A walk along the coast

Sunday 02 March 2014 – Swanage.

The hotel definitely seems to cater for the slightly more ‘delicate’ market, my room is about a hundred degrees and I spent most of the night on top of the covers as it was too hot to sleep underneath. I had the window open to let some cool fresh air in as soon as I woke – my inner Englishness meant I could not open the window all night and waste the power from the central heating ! I had no means to turn it down either.

I had chosen to stay in Swanage for a number of reasons, price being one – but one of the others was it was facing east; with good weather forecast when I booked my trip I was hoping for a good sunrise or three.

I was up early and after swallowing an instant coffee I was out the door to see if the sunrise would appear from under the large blanket of low cloud. I was to be pretty much disappointed! I went down to the waterfront anyway and had a play with some ND and ND grad filters to see if I could at least get some good cloud and sea action.

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I took some rather unspectacular photos for a while before deciding to walk along to the pier and Peveril Point for a look around before heading back to the hotel for breakfast. I was just taking this picture when a local photographer appeared behind me and we wandered off together to the cliff tops at Peveril Point to see what would happen as the sun finally attempted to rise.

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We were rewarded with a small glow on the far horizon, peering out from under the clouds that took a slight hint of the suns glow.

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We hung around and chatted for a while before gave up trying to take photos on a tripod in the wind, so I thanked him and headed back to my hotel to get breakfast as soon as the kitchen opened at 8:00 as I had a big day planned.

Luckily breakfast was served at the same breakneck speed as last night so I was out the door soon after 8:30, camera bag loaded with camera, rain coat, gloves, hats and everything needed to cater for the weather turning wet and cold later in the day. I planned on walking along the coast path to Worth Matravers, a section of the coast I had travelled with Malcolm in 2012 and one worth returning to with a camera. I knew I had about three hours before the rain was due to arrive, though it was incredibly windy, at times I was almost blown off my feet – luckily the wind was blowing in off the sea.

I headed back up over Peveril Point, there was a lot of damage caused by the recent storms – a story across both days of walking, large chunks of the cliff had fallen into the sea and signs new and old where everywhere.

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I walked up to Durlston nature reserve via the old Isle of Wight Road, a wee bit muddy and I was glad I had my trail running shoes on – a bit of tread was very useful! I remembered Durlston Castle from the run, and the fact there was no signage for the coast path here and Malcolm and I spent a bit of time faffing trying to work out which way to go.

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Durlston Castle was a rich man’s folly built in the 1800’s, not particularly old compared to some of the places I plan on visiting tomorrow, but it is kind of cute and I did notice a coffee shack out the back which I planned on visiting when I returned.

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As I walked along the path from the castle I took one of many pictures throughout the day looking up and down the coast.

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This region has had a long history of limestone quarrying and there are a number of old quarry sites along the coast. The first one I came across was at the far end of the Durlston Reserve just below Anvil Point Lighthouse.

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Past the lighthouse the wind really picked up and gusts were blowing me sideways at times. It was almost hard to walk, thankfully I was not planning on a run today, though I did jog on the odd occasion – trying to be gentle with the bag load of camera gear I had on back.

The limestone has been used for the dozens of stone walls used by the local farmers.

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I walked for a while to my first scheduled photo stop at Dancing Ledge – so called because at certain tides as the water washes over, the rock appears to be dancing. I was utterly amazed to see a group of climbers there, playing on the small ledges. Not that people would climb there per se, just that anybody apart from me was out on this miserable windy day. I would not want to be climbing about on ledges, no matter how small on a day like this !

It is a really spectacular spot and I would love to visit with big clouds – but no wind !

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As I left the area and started walking further along the coast the rain started to come down so it was camera away and jacket on, some of the rain gusts were so cold I ended up having to put gloves on and had my hat down as far as it would go on my head.

It wasn’t far to my final destination and I thought I would stick it out and hope the rain stopped as it wasn’t forecasted to arrive for another couple of hours. Though it was not raining that hard it never did stop, and the wind made it quite unpleasant. I jogged a bit more.

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I was disappointed when I got to where I thought the old village of Worth Matravers was, I remembered there being some old ruins of quarrymen houses on the coast, which was what I wanted to see but I could not find them, all I found were some old, fenced off, mine holes. I saw a sign to the village, pointing up a really muddy cow track and it was a mile away and the weather miserable I decided to return to Swanage. I had had a good day out so far and there was no point in just hanging around and maybe getting sick.

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I had met some people on the way that had come down a hilltop track so decided to walk up there and avoid some of the spray that was coming off the sea on the cliff top Coast Path. The bad weather has had a real impact on paths along here with numerous slips and this was typical of them.

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At the top of the hill I was really unsure of which way to go as there were a few paths, I ended up following narrow cow paths for a while before I found what appeared to be the proper path. An hour of walking later I finally caught sight of Anvil Point Lighthouse and made my way gingerly down the hillside towards it and then back to Durlston Castle.

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Sadly the coffee shack outside was closed so wet, a little cold and a bit muddy I went into the castle cafe and joined some shiny and clean people for what was a welcome and damn good coffee !

On the way back to Swanage and my hotel I saw this rather out of place bollard in the castle grounds.

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It took me a further hour to get back to the hotel, I was glad I had layered up properly as I was pretty damp when I got back, but not overly cold considering the wind and rain. I was out for six hours and had missed lunch in the hotel, so I took a bath for a while before heading to the pub for a beer…

I had sort of known, but it had never been top of mind when I planned the trip – a late winter Sunday night in a small rural town is never going to be a great place to find a meal ! Virtually everywhere was closed. I had my heart set on a nice pasta meal but ended up with a burger and chips in another pub. Good burger and chips though and the beer was good to.

Another good day !

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Wannabe writer and photographer. Interested in travel and place. From Auckland, New Zealand.