Walk #314: South Haven Point to Worth Matravers
Map of the walk
Maps courtesy of Google Maps. Route for indicative purposes only, and may have been plotted after the walk. Please let me have comments on what you think of this new format. For a detailed table of timings for this walk, please see the table file.
For the last couple of weeks it has been my aim to walk continuously for over one hundred days. As of two days ago I was just over a week away from that target, and then yesterday I took my first day off on the entire trip. My reasons for this are simple to explain; I had some great company as my brother and sister in law were visiting, and the weather was awful, with torrential rain for the majority of the day. Either one of these I could have coped with, but having them visiting made me really no want to go out into the bad weather. We got up late, had a cooked breakfast, watched a DVD and then generally chatted and did nothing until at two in the afternoon Oliver and Sam had to go to make the long journey back to Derbyshire. It really was lovely to see them, and I miss them already.
After having taken a day off yesterday, the first in over ninety days of walking, I find myself wondering if I can do a walk tomorrow. For the first time in the walk, real doubt is in my mind about whether I can complete the walk. Taking a day off, particularly with such wonderful company, has helped me recharge my spirits, but already the concept of getting up and walking is alien in a way that it has not been for three months. It is a stupid and irrational way to feel, but I cannot help it. I will just have to get up in the morning and plod on, get some miles under my belt and build myself up again. I have always said that I expected this walk to be harder mentally than physically, and this is a classic example; the doubts do not come from any aches or pains in my body (which has been remarkably good during the walk), but from my mind. Doubt is creeping in, and all because I took a day off. I tried to explain this to Sam, but although she tries she cannot possibly understand, simply because I cannot adequately put into words how I am feeling mentally. For an outside observer taking one day off after ninety-two would mean nothing; for me it is like the walk has come to a premature end. I knew that I would have to mentally start again today, which is something that I was not looking forward to.
I put the afternoon to good use, and did some work on the scripts that run the website, including a project that I am fairly excited about but do not want to talk about yet. It feels really strange spending a few hours coding, as I have not done that for such a long time. Some of the work I did was to get the GenWalk script - which generates my itinerary - to cope with the fact that I too a day off, which it now does. Sometimes I feel like the only reason that I did not take a day off for those three months was avoiding doing that little amount of work!
The main thing about today's walk was the mud, which was thick and cloying for much of the walk. The long section westwards from Durlston Head was particularly bad, and the path had long sections of mud along it that made walking much harder and tiring than should have been the case. In particular there were two downhill sections that were exceedingly slippy, and on one of them where a fence did not hem in the path I gave the path a wide berth and walked on the grass. Also in evidence was the main reason for the mud, the heavy rainfall that we have had over the last week. Many streams were overflowing and there were streams of water running down grassy areas, even though the rain stopped hours before.
Annoyingly the tide was very high in the morning, and this meant that instead of being able to walk along the beach around the attractive Shell and Studland Bays I had to walk through the dunes behind them. These beaches are meant to be very attractive, but I could not really see any of them, as the tide was so high. To add insult to injury, when I was walking along the seafront promenade in Swanage a large wave broke aver the seawell and soaked me, which has made me hair feel very wiry ever since. A few minutes after the wave got me I saw a couple walking towards me, who commented on my slightly bedraggled state and so I warned them to beware of low-flying waves.
Swanage is a lovely little town, and I wish that I had had more time to look around it. I met Sam at the seafront before visiting a chemist to get something for my cold and going to see the very attractive town hall. I did have time to have a look around the Swanage Station of the Swanage Railway, which runs from the town as far as Corfe Castle. Ths was a shame as I would not have minded seeing what stock they had at the station.
As I looked back over the coast late in the afternoon I could see The Isle of Wight shimmering in the distance to the east, providing memories of recent walks. Once I had rounded St Aldhelm's Head I could see the Isle of Portland in the distance to the west as the sky started to redden as the sun descended towards the horizon.
I could potentially have a problem tomorrow - once I get to Kimmeridge I have to cross the Lulworth army ranges, and if they are not open I have to make a diversion back nearly as far as Wareham! I cannot get mobile phone reception here, so I cannot phone the number up to see if the ranges are open as it is still school holiday. I shall have to reach near Kimmeridge to find out if this will be necessary.
The only slight aside to this was the very end of the walk, when I walked inland eastwards from West Cliff to the church at Worth Matravers along a distinct and easy to follow (but very muddy) track.
This makes a total distance of 16.7 miles, with 2581 feet of ascent and 2155 feet of descent.
We spent the night parked in the car park in Worth Matravers, beside the toilets so that we could use their facilities. The car park had a sign stating no caravans or overnight parking, but we ignored this advice as it was the only place in the village (which mainly comprises of narrow lanes) where we could find to park.
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And finally, enjoy your walking!
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