Saturday, 14 July 2018

Worth Matravers to Kimmeridge

Kimmeridge Bay

We are pursuing an occasional project of re-doing the South West Coast Path in Dorset as a series of longer and more linear walks than we did the first time. Our complete walk along the South West Coast Path, from Poole to Minehead, can be found in a separate blog here. Our most recent walk was the wonderful one from Kimmeridge to Lulworth almost a year ago.

We set out from the car park at the back of the Bay and climbed up to the Clavell Tower. This splendid folly dates from about 1820 and was spectacularly dismantled in 2005 and moved 80 ft away from the cliff edge because erosion of the cliff was threatening its survival. It is now owned by the Landmark Trust and available as a two-bedroomed holiday let. The current guests can be glipmsed on the circular terrace.

We walked along the cliff top admiring the numerous butterflies (Marbled Whites, Meadow Browns, later a few Walls, Skippers). The view ahead to St Aldhelm's Head was magnificent.

The back to the west was also rather lovely. The still, shallow water was fascinating.

We passed Rope Lake Head (on the left in the photo below), with Swyre Head just out of view inland on the right and began the long steep ascent of Houns Tout. I had the delight of seeing my first Lulworth Skippers along this section.

As we reached the top, the view back was really inspiring.

After a nice little rest on a concrete bench we headed on to soon be above the picturesque Chapman's Pool. It is reminiscent of Lulworth Cove in its shape.

The route now is quite confusing. You descend (of course) and are gradually directed inland to join the clear path skirting this large hill (it seems to have no name: at least there is none shown on the OS map).

You go a surprising distance inland and then take a sharp right and climb up an attractive path to West Hill. This is the view if you look back.

At the top there is a wonderful view to the west over Chapman's Pool.

We passed the Royal Marines Association memorial and reached Emmett's Hill, which is notable fro steps down to close to sea level, followed immediately by more steps up to St Aldhelm's (or St Alban's) Head.

At the top, we again encountered St Aldhelm's chapel. It is square with one massive column in the centre supporting four vaults which hold up the roof. There is an altar in the corner opposite to the doorway lit by a small lancet window. It dates from about 1100. It is unlike a normal church in that the four corners are oriented towards the cardinal points of the compass, whereas churches are normally oriented along an east-west axis. It was restored in the 19th century and has definitely been a chapel since 1874.

We now meandered along the coast to reach the strange are of former stone quarries that is Winspit.

It was still more than a mile up a meandering, but always climbing, path to reach Worth Matravers and a cold drink in the welcoming pub. This is the view back from near the top.

Conditions: warm and sunny.

Distance: about 9 miles.

Map: Explorer OL15 (Purbeck and South Dorset).

Rating: Five stars.

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