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Lyme Regis No 3: To Golden Cap, Part 2

Lyme Bay, with Golden Cap showing as the peak on the right.

This is the third post in this series, and continues the account of the walk from Charmouth to Golden Cap. For Part 1 of this account click here. (You’ll find the start of the series of five posts here.) And Part 1 of the walk to Golden Cap is here.

A long crack shows where the next landslip will occur.

Walking up the cliff paths to this high spot on the south coast of England, we occasionally came across signs of an imminent landslip that will, in the not-too-distant future, take a portion of the cliff down toward the sea.

The cracks are quite wide and deep.

Large cracks show how unstable the land here can be. We kept on the landward side of such divides!

Meadows full of wildflowers are frequent on the walk.

Approaching the peak, the way is constructed from wooden steps holding the underlying mud in place in an attempt to prevent erosion ruining the experience.

The stepped part of the walk, near the peak.

There are even a few benches sited to give walkers a much-appreciated rest.

It’s a fair old climb for an old rambler!

At the top of this final stretch the path emerges onto a low mound of open ground. A large group of people were assembled here and it was clear many assumed they’d reached the top.

Some walkers are fooled by the mound, but this isn’t quite the top.
View from almost the top, overlooking the coast toward Charmouth.

I’d walked this route some forty years or so previously – on that occasion I’d come across a guy sitting on a log at the top using a screwdriver to fix his wooden leg! As a result of that earlier visit, I know there’s a trig point (a device used by the Ordnance Survey teams when making maps) marking the highest part of the peak.

Valerie at the trig point at the top.

It’s approached along a relatively level path, which we took until we arrived at the concrete pillar marking the spot. We were alone for a while here, and the sun shone brilliantly from a sky that was clear above, even though there remained some light mist over the distant Charmouth and Lyme Regis.

We took our ‘trophy’ photos, just to show we’d made it. Then we started our return, stopping at a bench along the seaward side of the path leading to the trig point where another couple were enjoying a rest. They shuffled up to allow us to sit. As we relaxed, the large group from the small mound passed by on their way to the summit.

The stepped way takes us back down to our next detour.

On our way up, we’d passed a finger post pointing to the ruins of an old church. We decided to take a different route back and moved down to have a look at the ruins.

The remains of the old St Gabriel’s Church.

The old church was obviously a small place, and not much of it is left. It was once St. Gabriel’s Church, apparently named for the mythical archangel, which served the now vanished hamlet of Stanton St Gabriel, where the folk made a living from agriculture and fishing.

The National Trust holiday cottages nestle in the trees.

Close by is a National Trust property, St Gabriel’s House, which is an 18th century manor house now divided into 4 holiday cottages. They form a pretty isolated spot for a holiday, reachable only via a drive along a very narrow stony lane a little over half a mile long and beginning at the minor road known as Muddyford Lane, which leads off the main road, the A35.

Crossing the fields toward Upcot.

From here, our route took us to the tiny farming community of Upcot and then across Chardown Hill.

The isolated community that is Upcot.
The track leads toward Stonebarrow Hill (the right branch)

This path leads to a car park that stands at the termination of a wide stony lane running along the ridge of Stonebarrow Hill, at the other end of which are seasonal toilets and a small shop run by the National Trust.

At one end of this long track lies the car park (behind the camera) and ahead lie the National Trust shop and loos.

The walk from this point is along a very narrow, twisting, and steeply falling road that occasionally gives lovely views over the surrounding countryside. It’s easy walking, though the hardness is unkind to feet and knees wearied from the earlier walk.

The narrow road leads back down toward Charmouth.

The traffic, on this warm, summer Monday was very light, but the size of the car park suggests it may become very busy on summer weekends and perhaps during school holidays.

This footpath leads between houses and takes you back toward the coast and the car park.

Eventually, we found ourselves on the outskirts of the small seaside town of Charmouth, at a fair distance from where we’d left the car. A public footpath dodges between some houses and leads down toward the sea. We were glad to be back at the car, where we changed our walking shoes for the town shoes we’d left in the boot.

Plenty of space to park for the walk. But, in the high season, this place gets very full.

A short amble across the shingle took us to the Beach Café with its outside tables well occupied but some free space inside.

The Beach Cafe and the Charmouth Heritage Coast Centre, just a step away from the car park.

We’d been out for a few hours with only the water we were carrying, so some refreshment was needed. As I approached the counter, at around 15:00, Valerie pointed out the sign hanging above the large menu running across the top of the room. It said they’d stopped cooking at 14:30! So, no bacon butty for me. No matter, I ordered a coffee and some tea and two slices of what was labelled ‘Victoria Sponge’; a cake as yet uncut. The slices were generous. Unfortunately, the sponge was pretty solid and the filling consisted of a butter cream made, apparently, with granulated sugar judging by its grainy and oversweet quality. The jam was similarly grainy and very sweet. Not what we’d hoped for. But the food filled a space and replaced our spent energy and the drinks quenched our thirst.

Children were playing in the sea (I don’t think we feel the chill when we’re that age!)

I estimate our circular walk had measured around 7 miles. We returned to our holiday home for a quiet sit and some relaxation. Our intended evening walk into town was ended by rain, so we made sandwiches instead.

As we made our way back to the car, Golden Cap was again shrouded in mist.

The next part of this account will follow soon.

6 Responses to “Lyme Regis No 3: To Golden Cap, Part 2”

  1. Darlene

    An interesting part of England. Sounds like a good walk but not one we could make. The beach cafe looks cute but cake that is too sweet makes me ill.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    • stuartaken

      A shame you won’t be able to experience this in person, Darlene. Hopefully, my posts will bring some of the flavour to you. The Beach Cafe is very popular, so they obviously do some things right there. In fact, as I was waiting, a woman behind me in the queue was complaining about the end of cooking and saying she and her family go there regularly because the food is so good!

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
      • Darlene

        I’m sure we could visit the area, just couldn’t do the walk up to the top. One can’t judge a place just by one too sweet slice of cake, can we!

        Liked by 1 person

        Reply
        • stuartaken

          The nearest you can aproach Golden Cap in a vehicle is the National Trust properties at Stanton St Gabriel. But access is along a fairly rough track, so you need a tough car. Even from there, although the distance is reduced to a little over half a mile, you’d still have a climb of around 400 feet.
          Agreed: a slice of cake isn’t a guide to the full menu anywhere.

          Liked by 1 person

          Reply

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