I’ve been getting cold at night and given the general badassery of my kit that really shouldn’t happen. I was lovely and warm when we camped at the YHA in Lulworth and it was actually colder so the only thing I can think is that my sleeping bag isn’t being given enough time to loft. I do have a new Thermarest after my last one blew a baffle but it’s the same model so it can’t be that. Anyway, not much I can do about it.
It was absolutely bastard freezing this morning though, the wind was biting. I started the day in all my layers apart from my down jacket and I regretted nothing. The only time I broke a sweat was when negotiating a particularly steep hill. You know the kind where you pace up and down the top, willing your feet to just take a bloody step, before just sitting down and sliding on your arse? I’m going to need new trousers after this trail, either because I’ve worn the seat out sliding down hills, or because I’ve shat myself in terror.
It’s mostly an uneventful walk off Portland but it’s appallingly signposted so you do need to keep an eye on the map. We were just talking about what we were going to do for breakfast and a resupply then on the horizon we saw a joyous place not found on any map! Probably because it’s new, not because it’s mysterious or anything.
There sat a palace, with a Greggs that had table so we could eat inside in the warm. A Budgens, so we could actually resupply for the day without leaving the trail. A toilet, so we didn’t have to shit in a hole. What a wonderous discovery. That’s it, we’re never leaving. Except we had to leave. I liked Portland though I’ll forever associate it with the wind and cold. Tarrant never wants to set on the place ever again but I’d go back and explore more.
Today was quite the uneventful plod and it was mostly flat which my poor abused calf muscles were thankful for. We rarely lost sight of Chesil Beach, it’s such a long bastard. We walked through some more ranges, but much smaller ones with no terrifying hills and we cleared them without any incidents of me sitting down and wanting my mum.
We had lunch at a pretty cool bench though. The eight mile lagoon that Chesil Beach protects is called The Fleet and Rodden Hive is a sheltered bay at the west end. It’s home to a shit tonne of waterfowl and other wildlife. They even provide a handy guide to the birds complete with pictures so you know what you’re gawping at as you cram your crisp butty into your chops. Obviously we think we’re experts now.
It’s at this point the Path leaves the coast and cuts inland precisely to protect this habitat so you’re hiking up into farmland and through into Abbotsbury which can absolutely be described as delightful. It’s overlooked by St Catherine’s Chapel which we decided not to visit on account of the fact we were really enjoying not slogging up hills that required the use of hands and crying.
We spent a good couple of hours in the Ilchester Arms charging our shit up and taking full advantage of the fact they have all manner of exciting things such as running water and soap. I washed my socks, then I had a little face, neck and shoulder wash in the sink and it was life changing, so I locked myself in a cubicle and washed my feet and minge. Oh god that was good. I mean, I’m still wearing the same filthy, sweaty clothes but I’ll take what I can get.
After Abbotsbury the trail rejoins the coast and, after we were a short distance along, we started looking for a place to pitch. We eyed up the woods but they were too dense, or too close to houses or the fishermen that had set up little tents along the shoreline. Well if they can set up tents in order to drag fish out of the sea with hook through their facehole then surely we can set up a tent to have a nice sleep?
We found a little inset bit on the beach and slotted in there. We discovered in Borneo that dismantled hiking poles make excellent sand pegs and they did the job here on the shingle too, or at least I hoped they would. Guess we’d find out if the wind whipped up in the night. We did notice that two of our tent poles are starting to split at stress points so we splinted them as a precaution. Seriously though, it really shouldn’t be falling apart like this after less than 40 pitches, right? Or am I asking for the moon on a stick?
The Isle of Portland, Dorset to West Bexington, Dorset, England
Stayed at: Wild camp on beach near West Bexington
Useful shit to know…
- If you’re walking anticlockwise around Portland you can’t miss the Budgens. It’s by a roundabout before you get to the causeway.
- If they are firing at Chickerell Ranges the detour doesn’t look too much longer on the map to be fair.
- There are toilets outside the Swannery before you go into Abbotsbury, and more in the village. Also, there are toilets at the carpark as you rejoin the coast after Abbotsbury.
- There are streams as you walk into Abbotsbury where you can filter water but we filled up at the pub.