Tuesday, 1 February 2011

A Plod Around Purbeck

Liz mentioned a few weeks ago that she wanted to do her yearly walk around the Isle of Purbeck, I had booked annual leave to join her before you could say "South West Coast Path". 

Apart from a girls weekend in Swanage, I'd never seen any of the Jurassic Coast. I can't believe that all this time I've had an absolutely stunning bit of walkable coastline less than an hour from my doorstep and known nothing of it.

We started out at Corfe Castle, and straight away we were trudging uphill. We were quickly rewarded with a lovely ridge walk atop Brenscombe Hill, and before long we had views out over Studland on our left and Swanage on our right. 

We were aiming straight for the sea, so we beelined across Ballard Down and were soon at the cliff edge, where you can see Old Harrys Rocks apparently. Without leaning over the edge though you can't get such a good view and as I'm trying to have an A&E free 2011 I decided against the whole leaning plan.

Instead, we followed the coast around to Swanage and stopped for a spot of lunch at the beach. I'd like to quickly add here that I was a) very healthy and b) possibly even a little bit posh as I opened my tupperware and tucked into my carrot and cauliflower crudites with a teeny tub of houmous.

From here we headed into the very pretty Durlston Country Park and on turning around at the top to appreciate the view, I could see Old Harrys Rocks safely and risk free. The sun was poking it's head out through the clouds and it was starting to warm up too, lovely.

For the next few miles we followed the Jurrasic Coast, and I was constantly in awe of this really spectacular location. The coast just goes on forever in either direction and you get the feeling of really being out in the middle of nowhere. 

I have a few friends who will be taking part in the "Jurassic Coast Challenge" in March, this involves running a marathon a day for three days. I thought they were all a bit mad before I came and saw it, now I think they are utterly bonkers. Whilst it is absolutely beautiful, the path is rugged, uneven and has a near constant flow of up and down. I couldn't even comprehend the idea of running it. Even if I could come round to the idea, I then came across something quite astounding. Suddenly, in the middle of a very pleasant section of path, the land just cuts away into a steep dip. The clearly very fit Dorset Rangers have made a long and rocky staircase here for the walkers. I called them "The Stairs of DOOM". 

The photos below don't really do it justice, it has to be seen to be believed.
Down these ones..
..and up these ones

Once we'd huffed and heaved our way to the top of the steps, we had a little tea break overlooking Chapmans Pool, a very pretty bay that must get absolutely packed in the summer. The sun was beginning it's descent and an orange hue was lining the horizon, the cliffs in the bay lit up and the whole place looked like some sort of dream. Everybody should do this walk and everybody should see a sunset here.

From this point we made our way inland. The darkness was falling and our last few miles took us across Corfe Common; a nice, gentle, squidgey surface to ease our tired feet. The dusky silhouette of Corfe Castle appeared and we made it to the car just after dark.

All in all a fabulous walk along the coast. But one piece of Eggy wisdom if you do decide to come here in the more summery months. Do some of the walk backwards, unless you want one burnt side of your face.

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