Abbotsbury Walk

Tuesday 13th August – Abbotsbury

Walk Leaders: Colin & Shelagh

Meet at the Abbotsbury Swannery Car Park at 10:00 for parking and coffee.Use name not the post code or Grid Reference 577846.

From the carpark we make our way westwards on the South West Coastal Path/Macmillan Way to Chesil Beach and the area of pea shingle along which we walk for a short distance. There is a boardwalk allowing access up on to the bank to view the seascape side of Chesil beach. On descending, and a few paces away, there are loos and a small café. We continue at a gentle pace along track bordered with a proliferation of wildflowers before turning off across a rising meadow. The rise continues north past Abbotsbury Subtropical gardens and up to Abbotsbury Village and the Swan Inn for lunch (some 3.5 miles). This section has 6 stiles and 1 stone steps, not all the stiles are dog friendly.

After lunch we head north climbing slowly and steadily along easy grassy tracks via Oxlip Coppice and up to White Hill and the South Dorset Hardy Ridgeway and head west. Along the way we hope to see and hear the variety of wild birds that we had on the recce, with frequent stops to admire the spectacular views of Chesil Beach and Chesil Lagoon below. We descend back down to Abbotsbury and the car park along a track hedges with yet more wild flowers and scrubs.(some 3.5 miles)

There are six well-maintained stiles (five very dog friendly, the sixth not quite so) and one stone step-over. The recce for the morning walk was done on the wettest June day since records began [1914] and even so, the mudometer might just warrant a passing 0.1 mention!!

For anyone who feels the need of yet more, there is the mile and a half round trip up to Saint Catherine's Chapel.

Fifteen walkers met at Abbotsbury Swannery for a walk led by Colin and Shelagh.

After refreshments in the café, we set off through Abbotsbury and up White Hill onto the downs behind the village. There, we were rewarded with wonderful views over the coastline (including Chesil Beach and the Fleet Lagoon) and the Dorset countryside. We were blessed with ideal walking weather: it was warm and sunny with a gentle breeze, and the high cloud enabled us to see for many miles. After a short break we followed the Ridgeway for a while before taking a path back down to Abbotsbury and our lunch stop at the Swan Inn. After a superb lunch we climbed to visit St Catherine's Chapel, and then went via the Sub-Tropical Gardens to the beach before returning to the Swannery car park via the coast path.

In all, we walked 7.09 miles (11.4 km) that were very varied, and which had features to please everyone: wonderful views, wildflowers, various birds (including a wheatear), the beach and sea, some history and assorted refreshment opportunities. We even passed a phone box with a working phone in it! There was a small disappointment for some of the group in that Colin did not get lost en route, so they were unable to tease him about it. John L was quite vocal about the number of uphill climbs in the walk, but clearly felt that he would like one more, so lost his footing at one point and fell down the slope a little way. This allowed him to have one more climb than the rest of us!

All in all, it was a great day's walking and everyone is looking forward to next year's outing to Dorset. Thank you to Colin and Shelagh for your time and effort in putting the walk together. Report by Michelle