17. Portland

I had been looking forward to doing a circuit of the “isle” of Portland for some time, although I had previously visited Portland on a University field trip back in 1973. I parked close to the Ferrybridge Hotel and set off on the footpath along the A354, the only road linking Portland. The road was very busy with early morning traffic going in both directions.

The footpath soon merged with the fabulous Chesil Beach or Chesil Bank, a tombolo of shingle running for 18 miles, parallel with the coastline. I climbed up onto the bank, but walking over the shingle was very hard work and so I reverted to the footpath. The bank eventually joined Portland at Chiswell, where houses first appeared. The path climbed up a steep path behind the houses and eventually emerged at the old Tout Limestone Quarry, now a sculpture park. I was fascinated by the animal sculptures strewn about the quarry. I could see work already in progress – a fantastic use of the quarry. The view back down and along Chesil Beach was amazing.

I continued above the limestone cliffs of the west coast, passing through old quarries and gradually descending towards the southern tip of Portland Bill. I passed above rock-climbers honing their skills on West Cliff. I passed the  first of three lighthouses on this part of the island and rounded Portland Bill.

Looking back down towards Chesil Beach from near The Tout Quarry
Sculpture in Tout Quarry
Heading along West Cliff
At Portland Bill

The path continued north hugging the shore. The east side of Portland is low-lying and was extensively quarried for its valuable stone. There were many industrial remnants of the previous quarrying, including large wooden winches for moving the stone. After passing through the Southwell landslip, the land rose to form steeper cliffs. Most of the NE part of Portland is still given over to MOD and I missed a SWCP sign instructing me to go uphill. When I did find my way up the steep side of the hill I emerged close to one of a small number of quarries still operating on Portland. The path continued onto HMP The Verne, where I walked around the high perimeter security fencing. I walked on towards Portland Castle and followed the road back to Chiswell to rejoin my earlier route. As I had already walked out to Portland I caught a bus back to my car at Ferrybridge.

Lifting gear at old Quarry workings
At HMP Prison The Verne
Working quarry near Fortuneswell
Looking towards The Citadil High-Angle Battery

Distance today = 13 miles
Total distance =   275 miles

 

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16. Poole to Kimmeridge

It is almost 5 years ago when I decided to begin walking the South West Coast Path and was quite apprehensive at the time whether I could complete the 630 mile route. Little did I envisage that two years later having just completed the SWCP and already walking around the Wales Coast Path, I would decide to go the ‘whole hog’ and walk the entire coast of Great Britain.

Ok so back to 2013 and an overcast, but dry and muggy day. I drove to and parked in a quarry just above the village of Kimmeridge in Dorset. I had arranged for a lift from my sister’s husband who live close by in Swanage. Dave had kindly agreed to drop me off at South Haven Point opposite Sandbanks where the ferry comes across over Poole Harbour.

After watching the ferry come and go I set off along Shell Bay. The beach was not very busy as I made my way around the headland and then along Studland Bay. I passed a couple of warning signs advising me that the southern section of the beach was frequented  by Naturists. Thankfully, no one was baring all today. I left the beach and passed through the small village of Studland. The path soon transferred onto a broad common area and I soon arrived at the superb Old Harry’s Rocks, a collection of chalk sea stacks with internal arches. The common land continued along Old Nicks Ground and onto Ballard Down before dropping down into Swanage. I called in at my sister’s house in Swanage to say hello and get a cuppa.

The official start/end of the South West Coast Path at South Haven Point
At Old Harry’s Rocks
Old Harry’s Rocks
Approaching Swanage

Determined to try some of the local fish and chips on offer in the town, I bought a portion and continued to eat them as I slowly make my way out to Peveril Point. I rounded the Point and continued onto Durliston Head. I desisted from exploring the folly that is Durliston Castle and continued onto Anvil Point where there is a lighthouse and the Tally Whim Caves, long since closed because of structural instability. I continued along the coast and noticed large patches of sea fog drifting ashore. The temperature dropped and I heard a tannoy sounding as though giving out information. Then out of the mist came, much to my surprise, the paddle steamer Waverley. Frequently seen in the Firth of Clyde, this last remaining sea-going paddle steamer does cruises along the Jurassic Coast during September.

I passed a number of old quarries on the cliff edge, including one called Dancing Ledge. I arrived at St Alban’s Head and had a quick chat with one of the coastguard Officers on duty. A few hundred yards away is the old Norman St Aldhelms Chapel and a row of old Coastguard Cottages. The site was used in the James Blunt music video “I’ll Carry You Home”.

With James Blunt still ringing in my ears I descended  a very steep set of steps only to have to regain the height through a another set – it was quite a punishing set of Down and Up with hundreds of steps to descend and climb and not appreciated at this stage of the walk! I approached, high above, a  tranquil Chapmans Pool and pass The Royal Marines Memorial.

After descending off West Hill the path contoured around a couple of hills before ascending Houns-tout Cliff. However, a recent cliff fall had meant a lengthy detour inland. The diversion went along a road into the village of Kingston, before turning left and following a road then farm track to a quarry above Kimmeridge. By this time the light had begun to fade on a long and tiring day. I drove to Corfe Castle where I had booked a room for the night in one of the local pubs.

Tally Whim Caves
Near Dancing Ledge
The paddle steamer Waverley
Coastguard lookout at St. Albans Head
Steep Down and Up near Chapmans Pool
Chapmans Pool

Distance today = 21 miles
Total distance =   262 miles

 

15. Abergele to Conwy

This was a short walk as I joined fellow supporters of AFC Telford United in the final stages of a charity walk to raise money for a local hospice and Club funds.

The original plan was that a small group of supporters would walk the 80+ miles from Telford in Shropshire to Conwy in Gwynedd over 3 or 4 days. The final leg from Abergele to Conwy would coincide with the first preseason friendly football game between AFC Telford and Conwy FC; this would give the opportunity for other supporters to join the  walk for the final leg.

I drove to and parked in Conwy and then caught an early train down to Abergele and Pensarn. I walked first around to the hotel where the walkers, who had done the complete distance from Telford had been staying. About 15 walkers, including The Chairman, a Director and the Manager set off on the final leg to Conwy. The route was very simple, head out to the shore road and follow the promenade all the way to Rhos-on-Sea and then cut inland towards Llandudno Junction.

It turned out to be a very hot day, with little sea breeze. We passed through Colwyn Bay, mingling with the summer tourists along the prom. It was not long before we reached a road running inland by the Rhos-on-Sea Golf Club. We then cut through a housing estate and then along minor roads without any footpaths. By the time we reached the outskirts of Llandudno Junction, some of the non-regular walkers were beginning to flag. We arrived and at the bridge over the River Conwy and the sight of the magnificent Conwy Castle spurned everyone on in knowing that the football ground was only a couple of miles away. We were met by representatives of Conwy football club who indicated the best way through the town to the football ground.

Although the walk was longer than the 7 miles indicated, the section  along the coast and  across the Conwy Bridge was only counted in my mileage. Because the walk had cut-off the main Llandudno Peninsular, I would return some three years later to fill the gap when I took on the Wales Coast Path.

Setting off from Abergele
Crossing the bridge over The River Conwy
Heading into Conwy
Conwy Castle

Distance today = 7 miles
Total distance =   241 miles

 

14. Silverdale to Flookburgh

In 2013, I participated in a sponsored walk across Morecambe Bay for Cancer Care. The thought of walking around the coast of Great Britain had not entered into my head, but I have decided to include this walk as part of my greater challenge.

Apparently there are a number of these walks lead by local experts throughout the summer, all for good causes.

This was the ultimate low-level walk and I was looking forward it. The walk was in conjunction with a half-marathon of 13 miles, where the runners joined the walkers at about the half-way point.

We parked at the Cark airfield (which was the end of the walk) and a stream of buses was provided to transport runners and walkers to their various start points across the Bay. We set out from Gibraltar Farm, Silverdale

The walk itself was very enjoyable, especially being so far out from land and definitely worth doing if you are in the area.

http://www.crossbay.org.uk/

Thats all of the narrative, I’ll let the photos do the rest of the talking

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Arriving at Gibraltar Farm, Silverdale

 

 

 

 

 

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Safety briefing

 

 

 

 

 

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Preparing to set off

 

 

 

 

 

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On our way

 

 

 

 

 

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Heading towards Heysham Power Station

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Perhaps not this way!

 

 

 

 

 

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All were welcome!

 

 

 

 

 

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First checkpoint, the tiny dot in the distance is the next checkpoint

 

 

 

 

 

 

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About as deep as it got

 

 

 

 

 

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The first runner in the half-marathon race catches us up

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Others join and the group becomes strung-out

 

 

 

 

 

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Approaching the shore

 

 

 

 

 

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Not 13 miles for us, but a great walk nonetheless!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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My medal!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Distance today = 7 miles
Total distance =   234 miles

 

 

 

13. Wells-next-the-Sea to Hunstanton

This was the final section of the walk with my friend Rob along the Norfolk Coastal Path. Unfortunately, I took few notes and equally few photos of this walk and with the event being sometime  ago, this report  will be quite short of content.

We drove to the seaside town of Hunstanton for a walk that would see the completion of The Norfolk Coastal Path. We caught an early morning bus through to Wells-next-the-Sea and  set off along a road that ran out to the Coastguard lookout post. We immediately turned left continuing through a mixture of dunes and Old Scots Pine trees. We walked along Holkham Meals through to Holkham Gap where there was a small car park. We continued along hard compact sand through Holkham Nature Reserve. We lost the trees and emerged on a road track alongside Overy Creek. The first  village of our  walk was Burnham Overy Staithe .

We passed into and along the fringe of  the vast expanse of Salt marsh that is Burnham Norton Nature Reserve. The actual coast was way over  across the marsh with its myriad of small pools and creeks, almost a lie away. We continued along an old sea bank into our next village Burnham Deepdale. We walked on the path at the back of houses for some distance soon arriving at the village of Brancaster. Here to avoid walking along the A149 we continued inland slightly. After passing about 6 or 7 fields we emerged close to the larger village of Thornham where we made our way out again to the sea bank.

The Coaster having just dropped us off in Wells-next-the-Sea
Walking along Holkham Meals
Burnham Overy harbour
The old windmill at Burnham Overy Staithe
Near Gore Point

We passed through another nature Reserve and out past Gore Point. We arrived at Holme-next-the-Sea and met up with the Peddars Way, another National Trail linking with the Norfolk Coastal path. We also crossed Hunstanton Golf Course so we knew it was not that far to go, especially after the rain began to fall. We passed through the small village of Old Hunstanton closer to the sea than we had been all day. The rain did not abate as we arrived in Hunstanton, we were glad to have completed a very long day.

P.S I actually walked the Peddars Way some 6 years later in 2013. The area had suffered some storm damage including the Golf Club which had greens washed away in the storm surge.

Distance today = 23 miles
Total distance =   227 miles

 

1. Cardigan to Newport

I did not realise at the time that these were to be my first footsteps in walking the coast of  Great Britain. This was a new and different type of walk to me as I had previously climbed hills, mountains and walked inland long distance footpaths, but it was my intention at the time to simply walk the Pembrokeshire Coastal Path (PCP).

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Cardigan Island, with The Mwnt in the far distance

Like so many of my future walks I intended to the coastal path in long ‘one-dayers’ from my home in Shropshire. This meant getting up early and driving to my destination then either immediately start walking or using public transport to get to point B. I parked in the free public car park in Newport and caught the excellent bus service that runs along this section of coast to Cardigan. The first 4 or 5 miles were along tarmac roads of the Teifi estuary, but gradually the estuary opened up and I gained height to good effect with       excellent views across to Cardigan Island. I was soon introduced to “switchback ” coastal walking with steep ascents and descents, in fact today’s section of the path would see me

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My favourite warning sign

climb over 3000ft,  the equivalent of  climbing a Scottish Munro!

Unfortunately, the warm February haze did not offer extensive views

 

The Witches Cauldron

It was  not long before I came to Pwll y Wrach (The Wicthes Cauldron) and a fine example of a blow-hole with collapsed sea-cave. Numerous ups and downs came and went before I heard the shouting of children at play which meant that I was approaching Parrog Sands. A gentle walk over the links of Newport Golf Course took me to the road at Newport and the end of my first walk along the PCP.

 

The cliffs at Pen yr Afr

Distance today = 18 miles
Total distance =   18miles