Jul 162011
 


Golden Cap, the most stunning South West Coast Path walk one could ever wish for!

Golden Cap, the most stunning South West Coast Path walk one could ever wish for!

It’s impossible for me to hide my love for this wonderful part of the Jurassic Coast in Dorset.  It most definitely is my most favourite walk in England.  On a fine day, the views are breathtaking and ever changing as you walk through fields and up and down cliffs to reach the top of Golden Cap.  A pretty good level of fitness is required if you wish to attempt this walk as there are many steep climbs but you are rewarded with the finest views of the coast line. 

Golden Cap is the highest point on the south coast of Great Britain at 191m and visible for ten miles in each direction along the coastline.

Today, Steve and I set off early for this 8mile journey.  We start at Charmouth where we climb Stonebarrow Hill.  This is a long, steep lane that leads to the start of the path.  You can also start this walk from Charmouth beach.  This path has recently been re-opened but was closed for some time due to the landslips and cliff erosion.  We walked back on this re-opened path, but in my opinion, it really isn’t a safe route and when wet I would imagine a slippery, muddy mess!

After a steep climb up Stonebarrow Hill, Steve and I begin the magnificent walk to Golden cap and Seatown.

After a steep climb up Stonebarrow Hill, Steve and I begin the magnificent walk to Golden cap and Seatown.

We pass a lovely cottage as we continue along the West Coast Path towards Golden Cap.
We pass a lovely cottage as we continue along the West Coast Path towards Golden Cap.
We pass through a field with the local cows and a massive bull!  Lets hope he's no where to be seen on our return!

We pass through a field with the local cows and a massive bull! Lets hope he's no where to be seen on our return!

The weather conditions were brilliant for walking; sunny with a slight breeze.  The cows we passed in the fields were not aggressive at all but I didn’t like the look of the massive bull sitting down resting as we passed him.  Please God let him be further away on our way back!!!

Golden Cap, here we come!

Golden Cap, here we come!

The hills were getting steeper.....

The hills were getting steeper.....

....as we climbed higher (looking back towards Charmouth and Lyme Regis)

....as we climbed higher (looking back towards Charmouth and Lyme Regis)

Even though we had quite a few hilly steep climbs, the smile on my face said it all.  I was enjoying this part of the coast just like I knew I would.  Fantastic!

Looking back towards our starting point....we were getting higher and closer to Golden Cap.

Looking back towards our starting point....we were getting higher and closer to Golden Cap.

We snacked on a banana and had plenty of water along the way.  The plan was to have cod and chips on the beach at the end of the day, so this exercise was essential to get rid of any guilt we would have eating the best battered fish I’ve ever tasted!

This last climb to Golden Cap is well passed the scale of a 15 hill on the tredmill!!

This last climb to Golden Cap is well passed the scale of a 15 hill on the treadmill!!

We made it!!  Steve on top of Golden Cap...now on to Seatown then back again

We made it!! Steve on top of Golden Cap...now on to Seatown then back again

The views from this height are totally amazing.  We stopped to admire the view for a while then headed towards Seatown.

We reach our destination, Seatown beach.

We reach our destination, Seatown beach.

Wow!  What an amazing walk……but we both had to turn around and go back which involved more steep climbs and stunning views in the other direction.  Seatown beach was beautiful, a quiet spot to sit and re-charge the batteries.  The Anchor Inn is a great pub to stop for lunch with sensational views.  Their beer garden is one of my favourite spots, situated on the cliff top overlooking the beach.  With a lovely thirst quenching beverage and perhaps a Ploughman’s lunch (Stilton cheese, branston Pickle, pickled onions, crusty bread and a little salad) this is hard to beat after a walk.  But it was still morning! and we had a long way to go before we could even think about such a rewarding finish…..so off we went, back up to Golden Cap and on to Charmouth.

Jenny Kirwan (me) walking through a healthy crop just out of Seatown towards Golden Cap

Jenny Kirwan (me) walking through a healthy crop just out of Seatown towards Golden Cap

Looking towards our climb to Golden cap from Seatown.

Looking towards our climb to Golden cap from Seatown.

So, we were on our way back to Charmouth and do you think the bull was in the field on our way back?  Yep!  He certainly was!!  Not only that, but the massive creature was right on the path and I could see him from two fields away.  I marched through this field like some machine on wheels!  I was SO scared!  Thankfully Mr. Bull  didn’t take the slightest bit of notice of us….I even had a brief moment to stop and take a quick, hasty photo of him!

Mr. Bull happily grazing with his girls! on our way back to Charmouth.

Mr. Bull happily grazing with his girls! on our way back to Charmouth.

Looking back at our fantastic journey to Golden cap and Seatown.

Looking back at our fantastic journey to Golden cap and Seatown.

Charmouth.....we are nearly at the end of our journey!

Charmouth.....we are nearly at the end of our journey!

Yippee!  What a wonderful sight, Charmouth here we come.  We decide to take the path that had been closed for some time back to Charmouth but was a little disappointed as it wasn’t quite safe, with deep cracks and grooves underfoot from the remains of the landslip and cliff erosion.  but it wasn’t an issue at this stage as I was still smiling from such a brilliant walk.

Charmouth Beach, what a wonderful finish to a brilliant 4hours walking.

Charmouth Beach, what a wonderful finish to a brilliant 4hours walking.

The best Cod in batter I have ever had at Seaton's 4c's fish shop and restaurant.  No guilt here!!!

The best Cod in batter I have ever had at Seaton's 4c's fish shop and restaurant. No guilt here!!!

Such an amazing feeling at the end of today to have walked my favourite stretch on the South Coast of England.  Steve loved it just as much.  We teamed our fish ‘n chips on the beach with a bottle of a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc…….wish Fiona and Rob were with us because they would have loved this day!


Jul 092011
 
Looking west from Seaton, Devon

Looking west from Seaton, Devon

I absolutely love the hilly countryside around Devon and Dorset and in this area there are some of the most spectacular (and arduous!) Coast Path walks.  We’ve based ourselves in Seaton, Devon this week to walk some of our favourite stretches of this famous coast path.  Today is Steve’s favourite West Coast Path walk.  Surprise, surprise, it’s one of the most strenuous, difficult, physically challenging walks on the coast!  Steve has always been one for a testing physical challenge and this walk was just that.  The Undercliffs walk from Seaton, Axmouth to Lyme Regis we have walked many times…..so we knew the dangers and how difficult and rewarding it can be.

Leaving Seaton at Axmouth Harbour at the start of the walk

Leaving Seaton at Axmouth Harbour at the start of the walk

The Undercliffs are part of the ‘Jurassic Coast.’ This magnificent reserve covers wild woodlands, land-slipped cliffs, fossils, geology and spectacular wildlife.  It was declared a National Nature reserve in 1955.  It is one of the largest active coastal landslide systems in western Europe and lies within the East Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. 

The Undercliff Walk from Seaton, Axmouth to Lyme Regis can be extremely dangerous.

The Undercliff Walk from Seaton, Axmouth to Lyme Regis can be extremely dangerous.

Rain was forcast to come through around mid morning, so we needed to get an early start to reach our destination without getting too wet.  We packed our rain coats and a few supplies and set off in good spirits……..

Wake up Jenny! This first hill goes on forever leading up to the golf course at Axmouth.

Wake up Jenny! This first hill goes on forever leading up to the golf course at Axmouth.

Yep!  This lane up to the Axmouth Golf Course was a killer of a hill that seemed to get steeper as we walked on.   When we finally make it to the Golf Course we then had to continue uphill until we made it to level land for a little breather!

Steve marching! through the Golf Course towards higher but level ground.

Steve marching! through the Golf Course towards higher but level ground.

From Axmouth Golf Course, looking back down into Seaton.

From Axmouth Golf Course, looking back down into Seaton.

The views on this walk are quite breathtaking but soon we would be approaching the Undercliffs where it would be pretty tough going with only a few glimpses of the sea along the way.  Weather still looked bright but rain was definately on the way.

Before we entered the Undercliffs this sign greets you!  We took 2 and 1/2 hours to walk to Lyme Regis!!!

Before we entered the Undercliffs this sign greets you! We took 2 and 1/2 hours to walk to Lyme Regis!!!

Steve climbing down one of the many sections of steps in the Undercliffs.

Steve climbing down one of the many sections of steps in the Undercliffs.

I was enjoying this walk so much and Steve was too.  The Undercliff’s warm and sheltered micro climate was a different world away from the windy cliff tops and pebble beaches surrounding it.  Steve spotted a lizard and we passed a tiny Hazel Dormouse that unfortunately had passed away earlier that morning.  There were so many beautiful butterflies and the bird life was wonderful too.

Beautiful trees line the path near the Rousdon Cliffs.

Beautiful trees line the path near the Rousdon Cliffs.

Another endless amount of steps to climb in the Undercliffs.

Another endless amount of steps to climb in the Undercliffs.

We were so lucky as it was still very dry underfoot as there hadn’t been much rain over the past week.  This path can be treacherous when wet….very slippery and muddy, so we were thankful of the conditions. 

Steve working out how far we had come and how long we had to go before we reach Lyme Regis.

Steve working out how far we had come and how long we had to go before we reach Lyme Regis.

A welcome sign, we were almost on the home straight!

A welcome sign, we were almost on the home straight!

....but a bit more torture before the end is near!

....but a bit more torture before the end is near!

....and another mountain of steps to climb!

....and another mountain of steps to climb!

The wildflowers were wonderful on this walk….yellow Wort, Bird’s Foot Trefoil, Rock-Rose, Yellow Horned Poppy and some beautiful Lilac.

Beautiful wildflowers on the Undercliff Path.  Steve was on a mission....no time to pose for photos!!

Beautiful wildflowers on the Undercliff Path. Steve was on a mission....no time to pose for photos!!

What a wonderful sign!!  Not long now....

What a wonderful sign!! Not long now....

Wow! We were nearly there…..eight miles of difficult, strenuous terrain was coming to an end.  The sense of achievement was massive!  The rain had started now but we didn’t care.  Our delight in the walk we completed (without injury) was enormous and getting a little wet was not a concern.

Walking down into Lyme Regis....wet but extremely satisfied with the Undercliff walk.

Walking down into Lyme Regis....wet but extremely satisfied with the Undercliff walk.

We made it!  Lyme Regis beach in 2 and 1/2 hours.....wonderful!

We made it! Lyme Regis beach in 2 and 1/2 hours.....wonderful!

Jenny (me) back at Seaton in dry clothes and happy with our achievement today.

Jenny (me) back at Seaton in dry clothes and happy with our achievement today.