Well we had a very short visit down to Dorset this month! We were continuing our walk along the South West Coast Path and had planned to stay a week in a cottage in Dorset but due to unforeseen circumstances we had to return early so we only got one days walking in! Never mind, it is still 7.1 miles off the 80 miles that we still need to do to complete the Path.
We drove down on a Saturday and despite strong winds and lots of rain on the journey down we woke on Sunday to brilliant sunshine and no rain. Our last visit had ended in Charmouth and so our next stage was to climb over The Golden Cap (the highest point on the South coast of England at 191 metres). We drove to West Bay so that the car was waiting for us when we finished the walk and then we got the bus into Charmouth. (Only one bus every two hours so we had to time it just right!) Our party was made up of 4 of us this time, my son Scott, his partner Pauline and their 16 year old son, Andre and myself.
At Charmouth we had already inspected the Fossil Centre on our last trip so we set off walking straight away. We crossed the river via a bridge and headed up the hillside. These cliffs are world famous for fossils and the huge landslides that occurred in 2001, and more recently, have been a great bonus for fossil hunters. We passed Stonebarrow Down and headed towards the Golden Cap. The Path follows the cliff top down to Westhay Water, up to a stile and then down across the wooded cleft of Ridge Water. The Path then drops into a small hollow, crosses a bridge and then rises across a field to re-join the cliff top which it follows until it goes through a kissing gate giving access to the heather covered slops of Golden Cap. The final ascent of The Golden Cap is a steep path that zig zags up to a small, flat plateau with a memorial to the past chairman of The National Trust, the Earl of Antrim. The views were truly magnificent!
Surprisingly there are no benches at the top to sit and admire the view which seems rather strange. We certainly could have done with a bit of a rest at that point!
We then headed down following the hedgerow parallel to the cliff top. We crossed fields and passed through a small wood and then the Path eventually led us down to Seatown. We enjoyed an ice cream in this small busy bay (there seems to be a very popular pub here right near the beach but we didn’t visit). Refreshed, we headed onwards and passed Thorncombe Beacon which was built in 1588. The beacon itself was one of a chain of beacon sites along the South Coast to warn of the approach of the Spanish Armada. Looking back, the views of the Golden Cap were as beautiful as the views from the top of it had been. The descent between the Beacon and Eype Mouth was fairly straightforward. We passed through Eype Mouth car park and crossed by a small bridge and climbed West Cliff then descended into West Bay where we had left the car.
As we reached West Bay the sun was setting and we watched it go down whilst also watching anglers on the jetty who seemed to be just putting their line in the water and pulling up an abundance of fish immediately! We decided to eat in West Bay and found a nice restaurant called RISE where we had good food and drink before driving back to our accommodation.
It was a lovely walk and I would recommend it for anyone but bear in mind it is tough going. As I said previously we had to return home the next day but now we are down to having only 73 miles to do! We are getting there!