SUNDAY 10TH SEPTEMBER 2017
There are ferocious winds and rain predicted from lunchtime, so, despite 18 ‘severe’ miles and a very late finish last night, we get going earlier than normal. As our B&B host summarises: “My best advice to you today is to get going quickly and don’t hang around”.
From the village of Worth Matravers it’s a quick 1.25 miles down a stony track to rejoin the South West Coastal Path at Winspit. As we head East towards our final destination, we are glad that we inadvertently did more miles than planned the day before; during the evening, the views had been bathed in gorgeous warm autumnal sunlight, but today we have relentless dull, grey skies.
It’s easy stomping along the low cliffs, punctuated by disused quarries, and we make swift progress – despite the claggy mud weighing us down in places – past the quirkily named Dancing Ledge and Blackers Hole to the lighthouse at Anvil Point. Just round the headland are the Tilly Whim Caves, named because the quarried Purbeck stone was lowered by early cranes known as ‘whims’ into waiting boats. Part of the Durlaston Estate, the path from the caves becomes more manicured and we begin to pass growing numbers of young families and people out for a Sunday day trip, rather than only occasional, determined ramblers.
The path round Durlaston Bay takes us between houses before sending us onto the grassy slopes that lead to Pevril Point, from where the Coastal Path becomes a tarmacked descent into Swanage. There appears to be a festival of morris dancing underway, with different groups shaking their bells and clashing sticks at intervals along the seafront, so we decide to stop for coffee and cake – although we are not sure if later we will be grateful that we enjoyed a break while the weather was still holding off or regret that we didn’t push on to make progress before the storm arrived.
Fortified, we follow the Coastal Path signs away from the seafront, through rows of bungalows and up a gentle ascent along Ballard Cliff to Old Harry’s Rocks, chalk cliffs and stacks. As we’re making the easy stomp towards Studland, the promised rain arrives. Although not too strong at first, by the time we are a third of the way along the flat sands of Studland Beach, decorated with mounds of seaweed, fierce winds are whipping up the sand around our feet and driving the rain into our backs. As the rain begins to drip from our hoods, our consolation is that we are not walking into it.
By the time we arrive at the end of the Coastal Path at South Haven Point at 3pm, we are saturated, with sand stuck to our clothes and skin. But we have made it: 93 miles in 6.5 days of walking. And we are only a ferry ride and a bus journey from a hot shower and a cup of tea.
And that is the end of my final challenge before launching #50challenges on 5th November. The week away has enabled me to get in practise for the final section of the South West Coastal Path, which we will undertake next September as one of the challenges that I will complete in my first year of my decade of completing 50 challenges; challenges that will be a balance between hard – such as the South West Coastal Path – mentally enriching and physically stimulating, as well as challenges that simply take me out of my comfort zone. The week has also given me time to think about #50challenges, and how we promote it to help inspire, support and celebrate other people facing this milestone, so they can get the most of their mid life and Do More, Achieve More, Be More.
To find out more and to get involved, visit 50challenges.org