My final challenge before my #50Challenges – Day 3


2017-09-06 12.00.42The walk East from West Bexington is one of the few stretches of the South West Coastal Path that is largely inland.  Although the first 2.5 miles are along the back of Chesil Bank, for conservation reasons at the start of Fleet Lagoon walkers are directed inland around the outskirts of Abbotsbury.

The countryside is beautiful – England’s green and pleasant at its best – but it seems strange not to hear the rhythmic crashing of waves which has accompanied us for nearly 500 miles.

Descending to the banks of Fleet Lagoon provides some compensation; it’s a vital nature conservation site that has its own beauty, dominated by the relentless shingle hill of Chesil Beach along the 29km of its southern edge.

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It’s a noticeably hotter day and a couple of miles short of our destination we finish the last of our drinks; we didn’t expect to run out of fluids in September.  However, we only have an hour’s more walking and – hugging the coast of the Lagoon – it is all flat.  We arrive at our B&B a quarter of a mile from the Path in Wyke Regis feeling positively spritely compared to the state in which we have sometimes finished our walks; 14 miles on the flat feels like a saunter in the park compared to some of the terrain we have covered.

2017-09-06-17-59-03.jpgA plaque in the hall reveals that our hosts at Swallows Rest are winners of Channel 4’s Four In A Bed; the fresh meringues on arrival and fresh cake in our bedroom are one of the many winning touches that we enjoy during our two nights being looked after by Jane and Keith.

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My final challenge before my #50Challenges – Day 2


2017-09-05 10.14.14There is a Coastal Path sign directly outside the pub where we have stayed the night, pointing up the hill inland, but we decide to ignore it so we can wander along Lyme Regis sea front; our idea was to be able to explore this resort made famous by literature, rather than ploughing straight through it.

So we spend a bit of time meandering along the front, taking in the famous Cobb, before heading up the steep High Street to buy supplies, then back down again to pick up the path that will take us to tonight’s destination: West Bexington.

Coastal erosion means we start with a significant detour inland to Charmouth; inland inevitably means uphill.  The promised rain arrives, but with persistent humidity we persevere in shirt sleeves, even though everyone we pass is huddled in protective layers.  Allegedly we are back down by the sea within two miles, but we are sure we miss a turning and add on significant extra steps within some woods, because it feels much more like three miles.  But eventually we are back on the undulations of the Coastal Path proper, with the sea to the right of us and – thankfully – dry skies, although the persistent humidity makes the going tougher than it would otherwise be.

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The rise and fall of Cain’s Folly and Broom Cliff give way to the tougher challenge of Golden Cap, with a steep flight of steps for the final ascent; there are probably spectacular views from the top, but the low cloud means we can see nothing.  From the Cap it is a gentle descent down to Seatown, where we have a welcome cup of tea from the surprisingly well-stocked shop of the holiday park before continuing the three miles over Ridge Cliff, Doghouse Hill and Thorncombe Beacon, through Eype Mouth and over West Cliff to West Bay, where we finally stop on the beach for a late lunch (3.30pm).

Today is our longest walk of the week, so we face another 6ish miles once we haul our rucksacks back on.  From West Bay it’s a simple walk along the cliffs, passing in front of Burton Bradstock, before descending down to Burton Beach, which morphs into Hive Beach and then Cogden Beach.  This should be easy, flat walking; some of it is, on grassy footpaths and tarmac trails behind the beaches, but in some areas the storms last year threw shingle across the path, making the going very hard work.  The final mile or so seems like an intense work out, rather than a walk, with muscles being pushed and pulled in unfamiliar directions as we slide on the pea-sized pebbles.

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As we arrive at West Bexington at nearly 7pm, the sun finally breaks through the clouds, shimmering on the grey water.  We face a steep climb up the road to our B&B; not sure what the options are for eating in the village – or, indeed, if there are any – we call the owners of our B&B to say we are going to eat at a beachside cafe and will be arriving late.  They insist instead on driving down the hill to pick us up and transport us straight to their preferred pub for a drink and supper.  It’s service such as we have never had before. Elizabeth and Tony of Sea Fret, West Bexington, go straight to the top of our leader board of best B&B owners.

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