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Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Walk 115 Kimmeridge Bay to Lulworth Cove (Dorset)

 Walk  115 Kimmeridge Bay to Lulworth Cove  (Dorset)

(Second leg of English coastal walk – Broadstairs to Lands End)

Map: L/R 195 and 194
Distance: 8 miles or 12 km.
Difficulty: challenging especially if muddy – some slippery slopes
Terrain: mainly cliff paths
Access: Parking at both ends. NOTE: This walk is on the Lulworth firing ranges and is only open at certain times. Check on: before going.
Public transport: There appear to be no options for Kimmeridge. A morning bus service goes from Wareham to Lulworth. Local taxis specialise in the trip. I left my car at Lulworth Cove car par and arranged (in advance) for a taxi to Kimmeridge. A bit expensive but OK if you can share with other walkers.

Follow the coastal path westwards out of Kimmeridge Bay. Soon you will come to a ‘nodding donkey’ pumping up oil from a small BP well. This has been tapped for over 40 years and has been producing about 80 barrels a day. From Iron age times, oil shale (oil impregnated soft slate) was extracted and used to produce artefacts including jewellery and furniture. In the 1850s the oil was exported to Paris as fuel for gas lit lamps.

About a mile further on, past Howbarrow Bay, is Gad Cliff which overlooks Brandy Bay. This bay derives its name from the smuggling that took place in the 17th and 18th centuries. About a mile further along is Worbarrow Tout which sticks out impressively into the sea. Care is needed on the walk down from here and up the steep path to Flowers Barrow (no steps or handrail). I fell at this point and ended up at the doctors with a knee injury. I did manage to hobble on to Lulworth Cove though.

Inland from here is the ghost village of Tyneham. It can only be accessed when the coastal path is open. The village was seized by the army in 1943 on Churchill’s orders and used for practising manoeuvres. The occupants were moved out and tanks moved in (as did thieves who stripped the buildings!). The village is still empty despite years of protests.

Flowers Barrow, which overlooks Warbarrow Bay, was the site of an iron age fort and has been eroded over the years. There appears to be no evidence that it was much more than a small settlement.

Visible from the path near here is Lulworth Castle which is a mile or so inland. It was built in the early 17th century by Thomas Howard as a hunting lodge, it then became a country house. It was gutted by fire in 1929 and was restored in 1998.     

 As you approach Lulworth Cove the views back to the east are stunning. The first view of the cove is the large car park and road stretching up the hill. Descend into the cove which is famous for its geology and picturesque outlook. The entrance to the cove is narrow because the rocks at this point are formed of the hard Portland Stone whereas the softer Purbeck stone in the cove is still eroding.

|Photos show: nodding donkey at Kimmeridge Bay; Gad Cliff and Brandy Bay; Warbarrow Tout; Lulworth Cove.

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Walk 114 Worth Matravers to Kimmeridge Bay (Dorset)

 Walk  114 Worth Matravers to Kimmeridge Bay  (Dorset)

(Second leg of English coastal walk – Broadstairs to Lands End)

Map: L/R 195
Distance: 8 miles or 12 km.
Difficulty: very challenging especially if muddy
Terrain: cliff paths
Access: Parking at both ends
Public transport: Very difficult. No 44 bus goes from Swanage to Worth at 12:11 and 14:11, the latest return journey appears to be 12:43. There appear to be no options for Kimmeridge. Taxi the only other option.

Follow the roads and tracks out of Worth Martravers and take the path westwards towards Houns-Tout Cliff. The steps up to the cliff top here must be one of the longest and steepest straight climbs on the coast anywhere in England. There is a good view back to St Aldhelm’s or St Alban’s Head. This stretch can get very muddy and needs great care if it is. I fell into the mire three times! Although a relatively short walk allow good time to complete it.

Continue walking to Egmont Point where there is a view of Swyre Head - an old Saxon Barrow. Kimmeridge Ledges provide interesting rock formations – the area is popular with geologists and surfers.

Clavell Tower is to the east of Kimmeridge Bay. This was built in 1831 by the Rev. John Clavell as  an observatory and folly. By 2005 erosion meant that the tower was very near the cliff edge so it was dismantled and rebuilt further back by The Landmark Trust. The writer Thomas Hardy courted one of his early loves, Eliza Bright, here and used the tower as a frontispiece for his Wessex Poems. The building also inspired the novelist P D James when writing her novel The Black Tower.

Continue round and down the steps where there is a good view of Kimmeridge Bay and beyond. The cliffs are famous for the fossils found in the alternate layers of limestone and clay. This is a very popular location with educational groups of all ages. In the past locals used to gather bituminous shale from the shore for extra fuel in winter. Reportedly, “Kimmeridge Coal” has an acrid and pungent smell when burnt.

Look out for the wild cabbage that grows here, it is the ancestor of modern cabbage, cauliflower and brussel sprouts. Unusually, due to its position, Kimmeridge Bay has two low tides each day.

Photos show: Looking eastwards near Chapman's Pool; Swyre Head; the path near Kimmeridge Ledges; Clavell Tower; Kimmeridge Bay.