Wednesday, 9 May 2018

On Chesil Beach: or rather on Fleet Lagoon

Day Forty Six - West Bexington to Ferry Bridge 23.5 km (14.6 miles).
Time on route 5:45hrs, walking time 5:10hrs.


Tuesday 08 May 2018
Day 46 mileage
It had been the hottest early May Bank Holiday on record so I waited until both the temperature and holiday crowds dissipated before heading back onto the path. I reversed what I usually do, parking at the beginning of my walk knowing I'd have to catch the bus back to it at the end. I figured it'd be easier to park down a lane in Swyre than in Weymouth. I headed off On Chesil Beach but fortunately didn't have to slog the ankle-turning shingle for too long as the path hops onto a track at the back of the beach.
20180508 Day 46_2 Road past Old Coastguards
I noted all the sheep's wool caught on the brambles.  Then I realised there were no sheep around - particularly as the track was fenced off - so I inspected these bundles of fluff more closely and realised they were larvae nests.
20180508 Day 46 1_Caterpillars    09.19.03
These caterpillar nests are all over the brambles.  Just waiting to pupate and fly.
20180508 Day 46 1_Caterpillars    09.17.42
The SWCP stone signage is a nice Dorset touch.
20180508 Day 46_3 SWCP Sign   09.55.12
I climbed up onto Chapel Hill.  OK, hardly a 'climb' in the SWCP sense of the word: a dizzying 40 m above MSL but enough for me to finally peer over Chesil Beach shingle spit and spot the sea.  It was a rare view for today's leg.
20180508 Day 46_4 West Fleet from Chapel Hill   10.10.49
Looking forwards east, the Fleet Lagoon stretched on for miles.  Back in 1943 it was famously used to test Barnes Wallis' bouncing bomb.  It's a strange place.  From the nature point of view it hosts the Swannery at Abbotsbury, numerous bird nesting sites (which is why the coast path often deviates away from the coast) and other conservation preservation zones.  These nestle up next to old MOD pill boxes and live firing ranges.  So still very much a mix of military and wildlife.
20180508 Day 46_5 Towards East Fleet
Talking of wildlife, my old foe appeared.  The path went pretty much directly through them.  I didn't.
20180508 Day 46_6 Cows near Wyke Wood
The mainly flat path had a few variations - fields, tracks and tree enclosed walkways with their welcome shade.
20180508 Day 46_6 Past Wyke Wood
After many kilometres in land I came back down to East Fleet.  Chesil Beach still obscured the sea from view.  Walking around the field edges here I stumbled across the annual Dorset midgey convention.   The local chapter was out in full force, and I became their edible target.  They clung to any bit of me I couldn't swipe as their new best friend.  Believe me, I wasn't.
20180508 Day 46_7 West Fleet   11.57.52
There were fewer midges on the board walk.  When I did eventually stop for lunch I brushed ~20 travelling gnats off my backpack.  They really don't give up easily.
20180508 Day 46_8 Herburyjpg
Aha, not only are the bovine beasts and monster midges out to get me, the hasty horses are on the loose.

20180508 Day 46_9 Speedy horses
West Fleet is a pleasant lagoon.  It just goes on and on for quite a bit.  It's a shame as one shouldn't tire of seeing sand, seaweed, shoreline and sea.  In fact, at 13 km, Fleet Lagoon is longer than Ullswater - for the Lake District fans amongst my reader(s).
20180508 Day 46_10 East Fleet   13.06.44
The sea defences have been here a while, this one has grown a toupee.
20180508 Day 46_10 East Fleet   13.03.15
More warning signs.  No red flag flying today so I marched around the firing range.
20180508 Day 46_11 Chickerell Range
Another sea defence - they were everywhere.  This one has the full unkempt beard look.
20180508 Day 46_12 Sea defence
Portland Bill suddenly loomed into view.  This was my first sight of it all day, as it had been too misty to spot when I left West Bexington.
20180508 Day 46_13 Towards Portland
Goodness me!  Do the warnings never end?
20180508 Day 46_14 Pirates Cove   14.34.27
Towards the end of West Fleet there are numerous sheds on the brackish shore line, no  doubt supporting the local fishing and shellfish industry.
20180508 Day 46_15 East Fleet Fishing  14.38.02
20180508 Day 46_15 East Fleet Fishing  14.42.58
I stopped at Ferry Bridge.  The next leg is a 21 km sweep around the Isle of Portland so I'll treat myself to that another fine fair day.  Under 100 km to go...

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