Category Archives: Elsewhere in the British Isles

The Jurrasic Coast (Part 3) – Walking the South West Coastal Path

This is the third post which details the 40 miles we walked (following the South West Coastal Path) 16th to 22nd March 2017.

Seaton to Lyme Regis (A walk like no other)

Easter Sunday and the buses were running a ‘Sunday’ service.  For that we were thankful.

We drove to Lyme Regis and parked in a huge car park on the outskirts of town.  This long stay car park cost £2.00 for the day – it’s the cheapest all day car park ticket we have paid for in years!  I must remember to write and congratulate whoever made that decision….

The bus stop was right at the car park entrance/exit.  Tim made friends with a tree.  He was looked suspiciously relaxed as we waited.  Perhaps he was preparing himself for something I hadn’t quite considered?

The bus came along then dropped us off at the start of our walk at the sea side town of Seaton.  This was our first sight of Seaton. Though I have talked about Seaton in my previous post this was infact our first visit of the week – as I mentioned in Part 1 these posts are describing the walking routes from the furthest west to the furthest east, not the order we did them in!

Initially crossing a bridge away from the town, over the River Axe, we took a steep tarmac lane to Axe Cliff Golf Club and then the course beyond that.  Passing through a golf course can be an exciting thing especially if you can hear voices of players but can’t actually see them!

Along a sheltered lane we came to a junction with a cautionary note.

‘Please note that it takes approximately 3 1/2 to 4 hours walk to Lyme Regis’. Fair enough I thought.

‘The terrain can be difficult and arduous.  There is no permissive access to the sea or inland along this stretch of the path’.

Er, OK.  ‘So, that’s for people who aren’t used to walking’  I said to Tim.  He nodded solemnly.

Needless to say we continued along our way, skirting fields at the top of the cliff.  The bright yellow crop of Oil Seed Rape (rapeseed) seems to be covering great swathes the countryside these days.

Then we turned left and started to descend, at first to an area called Goat Island.  Landslips have and continue to affect this bit of coast and Goat Island used to be attached to the cliff top. I couldn’t see why it’s called island though….or infact Goat.  Maybe some poor goat fell to its death in the landslip?!

Orchids – these are called Pyramid Orchids I think.  We got all excited seeing one on its own and then, just round the corner, there were several….

Shortly after this the path dropped again into the trees.  I had no idea that the open view, looking back at the open landscape now, would be the last I would have for the next 3 hours.  Look how innocent I am.  This is Axmouth Undercliff (Nature Reserve).

So, we were now in a densely covered enclosed area – one way in and one way out.

We enjoyed it too (at first) with the narrow path twisting up and turning down then twisting and turning some more.  ‘Thought it was supposed to be cloudy’ I said then  ‘Where are we?’ (meaning – ‘how far had we gone?’).  ‘Lunch at the next bench’ Tim said.

After almost 2 hours we found a solitary bench and stopped for lunch.  The sun shone (through the gaps in the trees) and it was warm but we had found a breeze.  At this point three people passed us – looking as pleased to see us as we were to see them.  We were not alone.

For the entire time we were ‘in the trees’ there was no view. There were a few magical moments when the dense woodland opened up a bit and there were wild flowers growing on either side of the path.  That was lovely and kept us going.

Then we got a glimpse of white cliff.  Wow.  This whole area – these miles of trees and plants exist here because of landslides.  It has formed a sanctuary and some, often rare, species have thrived.

Walkers coming from Lyme Regis began to pass us.  Some simply carrying a bottle of water and sauntering along.  Hope they knew what they were doing.  Felt like saying ‘you’ve got three hours of walking, you do realise that do you?’

On and on we went, trying to guess how much further we had before Lyme Regis.  There were no info boards or finger posts with mileage indicators but thankfully the ground was bone dry.  This was a little bit unusual apparently as it can be quite a muddy walk (according to a lady we met on our morning bus journey).  We were lucky.

Finally, finally the path opened up. Big grins on our faces.  Somewhere back there we had crossed the border into Dorset and we were pretty pleased.

To really get a sense of freedom we took a steep stepped path down to the sea and joined the masses on the harbour wall at Lyme Regis.  We gulped down the rest of our squash and breathed in that salty air.

Seatown to Lyme Regis

For this walk (the last one of the week) we walked east to west.

The dry clear weather meant that we should do Gold Cap.  Gold Cap is a sea cliff/hill and the highest point of the whole South West Coastal Path at 627 feet (191 metres). It’s distinctive golden top can be seen from miles away.

Once again we took a bus out to the start of our walk. Unfortunately (for us) we had a ‘walk in’ meaning the bus stop wasn’t quite where we needed it to stop and had to walk down to the coastal path from a main road.  Along the way we chatted to some thatchers busy replacing a roof of a pretty cottage.  Nice guys doing a decent trade.

So, up we went to Gold Cap from Seatown.  To be honest we found it a doddle – easy peasy.  All our mountain walking paid off.  We strolled over the top and admired the views, albeit a little bit misty this morning.

Down we went following the path through lovely countryside facing views along the coastline to everything we had covered over the previous few days.

With the sun now shining and with a carefree pace we thought it wouldn’t be long before we would decend to Charmouth Beach for lunch. Then we came across another unexpected diversion sign.  Surely not.

Obeying the sign we diverted – quite a long way as it turned out.

By the time we eventually reached Charmouth we were feeling a bit miffed as we had missed the coastal stroll we had been enjoying.  Tim posed at a sign we wouldn’t have seen if we hadn’t been diverted.

At the beach we had our lunch right next to the busy Cafe and Fossil Museum.  People were waiting for the tide to turn before setting off on fossil hunting expeditions.  We didn’t need to wait for a tide – we had a couple more miles to complete.

We walked out of Charmouth, up the road leading into the village, through a small wood, across a golf course (quickly!) and into the outskirts of Lyme Regis.  We then turned into the most incredible bluebell wood we had ever seen.  Tim, with camera in hand, set about trying to capture the scene. I strolled about thinking this was a very fine end to the week.

Then I spotted a home made tree swing and decided to give it a try – I am such a big kid.

So, we really ended our week on a high, as we strolled down to the town.  Great views, fine paths, interesting journeys, dry weather.  We bought an ice cream and quietly sat an admired the view.  Who could ask for more?

Postscript

I have written three posts forming a trilogy to describe our journey on foot along the South West Coastal Path from East Devon into Dorset.  On our day off we went back to Lyme Regis to photograph the harbour.  We thoroughly enjoyed exploring this historic place.

 

Then, we went in search for fossils on Charmouth Beach.  I felt sure we would be tripping over them but, unfortunately, after several hours of head down and scouring the beach, we came away empty handed.

I was so disappointed (and the above sign didn’t help one bit) that Tim took me into The Old Forge Fossil Shop in Lyme Regis and bought me a small Ammonite.  In my eyes fossils should be considered as treasures and although mine is ‘shop bought’ it is very precious.  I love it.

Questions for fellow bloggers :

Have you found a fossil?  What and where?  Be great to hear about your finds.

 

 

The Jurassic Coast (Part 2) – Walking the South West Coastal Path

This is the second posting (of a trilogy) about our recent week away in East Devon.  If you missed the first and would like to ‘catch up’ you can by clicking on this link.

The Jurassic Coast (Part 1)

Sidmouth to Seaton – 10 miles

We started our day by parking the car in a large car park at Seaton.  Seaton is a small seaside town to the west of the River Axe.  The car park was right next to the new Seaton Jurassic – a place for families to go and find out about fossils and dinosaurs. I hope it does well.

At this time of the morning (Easter Monday) the car park was empty.  At this time of the morning the town was also empty, or so it seemed.  It was at least very, very quiet.

We walked to the bus stop which was right on the sea front and waited.  It was a calm, sunny morning.  A man walked across the road with a yoga mat under his arm and started going through his routine on the promenade.   He pretty much set the tone of the place.

Tim waiting at the bus stop at Seaton.

I crossed the road and photographed the serene sea – looking west. The cliffs here are white – this would be the last section of our walk today.

The bus came along and we took front row seats.  We then had a little wait before the departure time which was 8:57am. Our cheerful driver took out his camera and called across to a nearby cafe owner to come and take a look at his family photos. They obviously knew each other well and it was great to (almost) be part of this social meeting of locals.

We set off and picked up other locals and  friendly conversations continued between driver and passengers.

At Sidmouth we got off and walked through empty streets and shops that hadn’t opened yet.  “What we need is a coffee” said Tim and almost instantly, just around the corner, there appeared a small bakery with a sign ‘we sell hot drinks’.  We eagerly stepped inside. The Upper Crust bakery – a tiny place but full of yummy things to eat.  As well as two coffees we grabbed a couple of puff pastries filled with egg, bacon, sausage and beans – total cost £6.00.  With second breakfasts in hand we sat on a bench at the sea front and enjoyed ourselves immensely!

Finally at 9:45, we thought we better get going. We had some walking to do and this was going to be a tough one with three big climbs.  As you can see from the photo, the path rises fairly steeply out of the town.

We crossed a metal bridge over the River Sid and immediately started uphill.  However, it didn’t seem to take too long before we entered a wood full of bluebells at the very top.

Ferns were uncurling and leaves in the trees just making an appearance.  Beautiful.

Once over the hill it was down then up again over grass, which is always just that bit harder somehow.  Puffing and panting it’s time to look back and see where you’ve just come from.  Sidmouth is just peeping around the corner on this shot.

The going got a bit easier for a while and we headed slightly inland passing grazing ponies then grazing cows.

Sometimes, on long walks, we see only a few other walkers, this time we saw several.  I suppose it was because it was the Easter weekend.  Three walkers with much bigger packs than ours passed us with a quiet ‘hello’.  We always try and guess where they are from and what their relationship is with each other – two brothers, one married?  Two old friends, one with a girlfriend?  It never matters but we always do this.

I liked the look of this cow!

We entered the trees again near Branscombe – the village was way down on our left.  The smell of wild garlic was really strong here – at least I think it’s wild garlic.  The plants covered a huge area that steeply dropped away on our left, small star shaped flowers spiked from large glossy leaves.  It’s probably one of those smells you either love or hate.

Further along were wild flowers. Wild flowers at this time of the year are exquisite.

It was just after this that a spaniel, who had been at our heels for the last mile or so, jumped into a cattle trough for a drink and cool down.  He obviously knew what he was doing but it was a funny sight.  It’s ok – his owner hauled him out.

Branscombe Mouth, a stoney beach, was busy with visitors.  Almost on the beach sat a really big thatched cafe/restaurant, the Sea Shanty, doing a roaring trade.  We sat on a bank and watched people sitting, laughing, strolling while and had our packed lunch …it was all nice & relaxed.

Time to get going again – we climbed the grassy bank away from Branscombe and took a last look back.

Next was Hooken Cliff – this is an area that was formed by a landslide in 1790.  Big white cliffs reared up – a cave can be seen about half way down on the left.

Our route followed a narrow track between the trees.

Climbing ever so gradually we reached the top – were now on the cliff that circled round to a placed called Beer.  Beer is a historic fishing village and draws the crowds, especially on Easter weekends!

We strode down the hill, took a quick look at the visitors enjoying a beer at the pub at the bottom of the hill, thought about it for a moment or two, then strode out.  We still had a couple of miles to go.  I’m sure we will return to Beer, for a beer another day (who can resist with a name like that) – apparently it’s quite a picturesque village.

Just before we lost the view of the very sheltered harbour at Beer, as we climbed the path, we looked back and took another photo.  You can clearly see how popular this place is by the number of people still on the beach enjoying the late afternoon sunshine.

Shortly afterwards I took this shot looking towards Seaton. Seaton still looks quite a long way away but was within touching distance now.  It was infact the last photo of the day.

We both imagined we would be walking along the path near the beach – the beach I photographed at the start of the day (scroll back to the second photo of this post – taken from near the bus stop), but the path has been diverted inland due to a more recent landslip on the edge of town.  We could have taken the beach back but those pebbles are a killer on the feet, knees, legs and especially tiring after 10 miles.

So, diversion path it was.

It was on this diversion that we met and walked with a chap of about our age from the West Midlands and his two teenage children back into town.  They had only been on a short walk that afternoon.  It made for a strange end to a long day (as we slowed our pace and they picked up theirs) but we enjoyed the humour and company and, I think, they may even have been inspired to give this section of the Coatal Path a go themselves.

 

The Jurassic Coast (Part 1) – Walking the South West Coastal Path

Just back from a week away – walking the coast of East Devon into Dorset. This stretch of the coast is also known as the Jurassic Coast – famous for fossil finds of past and present. Oh my goodness was I looking forward to finding, or, at the very least, seeing something amongst the rocks.  A large bone would be unlikely but maybe a small tooth or shell – surely I would have every chance in this fossil hotspot?

I would have to wait a couple of days into our trip (for a rest day) as we had some miles to cover initially.  I’ll come back to this in Part 2 or Part 3.

So, this is the first of three blog posts describing the 40 miles we trekked over 5 days, not in the order we did them, but from west to east in direction.  This is how we did it and what we saw along the way.

Exmouth (Gateway to the Jurassic Coast) to Budleigh Salterton

We parked on the side of the road at Budleigh Salterton for free.  Always a bonus. Then strode briskly through the town to the bus stop to catch the 9:29 to Exmouth.  We have taken to doing linear walks along the South West Coastal Path  – parking first, then taking a bus to the start and walking back.  It was a beautiful morning and I ran along behind Tim taking photos where I could.

I liked the look of Budleigh Salterton and wouldn’t mind returning again for another visit.

Thankfully (for us) the bus (due at 9:27) was late as we arrived at the stop at 9:30.  If this were Switzerland we would have missed it.  The bus arrived at 9:34.

At Exmouth we made for the Marina.  Looks like the architects have been inspired by continental styled colours in the new apartments at the Marina

The beach at Exmouth is wide and long.  The promenade lined by some impressive Georgian terraced properties.  As for the VW (below), well it’s a classic too…

At the very eastern end is an area called Orcombe Rocks.  These red rocks are, according to all the information boards, from the Triassic Period – about 250 million years old.  That sort of fact just blows my mind.  I was eagerly expecting this as I have a very knowledgeable colleague (Rebecca) who loves geology and fossils and gives me lots of interesting information at work.  We both wish we had more time for studying this old stuff.

Its not everyday that you get to touch such old material so I did just that – a bit like a ‘tree hugger’.  Tim looked on from a bench on the promenade. Sometimes he must think “she’s really lost it”.

On we went to a headland where a ‘Geoneedle’ (sculpture) has been placed for more geology interest.

Quick mirror selfie.

Onward.

At Sandy Bay it’s not a surprise to find…. a sandy bay.  With that was the biggest static caravan park we’ve come across.  Enormous.  We stopped for coffee at a new and large restaurant/cafe called South Beach Cafe and sat in the sun facing out to sea.  We left when we crowds started arriving for lunch – we fancied somewhere quieter.

As Tim predicted we eventually found the ‘perfect’ bench with the ‘perfect’ view to Budleigh.  Heavenly.  The coconut smell of the gorse a slight breeze, warm sun and nothing but bird song.

Downhill all the way now to Budleigh Salterton.  It didn’t seem to take long before we reached the promenade and the pebble beach.  Beach huts and pebbles had to be photographed.

I couldn’t help but walk along these smooth pebbles – they made an interesting clatter.  We lingered then sauntered round to the Otter Estuary and enjoyed the late afternoon before walking  back to the car.

Budleigh Salterton to Sidmouth

Again, we managed to park the car, at Sidmouth this time, for free – yippee.  Sidmouth is a large town and we were staying in a holiday cottage in nearby Sidbury, just beyond Sidford.  All these placenames in existence due to the River Sid.

Having a second breakfast is a holiday treat that we enjoy. Here I am finishing off a hot sausage roll at the bus stop.  It was a cool morning and that was a good enough excuse for me.  It was deliciously naughty.

Along came the bus and we joined a short queue to get on. An elderly lady (the only passenger) got off with her walking frame.  The driver then hopped off to use the Gents.  He returned and we all started to get on board – including the walking frame lady.  Unbelievably this lady had to get off while the driver answered the call of nature.  Why couldn’t he have left her in her seat?  What is the world coming too?  Tim, ever the gentleman, helped her on then off at her stop.  She was a lovely lady who was very grateful.

Off the bus at Budleigh we set off up the estuary and alongside a small nature reserve.  Soon after this we were walking along the cliff tops – a gentle high level walk….once we passed a place on the map called ‘Danger Point’.  No more dangerous than any other unfenced cliff I thought.  At Ladram Bay sea stacks were standing in quiet waters and I took many, many photos.  A couple of the stacks have names on the Ordnance Survey map – Little Picket Rock and Big Picket Rock.

Just by the way (and incase you are passing this way) the public toilets on the edge of the caravan park here were the cleanest we visited all week.  Well done Ladram Bay caravan park – makes a nice change!  I resisted the urge to photograph them…!!

The sun started to make an appearance as we left the bay and headed uphill (again) .

In the shelter of a bit of woodland we found another glorious bench – lunch with a view again.  We sat here for a good long time – an hour maybe.

With temperatures rising we set off over Peak Hill and then down towards Sidmouth.  It was a very enjoyable walk back to the town.

We skirted the infamous ‘Jacobs Ladder’ and made straight for the Promenade.

A helicopter flew directly towards us and over our heads in a sort of ‘Welcome back to Sidmouth’ flight.

 

 

 

 

Snowdon Horseshoe – including the best scramble ever

In 1995 our mountain explorations started in the Lake District.  Tim and I returned many many times, venturing further and becoming quite confident explorers in this beautiful part of this country.

How we started our Lake District adventures

Our first mountain ridge walk

We then started to take trips to the mountains of north Wales with our mountain bikes, to Snowdonia.  The mountains here are magnificent, all jagged and formidable.  As we cycled around the valleys we stared up at them in awe.  Little did we know that one day we would be standing on these summits too.

image

Our approach to the Snowdon Horseshoe – Snowdon has cloud overhead

Mount Snowdon and The Snowdon Horseshoe

Snowdon – at 3,560 feet (1085m) it’s the highest point in Wales and England.  It has numerous walking routes and one railway track leading right to the top!  It’s very very popular.  Tim and I have been to the top five times now. We’ve enjoyed days when the sun shone warmly, walked through snow as well as rain and cloud.  Always on foot and always starting from a car park on the mountain pass called the Pen y Pass.

The Snowdon Horseshoe – this is a challenging route with just under 4,000 feet of ascent with lots of exposure on narrow ridges. Guide books suggest you need at least 8 hours to complete it.  The route is considered to be alpine climb in winter conditions which means using rope and other technical equipment, at other times its a scramble which means using hands.  It should definitely be avoided by walkers in icy or wet weather and best enjoyed if you have a bit of mountain walking experience.

Note : ‘Horseshoes’ in walking terms usually involve a high level route which, when looked down at from the skies above, is horseshoe shaped!

I’m travelling back in time for this one, almost 8 years, and with the help of a few photos, this is my recollection of the day.

3rd May 2009 – 8:15am at the  Pen y Pass car park

We parked the car right behind the small cafe and paid for our ‘all day’ ticket.  With some slight anxiety we then tipped all of our extra layers, hats, gloves, etc out of our back packs and put them on.  The wind felt a bit cool but we were optimistic.

For this challenge we were accompanied by our good friend Duncan.  With Duncan, and his wife Chrissi, we had shared several walking holidays all four of us having the same love of the great outdoors.    Chrissi didn’t join us this time and I think she was really quite relieved when she looked through our photos afterwards!

The first photo we took at the start of the Pyg Track – about 20 steps away from the car.  Me and Duncan trying to say ‘cheese’ and having a nervous giggle.  Tim was being the sensible one, he was the parent on this trip and was probably still going through a checklist in his head – map, drinks, lunch, first aid kit, whistle, survival blanket, etc.

image

The Pyg Track at the start

The Pyg Track is a good path with views down to the road as it disappears to Llanberis.  As expected it gets steeper with a few boulders as obstacles in places, but generally its easy enough and, after our shivery start, we began to warm up.

We reached a point called Bwlch Moch.  Its a junction – time to decide whether to carry on or turn right onto the shoulder of the ridge.  The three of us paused. ‘Is that wind too strong?’.  ‘I didn’t think it would be this windy’. ‘Is that wind going to get worse?’

Pulling ourselves together we turned right and posed for another photo right next to the finger post confirming the route.

image

Turning off the Pyg Track

Shortly afterwards we reached a wall of rock.  We were joined by a small group of friends (all men) who went ahead of us scrambling and heaving themselves onto the shoulder of the ridge.  We followed them.

The section that followed was a bit like going up a rocky, uneven, ever steepening staircase.  It was actually quite enjoyable.   The sun started to break through the cloud and every now and then we stopped to admire the views below.  Tim and Duncan always seemed to be ahead of me – Duncan leading the way, Tim taking the photos and me just having fun recording the whole event on my camcorder.  The photos below show cairns (small piles of rock) that can help show the way to go.

image

The clouds broke as we went up onto the shoulder of Crib Goch

image

The silver line is the Pyg Track way below

The higher we got so did my woolly hat.  I had no idea that I looked like a cross between a Smurf and one of the seven dwarfs. Obviously the boys didn’t say anything and let me continue for the whole day with a silly hat.

Once the group of friends ‘disappeared’ out of sight we knew the ridge of Crib Goch would be within view.  Sure enough it was. We had read and researched and knew what was coming next but nothing, absolutely nothing, prepares you for the awesome (and I use that word rarely) sight.  This is a photo of me looking at the view ahead.  Spot the couple behind me who look like they are crouching in fear!  It was now 10:30am.

image

Directly ahead the ridge narrowed.  So much that, to feel comfortable on this knife edge, you should drop down a bit on the left and hang onto the top as you shuffle along.  The photos below show Duncan catching the group who had passed us earlier.  They were moving quite slowly and a couple of the faster friends were coming back to check on the slower ones….

image image

With the cloud opening up the views and then closing them there was a certain air about the whole scene.  I loved it and my hat was having a wild time too – as you can see from the summit photo Duncan took of me and Tim.

It was now 11:20am – three hours from the start.

image

From here we dropped down slightly to make our way round The Pinnacles.  There are three and generally everyone passes the first two then climb the third.

Going round the first two Pinnacles – you can just spot a couple of people going over the final Pinnacle

The final pinnacle is really was quite exposed on one side where a gully opens up on the north.  Even I was slightly apprehensive – take a few deep breaths.  Duncan went first, followed by me and then, once we shouted down to say it was fine, Tim joined us.  Wow, what a thrill.

The photo below shows the Pinnacles and Crib Goch – all behind us now with  just one more scramble up onto Crib y Ddysgl just ahead and then Snowdon.

image

image

One more scramble which was tougher than it looks!

It’s funny how photographs flatten the image sometimes – what you can’t see here is the whole magnificent scene dropping away behind me and to my left the dark pyramid of Snowdon.  Once I had scrambled up (climbed up!) we decided it was time to eat lunch.  It was 12:05pm.

Crib y Ddysgl is also a rocky ridge but relatively easy compared to Crib Goch.  Still, we had to use our hands and scramble across in places.  The summit, at 3,493 feet, was flat and broad – how strange it was to get up and walk ‘normally’ again.  Then all of a sudden we turned left and joined the stream of humanity who were making their way up the easy ‘tourist path’ from Llanberis on foot or by train.

Mount Snowdon – it’s like joining a huge party at the top.  All ages, all nationalities, with dogs and cameras and, in some cases, totally inappropriate clothing, all enjoying the moment.  We walked on – almost without stopping.  Maybe it was just a bit too busy for us.  Maybe we had one eye on the slightly darker clouds that were heading our way from the west.

At the summit the cafe was closed.  In June 2009 a new cafe was opened and, though I’m not keen on the whole idea of having a cafe at all, I was very impressed with the design when we visited in 2011.  Even if you don’t walk up – visit the cafe, it’s worth it for the views.

Descending south from Snowdon summit, on a rough track, we then made our way up onto our final peak – Y Lliwedd.  A big rocky staircase of a walk up –  we lost the crowds and were on our own again.  Strangely the noise of the train chugging it’s way up Snowdon was louder here (louder even than my heavy breathing!) than at any other place.  We stopped for a breather at the summit and glanced back – Snowdon was disappearing into the cloud and we were grateful for having had a view all the way round (so far).  Tim was warning us not to get too close to the edge of the ridge at the top – the drop on the northern side was sudden.

image

There are two summits on Y Lliwedd

It’s a bit of a blur now but I’m sure it started to snow or sleet or hail, only briefly, but with that we said good bye to the ridge and made for lower ground. It was 4:15pm as we we started to go downhill – only 2 miles to go!  It all levels out once you reach The Miners Track. From here the route is easy  and eventually (with a cheer) you reach the car park.

From memory it took us 8 hours in total – we had had an epic day.

September 2011

We didn’t take as many photos as we would have liked crossing the ridge and promised ourselves a return trip to try and capture the grandeur of the place.  In September 2011 we did just that.  Retracing our steps and getting up and across before the crowds on a wonderfully warm clear day  – here are a couple of photos.

image

Snowdon from near the Pinnacles on Crib Goch

Crib y Ddysgl – scrambling

The easy way up & down!

Lunch just below Snowdon summit – Crib Goch is the ridge to the right of my face

The whole scene from the summit on a clear day

 

I accidently cut my finger on Crib Goch summit (on this second trip), just a small cut, but it makes it somehow good to know that way up there on a sharp piece of rock a little bit of me has been left behind.

 

Hansel and Gretel with Snowdrops in Suffolk

We were in the woods near Westleton and we hadn’t seen another soul since lunch.  Tim was whistling the theme from the classic 1960s film The Great Escape as we marched along and I was really beginning to feel like we had.

Saturday 18th February 2016

My first trip to Dunwich, several years ago now, was at this time of year.  The sight of Snowdrops carpeting the floor of small wood close to Dunwich village has stayed with me.  The first sign of Spring.

So it was that we decided, once again, to take ourselves across the county border from Norfolk into this very impressive part of Suffolk.

I have, at long last, figured out how to produce and add a map showing the route to my posts.  This one has helpful mile markers.  The start/end is the square shaped object.  I’m so smug.

image

We parked in Dunwich Forest, very close to a small area called St Helena.  I mentioned this area in a previous post.  Helena/Heleen/Leny is a popular name used on my mothers side in memory of my Dutch Oma ‘Lena’.  It’s my sisters name and that of at least five cousins!  Oh yes, we have a big family on my mothers side!

Even though I’ve worked out how to produce a route map of my own I couldn’t help but take a quick snap of the ‘information board’ someone had kindly put up – right next to the car.  Somehow we still turn into Hansel and Gretel.

image

Our Hansel & Gretel moments – let me explain.  We have walked in, through and around this forest more times than I care to remember but we always (always) have a moment (or two) of doubt about our exact position once we set off.  Tim with Ordnance Survey map in hand, trying to decide which path we are on.  Me, thinking there must be a trail of breadcrumbs surely, whilst fumbling about for my reading glasses to help with the map work.  Are we alone with that I wonder?

Anyway, after sorting ourselves out, we confidently headed north through the Forest on a pleasant variety of paths until we reached St Helena where we turn right.  St Helena, it seems to me, to be a single road with a few old but grand large houses.

image

This  eventually ends at a t-junction with another track.  We are now on a popular stretch for mountain bikers and walkers travelling between  Walberswick with Dunwich.  Open views of marsh then sea on one side and trees on the other – no wonder it’s a well used route.  Even on a dull day we passed several other couples.

Dingle Hill Tearoom – a must for anyone out this way.  Just before you reach Dunwich (between mile markers 2 and 3 on my map).   I’m  sure it started life as a tiny garden centre and has grown and become more and more popular over the years.  There’s seating inside and out and they do lunches as well as cake and drinks.  We avoided all the tasty treats as there was something else we were looking forward to further along the route.

One tea (enough tea for two) and one hot chocolate £4.60.  The tea pots had rather snazzy cozies.

image

Red for tea, Blue has water to top it up

Fully refreshed we walked down the road through Dunwich itself, past the museum and pub and onto the Sandlings Way footpath.  This path hugs the cliff here.  With numerous signs like ‘keep away from the cliff edge’, ‘danger’, ‘danger of death’, it’s obvious how precarious it is.  We stuck to the path and within minutes reached the ruins of Greyfriars Priory.

One day we migcht go over and take a proper look – one day when we’re not walking 10 miles…that’s if it hasn’t been taken by the sea.

My previous post about Dunwich explains all.

Beyond this, and the wall that surrounds it, is Greyfriars Wood.  This is what I really wanted to see today.

image

Going into Greyfriars Wood

We stopped here while I ran about taking lots of photos.  Some macro (crawling on hands and knees), some from a normal standing up position!

image

Tim patiently waiting for me

Eventually we drifted away from the wood and headed for Dunwich Heath.  I couldn’t find any information about this bridge that we passed on the way but it was very sweet.

image

 

Dunwich Heath is best visited in late summer, early autumn.  The purple and mauve heather is quite beautiful.  Not quite so pretty today.

image

Heading to Coastguard Cottages across Dunwich Heath

Sausage rolls – that’s all we could think about and the National Trust shop at the Coastguards cottages sold them.  However, there is a limit to how much they are worth and these particular ones were being sold (cold) at £3.25 which we thought was really cheeky so we gave them a miss.  Instead we had quiche with salad garnish £2.50.  We sat outside, though inside is very nice, and enjoyed our first lunch.

Our own sandwiches and soup picnic was also delicious – thanks Tim (again).  We navigated seamlessly from first to second lunch. Note we used the National Trust picnic table and chairs for free!

image

I did overhear a young boy of about seven say ‘that was the nicest sausage roll I’ve ever had’ but kept that to myself.

So, all we had to do now was walk the five miles back to the car.

Back across the Heath we went for about two miles, heading north.  Then left into woods again.  It’s lovely when you get a mix of both – walk this area in the summer months and you’re surrounded by butterflies.  The brightest thing on our route this time was the yellow flowering gorse.

image

Now as enjoyable as this walk is once you get to about 8 miles you stop taking photographs and start thinking about your tired feet.  At 9 miles we got a little bit lost again in the forest and I was sure the witch would get us.  Then finally at 10 miles we were home and dry. Hurrah there’s the car!

I love it when you fall into the car at the end of a walk.  Even better when you stop at the supermarket for essential evening meal supplies on the way home you can’t help but stagger across the car park with wobbly legs.

image

Right around Cornwall on foot (almost)

Two weeks ago we sat at Padstow Harbour in the warm late September sun enjoying Bubblegum flavoured ice cream and patting ourselves on the back for a job well done.  Our mission accomplished. 100 miles in 10 days.

image

We’ve had 7 weeks walking the South West Coastal Path over the last two years and, from our calculations, have covered 244 miles.  We’re delighted – firstly with our achievement (does that big headed?) and secondly to have seen so much of the incredible coast down on the South West tip of our country.  We’ve been lucky with the weather.  This means our walks have been slowed due to the photography and filming and stopping for a coffee (with a view) along the way.  That’s our excuse anyway!

“What bits were best”?  – a question we just can’t answer.  All of it, most of it.

Apart from the spectacular scenery there’s the wildlife, animals and birds along the way : the grazing cattle, ponies and sheep, the hovering kestrels and lots of unknown sea birds, seals, porpoise, and a pod of dolphins.  The slow worm, barrel jelly fish, song birds, swallows, sand martins, beetles.  Butterflies fluttering out of hedgerows like dust.  We’ve tried to photograph them all.

image

image

The plants and trees.  Huge tropical specimens, pretty flowers, bluebells and brambles. Miles and miles of brambles all covered in sweet blackberries taking us back to our childhood and supplying us with extra healthy snacks along the way.

Then of course, there’s the small villages tucked away amongst the rocky headlands and larger towns spread out along river estuaries – some still with working harbours.  The fishing boats, ferries and sail craft.  The bunting stretched across the streets.

image

 

Other things that come to mind.  The different coloured sand and the incredible rock, the smell of seaweed – sometimes strong sometimes surprisingly nice.  The many buses we used to allow us to complete linear walks including the free ride we had when the ticket machine didn’t work and we were the only ones on-board.  The boat trips, the helicopters, the naval boats and the wind.

image

Almost always we had a view out across the ocean.

image

My advice is take a trip down to Cornwall and explore the coastal path.  We only have a small section of the path in Cornwall to complete so we need to decide and plan our next trip.  Somerset, Devon or Dorset?  Decisions, decisions.

For the time being I may come back to Cornwall, from time to time, to detail some of our walks.

 

 

 

Around Southwold – a special seaside town

If I could recommend one place to visitors coming to our part of the world then the town of Southwold would be it. At any time of the year it never fails to be an enjoyable day out.

We’ve had numerous visits with family or friends or just by ourselves and they are all remembered fondly.  Go for yourself and see if I’m wrong.

Here’s a walk we did last Saturday with my own recommended list of ‘things to see and do’.

Saturday 2nd July 2016

In school holiday time and weekends (with good weather) the town can be busy. Yesterday we made an early start to get ahead of the any crowds.

Park (for free) near the water tower, on the edge of town, between the cricket pitch and golf course.

A couple turned up with their rather nice car and parked opposite leaving the roof down which I thought was a brave move. Couldn’t resist taking a shot of it.

image

Across the golf course, down a track to the river we met up with some young cattle.  Thankfully we didn’t want ‘their path’.

image

Over the River Blyth via the Bailey Bridge (we call it the ‘iron bridge’) continue straight ahead then turn right following Sandlings Way signage.  The path Is narrow here with sweet smelling wild honeysuckle doing very well in the hedgerows. Heather too, which we thought was a little early – usually doesn’t appear until August.

image

Cross open heath then a road and back onto a grass footpath that winds around the edge of woodland.  It’s always warm here and I keep my eyes open for adders.  One day, one day, I hope.

Eventually we find ourselves on a track that joins many other crossing Walberswick Marsh.  I mentioned this area in a previous post.  As far as the eye could see we had the place to ourselves except for one couple who stopped to ask for directions.  Here is Tim doing his best to describe the way – he is such a kind person.    I am always amazed that people venture out into areas like this without a map or guide book or leaflet or anything that could help them find their way!

image

Heading south away from the marsh there’s a really good track that leads directly to Dunwich.  We picked up our pace – our destination was Dingle Hill cafe and it was coffee time.

We have seen this cafe, and adjoining plant nursery, grow (so to speak) and it now attracts large numbers of visitors.  We chatted to an older couple who were on holiday (who had a map) but couldn’t agree on their route.  We shared some ‘local knowledge’ to help them out.

image image

image

Down to the stony beach for our sandwich lunch we stared out at the sea and some adventurous individuals who had taken to the waters!

The route back to Southwold from here is straightforward – just follow the coast along the shore.  When the wind is behind you and the sun is out the walking is easy.  I spend a lot of time searching for ‘treasure’.  Sometimes it might be a simple white pebble or a tiny red stone, sometimes it’s a piece of green glass.  Treasures mean different things to different people!

We passed the ‘map owning cafe couple’ heading in the opposite direction with broad smiles and cheery “hellos”.

Before Southwold is Walberswick.  Two Duch couples were trying to work out how many euros to the pound outside an art exhibition before making a purchase.  In this current climate I couldn’t even guess.  I’ve got lots of Dutch family and can understand general conversation.  However we had a boat to catch and no time to chat….we could have been there a while.

The river splits these two places and you can either cross back over the iron bridge or take the ferry. Everyone must, I repeat, must take the ferry to experience the effort that an oarsman (or woman) has to make against a tide.  You also get to see the harbour from the comfort of a passengers seat in a rowing boat.

image image

image

Southwold beach huts.  They generally cost an absolute and eye watering fortune as does all the property in the town.  Maybe one day we will win the lottery and will afford to own a tiny part of it.

Here we are approaching the first group of huts, ten minutes from the harbour, with pier in the distance.

image

Go half way along the front passing in front of the huts and some steep steps lead you up to this street scene.  The Nelson Inn is in the foreground – lots of history and lots of visitors.

image

A couple of streets in is another popular drinking hole the Sole Bay Inn which is right next to the lighthouse.  The pub was packed apparently.

image

The lighthouse itself was ‘open to the public’ but unlike the mill that I mentioned in my previous post there was a set charge of £4.00 each.  We decided that we actually liked the view of it from the street and went off to spend that money on ice cream and tea at Suzies Beach Cafe.  Me : Fruit Magnum, Tim : Double Peanut Butter Magnum.  Regular tea!

The cafe is set amongst the huts and seems to do a roaring trade.   Watch the world go past from this spot before drifting along the Main Street, window shopping as you go, back to the car.

image

Other places to visit if you haven’t just walked 12 miles or if you’ve still got the energy :-

The pier, the Adnams Brewery, the Adnams shop & cafe.