ever come across, it seems to go on forever each way!

From 2011 – 02.04.2011 – South West Coast Path – Abbotsbury – West Bay

Chesil Beach is approximately 18 Miles long, over 5,000 years old and has notorious past reputation as it is smugglers who landed on the beach in the middle of the night could judge “exactly where they were” by the size of the shingle!! It is quite a phenomenon. Leaving the beach to walk along the path, I continued towards West Bexington.

Whilst on route, I came across “The Old Coastguards” these lovely cottages, which were originally used by Customs and Excise in the 19th century to watch for ships in difficulty. Later in its history the “Old Coastguards” was occupied by Middleton Murry the author/publisher of Katherine Mansfield and friend of Thomas Hardy who used to visit often!!  In fact Thomas Hardy, used to walk on Chesil beach – featured in his novel “The Well-Beloved” published in 1897.

Leaving the Old Coastguards behind, I finally reached West Bexington.     It nice to find that was mostly a Nature Reserve.    But it was here that I think I took a wrong turn on the path, as it was particularly marshy!  As I made my way, it was lovely to hear lots of frogs trying to dodge there way past me, but it was then I realised the path was not in the middle of the marsh and the frogs were probably very upset!   It was good to see a proper Marsh behind the path – perhaps the frogs would have been a lot happier if they had been in there 🙂

From 2011 – 02.04.2011 – South West Coast Path – Abbotsbury – West Bay

Eventually I rejoined the path (allbeit muddy) and made may way towards Burton Bradstock. A nice little stop off point if I had time, since there is a nice ice cream parlour located here! But it was at this point I was daunted by the prospect of cliff walking – and reasonably steep ones too! At this point the south west coast path association had made some handy stairs in places.   The cliffs are  sand based, so there warning signs that they are crumbling in places!    The cliff was a good climb, but I must admit I felt a little unsafe at points as a was little windy at the top and the path was near the edge. I just kept reminding myself that I had tackled Ben Nevis – how quickly I had forgotten!

The cliff walk was interupted by a river at one point, which cuts through  and a caravan park has taken advantage of this quiet and hidden location.   The path has to take  a necessary diversion through the across the river at a narrower point.      When I rejoined the cliff path, it was only a mile to West Bay my destination.   This part of the my walk was very busy, mostly casual walkers from West Bay, it was lovely day, so everyone was taking advantage of the weather!  However, when I reached the edge of the cliff to get to finally get to the end of my walk, I was horrified getting down the cliff it had no steps down! – just warn down muddy steps were people had walked! Its was steep! I didn’t like it but the kids behind me loved it 🙂

Here are all my photos for my walk  that lovely day-

2011 – 02.04.2011 – South West Coast Path – Abbotsbury – West Bay

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3 responses to “South West Coast Path – Abbotsbury – West Bay Walk – 02.04.2011

  1. Pingback: Berwick Upon Tweed – Spittal Walk – 18.05.2011 « Karen's Sponsored Walks

  2. Pingback: South West Coast Path – Berry Head – Churston Cove – 26.05.2012 « Karen's Sponsored Walks

  3. Pingback: Weymouth – Portland Walk – 14.10.2012 « Karen's Sponsored Walks

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