South West Coast Path: Day 5

Weymouth to Abbotsbury

day-5-route
Missed a bit of the route at the bottom…You get it.

If you’re considering walking the Jurassic Coast but need to cut about 5 miles from it, may I suggest the area directly west of Weymouth? It’s hideous.

barbed-wire
look i found barbed wire

Lots of pavement, an army base, and then an army firing range. If you’re unlucky and the firing range is in use, you have to take a detour which I hear is even worse. I got lucky, at least, and got to pass through the firing range, thrilling quietly at the remote possibility that maybe they had just forgotten to put the warnings up before getting their guns out.

For the first time on my trip, I had violated my #1 policy (particularly important for those of us who pee sitting down, I’ll point out): use every public toilet, whether I needed it or not. I had skipped gaily past the last WC in Weymouth an hour earlier, confident that the several cups of tea I’d just drunk weren’t going anywhere. The situation was beyond desperate by the time I stumbled upon this:

pillbox
I am so. so. sorry.

There are dozens of these WWII pillbox bunkers dotted along the coastline. They’re kind of a neat piece of history, not much to look at…But what I’m getting at is that there was no other shelter anywhere to be found. Bushes were full of thorns. This was happening. I put my headlamp on, ducked inside, and did what I had to do.

Feeling like a new woman, I conquered the rest of the ugly stretch, and as the path veered somewhat inland approaching Abbotsbury, the scenery improved dramatically. The green fields glowed in the sunshine, fluffy sheep were dotted just so along the hills that rolled off in every direction…The banner photo at the top of this page is from this part of the walk.

abbotsbury-field
So here’s a less-good photo taken nearby

I made a friend here, a local runner. It’s polite in these parts to smile and say hello (or ‘hiya’, if you’re pretending to be English) to everyone you pass. Every now and then, you’ll fall into a nice little chat. Just occasionally, if you’re very lucky, you’ll find yourself absorbed in a delightful conversation that makes the last couple of miles into Abbotsbury sail by. So it was with the Runner, and I appreciated the break from myself.

We made it to Abbotsbury, shook hands, and he took off. I treated myself to a quick cream tea, which I’d promised myself as my reward for having to walk past an ugly army base and pee in a bunker. With the last few minutes of daylight, I trekked up to the abandoned 14th-century St Catherine’s Chapel, perched imposingly on a tall-ish hill overlooking the village. It’s pretty cool, and totally haunted.

Checked into my B&B, then strapped on my trusty headlamp to head to the pub because Abbotsbury doesn’t have any streetlights. Ate a hearty cottage pie, and after a single pint of cider, found myself regaling the two other patrons – patient, polite gentlemen, bless their hearts – with stories of Canada until I’d exhausted even my own enthusiasm.

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