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A Long walk in the Purbecks

August 6, 2008

A 13 mile walk on the coast, map in hand, to plan a route for the Walk for Wildlife – that was my aim for the day. It was supposed to be a cool day with lots of heavy showers – so I turned up at Tyneham with spare top, waterproof jacket and prepared for the worst.   As it happened, they got it wrong – very wrong!  Did I suffer?  You bet I did!

I was planning to spend the day finalising the route for the 13 mile walk for the Walk for Wildlife, ready for a group of Ramblers coming down from London tomorrow to ‘give it a go’ and give me marks out of ten for my efforts!  10am at Tyneham and I was getting worried….   No rain, a few clouds, and I had to decide what to take with me on my trek.   I bravely opted to leave my spare top and my fleece in the car, with a waterproof as a back-up in my rucksack.  

It was then that I had to face the reality of the hills!  The ‘gentle’ climb out of Tyneham soon turned into a ‘plod’, then into a ‘bit of hard work’ before ending up as a ‘gasping for breath!’ climb on to the ridge.   By now I knew that leaving the warm clothing behind was a good idea – forgetting the sunblock was probably a bad idea!  Listening to my recordings later was fun – lots of heavy breathing!

On I went, admiring the way a model glider was dancing on the updraft offered by the ridge (tacky description I know but it perfectly portrays the image!), taking in the fantastic views across Poole harbour – and ducking as a low flying jet came whizzing up the valley!

The ridge led me ever onwards and it seemed ages before I could turn off and into the valley into Church Knowle village.  It was only 4 miles!   The next stage should have taken me further East towards Kingston but I got some bad news on my mobile – the MOD had decided that we can’t use Tyneham as a base for the walk!  I was now keen to get back to Tyneham and get started on a recovery plan for the Walk – it’s due to take place on 21st september and now we don’t even have a start/finish point, and I was miles from the car!   I decided to cut the route short and head back via a road, down into Kimmeridge and then over the cliff back to Tyneham.  It all seemed to go well, and my spirits lifted as I realised that this was actually a great walk!   

I stopped for a spot of lunch on a cliff top overlooking the bay before taking the last leg over Gad Cliff and down to Worbarrow bay and Tyneham.  As I was walking this section I noticed that there were literally hundreds of Wall Brown butterflies and decided I’d try to get a picture.  Thye proved to be far too active for my camera skills, but I then found a colony of Lulworth Skippers so spent a bit of time snapping away at them.  My activities attracted the attention of a couple who stopped to ask what I was looking at, and as we got into a conversation it transpired that thye were on the final 2 days of a walk of the entire SW Coast path – having started 10 years ago and done a bit every year!

I congratulated them and then headed off back the car park – my head swimming with ideas of how we would try to re-organise 3 long distance walks from scratch in less than a month!  So, I hear you all asking – why did I suffer?   It all became very apparent as I sat in my office later, as first Nigel, then Amanda, remarked that I has certainly caught the sun.  When I got home I realised just how much – a very red face greeted me as I looked in the mirror!  My own fault for not using sun block – but I still blame the weatherman for getting it wrong!

As for the Walks? Will keep you posted on progress……


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