Today’s distance walked – approx 10 kms (6.2 miles).
Ascent – approx 630m (2066 ft).
When I got up this morning there was rubbish all over the camping field, so I picked up the overturned bins and picked all the rubbish in my section. Just as I was walking to the bathroom, the overnight warden, who had also just surfaced, stopped by to thank me. It’s nice to make someone’s day a little bit easier! Apparently the local wildlife likes to have a rummage around the bins at night sometimes.
I left at 6.45am, and strolled the down to the coast, an easy 200m from campsite. The trail then went through the back garden of the pub and out and up the hill beyond. There was a great wild pitch opportunity shortly afterwards on the exposed clifftop just outside of Osmington Mills near an abandoned lookout, with great view of Portland and Weymouth, and also one a little later down the hill by second lookout.
The trail went down to Rinstead. I could see the huge cliff looming up ahead of me after the village. It was a long, slow climb out, and initially road walk up Burning Cliff to Whitenothe. Lots of the trail was shaded this morning though, which was great. There were amazing views from the top of the cliff across the beautiful cove beach below, and across back to Weymouth, the breakwater and Chesil beach to Portland. There was a strong offshore wind, which was a refreshing change to the heat of the past few days.
Just past Whitenothe cottages was the most incredible view to the East, of the soaring white cliffs that I’ll be walking over for the next couple of days. It became overcast, so couldn’t really get a great shot of the splendour of it all. The only blot on the otherwise perfect landscape was the Durdle Door caravan park far on the distance.
I came across a couple of excellent sign posts, this being my favourite…
As I continued, I passed a tall stone needle which I have a vague recollection of visiting when I was young, although how my parents managed to drag us up here as kids I’ll never know!
There were 3 very steep hills over the beautiful grassy downlands to negotiate en route to Durdle Door, but there were no steps (yay!) and I enjoyed it. It was still pretty minor in comparison to some of the monsters that Te Araroa threw at us in New Zealand. Unfortunately I’m not sure I got a good representation of how steep it was on a photo, especially in this morning light. It was now 8.15am and I had all of this to myself – what a treat!.
At the bottom of the first downhill, there were great views of the beautiful, deserted shingle beach below. There was unfortunately no way to get down there for a skinny-dip. This led into a very steep up, down, up and I was at Swyre Head. I could now see Durdle Door itself, the perfect beach, and rocks out to sea. There was a lone swimmer. During the descents I took the path with most vegetation – the other paths were dry, dusty and really slippery.
Durdle Door is an amazing limestone arch on the Jurassic coast. Click here to read about the geology. The rock has been carved like this due to the hard/soft rock and the faults and folded rock. The visitor centre in Lulworth Cove has some great information about it. Families were beginning to arrive at 9am, trooping down the steps to the beach. There were no toilets here, until I got up to the car park (where there are toilets for campers starting at the holiday park).
I came over the brow of the hill to see Lulworth Cove in front of me.
The day had turned overcast, which was a shame as this was my designated ‘beach day’. The path down to Lulworth was as I remembered it as a kid, although now it’s paved with brick. I’ve never seen the carpark so empty – we’d have always come on the weekend as kids.
I could have comfortably walked Portland and Weymouth to Lulworth in a day, but it’s been nice to have a couple of really easy days.
I walked down into Lulworth village and went into the excellent (and empty) visitor centre, and had a chat with the guy there for about 20 minutes. After the visitor centre I wandered to the circular cove – again sculpted over time by rivers, the waves and fascinating geology.
On the way back up I bought a tub of cockles from the fish shop. I added malt vinegar and pepper… mmmmmm!!
I continued on and popped into a cafe for a smoothie and chatted with some locals from Weymouth for half an hour or so.
I went to find the YHA hostel, which is in West Lulworth about a mile or so away from the cove. I set up my tent in their grounds but check in wasn’t until 5pm. I caught up on my emails and chatted with the warden for a while. At about 1.30pm I got up to go to the beach, but made it as far as the local pub The Castle Inn, where I bought a pint and sat in the sun.
After the pint, I felt decidedly relaxed, and couldn’t make it the mile or so down to the beach, so instead took myself back to my tent and had a lie down! I must have slept for a while because there next thing I knew it was 4.30pm and my trail buddy Steve who I overtook the other day, came into camp. We caught up on each other’s news, then freshened up and went for dinner in the same pub. I had a really good chicken caesar salad, and a strawberry clotted cream desert.. yum! We were back by 8.30. Rain has been forecast tonight..I wonder if we’ll get any?!