On another glorious sunny day I set forth again on The Purbeck Way to hug the 12 miles of coastline between Ballard’s Down and Chapman’s pool. I jiggled the route a bit as I wanted to also head inland to Worth Matravers towards the renowned pasties of the Square and Compass about which a visitor had commented “Nice pint and pasty was fine, but could have lived without chickens jumping on the table”.
Unsurprisingly, this coastal stretch is often littered with photographers. Literally. Lying at all angles vying for that elusive shot. I stopped for a chat on this Tripod Trail and picked up some great photography tips. Who knew that photography was a sport? Positioning yourself in anticipation of the next “move” about to take place is critical; but it can also be a bit of a hit and miss affair. You need to understand the nature of the game.
I knew that some poor soul had tumbled from these cliffs a few years ago and I have to say that the path does occasionally skirt alarmingly close to the edge. A sprightly local walking my way advised me to “try not to look over the top”. Righto.
Drinking in the constantly stunning views induces a strange sort of apathy. Funny how quickly you come to expect and take for granted that another corker will be awaiting over each hill and around each corner.
Stopping for more cake (fat and sugar rule – eat lots) at Winspit I peered down at the quarry far below. This has featured in episodes of Dr Who.
I glanced around me at the hills rolling away and the great expanse of sea before me. Not a soul in sight. There was absolutely nothing I could do if a stray Dalek came out from behind the rocks hell bent on extermination.
Suitably fed and watered I gathered courage to tackle the crippling steps carved out of the cliff (a giant’s idea of a joke) at St Aldhelm’s Head. And yes, I saw you Mr Coastguard in your cosy station giving me that pitying look.
With visibly quivering knees, rapidly blackening big toenails and shattered pride (I was overtaken by an octogenarian) I emerged on to Emmett’s Hill. Damn, those toenails had only just grown back as well. Ladies, if you’re thinking of taking up hiking regularly then be prepared to ditch the pedicure and polish. It’s not cheaper for the salon to paint just 8 nails. I asked.
Myself and 2 fellow hikers continued body popping along the narrow path in a desperate attempt to regain control of unresponsive limbs.
Rounding the headland you get the first views of Houns Tout Cliff and the cliffs beyond towards Kimmeridge, Worbarrow and Lulworth. It was slightly too hazy for me to make out Portland in the distance.
I hurried on to Chapman’s pool and here I stayed, drinking in the glorious view for a good 30 minutes or more. The area is a prime spot for finding fossils and that brings me to another good reason for paying a visit to the Square and Compass – where else could you find a pub with its own fossil museum?
Just as I reluctantly prepared to leave I detected the beep of a text message. “Welcome to France. Calls cost…” Must definitely brush up on those navigation skills…