02/03/2019 – Abbotsbury to West Bexington
Click for 3D map of the walk – on laptop/desktop, click on 3D if needed and use Ctrl to manipulate the map and scroll to zoom in or out.
I had looked at the weather forecast and the prediction was for nice weather in the morning and rain from 1pm, then Sunday, in short, horrible… So I decided to go for my next walk on Saturday morning. With last week’s walk having been such a long trek, I was going to make this a shorter walk anyway. Looking at the map, walking to West Bexington along the coast and then coming back over the hills seemed like a good idea. I left home when it was still dark, hoping I would be able to take some really nice photos before starting the walk, but it was too cloudy to make best use of the sunrise. So I had breakfast where I had been last time, half up the hill of the coast road, where the view is really great.
After breakfast I drove back to the village car par, put on my walking boots, and set off. First into the village and then sharp left towards St Catherine’s Chapel, offering increasingly nicer views over the village and surrounding landscape. The climb to the chapel was not as steep as I had feared and soon I found myself at the gate towards the chapel. I noticed there was a door which I could open and use to pay the inside of the chapel a visit. Even though it’s not a chapel that is used anymore – nor is it a ruin – it’s still well worth entering. The ceiling especially is well worth seeing, but also the atmosphere inside, this early in the morning with no one else around, was special.
After leaving the chapel the path led me down the hill towards Chesil Beach, that is not cut off from the mainland because of the fleet anymore. The path lead me up onto the beach, which at this point has pebbles not larger than garden gravel on it. The going was tough however and soon I choose to walk on the single track road behind it, nipping onto the beach now and again for the view, which is not surprisingly spectacular. To the right I could clearly see the brown-red cliffs above Burton Bradstock and further on the dip which indicated West Bay. Then followed Golden Cap with behind it Charmouth and Lyme Regis. Then more cliffs, but not as high or steep this time, all the way to Seaton and Beer. To the left, the view was not as wide ranging but no less impressive. I could see all the way along Chesil Beach towards the tilted wedge of Portland, with Portland Heights on the higher side and the light house, just about visible, on the lower side. The view left view full of memories of where I had been over the past weeks and the view to the right full of expectation of what is to come.
After thoroughly enjoying the walk along the beach I soon reached West Bexington, first the holiday chalets and then the car park, with the road going straight up through the village. Parking here is £3.50 for 8 hours, which is not too bad. I think I will park in Burton Bradstock next time, on the National Trust beach car park. I walked up the hill past the Tamarisk Farm Shop on the left and then, instead of following the road, crossing over to the dirt track straight up the hill. The first part is really rocky, the second muddy and near the top it turns into grass, which is nice! The path then swerves to the right to follow the ridge. Even though I often drive along here on the coast road, there are some surprises. One is a waterwell made out of stone, with a tough grill covering the top. Of course, some idiots have been using this as a bin, shoving plastic bottles and all kinds of other rubbish through the grill. Some people should stay in the city, where there are people cleaning up after them. Really sad… A bit further on is a pond – who would have known! – which is a bit strange.
The path then meets and crosses the coast road towards Abbotsbury Castle, an iron age fort whith wonderful views. You can see why those people would choose this spot for their settlement. There are a lot of iron age forts in this area and each and every one of them is by definition built on top of a hill with views to match. Further on there are several photo opportunities and in summer places to picnick. The coast path here is very wide, grassy and gentle. Instead of walking further on towards Thomas Hardye’s monument and then walking along the single track road into Abbotsbury, as the map at the top suggests, I decided to turn right after the fence and descend into Abbotsbury that way. A wise choice it turned out, as it offered even more stunning views and a shorter way back to the car. It was nearly noon and I expected some rain soon. While on the top of the ridge I could see rain descend over the Purbecks in the distance and over Devon behind me. No doubt, not long now and it was our turn. I got back to the van dry, though and drove up the hill to have a last cup of coffee and view over the area. Next time I drive past over the coast road, I’ll see the whole area in a different and new way…