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And the moral of the story is…… by Richard Wotton

At the start, Kimmeridge Bay. In the background you can see a "folly", Clavell's Tower.

It was another hot sunny day when I caught up with Laurence again. He was by then deep into the beautiful Jurassic coastline of Dorset and boy, do they have hills in Dorset! “I don’t think I’ve seen a hill that big before” said Laurence as we stood at the bottom of yet another monster built of limestone, and that from a man who has climbed Kilimanjaro with my eldest son! This was the walk from Kimmeridge to Lulworth, only passable at weekends because the South West Coast Path traverses an Army tank firing range, and so is out of bounds during the week.

Clavell’s Tower is a “folly” built by Reverend Clavell in 1830 as a place where he could contemplate. Being a vicar in 19th century England seems to have been pretty good occupation, with plenty of free time. Thomas Hardy, one of Britain’s great novelists, often took his first love Eliza Nicholls to Clavell Tower.

There’s a lot of military history along this coastline. Much of the training and preparatory work for the D-Day landings took place around here, and as luck would have it we were treated to the beautiful sight and sound of a low level pass by a P51 Mustang – right out of the 1940s - presumably on its way to an air display somewhere fairly close.

No straying off the path...

So off we went. Our first surprise was discovering that there’s black gold in them there hills. We came across an oil production facility which (according the sign) produces 80 barrels a day. Not exactly the vast oil producing plains of Oklahoma, just one nodding donkey here, but probably quite enough in such a setting (no environmental opinions intended or inferred!).

Who would've guessed...Britain's oldest continuously producing oil well, pumping a steady 80 barrels a day since 1959, long before the North Sea or fracking came along.

The second surprise came soon afterwards as we were negotiating a gate (designed to keep the constant threat of stampeding cows and sheep at bay). “We” had forgotten to switch on Strava! Laurence is using Strava to record his 3500 mile journey – irrefutable daily evidence of every step of the way. Following a quick committee meeting we decided to keep going and discuss strategy later over a cream tea. So onwards we went, up and down big hills in close proximity to the white cliffs, overlooking azure seas, with great views of Portland.

Summer of 2018 on the South West Coast Path, reaching the top of another hill - pretty close to paradise!

Following our arrival in Lulworth we failed to find any cream teas, but we overcame this disappointment and made the executive decision that we should re-walk the section that we failed to record earlier on Strava. It was a lovely day so why not! And what did we find the second time around? A classic old Morris Minor Police car in mint condition. It was definitely in better condition than me, and probably older than me too! It was parked close to the nodding donkey (it wasn’t there earlier in the day), so maybe it was part of the afternoon security arrangements – very British. I almost expected to find Dr Who’s Police Box (Tardis) around the next corner.

Similar vintages?

Our last objective of the day was to watch the World Cup Final. Despite our duplicated mileage and some unexpected traffic we managed to make it to a suitable hostelry and enjoy the Final (except for the first 10 minutes) whilst enjoying a late lunch of fish and chips, but still no cream teas unfortunately. I think we could almost have seen the celebrations in France from the tops of the Dorset cliffs.

And before I forget; the moral of the story is nothing to do with lack of cream teas in parts of Dorset; it’s that “3500toendit” walkers should take a leaf out of pilots’ standard procedures – use a checklist – water, sun cream, phone/charger, switch on Strava etc etc. All in all a great day that could only have been bettered by having to walk the whole route twice, rather than only duplicating the first mile and a half or so (and back) ha ha!! To be continued (there will be cream teas in Devon and Cornwall)……….

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