Tracking in the snow is cheating right? It can feel that way when much of the year you can struggle to find any clear prints to identify, any gait patterns to decipher, or trails to follow. You learn pretty quickly to look in track traps along wet areas, in protected dusty areas, and hopefully start to read tracks in harder substrates like leaves and grass.
This gallery contains 5 photos →
So true John! And yes, Macfarlane’s The Old Ways is a gem.
Day 44 & 45
Lulsworth Cove to Swanage 12 miles
Swanage to South Haven Point 8 miles
The Royal Armoured Corps Gunnery School, on the Lulworth Ranges, was our chief pedestrian obstacle yesterday upon the day’s start. It turns out that the coastal pathway past the Cove is shut off completely during the week in order to let the tanks turn their craft, so the day became a walking detour of the first magnitude. But walking is why we are here, so we walked, and walked. It was somewhat surreal coming into, and leaving Swanage today though; realizing quite suddenly that we are at the end of this magnificent walk!
Someone once quoted (I believe Kerouac) that “when you reach the top of the mountain, keep on climbing” (aka elevated thought), so we have the same question relative to doing a long walk. What do you do when you reach the end of its trail? And the answer is, for us of course, to keep moving. Moving in particular to the long thinking that goes side by side with a long walk, and tracking down the mythic significance of why such adventures are so vital to our youth. Our aim, upon beginning this walk, was to ponder this question deeply while reflecting upon all the wisdom gained from two long standing careers within education, working closely with youth, and recognizing that something very vital is missing today within the industrial model schooling them. Time for us to digest much of that grist, and work; working to put pen to paper and setting some words upon an elevated track, and story, that may serve youth in hale, whole, and hearty ways.
And so we ended our walk along the Southwest Coastal Path of England. Forty five days of walking that have blessed us with many rich experiences, and shown us a picture of a land, and its people, that will keep the internal fires burning within us for quite some time!
Ferry Bridge to Lulsworth Cove 14.5 miles
The weather has cleared somewhat but the humidity and clouds still obscure much of the view that we had today. Better than yesterday though, and there was rain in the forecast for the later part of the day, which didn’t impact us as we were well into our evening digs before it decided to play its hand. Some beautiful walking here along the Dorset coast, with some stunning coves and cliffs to mark the way, all coupled to some ‘sea of green’ rolling fields where agriculture reigns supreme.
We were happy to be away from Weymouth, and leave the tarmac and holiday parks behind us. There is certainly an interesting history to Weymouth from the holiday getaway side of things, but the impact of unbridled growth and expansion leaves one with a decidedly different sense of the story today. It is good to retain some of the wild lands as they are the places where the wild within finds resonance with a higher law, and the stories that breathe deeper meaning into the tracks we follow. The Great Dance! When these wild places are lost, broken up, and partitioned off, we lose something of ourselves as well, for the memories become fragmented too, and it becomes easier for future generations to become lost. Perhaps it is part of the problem we face today? And why it becomes ever more important to keep these connections and pathways open!
Day 41 & 42
Abbotsbury to Ferry Bridge 11.5 miles; Isle of Portland
A very meandering morning walk through pastoral inland pathways before the coastal path reunited with a parallel track along the Chesil Beach and the Fleet Lagoon. Chesil Beach is considered to be one of the finest storm leaches in the world, protecting the Weymouth lowlands and the Fleet Lagoon, and is pretty remarkable that we’ve been walking alongside of it since yesterday. Better views today, and it continues to feel more like summer than fall!
A day off from the normal pace today to take in the Isle of Portland, along with Weymouth itself, and to make a few needed reservations with our itinerary after we finish in a few more days. A sweet day all around but another day where visibility was near zero due to humidity and haze.
Chideock to Abbotsbury 13 miles
Other than a bit up coastal up and down to start the day, the days walk was mostly straight out, and in the fog! A misty day followed us the rest of the way to Abbotsbury, with occasional crossings with other long distance foot trails like the Hardy Way (after Thomas Hardy), and lots of time looking at pebbled beach front pathways. Soothing to the ear, and soothing to the soul.
Seaton to Chideock 15 miles
Spent the first half of the day traversing the Axemouth- Lyme Regis Undercliffs National Nature Reserve. An area of land that has “slipped” away from its foundations and slid toward, and into, the sea. Interesting to ponder as the world appears to be headed in the same direction!
Happy to reemerge in the later part of the day to follow some wonderful National Trust paths and holdings into Seatown and Chideock.
East Budleigh to Seaton 15 miles
We woke to a beautiful South Devon morning where the view from our hosts backyard looked like something out of a Constable painting. The early walking proved no different as it was difficult to move forward at times because the scenes laid out before us were so captivating. At one point we sat for the longest time taking in one view where a slight turn of the head provided either an enchanting pastoral view of countryside, or a seascape view demanding complete attention. Someone, of
course, was kind enough to make certain that a lovely bench was so appropriately placed there; a penchant that we find the British have a most exquisite aptitude for.
As we passed out of summer and into autumn this day, we likewise prepare for passing out of Devon and into Dorset tomorrow; the final phase of this remarkable walk where, out of the 630 miles of this longest of UK National Trails, 70% of the path is within Designated Heritage Coasts, Areas of Outstanding National Beauty, or National Parks, with 95 of those miles designated as a World Heritage Site. A remarkable representation of the will of the British people to protect and preserve the land, and a very different approach to living with the land from the USA, where the National Parks and public lands have more of a bent toward wilderness and a human-nature dichotomy.