Day 031: West Lulworth to Fleet
Distance: 31.27 miles
Ascent: 4664 feet
Accommodation: Caravan East Fleet Farm
So, the day started nicely with a gentle stroll from the youth hostel down to Lulworth Cove. The sun was rising, and fortunately stayed out all day, over the cove and it was a lovely site. From here the path started climbing immediately and as this part is very touristy in summer the path was cobbled for this first part.
The first 5 miles or so were very up and down along the cliff edge, though fortunately unlike yesterday, even when the cobbles finished after ½ mile or so the path never got to muddy. This stretch was stunning, and in the sun and with very few people I could think of no better time to walk it. I passed the limestone arch of Durdle Door on this part, even though it was early two separate people had set cameras up right on the edge of the cliff blocking the best shot, so I just had to make do with an image from a less good angle.
The path descends to the relative flatlands near Ringstead Village, where a couple of surfers were surfing in the most scenic spot and continues on to Osmington Mills where I had meant to reach the day before. The Smugglers Inn in Osmington Mills is very fortunate because the South West Coast Path actually enters the village through its large beer garden and passed its doors, unfortunately I could not stop,
From here the path quickly reaches the beach at Weymouth Bay and after a short pebble section I was on the promenade which took me into Weymouth, where I did a quick detour via a bakery and Tesco’s to get some food. The bakery was brilliant, a lovely pasty, and 2 cakes for £1.65 an absolute bargain. Weymouth itself was also lovely with many nice buildings, interesting cafes/pubs and a scenic little marina. After eating my lunch I was on my way.
Due to the lost mileage yesterday, my mind had been having a constant debate about whether I should try and reach the scheduled finish spot today as I had been offered a caravan free of charge or whether it would be to far. At this point I decided I would just go for it, even though it would mean arriving after dark, around 6.30.
I crossed over Ferry Bridge and the causeway to Portland Island. This island dominates the skyline as it rises out of the flatlands. I hadn’t expected much from the island but the maybe 10 mile loop was stunning, mostly up on the clifftops, with impressive disused quarries, stunning fauna, a beautiful lighthouse, views everywhere including along Chesil Bank and other interesting historical features as well as being my first spot of a peregrine falcon of the walk. I would highly recommend a loop of this island if you are ever in the area.
As I returned to the mainland I still had 3 miles to go and it was almost dark, so the final hour required my headtorch, along the edge of the sort of lagoon that Chesil Bank forms. This was quite eerie walking and finally around 6.40 I arrived at East Fleet Farm, where they had kindly allowed me to use their farm workers caravan as it was not in use at this time of year. I was incredibly glad to arrive as I was extremely tired.
A very long day which was extremely scenic with various terrains and bathed in sunshine. I am now back on schedule again, but this day was too long and I am absolutely knackered!