Walk #318: Wyke Regis to West Bexington
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.
I quite enjoyed this little walk, particularly as it was a beautiful, sunny day. I had to wrap myself up well to try to keep the cold out, but that was a small price to pay for the sunshine, which was generally glorious. I think that it is not a good idea to complain too much about cold but sunny weather, as many of the alternatives - for instance cold, wet and windy weather - are far worse. I can only hope that the sunny weather continues for as long as possible, as it is very nice to walk in and allows me to take some good photographs.
After yesterday's little diversion around the Isle of Portland it was nice to get back onto the path proper on an enjoyable walk further westwards. There was a diversion inland to he east of Abbotsbury, and this allowed some lovely views around the surrounding area so I did not mind it that much. Yesterday I was in two minds about whether to walk along Chesil Beach or to take the inland route; although the beach route is shorter and more coastal it is over shingle, which is my least favourite walking surface. In the end the decision was made for me, as Sam had been into the visitor centre and was told that it would be impossible to walk all the way along the beach today due to firing at the army range. Strangely enough when I reached the range today the red flags were not out and I could take the path through it; I do not know if the firing was due to start later or not.
The area around Abbotsbury was beautiful, even though I did not go into the village proper to have a look around it. The views down over the village from the hills to the east were fairly spectacular, as were the remains of the fifteenth century St Catherine's Chapel on Chapel Hill, which I skirted below as I walked along, the climb up the hill to visit the ruins not proving too appealing. I also passed the car park of the swannery, which is the largest in England and was founded in the times of Henry VIII to provide birds for the tables of the monks of Abbotsbury Abbey. The swannery was unfortunately shut, as I am intrigued by the whole idea and would not have minded visiting it.
The stone grading on Chesil beach was very visible as I walked along. At the Portland end of the beach the pebbles were quite large, but at the western end of the beach they are much smaller, and there are sandy patches that made walking much easier. The pebbles are exceedingly well sorted - smugglers landing on the beach at night could tell their position to within three hundred yards simply by looking at the size of the pebbles. The power of the waves along the beach can be immense - in 1824 a 95-ton sloop was carried over the beach by a gale and placed in the Fleet on the inland side of the Beach. The whole of Chesil Beach is very impressive, particularly the scale of it - it is amazing to think how many tons of stone was needed to form it, particularly when you realise there is a vastly large amount of stone below the low-tide mark as well.
When I reached the car park in West Bexington I found the van there, but there was no sign of Sam. I phoned her up, and it turned out that she had parked the van and walked up the beach to meet me. I had been walking on the firmer sand at the bottom of the beach whilst she was walking along the top of the shingle bank, and she failed to see me as I walked along. I opened the van and took all my gear off, and eventually Sam turned up about ten minutes later. It feels really strange to be in the van without Sam, as she is usually around when I am, and the van felt empty without her around. When I get to Scotland and have to start camping out it is going to be interesting to see how well I cope without her around - mentally she helps me out massively on this walk, and I know however bad any particular day is she will be there to cheer me up and give me sympathy. I would not be so bold as to call her 'my rock', but in many ways that is the roll she fulfils for me.
This makes a total distance of 14.3 miles, with 1404 feet of ascent and 1479 feet of descent.
We stayed in the car park beside the sea in West Bexington, despite the fact that there were signs stating no overnight parking. We are getting very good at ignoring such signs, as I believe that we are really not doing any harm at this time of year.
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And finally, enjoy your walking!
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