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

Saturday, 15 December 2012

South West Coast Path. Day 16: Abbotsbury To Weymouth

Leaving Abbotsbury, I spotted the isolated chapel of St Catherine on a hilltop. Abbotsbury is famous for its Swannery, established by Benedictine monks in the 1040s, who farmed the swans for food. Now it's a tourist destination, and the swans are pampered and protected. Therefore swanburgers are most definitely off the menu in the Swannery café, and you have to make do with Cornish pasties and Devonshire cream teas.  

For much of the day the path ran alongside the Fleet lagoon. Even though it was generally flat walking, I found the going tedious and difficult. The rain all summer plus the recent downpours had turned many sections of the path into quagmires, and I seemed to spend many exhausting hours slip sliding in the mud.

I love this photo of the Fleet lagoon, as it's so typical of the day's experience: a lake of gunmetal grey, an overcast sky, an occasional, fleeting shaft of sunlight and a vast emptiness. 

The lagoon was a haven for birds — apart from thousands of swans, I saw gulls, cormorants, oystercatchers and many flocks of noisy brent geese. These are migratory birds, flying here for the winter from Canada, Greenland and Scandinavia.

Abandoned boat on a lonely shore.

At one field gate I had to clamber awkwardly over a barbed wire fence and ford a swollen stream via a fallen tree in order to avoid sinking up to my knees in a mire churned up by droves of cattle. Eventually, tiring of this, I took a shortcut to Weymouth by sneaking up through a caravan site, then following suburban roads into town. Not as pretty a route, to be sure — but at least I didn't have to think continually about where to put my feet, and my boots could dry off a bit.

3 comments:

Ruth said...

It doesn't feel good to put on wet boots in the morning.

The photos are all lovely, and I really like that spot of water that looks like hammered silver in the one of Fleet lagoon that you love.

George said...

It never occurred to me that swans were once farmed for food. With each of your postings, however, I always learn something new. Thanks. This has been a delightful journey.

The Solitary Walker said...

Wet boots in the morning is a fate just as dire as having dried-up kippers for breakfast served by a rapacious landlady, Ruth...

And thanks, George, as ever, for following my journey...