Tag Archives: Bluebells

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.