Just six weeks prior to our great walk, my husband was knocked off his push bike. Whilst he didn’t break anything (and it’s a wonder he didn’t having been hit in the side by a car, thrown into the air and landed with a thump on the tarmac), it was a nasty accident and he was quite badly hurt. For the first week he was unable to move properly, on the second night after the accident he got stuck in bed unable to move! I couldn’t help, if I gave him a hand or a push up I would only end up hurting him more. After much gentle rolling from side to side he was eventually able to stand.
Needless to say this whole episode shook us up a bit, it could easily have been a very different story and as important as the coastal walk was to both of us, health and fitness had to come first. So started a remarkable road to recovery. The first couple of weeks were slow and painful but gradually he was able to do more and more. I was concerned he would over do it, no matter how many times he promised me he wouldn’t! He didn’t run for five weeks, the longest time he has not run since taking it up. It was only the week before we went, that I really believed we would make it. Still concerned the route and mileage would be too much, I made him promise to tell me if it got too much. We could still go, but maybe use the help of a bus or two.
The day dawned and we set off to Lulworth Cove, in the car of course, it is after all over 150 miles from home! It was a beautifully sunny day, not really one you want to spend in the car and the traffic was awful but we arrived safe and sound if a little tired and grimy. We met with our friends Jane and Chris who were accompanying us on this adventure. We parked our cars in the car park at Lulworth Cove which leads onto quite a hill. Ooh we thought, that’s steep…
Our first B&B was great. They even made lunch for us the following day. The chaps sorted the cars so that we had one car here and one at the other end and we had a pleasant evening looking forward to getting out and walking. Sunday arrived, bright and fresh and we were all ready for the challenge ahead. We planned to walk 10 to 12 miles for three days. We climbed the hill then blow me down there was another, and this one was even steeper! Our first 3 miles or so was just a series of steep ups followed by equally steep downs.
The scenery was breathtaking, Durdle Door an obvious highlight but what struck us most was how much the path had moved. It was very clear in places where the land had slipped and the path with it. In other places the land had dropped 3 feet or so but otherwise unscathed. People were jumping onto it – braver (or should that be stupider) than me! It was a beautiful day, full sunshine, clear sky line and we could see where we had walked behind us.
Twelve miles later and we were in Weymouth, and very ready for a sit down! Following a much needed shower we headed out for tea. My legs felt surprisingly sprightly but after an evening sitting at the dinner table I struggled to stand up again! Thankfully it turns out I wasn’t on my own.
We had a good night’s sleep in our second B&B. We had arranged for a company to pick our bags up and deliver them to our next stop. This worked amazingly well and it was a treat to arrive on foot and find our belongings waiting for us. The good sleep worked its magic and we were all ready to head out again in the morning. We had a few miles of walking across Weymouth which wasn’t the best, but well worth it when we got to the coast again and followed the Chesil Bank.
There was not quite as much sunshine but having burnt the backs of my knees the previous day this was fine by me. There were lots of wading and other birds on this stretch which was slightly longer at 13 miles. The coastal path also took us inland for part of the day as we headed towards Abbotsbury. We walked us some very steep hills again and had an interesting altercation with some bullocks! The trekking poles came in handy to guide the bullocks away from our path. Abbotsbury is a truly beautiful and quintessentially English village. We had hoped to go to the Swannery on arrival but it was too late so that would have to wait for the morning. We consoled ourselves with a fine cream tea from the Abbey House.
Our final day of walking started with a tour of the Swannery. Knowing we were so close at this time of year, it was a must visit place with all the new cygnets finding their wings. Totally gorgeous. This turned out to be our longest walk, 15 miles and more hills. We were all very tired by the end when we had to hurry in response to a phone call from the B&B owners to tell us they were heading out shortly and if we didn’t get there within 15 minutes we wouldn’t get into our rooms until after 10pm. Thankfully we made it with what felt like seconds to spare and amazingly as we arrived the rain did too. Having spent the last three days in glorious sunshine yet hearing of all our friends back home in cold rain and floods in France we had been incredibly lucky.
This experience surpassed anything I could imagine it would be. Walking to our accommodation gave a whole different perspective on arriving somewhere (helped of course by knowing our bits and pieces would be waiting for us!) and it is rare that we head out for a walk and not end up back in the place we started. We covered 40 miles in three days, a feat I know others can easily exceed, but for me quite an achievement. We all enjoyed the experience so much we have decided to continue next year – start at our last B&B and keep going round!