Sunday, 23 June 2013

South West Coast Path - Sunday 23 June

Woke early and was on my way at 5.20am. I diverted briefly to see the Weston Flats, an abandoned area in part of the undercliff which, until the middle of the last century, was used for cultivating vegetables and daffodils. The land having slipped, it benefited from a micro climate which made favourable growing conditions but was abandoned when tourism took off.
As I followed the path in, a badger was scampering just ahead of me, unaware of my presence. He shot off when I said, "Hello, Mr Badger". Then down to the shingle beach at Weston Mouth and back up again to the cliff top path which was level for a couple of miles to Branscombe Mouth where I breakfasted by the Sea Shanty Beach CafĂ© (which was closed until noon). The path then ascended again and went round Beer Head dropping gently into the village of Beer. I explored the main thoroughfare before continuing on the Seaton. Here, the Trailblazer guide was out of date already as the main route of the trail was closed due to a landslip and there was a longer road diversion. There is still a beach alternative route at low tide but walking on shingle is hard work. East of Seaton, the trail drops down and follows the Axmouth to Lyme Regis Undercliffs National Nature Reserve, the result of a number of landslips in the 18th and 19th centuries. The slipped land has been left to its own devices and is a veritable jungle, almost tropical in its density, although with a good path through it, albeit quite muddy in places. Plenty of ups and downs and tree roots just waiting to catch the unwary.  
 About three miles into the Reserve, I came across my first backpacker. This was April, from Canada but living in London. This was her first backpacking trip for several years. We walked together into Lyme where she stopped to while away some time on the beach before heading for her camp site at Charmouth. I went straight on to Charmouth, an unremarkable place where the path has been diverted but the first sign I saw was only after I'd gone nearly to the sea front and was then signed back almost the way I'd just come. Following the diverted route out of the village, I was concerned that I had very little water for the wild pitch I hoped to find. However, I passed a little gate leading into a campsite and only a few feet in was a water tap. I filled up and headed back to the Coast Path. I'm now camped in a field corner looking up at Golden Cap, the highest point on the south coast. That'll warm me up first thing in the morning.


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