Saturday 01 March 2014 – Swanage.
Just before I went back to New Zealand at the beginning of February I heard from Tom, who I first met almost two years ago when he ran the 1014km South West Coast Path with my NZ friend Malcolm. I was support driver for Malcolm on the run and Tom returned the favour and supported my when I did a 50km run along the coast path for my 50th birthday later in the year. Tom and his family are returning to New Zealand mid-March and had a farewell function in Umborne Hall in Devon today.
It was just the excuse I needed to organise myself to head back to the south coast for a few days, do some walking, maybe a run and take some photos – maybe even getting my photography mojo back, who knows! I started to look at the trip when I got back from NZ, and at the time the weather forecast was looking pretty good so after some research I decided to stay for three nights in Swanage and do day trips from there, I had a loose plan in mind.
Now that time to go has actually arrived the weather has decided to not play ball, and I may well end up with a couple of rainy days. At least today is fine, though I do have a lot of driving to do.
I picked up a car from the rental place in Walthamstow that El and I used last year, not a bad deal and close enough to walk to, so an obvious choice. I left just after 9:30 and allowed myself four hours to get to Lyme Regis, my first stop for the day. The drive down was pretty good, not a lot of traffic and I got to play music loudly in the car and sing along as well, definitely something I miss about not owning a car.
Lyme was a lot busier than I expected – a whole lot busier. I sort of planned on rocking up, parking the car and going for a walk, but had to hunt around to find somewhere to park the car. Bizarrely, I ended up parking in the same car park I was fed and watered in on my run – and it was just as busy back at the end of summer.
The Undercliff is a well known part of the South West Coast Path and a section I covered on my run. It has been closed for over a year now due to subsidence, and sadly this has gotten a lot worse over the big storms early this year. Not sure if or when it will be re-opened.
I had a walk around for an hour and took a bunch of pictures, some of which I was happy with.
I walked up the Cobb, just as I arrived these two guys on trials bikes turned up, so I watched them for a bit before walking around to get some views back over the town.
I walked along the foreshore to the end of the town, I love the beach huts, though these are quite new, there is something so English about them. I particularly liked that the bunting was still hanging behind the windows in this one.
It is a real British sea side town, buckets and spades and beach balls for sale all along the front – though not so many customers in early spring.
I picked up some fish and chips for lunch, they were lovely, but I didn’t really need them as there was food at the party – but I could not resist, they looked so good. There was no way I could even get close to finishing them, the fish was huge.
And hopefully really fresh.
After over-indulging in my fish and chips I was surprised yet happy to be able to program Umborne into my car’s GPS and headed off to Tom and Tash’s farewell lunch. It was only a few miles from Lyme Regis but once off the ‘highway’ I was slowly negotiating my way down some lovely Devon back roads.
Through the small village of Shute and the entrance to Shute Barton – one of many massive historical houses I saw over the three days I was away.
I spent a couple of hours at the farewell, it was especially nice to see Tom’s parents as I spent a lot of time with Tom’s mum during the Coast Path Run as she was co-support driving with me. I wish Tom and Tash and the kids a great time in New Zealand!
I left with the intent of getting close to the coast near Kimmeridge for sunset, but badly miscalculated how long it would take to get there, and missed what appeared in my rear vision mirror, to be a pretty decent event. Given the new forecast, the only sunset I am likely to see on my trip. Bugger !
I arrived at my hotel in Swanage in the early evening and once settled in had a drink in the bar and then dinner in the restaurant. It was a weird meal. The food was fine, but the service was too good – I was all done in what seemed like a matter of minutes, and I was the only one under 75 and not wearing a tie… I retired early to my room and just managed to stay awake for Match of the Day at 10:30.
It was a good day!