South West Coast Path: Day 6

Abbotsbury to Morecombelake

day-6-route

This time, I got to eat my enormous B&B breakfast. It was glorious.

breakfast
An English friend’s sputtering reaction: “Where’s the Heinz baked beans!!!”

I bought a new Ordnance Survey map for the final leg of my journey, and set off out of beautiful Abbotsbury. Once you get back down to the coast, the first few miles west of the village are pretty rough. The path goes along either the loose pebbles of Chesil Beach, or the road that runs parallel. Neither surface is ideal, so I found myself alternating between the two depending which joints were aching most emphatically.

I ran into the Runner again, happily. We had terrible (“honest but shit”) capuccinos and another lovely chat in West Bay, site of the famous Broadchurch cliff. I faced a tough few hours after this break. The terrain switches from pebbly to hilly around here. And when I say hilly, I mean take-a-break-every-10-steps hilly. These fuckers are steep, and this stretch was going to end with the dreaded Golden Cap, the highest point on the south coast.

As I clumsily lurched up the Golden Cap, nose almost pressed into the slope, a merry young family laughed and cheered me on from the top. The kids seemed quite taken with my accent, an opportunity my ego couldn’t pass up. I gamely turned on the charm and cracked jokes through wheezing breath, while every muscle in my body cried out in anguish. Anything for my audience.

Then I got lost.

You see, having failed to find accommodations along the coast, I had to head inland from here to the village of Morecombelake. I knew that my AirBnB’s address had a name instead of a street number, and I knew that I had recorded that name somewhere (in my phone, I discovered, several days later), but I could not for the life of me find it. I had no internet access. The sun was setting, and the street was on yet another confounded hill, with no streetlights. In desperation, after walking up and down the street several times, I started knocking on doors. No one had heard of my host, not a promising sign in a place as small as this.

I came to one house that had a ‘beware of cocker spaniels’ sign on the gate. When I knocked, a rather confused old lady answered the door, followed immediately by two loud, furry tornadoes that exploded out of the house. The old lady began howling in distress, afraid that she had been bitten, and her beleaguered daughter came rushing out to try to recover the dogs. “Did you at least close the gate??” she called over her shoulder to me in greeting. “I think so?” I whimpered.

After several chaotic minutes, with dogs and mother finally rounded up and tucked away, I meekly asked the poor woman whether she knew my AirBnB host. She didn’t, but had a suspicion that it could be the lady who’d just moved in up the street. And here’s where that Dorset friendliness really shone. This poor woman, immediately forgiving all the stress and misery I’d just caused her, put her shoes on, grabbed a flashlight, walked me up the street, and knocked on her neighbour’s door for me. Without a word, my AirBnB host (for it was the correct place) grabbed my hand and led me to her backyard, where her family were watching the last rays of a glorious sunset. Oh thank Christ for these people.

There was no food to be had in the village, but I didn’t even care. All I needed in the world was tea, a bed, and the half-eaten sandwich I’d stashed in my bag some hours earlier.

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