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Monday, 30 June 2014

Walk 118 Weymouth to Abbotsbury (Dorset)

Walk 118  Weymouth to Abbotsbury (Dorset)

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

Map: L/R 194
Distance: 12 miles or 20 km approx
Difficulty: moderate
Terrain: coastal paths and some road
Access: Parking in Weymouth.
Public transport: X53 bus leaves and returns once an hour on weekdays up till about 8 at night

The walk starts at Ferrybridge near to the road across to Portland. Walk westwards along the coastal path to the bay near Charlestown. For the next few miles you get a good view of Chesil Beach. (An appropriate book to read when having a rest might be Ian McEwan’s, On Chesil beach). There is a rifle firing range on this stretch and, if it is active, you will need to follow the alternative path.

The path winds its way along to Fleet Lagoon. In 1824 there was a great gale or tempest which battered the Dorset coast and the village of Fleet was nearly washed away.

Further along is Gore Cove. There is a hotel here that was once called The Moonfleet. It was named after the 1898 novel by J Meade Falkner and was popular with children in the past. The village of Moonfleet is based on this area and the story is also set in Carrisbroke Castle on the Isle of Wight. It is a romantic tale set in times when smuggling was rife.

The walk into Abbotsbury is pleasant enough but the path cuts inland which restricts views of the coast. The town has a big 15th century tithe barn (this is where tithes were stored – the one tenth of produce taken as a tax to support the church and clergy during that time). There are also the ruins of an 11th century monastery. The swannery at Abbotsbury is the largest in England and has been around since the time of Henry V111. It originally provided birds for the monks table at the monastery. Just outside of Abbotsbury is St Catherine’s Chapel. This lady was the patron saint of spinsters who used to meet there and invoke the saints to help them get a husband.

Photos show: The bay near Charleston; the firing range; Fleet lagoon.