Day 11 – Bournemouth to Dancing Ledge

Well I 100% didn’t need all that alcohol I drank last night, and I definitely felt like I had more than four drinks. This was possibly the reason it took so bloody long to get going today despite the fact we didn’t have to take a tent down. We needed breakfast and a Mug Shot with a bit of sausage chopped into it wasn’t going to cut it so we headed to Chineside on the seafront to cram a plate full of fried goods into our faceholes.

Get in my facehole!

I definitely didn’t need all of those fried goods I crammed into my facehole. I was slightly concerned that Tarrant would have to roll me along the promenade to the chain ferry but I did manage a comedy waddle instead. When will I ever develop an off-switch? Is this something that happens in your 50’s? Because I’m 41 and it still hasn’t kicked in yet.

This isn’t Bournemouth. This is the first section of the South West Coast Path. I’m not sure I’ll ever forgive it for making us start on sand.

We had a three and a half mile walk from the café to the ferry along a long, flat, concrete path but fortunately Bournemouth does its seafront very well. It’s brilliant and clean, and the beach huts look well kept. At one point there were electric barbecues for people to use. We can’t have shit like this in Brighton, it’d probably be vandalised within days. In fact the more we visit other cities the more we realise what an absolute shithole Brighton is.

Obligatory starting post selfie.
I do love a trail with a tangible start and finish post.

Anyway. The ferry terminal was easily located, we paid our fare and crossed over. As we disembarked a bloke with a huge backpack was getting on.
“Just starting?” he asked.
“Yeah, you just finishing?” we replied. He was. He wished us luck and off he went. He looked knackered, bless him, and weathered. Is this what we’d look like when we finally rolled into Minehead? Minus the beard of course. We’d just replace that with wind burn.

That’s Old Harry Rocks over yonder. Looks far. It’s actually not.

A quick selfie at the trail head sign and you’re off. You’re on the beach at first. Or the dunes… or the… beach… had we fucked this up already? We eventually decided we were meant to be on the beach which was a bit of a bastard because sand is tiny particles of evil hell bent on getting in all of your holes without an invitation. The tide was on its way out though so at least we could walk on the wet sand which is slightly less hideous. The beach section seemed to go on forever though, I felt like someone kept picking the end point up and moving it.

I’m loving these waymarkers.

We did get off the beach eventually though but we decided to ignore the lovely, helpful signpost directing us to “access to the Coast Path” because all of our maps were sending us up a ramp over yonder. Fine then, we’d do the ramp. Do not do the ramp. I don’t know if this is a permanent thing or if it was just being a massive shit for our benefit, but there was a lot of seaweed. That’s fine, we can just walk on that, right? It got thicker and slippier, then we were suddenly ankle deep in stinking sea water and seaweed and we still had a couple of metres to go. Nope, nevermind, we’ll just go around then shall we? That’ll teach us to ignore signage. (It won’t)

Oh dear gosh get away from the edge!

After you’ve rinsed your shoes and socks off at the next toilets because you’re an idiot that can’t follow instructions you’re heading up to the iconic Old Harry Rocks, though they don’t look anything like they do in the photos because all those photos are taken with a drone. It’s lovely though and it has all the things you’d expect from a cliff side attraction such as people sitting way too close to the edge.

It took a really long time to get anywhere because I kept having to stop and point my camera at everything whilst drooling a little bit. Your eyeholes will fucking love the South West Coast Path if today is anything to go by. I’m a bit in love with the yellow flowers lining the cliffs and the way they contrast against the blue sea. I’m also well into the stone waymarkers along this section. They’re on the floor so you sometimes have to hunt for them but they’re great.

We stopped in Swanage which has all manner of exciting things such as toilets, drinking water taps, and a Co-op, then we climbed out of Swanage and spent a bit of time winding through Durlston Country Park which is actually really enjoyable. Plenty of things for your eyeholes on a nice, easy to walk footpath.

No cocking on the seafront!

We’d only just realised how close Lulworth was and if we wanted to walk through the firing ranges then tomorrow would be our last opportunity before they closed for the week days. Bugger. That would probably mean we’d have to go further than we wanted to. We ended up having dinner on the popular Dancing Ledge and we did consider camping here but there aren’t many places you could fit a two human tent. Maybe a couple of patches at the foot of the cliffs. We surveyed the giant boulders that had come away from the cliffs at some point or other. Yeeeaaahhh nah. Best not hey.

Dancing Ledge. Actually way prettier in real life.

We headed a little further up the trail before we just pitched where we dropped. I’d freaked out about how many people were still milling around near Dancing Ledge hence adding on the extra half mile when we were both a bit knackered and just fancied a nice kip. Hopefully after a few weeks of this all of my fucks will go out of the window and I’ll pitch up anywhere I damn please whilst making eye contact with people and daring them to do something about it.

Yeah we live here now. And what?!

Day: 11
Day on South West Coast Path: 1
Distance walked today: 17.82 miles
Total walked so far: 181.32 miles
Weather: Chilly and overcast start but cleared up and got warmer. Cold wind once on SWCP.
Trigs bagged: 1
Trigs to date: 22
“Have you read ‘The Salt Path?'” (Running Total): 1

Jump to “Useful shit to know…”

Bournemouth, Dorset to Dancing Ledge, Dorset, England

Stayed at: Wild camp by the trail just past Dancing Ledge

Useful shit to know…

  • There are toilets and water taps all along the promenade from Bournemouth to Poole.
  • The chain ferry is £1 for pedestrians and you pay at the toll booth. Cars are £5 and someone will take the money off you on the ferry.
Chain ferry shit.
  • There are toilets on the beach by the Knoll Beach Cafe, and at the turn off to Old Harry Rocks. There are more toilets in Swanage but some are seasonal so you’ll need to check.
  • There are drinking water taps in Swanage too.
  • There are loads of shops in Swanage including a good sized Co-op.
  • I don’t see a reason you couldn’t bivvy at Dancing Ledge but there was nowhere we could comfortably put a two human tent.

BUDGET for one person (based on two sharing)
Groceries: £17.71
Sandbanks to Studlands chain ferry: £1
Breakfast at Chineside: £9.55
Grand Total: £27.66

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