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I went 220 miles to Devon for 30 minutes – Wednesday.

I went 220 miles to Devon for 30 minutes – Wednesday.

This is my last breakfast at the Royal Lion and my last morning in Lyme Regis. After breakfast, having re-packed my case, I wander up to the bus stop, catch the bus to Axminster Station where I wait for the London train.

So am I homeward bound? Well, yes, but it has occurred to me that one of the stops on route is Sherborne, still in Dorset, and my ticket permits me to break my journey if I so choose. I decide to get off at Sherborne and see if the Tourist Information Centre can find me a bed for the night.

It is only a five minute walk to the TIC, and just before I go in, I can hardly fail to notice Sherborne Abbey in front of me; the stone glowing golden in the sunlight – can't wait. The ladies who run the TIC are very nice and soon fix me up with B&B for one night. I go straight to the B&B so that I can leave my case but the room is ready and I'm soon settled in.

I walk back to the town centre heading for the abbey along Long Street so called because it's, well, long. Near the end of Long Street I can see the tower of the abbey church and, just across the road, another interesting little structure.

This little structure, I discover, is called the Conduit; a 16th century building once used as a washing area by the monks of Sherborne Abbey and after the dissolution of the monastry in 1539 was moved to its present position at the lower end of Cheap Street.

I walked past the Conduit under the 15th century Bow Arch

and soon arrived at the abbey church. Now that is a church and a half!

Next to the abbey is the St. John Almshouse built in 1437 and its Foundation Deed provided for 'Twelve pore feeble and ympotent old men and four old women' the inhabitants to be cared for by a housewife whose duty was to 'feeche in and dyght to the victaill wash wrying make beddys and al other things do'. Got that?

The Almshouse is open to the public between 2 PM and 4 PM but not on Wednesdays (today) so I couldn't go in but I can go in the abbey.

Now that's what I call a nave ceiling. What a lovely bit of fan vaulting.

There are numerous tombs and monuments and there are two Saxon kings buried here. I also saw this broken tomb in the floor complete with bones but I don't know who it was. There is a sheet of glass across the top so there are some reflections.

I left the abbey and walked up Cheap Street and saw this obvoiusly ancient building.

I dicovered that, in 1994, the 19th century facade was removed to expose and conserve the original 15th century structure. This shop has been used as both a candle makers and a shoemakers.

At the top of Cheap Street I found Greenhill with its high pavements. It reminded me a little of Old Hastings.

In The Green itself was this rather nice thatched house and further down is the stone-built Hospice of St. Julian next to the timber-framed building.

There are two castles in Sherborne – Sherborne Old Castle, which is medieval, and the new Sherborne Castle built by Sir Walter Raleigh in 1594. I shall not have time to see both so I'm going to look at the medieval ruins of the old castle.

That was the end of my final day. Whew! What a lot of walking.

Tomorrow I go to the station to catch my train to London and thence to home. It turned out to be straight forward, no more cancelled trains, and Amanda met me at our local station. We both arrived home around 4:00 PM.

There will, of course, be more pictures and detail on the main web site in due course.


I went 220 miles to Devon for 30 minutes – Tuesday.

I went 220 miles to Devon for 30 minutes – Tuesday.

I got out of bed this morning and tried to encourage my legs to move and by the time I'd got down to breakfast they were just about usable again (but only just smilies ).

Breakfast is fairly late here, at eight o'clock, so I first wandered out into the town towards the church. It was very quiet as I passed through the back streets and emerged near the church.

The church is quite old with parts dating back to Saxon times. The interesting part is in the churchyard on the seaward edge.

That wire fence is to stop people from dropping off the edge of the cliff and you can see that the path shown goes nowhere. This church, when it was built, was a long way from the cliff now it can't be more than 50 feet. It is hoped that the new sea defences below will stop the erosion.

Back for breakfast then onward.

I'm going to hop on the same bus again this morning but I'll be going through Chideock to Burton Bradstock this time which is about a 60 minute journey.

I get off the bus just the other side of Burton Bradstock and walk down Beach Road. High tide was about an hour ago so the tide is going out and it's safe for me to walk along the beach as far as West Bay. I say 'safe' because there are high cliffs on my right all the way.

The cliffs, as you can see, are made up of alternating bands of hard and soft rock giving them a striped appearance. The rocks are Inferior Oolite and Fullers Earth from the Middle Jurassic.

As I walked along the beach I could hear a sound which might be described as a cross between a crack and a knock. This sound occurred regularly at intervals all the way to West Bay and was definitely coming from the cliffs. It sounded rather ominous but there were no rock falls whilst I was there. I can only assume that it was the hard bands expanding and contracting with changes in temperature.

These cliffs are dangerous and rock falls are not uncommon. This shows a recent fall and that crack in the cliff above doesn't look particularly safe. Staying away from the cliff, as I am, is the safest thing to do and needs to be done when the tide is going out so that more of the beach is exposed.

The hard rock bands are certainly fossiliferous as this picture of one of the fallen slabs shows. There are many molluscs and belemnites.

I continued along the beach towards West Bay until I reached the River Bride. That means I either paddle or go inland a little way to use the bridge.

I decided to do as the person in the picture did. The water at its deepest didn't reach my ankles nor was it particularly cold and to prove that I did get to the other side:

There are other people on the far side, who were behind me, preparing to do the same.

I finally reach West Bay which is the seaside part of Bridport.

The Bridport Arms used to be the Ship Inn and dates from the late 17th century and is partly thatched. The town of Bridport is a bit of a long walk from here so I decided to catch the bus which set me down in the town centre. The main roads in Bridport, West Street, East Street and South Street form a 'T' with South Street being the leg of the 'T'. This is from the top end of South Street looking south.

A short way down South Street is the town museum housed in this Tudor building.

Further down South Street is the parish church of St. Mary dating from the 13th century.

In the lower part of South Street is the Chantry; the oldest building in Bridport dating from before 1300.

Further on by the River Brit is Palmer's Brewery dating from 1794 and the water wheel, forged in 1879 at a Bridport foundry, does still turn.

From Easter to the end of October a guided tour starts at 11.00 am on every weekday (excluding Bank Holidays) and lasts for about two hours. No I didn't.

I made my way back up South Street to West Street where, after a tiring day, I caught the bus to Lyme Regis. Tomorrow I leave Lyme Regis. smilies

(Tomorrow, Wednesday: I leave for home – or do I?)


I went 220 miles to Devon for 30 minutes – Monday.

I went 220 miles to Devon for 30 minutes – Monday.

Today is the big day! My most ambitious day of the whole trip. I plan to get the bus to Chideock (pronounced 'Chidock') and walk back to Lyme Regis via Golden Cap. What's Golden Cap? It's the highest point on the south coast – that's what. smilies

After breakfast I walked a couple of hundred yards to the bus stop to wait for the bus which is supposed to arrive about 9:35 which it did. Thirty minutes later I was standing by the roadside in Chideock looking for Mill Lane on the opposite side of the road. As it was close to the bus stop even I couldn't get it wrong and I was soon walking down the lane towards Seatown.

You can probably see that the sun is out but that there is plenty of cloud. It was only about three quarters of a mile to Seatown so it didn't take long to get there and I walked a little in the wrong direction so that I could get a view of Seatown.

I don't know why it's called Seatown because it's not even big enough to be a village let alone a town. smilies

This view from the beach shows Golden Cap ( the big lump in the centre of the picture) and I don't have to tell you why it's called Golden Cap do I?

I am foolish enough to start from here, at sea level, and climb to the top of that lump and then walk on over the hill to Lyme Regis. That's the plan anyway. So I set off the short distance up Mill Lane to find the start of the footpath and here it is.

The figure is probably difficult to read but it says 'Golden Cap 1 1/2' (1.5 miles) and 4.5 miles to Charmouth. Here we go.

It starts off inocuously enough to lull one into a false sense of security along a gently climbing path then, when it thinks it's got you into a good mood, it starts to get steeper. The path is now steep enough that steps have been cut into it. This is done to alleviate erosion by walkers and to deliberately aggravate my old leg muscles smilies . The steps are cut into the ground then wooden risers are set at the front of each step to stop them collapsing. Here the steps are quite far apart so it's step up then walk a few steps and step up again.

You can see a couple of steps in the photograph above and you can also see that I have gained some height since leaving the lane. smilies

A bit higher now with the summit visible some way ahead. You may not be able to read the distances on the signpost but it says 'Seatown 3/4' and 'Golden Cap 1/2' (miles). So far I've walked 3/4 of a mile from Chideock to Seatown and another 3/4 of a mile from Seatown to this point – a total of just 1.5 miles and I'm already puffing and blowing. Still, the views are nice.

That's Seatown down there. It looks a long way down. I have still a good way to go yet and all of it steep. There are long stretches of path with lots of steps packed close together that seem to go on for ever. I finally get to a steep grassy slope with a bench seat at the top. Just what I need but I have to get there first. I didn't make it in one go and had to stop and rest part way but I did eventually make use of that seat.

Then there is another short uphill stretch, with steps, until I arrive at the summit at last. The top view below is to the east and the bottom picture is to the west.

In the bottom picture Lyme Regis is the cluster of buildings in the centre of the picture with Charmouth on the right. Charmouth is my next target.

After a short sitdown to eat lunch I set off again and pass some locals who are admiring the view.

 So is it now all downhill? If only! The path goes steeply down hill to the bottom of a valley and just as steeply up again to the next ridge and then down and up again ad infinitum. I am, however, slowly leaving Golden Cap behind.

These repetitive steep slopes are making me very, very weary and I'm beginning to realise that I'll be lucky to make it to Charmouth let alone Lyme Regis so I decide I'll have to stop at Charmouth and get the bus back. smilies smilies smilies So much for ambition.

I had walked about six miles but the ups and downs would effectively double that in terms of energy used. What a wimp! Perhaps I should modify that a little. What an old wimp!

I finally reach Stonebarrow Lane and set off down towards Charmouth.

I finally reach the village but still have to walk uphill for some distance to reach the bus stop where I took this photograph looking back to where I'd come from.

I clambered wearily onto the bus and finally arrived back at my hotel for a rest. I'm going to need that rest for tomorrow.

(Tomorrow, Tuesday: Musical cliffs, a water wheel and a Tudor museum.)


I went 220 miles to Devon for 30 minutes – Sunday.

I went 220 miles to Devon for 30 minutes – Sunday.

I was on my own because Amanda was unable to come with me this timesmilies but she drove me to our local station where I was to catch the train to London but we were greeted with the news that the train was cancelled. Brilliant!  smilies  smilies

The next train was in half an hour which meant there would be little margin between getting to London Waterloo and catching the train to Axminster. Missing that train would mean an hour's wait for the next one.

I did get the next train and changed at Stratford onto the Jubilee line bound for Waterloo. When we were about halfway to Waterloo I decided I'd get to Waterloo at the time my train was due to leave and so probably wouldn't get it. As we travelled nearer to Waterloo the time/distance between stations seemed to be getting shorter. Was there hope yet? smilies

We finally arrived at Waterloo about ten minutes before my train left so I had a chance and finally reached the entrance to the platform with five minutes to spare. I did, after all, catch my intended train at 11:15 AM. smilies

This train, on the Waterloo-Axminster line, is the sort of train I travelled on:

After an uneventful journey of 2 hours and 45 minutes we arrived at Axminster in Devon. My bus was waiting outside the station and we set off south for the coast shortly after.

What I really wanted to do was to go to Lyme Regis in Dorset which is where I'm staying for the next few days. The bus soon reached the Devon/ Dorset border and I'd left Devon about 30 minutes after I'd reached it.

It was an interesting 30 minute ride on roads which were often only just wide enough for the bus and, at last, we were on the downhill stretch into Lyme Regis where I got off. After a very short walk I arrived at the Royal Lion Hotel which was to be my base for the next three nights.

Very friendly and efficient staff here and I was soon shown to my room. Note that the sea is just at the bottom of High Street.

It was a triple room with the single bed that I used just out of sight on the right (You can actually just see the corner). The entrance to the room was at a higher level hence the few steps down with part of the banister rail showing. The bathroom was also at the higher level. There was also a small outside terrace accessed using the door at the far end where a small part of the sea was visible.

A nice room in, what turned out to be, a nice hotel. It was, at one time, a coaching inn and dates from around 1610.

I telephoned Amanda to let her know that I had arrived safely and then made myself a cup of coffee. Having settled in I wound up my legs and set off to explore. I have a feeling that I should have had a larger spring fitted.

At the bottom of High Street is the Square and you can see that the time is now about 3:15 PM.

I headed west along Marine Parade which was lined with chip shops and ice cream shops together with an amusement arcade at the far end. This proved to be the tackiest part of the town but very popular.

I reached the harbour and just HAD to walk out on one of the harbour walls known as the Cobb.

This harbour wall features in Jane Austen's novel 'Persuasion', and in 'The French Lieutenant's Woman', a novel by British writer John Fowles, as well as the 1981 film of the same name, which was partly filmed in Lyme Regis.

Do you think I'd make a film star?

Lyme Regis is mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086 and in the 13th century developed as a major port. The first record of the Cobb is in 1328 and it has been destroyed or severely damaged by storms several times. It was swept away in 1377 when 50 boats and 80 houses were also destroyed.

The next (top) picture is Lyme Regis seen from the outer end of the Cobb and the second picture looking across the harbour shows the western most part of Lyme Regis, like a small detached village, which is also known as the Cobb. Confusing ain't it?

A 15 minute walk further west along the beach with a low tide and I reached some exposed slabs of rock which were obviously very fossiliferous.

Each of those circular shapes are Ammonites which are about 200 million years old (at last I've found something which is older than me). In the second photograph erosion has effectively sectioned an ammonite showing the internal septa.

I walked back along the beach and, at this juncture, I have to admit that sandals were not the best choice of footwear (sand and gravel gets between feet and sandals) but I didn't want to wear boots for the whole time so I was stuck with them.

From the Cobb village I went up into Lister Gardens which is mostly grass and trees with a good view of the harbour.

A little further towards the town it changes to Langmoor Gardens which features a number of flowering plants and is, consequently, more colourful.

Back in town I found the Riverside Walk.

The River Lym, down in the gully on the left, is really quite small except when it's in flood and is only 3 miles long from source to sea although there were as many as thirteen mills using the energy provided by this short river before the steam engine was invented.

There are plenty of narrow lanes and streets here and I eventually emerged on one opposite the Guildhall.

Back to the hotel in plenty of time for dinner.

(Tomorrow, Monday: I take a ride, go up in the world and suffer abject failure)