Thursday, 16 April 2015

SWC path Day 2: Branscombe to Lyme Regis

Day 2!  Boots on reluctant feet, huge amounts of carbs consumed for breakfast, and up the first hill.  Today would be shorter in distance, but no less lovely.    

 Leaving Branscombe, I didn't have to climb to the top of the first big hill (the SWC trail goes lower!) but I felt like I should.

The top of the cliff was pretty amazing.  This whole area under the cliff was a landslip a couple hundred years ago.  The cliff collapsed into the sea after a storm, and the whole area became wilderness as plants and trees took over.  The birdsong coming from that patch of forest was deafening.  And the sea....when the light hit it just right, it looked somewhat more tropical than England.

 Just in time for second breakfast, we hit the town of Beer.  Naturally, a pub stop was in order.  This place was an adorable tourist and fishing town, perched right next to a pretty harbor and beautiful old buildings.  Beer was known for its victorian lacemaking, and there was a lace shop here, but it was closed.  I got a pasty and sat down on a bench overlooking the beach.

 Spring is my favorite time to be outside.  There's just so much going on- people are shedding their winter layers, birds are returning from far-away lands to create a symphony of song.  Winter can be just awful, but that first burst of bright green before it is faded by the sun is pure magic.

One thing I find adorable about English seaside towns are the little cabins you can rent along the beach.  People really keep them tidy and painted, and lots of people were busy getting them ready for the season.  A place to stash your beach chairs and shade tent, to get out of the wind and occasionally foul weather.  I spied in a few of them and people had kettles and little propane fridges tucked in them as well.  I love this.

Our afternoon was interrupted by news of a land slip diverting the trail.  I had known about this, but was hoping they somehow was able to re-build a footpath around the dodgy cliff by the time we arrived.  No such luck.  The sign by the trail told us, "Go back to Seaton and take a bus to Lyme Regis!", and not feeling for that, we started a six mile go-around that took us well inland.

Walking the quickest way into Lyme Regis meant walking along a very busy A-road without a pavement or easy path to follow, so we kept going and took some country roads to get around.

It was pleasant enough, but most of it being on pavement, my feet and shins started to complain after 6 miles.  I ignored them.

When we finally re-joined the coast path, we had lovely views of what was to come.  We had crossed from Devon and we were now in Dorset.

Like Branscombe, Lyme Regis was in a valley by the sea.  Instead of cows on the hillside, there were houses, as this was a much bigger town.  Our stop for the evening was far up at the top of the hill, so we dropped off our stuff and showered before donning clean shirts and our flip-flops to check out Lyme.

It was a really lovely town, with a river running through the middle and a gussied-up flour mill and brewery, a museum and theater.  They had built a very expensive sea wall to protect the cliff-side real estate, and it made for a pleasant evening to stroll around.

Added bonus:  I found a vegetarian restaurant called Terra Kitchen right by the waterfront.  This was a real treat.  I try and eat healthy on the trail, but a lot of times the only option at pubs is a very sad afterthought of mushy boiled vege and wilted lettuce, which makes me say, "I'll have the bacon-wrapped lamb shank, please".  To have a real vegetarian place on the trail was bliss.

This is another cutesy coastal town I wouldn't mind spending more time in.  It's a noted fossil-hunting hot spot.  When a storm batters the cliffs, landslips cause new layers of fossils to appear overnight, and the beach is littered with them at low tide.  

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