Here is the second post about our stay in the resort famous for its fossils (that might include us!). (You’ll find the start of the series of five posts here.)
Sunday morning I rose early again. Began reading Harlen Coben’s ‘Promise Me’ until Valerie rose for breakfast. A walk down the lane took us to the local Tesco supermarket for a few necessities and we ran into Valerie’s cousin, Jim, and his wife, Linda, who we chatted with briefly as we planned to visit them that afternoon. We returned to our temporary home via the riverside path and had a light lunch of sandwiches.
Our visit to Jim and Linda’s seafront cottage was full of chat, catching up and discussing various family research finds from Valerie and Jim, who are both trying to establish family trees and doing quite well. It’s a project I won’t get involved in as it’s not only addictive, but also very time consuming! But Valerie has found all sorts of interesting stuff about both sides of our families, using Ancestry.co.uk and Findmypast.co.uk
We returned home and watched the end of the England v Cameroon Women’s Football, had tea, and then saw Andy Murray and Feliciano Lopez win their doubles match at Queen’s. The afternoon and early evening shed a little rain, so we had no more walks. And I read a little more before bed.
After breakfast on the Monday, we drove down to Charmouth, a small resort a few miles east of Lyme Regis, and parked in the large car park near the seafront for £4.00 for the day.
We set off to climb the cliff path toward Golden Cap, a promontory that rises along the coast to a height of 191 metres (626 feet), making it the highest point on the southern English coast.
As we started, mist shrouded the peak, though there was hazy sunshine where we stood. We wondered, briefly, whether the walk would be worth it in these conditions, but, as typical Brits, we’re used to variable weather (it’s because the jet stream wavers and wanders across the island, you know) and we generally set out assuming the weather will change at some point.
There are numerous paths crossing the cliffs and fields leading to Golden Cap (so called because of the golden colour of the greensand rock at its peak).
Some of these are dead ends due to the frequent collapse of parts of the cliffs, so it’s as well to have an up-to-date map with you when walking there. We selected our route and set off up the slope. At this point, we were alone, which, as walkers who love peace and solitude, suited us fine.
Our national Government, as I write this a Conservative led minority, claims concern for the environment and for the health of its people. However, over many years, national government has starved local authorities of funds while, at the same time, placing more and more local issues under their control without providing the necessary budgets. The outcome is many local services have suffered. One of these is the maintenance of public footpaths, which have become a very low priority for organisations strapped for cash. As a result, many paths, even in regular use, are in danger of becoming impassable due to overgrowth of bordering wild plants. We’ve found this in our home in the Forest of Dean, so were not at all surprised when we encountered it on our route up the hillside in Dorset. That government can encourage outdoor activity to prevent obesity and help with general health, while simultaneously allowing a popular method of exercising (walking in the countryside) to be discouraged by neglect illustrates the total lack of joined-up thinking common among politicians.
We love to walk hand in hand (we’re romantics) but had to walk in several places in single file, often with our hands above our heads to avoid high nettles and thistles, or sometimes because erosion has turned some paths into narrow-sided ditches. But we’re not easily deterred, and the many open spaces and better stretches of the track more than compensated for these occasional lengths of narrow ways.
In other places, the trail is well maintained, with steps, and small footbridges where needed. A real mix.
The route varies along the whole way, with views sometimes restricted by close bush and trees, often mingled with bracken and brambles, and other views opening on meadows bright with many different wildflowers.
From time to time, these views across open stretches expose the cliffs and beach below, as well as the rural pastures inland. A real slice of traditional English countryside.
Here and there along the route we came across other walkers; the odd runner, dog walkers, family groups, competing male pairs eager to display their prowess to each other, and generally cheerful small groups of female walkers. Some gave us advice on the best way forward, others warned of slight dangers near the edge of the cliffs, and some we were, in turn, able to advise of conditions we’d already experienced.
The object of our trip occasionally pushed its head out of the mists and gave an encouraging promise of things to come. At other times, it vanished completely under low cloud. But the weather remained dry and relatively warm.
This part ends here (too long as a single post.) I’ll post the next part in a couple of days.