Wednesday 23rd April 2014, St Georges Day
Got a taxi from Alford House, Corfe Castle to the Square and Compass at Worth Matravers. Retraced steps back down the road to the duck pond, turned left and picked the footpath down and uphill where I came last night. Weather pretty bad today with drizzle and quite overcast.
Over the top of the hill and down the stone steps towards the sea. Retraced last night’s route down the path and then the track to the sea at Seacombe and then turned right on the path (GR985768). Went wrong already as this path just leads to the caves at the bottom of the cliff, so turned back and went over the gate. A few hundred yards back up the track turn left through a gate onto the path. This leads steeply up some stone steps. These stone steps are all of the same pattern all the way from Durlston Country Park, square cut pieces of stone with a couple of channels cut in them to take metal supporting rods into the ground. Everything about the walk from Durlston is well organised like this, well signposted, paths good and the steps.
The path is now running on top of the cliff again. At the moment this is pretty easy walking along the top of the cliff. Obviously the cliff must have fallen away as the path is relatively new and the remains of the old path can be seen on the left. At Winspit (GR977761) go down the familiar stone steps going steeply down and up the other side of course. Signpost here, St Albans Head one mile. Remarkably there is some kind of cottage down here.
At the bottom of Winspit turn right up the track instead of the footpath straight ahead which actually leads into a small quarry or cave. A few yards on the left the coast path goes off left up some stone steps. About forty steps to regain the clifftop. Fairly easy walking to St Albans Head but the trouble is the wind and rain which thankfully as I reach there is beginning to stop a little. Just before the coastguard station there is a radar dish with a plaque on it stating ‘this memorial commemorates the radar research carried out at Worth Matravers from 1940 -1942 which was crucial to the winning of the war and the birth of modern telecommunications.
There is actually a coastguard on duty and even more remarkably there is a group of houses and a chapel (GR960755). The chapel is presumably St Aldhelm’s ot St Alban’s as either name is used. The chapel is still in use with pews, altar etc and is 800 years old. Carry on past the coastguard and houses on a good grassy path on the cliff and soon the view opens up to some impressive looking cliffs ahead.
Very soon reach the horror of Emmett’s Hill with a very steep descent and a very steep ascent the other side (GR959757). It is 218 steps to get down and took about nine minutes. Now face the going up. 183 steps up and took about 12 minutes. There is a seat at the top with good views back to the coastguard station and forward to Chapman’s Pool.
Pass over a stile to reach some stone tables and benches which is a memorial. ‘The tables and benches have been built by the Royal Marines Association Dorset Branch to the memory of all Royal Marines killed 1945 to 1990. Royal Marines School of Music Deal, Falklands, Northern Ireland, Middle and Far East. Rest a while and reflect that we are who are living can enjoy the beauty of the sea and countryside. This is plaque dedicated to all Royal Marines who have died in service to their country since 1990’.
Across Chapman’s Pool is Houns-tout Cliff with the next horrible climb visible up the side of it. Quite modern stones set in the wall here with sayings like: ‘exposed to weather and dark to light’ and ‘between turf and sky.’ All quite reminiscent of Durlston Castle which seems quite a long way away now. The path turns to the right and begins to descend and the houses at Renscombe come into view. Quite a few of them really and a strange place you would have thought to have a little hamlet like this. Drop down to the road and turn left to go through a gate signposted Kimmeridge 3¾. Pass a house and turn left at the signpost to Houns-tout 1 mile.
This is an asphalt path through some woodland, level at first and then starting to rise slowly as it turns into a grassy path. Reach a marker stone saying Houns-tout ½ mile and at a tarmac track turn left over a stile. Made a bit of a mistake here – need to make sure you turn immediately right after the stile. In fact should not have crossed the stile at all and should have carried on the path to the right. At another marker stone turn left to Houns-tout ½ mile still. Over a stile and turn left across the field to reach a stile and signpost Kimmeridge 3½ up a very steep path up Houns-tout. 178 steps up to the top.
Walking along the clifftop very high here and feeling insecure to reach another marker stone Kimmeridge 3 miles, Swyre Head 21/4. The path begins to descend. Very muddy and slippery down hill to the point where the path has been closed up until last week due to cliff falls. So off on a diversion. Path drops down a field avoiding the recent cliff fall and then rejoins the original path to drop down into another gulley and then up the other side on stone steps. A wide grassy path climbs gently and then steeply to the top and then goes down straight away of course. Path goes via various wanderings around bits of the cliff that have fallen away – some very close to the path. Also undulates quite a bit some of the undulations being quite sharp up and down.
Eventually Clavell’s Tower is reached and beyond it the marine centre. Turn right up the road towards Kimmeridge (GR917798). Refreshing cup of tea at Clavell’s Café and Restaurant who were most welcoming considering how wet and muddy I was. Called a taxi to return to Corfe Castle.
Days from Chepstow 125
Miles today 9.9
Miles from Chepstow 1663.8