Sunday, 6 November 2011

White Nothe to Osmington Mills (SW Coast Path 12)

Looking back from the start

After a gap of six weeks or so, including a break for a holiday in Arezzo, we resumed the SW Coast Path. We decided to abandon our established practice of doing a circular walk in favour of a there-and-back approach. In fact, the only realistic access point was at the end, Osmington Mills, so we did a back-and-there walk. I will just describe the return section.

We picked up the walk about half a mile short of White Nothe (nose) and followed the gently climbing cliff-top path until we reached it. There is not much there: an odd brick structure which may have been a look-out and a terrace of coastguards cottages. It seems to be at about 170m and there are fine views towards the west. Ringstead is in the foreground, with Weymouth beyond and Portland to the left.

We walked down towards Ringstead enjoying a more elaborate view of Ringstead Bay. The most striking thing is how the coast changes here: the limestone cliffs we have been walking up and down for some time have ended and a new type of terrain awaits.

We passed the chimneys of Holworth House hidden in the trees, a little wooden church dating from 1926 and then Burning Cliff. Burning Cliff is apparently so named because the rapid oxidization of iron pyrites caused the bituminous oil shale to spontaneously ignite in 1826 and burn for a year. As we left the village, with its curious straggling mixture of a caravan park and pleasant detached houses, we saw this entertaining sign.

A little further on, we left the path to briefly go down to the beach and enjoy a fine view back towards the imposing White Nothe.

A bit further on, Osmington Mills came into view.

We finished up where we had started at the car park in front of the Smuggler's Inn pub and admired the view towards Weymouth - the destination for our next walk. We then naturally returned to the pub for what turned out to be an excellent lunch.

Conditions: clear, sunny intervals, about 12 degrees, extremely strong north east wind, muddy underfoot in places.

Map: Explorer OL15 (Purbeck and South Dorset).

Distance: about 7 miles, of which 3.5 were forwards on the Coast Path. Distance covered now 34.5 miles.

Rating: three and a half stars.


The circular walk model has served us well so far. We have made slow progress along the coast, but we have also enjoyed exploring the inland areas as well. However, we have decided that the next leg, to Weymouth, we will do as a simple linear walk. We plan to get a train from Poole to Weymouth and then a cab to Osmington and simply walk back to Weymouth - about 8 miles. Then we can have a nice boozy lunch to celebrate the achievement of this year's target and get the train back to Poole. 

As we are now 45 minutes or more by car from our base in Poole, and getting further each time, we conclude that getting a cab or bus back to the start will need to be the model for the rest of the Coast Path. We should at least make faster progress towards next year's target end point: Bridport and the Dorset-Devon border.

Butterfly of the day

We had glimpses of ten or a dozen Red Admirals during the walk, and finally one presented itself for a photograph.

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