SOUTH WEST COAST PATH
saturday, 3rd june 2017
Today's weather forecast looks to be great, although not as warm as it should be at this time of year.
Lulworth Cove low tide 07:13
Lulworth Cove high tide 15:22
The walk begins at the Chesil Beach Visitors Centre located at the Ferrybridge car park. The road onto the Isle of Portland is extremely busy so I quickly cross the road and drop down onto the trackbed beside the road which used to be a railway line.
I immediately come across wildflowers and butterflies. It's going to be a good day!
I amble along the track next to the road heading for Weymouth before reaching the start of the Rodwell Trail, opposite the derelict Ferrybridge Inn, which is a walking and cycleway (the trail not the pub!) and part of the National Cycle Network Route 26. I have lovely views over to the Isle of Portland and ahead to Weymouth.
There are a series of markers on the Rodwell Trail every 500 metres, each with a symbol representing a creature, plant or historical feature. I won't be going all the way into Weymouth but I'll catch as many of the markers as possible. The first marker at the start of the trail shows a Whitehead Torpedo. These used to be built in a nearby factory where houses now stand.
I amble along the trail and come across the next marker, showing the old Ferrybridge railway bridge that used to cross the Fleet.
The next marker shows the rare 'Little Robin' flower that can be found on the trail.
Next up is a marker showing Weymouth's RNLI lifeboat, 'Ernest and Mabel'.
The final marker for me is one showing Henry VIII who built a lot of defences around here.
It's time for me to leave the trail and I turn right close to a railway cutting next to a coast path marker and drop from the old railway track down to the coast path.
I have magnificent and sunny views over to the Isle of Portland and over the breakwater and Portland Harbour.
I follow a road inland and pass the ruins of Sandsfoot Castle in its park.
I amble through the park, full of dog walkers, and then continue along the road, passing the entrance to Castle Cove Beach which is covered in rubbish and seems to be closed due to a landslip.
I continue along Marine Terrace and then Belle Vue Road and Bincleaves Road and then walk over Bridge Sea Wall at Newton's Cove. I have more lovely views over to Portland.
I cross the River Wey using the Town Bridge and amble along the other side of the harbour heading towards what was once the ferry terminal. Along the way I pass the Anchor Inn, the Royal Oak, the Ship Inn and the George Inn.
I pass a sign informing me that the Black Death entered England in 1348 through this port and killed 30-50% of the country's total population.
I cross a busy road and drop down onto Weymouth Beach and amble along the curving arc of golden sand, adjacent to the town centre. Even this early in the morning the beach is fairly busy.
At the far end of the beach I head up onto The Promenade and it is now properly hot. I pass some beach huts at Greenhill Gardens and then pass some benches made of the local oolitic limestone at Preston and Overcombe Beach.
I head inland slightly due to landslips before heading out onto Redcliff Point.
I follow the coast path as it meanders inland behind the crumbling cliffs through a field full of buttercups and pass an adventure centre before heading into woods on Black Head on the way to Osmington Mills.
I head through a campsite and then turn right onto the road which leads me down to Osmington Mills.
I head through the grounds of the Smugglers Inn before heading back out onto the clifftops. I amble over the top of Hannah's Ledge, Frenchman's Ledge, Pool Ledge, Bran Ledge and Perry Ledge before reaching Ringstead Ledge.
I have magnificent views back to Weymouth and Portland.
I reach a road and I head behind a car park, a shop and a cafe along a track and then drop down to the shingle beach at Ringstead Bay and enjoy the beach for a while.
I head back onto the coast path where a gravel and then grassy track heads up through woods and then on to Burning Cliff, named after a landslip in 1826 triggered an oil/shale fire which smouldered for several years. I enjoy the wildflowers here next to the tracks.
I pass the wooden church of St Catherine's Chapel built by the widow of a controversial vicar of London's Stroud Green, Dr Robert Linklater. The chapel was restored in 2010.
I head behind the chapel onto the crumbling chalk cliffs and out onto the headland at White Nothe. I pass by some old coastguard cottages at 548 feet and head along the clifftops where I have beautiful views along the chalk cliffs towards Bat's Head.
I pass West Bottom and Middle Bottom to reach a grassy hollow at The Warren, enjoying the masses of wildflowers and butterflies along the way.
It is now a rollercoaster ride up and down the chalk cliffs passing the natural arch at Bat's Hole to reach Bat's Head. I head out onto the headland where I have magnificent views back where I've come from and ahead towards Durdle Door and Lulworth Cove.
I descend steeply and can see a chalk stack out to sea before climbing steeply at Swyre Head. I descend steeply again at Scratchy Bottom (snigger) and have lovely views over the rock arch at Durdle Door.
I gingerly descend steps full of people to reach the lovely Durdle Door Beach which is heaving with people on this beautiful summer's day at the end of half term. I admire the limestone arch at close quarters. I enjoy the busy beach for a while before retracing my steps to regain the coast path.
I climb uphill and follow the well worn track full of people which passes a campsite (which explains why there's so many people). The crowds thin out and I climb up a long flight of steps above St Oswald's Bay and I can now see down towards Lulworth Cove.
I pass behind Dungy Head and head down the popular path towards the car park and pass the Lulworth Heritage Centre. I head out to Stair Hole and enjoy the views across the magnificent Lulworth Cove before descending across the old village green.
I walk back through the village and head back to the car park where my lift arrives just in time to avoid the exorbitant £4 parking fee.
WHAT A DAY!!
FLORA AND FAUNA
Flora and fauna encountered on the walk today includes :-
- pied wagtails
- ox eye daisies
- sea thrift
- common blue butterflies
- speckled wood butterflies
- red admirals
- wall brown butterflies
- red campion
- six-spot burnets
MARKS OUT OF TEN?
According to my phone I've walked 16.2 miles today which amounts to 37726 steps. It has been an absolutely beautiful day's walking today in gorgeous sunshine. Ten out of ten!
My Ordnance Survey app has failed me today and claims that my total ascent was only 149 metres or 488 feet and shows nothing of the rollercoaster ride at the end of the day.