I’ve never done anything but dream. This, and this alone, has been the meaning of my life. My only real concern has been my inner life. FERNANDO PESSOA

Sunday, 16 December 2012

South West Coast Path. Day 19: Corfe Castle To South Haven Point

I'd heard that the chain ferry from South Haven Point at the end of the trail to Sandbanks on the other side of Poole Harbour was having its biennial refit. This was a shame, as I'd intended taking the ferry, sleeping overnight in Poole, then catching the train at Poole's main line station to London and thence to home. I didn't want to arrive at a non-existent ferry at the end of the day miles from anywhere and with nowhere to go. So I had to form quickly an alternative plan. From Corfe I would walk a cross-country route to South Haven Point, arrive around midday, trace the Coast Path 'backwards' as far as Swanage, stop there the night, and next morning catch a bus to Wareham, which also has a railway station on the main London line. And this is exactly what I did.   

A steel sculpture marks the end of the Coast Path at South Haven Point. The design is a pair of sails mounted on a compass, and the silhouettes depict scenes from the trail. My backpack and walking poles are resting against the sculpture.

The ferry slipway at South Haven Point. No ferry, of course. Sandbanks, on the opposite bank, is, unbelievably, one of the most expensive places in the world to buy property.

Still no ferry. One could wait a long time.

I set out for Swanage along the lonely shoreline of Shell Bay.

As you can see, hundreds of naturists thronged the strand at Studland Bay. There were bits of bodies dangling and bouncing all over the place. I didn't know where to look.

Thank goodness I soon reached the covered-up part of the beach. Here women in skimpy bikinis frolicked in the surf, men waddled to the sea's edge — their bellies protruding hairily over tight bathing trunks — and children built castles in the sand. Only joking. Apart from one well-wrapped couple and their dog I was the only person there. 

I passed the Old Harry pinnacles and stacks on The Foreland.

And no, I wasn't daring enough to brave this narrow, airy ridge. I rounded the corner and Swanage came into view (much nicer than Weymouth). The next day I boarded the Wareham bus and began my journey home. I had now walked the whole 620 miles of the South West Coast Path — the first 400 miles more than 2 years ago, and the last 220 miles over the past 19 days.

12 comments:

Vagabonde said...

After watching recaps on TV this morning of the unbearably sad events in Connecticut (you may not have heard since you were on the road) it was like a breath of oxygen to watch your photos of the serene landscape in England. Ah! to be in a peaceful village in Britain – far from the gun loving Deep South of America – that would make the atmosphere blithesome indeed. Thank you for these nonviolent country and sea scenes.

George said...

A fabulous walk, Robert. Thanks for sharing.

What Remains Now said...

It has been a pleasure to follow along. Thank you.

am said...

Thank you so much for this series. This coast trail is a treasure, a delight, heartening.

Sabine said...

I followed you with envy, how lucky you were with the weather and what gorgeous sights. It has been a real pleasure. Thanks.

Ruth said...

I know you did this walk for yourself, Robert, but I thank you heartily for documenting it so beautifully for us, your fond readers.

Goat said...

Well, it doesn't pay to take a break from blog-reading for a few days! I've been kinda snowed under and/or utterly lethargic of late and have a fair bit of catching up to do. I also feel like my own output of posts is wretchedly low compared to yours and a few others'.

But anyway, well done on completing what was obviously a walking milestone for you, and I hope you have better luck with the nudists next time round!

Phreerunner said...

Haha - you were lucky, Robert. When we passed along the nudist last May there was just one very ostentatious nudist on that section, much to the puzzlement of the two 10 year old we had in our group, which was finishing the SWCP after about 15 year's of 'Whit' weekends on the trail.
Writing it up is quite a big project.
I enjoyed reading your own account.
Martin

The Solitary Walker said...

Sorry I'm not replying to everyone individually. I really do appreciate so many of you following my journey, believe me — commenters and non-commenters. Thanks for the witness.

Dominic Rivron said...

I'd guess it was a naturist dog. They usually are, unless coerced by their owners.

Susan Scheid said...

Such a brilliant walk. How I would love to do more of it! And just a tiny point of personal connection: my partner was born in Swanage. The work is not so large, is it?

The Solitary Walker said...

Dominic: ha!

Susan: I quite liked Swanage.