Anyone who has read one of my previous reviews will know that my son and I (and other family members when they can) have been attempting to walk the whole 630 miles of the South West Coast Path. This month we completed that 630 miles!
We travelled down to Dorset in my son’s car. This time it was my son and I, his partner Pauline and their sons Deion and Andre. We had booked an Airbnb cottage in Swanage for two nights as we only had seven miles to walk. The cottage was (strangely) advertised as a vegetarian cottage and we were asked not to take any meat or fish into it. Not a problem for me as I am vegetarian anyway but I think the others were missing their bacon sandwiches the next morning!
After a good night’s sleep we walked down to the beach front in Swanage, which is where we finished the walk on our last trip. We had a fabulous day for it. It was very fitting that our last stretch of walk should be made in bright sunshine, it made it even more special! We walked the length of the beach until we came to a small gulley at the end of the groynes. There were some quite steep steps here to take us up to the cliff top. We then walked along the cliff top until we reached the dramatic white chalk stacks of Old Harry. They were really impressive (not unlike the “needles” on the Isle of Wight which we could see in the distance as it was such a clear day). These stacks were caused by wave erosion and were, in fact, part of the chalk ridge that did lead right out to the Isle of Wight once upon a time. We then passed Fort Henry, a WWII fortress guarding the entrance to Studland Bay and Poole Harbour. Then there was about 3 miles of beautiful golden beach to walk along. The tide was out so we were able to walk on the damp sand by the water side which made for easier walking. The last half mile or so was actually a naturists beach and because the weather was particularly fine there were indeed quite a few people “letting it all hang out”. For anyone not happy with this, there is an alternative route that can be found in the guidebooks. After seven miles we arrived at South Haven Point and there is a metal sculpture to commemorate the end of the Path. The sculpture is based on a design by David Mayne and it depicts many features of the trail. I had ordered a couple of certificates from the SWCP web site for my son and myself and we all had our photos taken. 630 miles! It feels quite an achievement! It has taken us 6 years (I was 67 when we started! I am glad I got to finish it before my body gave out!). According to the SWCP web-site we have crossed 230 bridges, caught 13 ferries, opened and closed 880 gates, climbed over 436 stiles and gone up and down 30,000 steps! No wonder I feel tired!
After our photo session we got the ferry to Sandbanks (beautiful houses to see there) and then into Poole on the bus. Time for a glass or two to celebrate!