PYW Does Dorset - Easter 2012

The Group congregated in Swanage on Thursday 5th April at 2 main locations. The choosy went for The Grand Hotel with a fine view of the bay and the thrifty were at the equally characterful YHA.

A fine morning’s sunshine greeted the assembled 21 at Swanage Railway Station, the start point for Friday’s walk. At 10 o’clockish we set out up the first of many ascents on the Priest’s Way for excellent views back over Swanage Bay. There was some confusion over the right direction when we encountered a caravan park but a kindly resident pointed out the route across a neighbour’s lawn which we were happy to take. Over rolling countryside we soon encountered a view of the coast above Dancing Ledge. The sun beat down and some failed to apply suntan lotion in time (Claire W)! More uphill followed towards Worth Matravers with Dean finding his own unofficial route. A welcome lunchtime stop at the busy Square & Compass pub sampling the local beers soon passed and we were on our way again towards St Aldhelm’s Head. A splitting point was reached where the young and fit were sent along the coast to tackle the steep valley just before St Aldhelm’s whilst the older and wiser took the more direct route. The older and wiser were soon enjoying tea and cake at the Coastguard Station open day awaiting the other group. A most enjoyable time was spent here exploring the ancient chapel and sitting in the sunshine. Time pressed however and we resumed our walk eastwards along the South West Coast path via Winspit, Dancing Ledge, Anvil Point and the Tilly Whim Caves eventually arriving at Durlston Head. A briefish stop for refreshments, group photo and some education on tides and distances before the home stretch back into Swanage. I think we can claim a 14 miler all told.

The evening meal was a carvery upstairs at the Country Foods Kitchen where there was some dispute over who had the last of the beef.  The evening was made more amusing by the waitress who appeared to be doing her first ever shift waitressing much to Ian C’s entertainment!

Saturday started less sunny but the Group, of 25 today, enjoyed the excitement of a steam train ride from Swanage to Corfe Castle for the start of our linear walk. A nice old lady in the observation car soon brightened the day of those paying the extra £2 with her random comments. After alighting, a quick loop around the Castle for photo opportunities was followed by another steep ascent onto the Purbeck Ridge where there were fantastic views across the Dorset countryside. Good progress was made in somewhat windy conditions but a slightly sheltered lunch stop was found before descending towards Studland Heath. The next stop was at the unusual Agglestone Rock which Mat found easier to climb up than get down! It was then down to the beach at Studland Bay for tea, cake and ice cream. Up again onto the ridge and out to The Foreland for great views of Old Harry Rocks before turning south across Ballard Down and back to Swanage with the Grand Hoteliers arriving quicker at their nearer accommodation. An excellent 11 miler.

There being no formal arrangements for dinner it was each to their own with some enjoying a fine fish & chip meal at a restaurant along the Prom and others pubbing and clubbing.

Sunday involved using cars for the first time with a shuttle to Tyneham where the Group first explored the well known abandoned village. It was then up away from the coast onto the Purbeck Hills again with fine views north over the tank ranges and south down towards the coast. Again the wind put in an appearance and lunch was taken after coming down from the ridge line. A bit of a zig zag route then took us away from the village of Kimmeridge which Jane had planned to visit direct to Kimmeridge Bay where we learnt a lot about ‘Nodding Donkeys’. The sun came out in the afternoon for our walk back westwards along the coast arriving back in Tyneham about mid afternoon. The 7.5 miler allowed time for the Group to return to Swanage for the planned PYW Adventure Golf Tournament at the Jurassic Park course. A grand total of 18 players took part with a very close finish. Eventually the Club Chairman had no choice but to declare Debbie the winner ahead of Ian L even though both had the same scores (a better back 9 being the official decider). Joint 3rd were Stephen and Claire M-R. Sarah D found the watching crowd a bit of a distraction at the last hole where a record of sorts must have been set.

The evening meal was at the Crow’s Nest Inn where after a fine meal (and pudding) the presentation of the coveted green jacket was made to Debbie. A small presentation was also made to Jane P in appreciation of her excellent navigation each day. The evening at the pub was rounded off by the Tom Jones tribute singer (actually looking more like Jeremy Clarkson) who sang many a fine tune including what will become the Group’s unofficial anthem – 500 miles by The Proclaimers.

Monday was departure day with some heading off home, some going shopping and sightseeing and a small hardy group facing up to the heavy rain and tackling a short walk from Lulworth Cove to Durdle Door and back. I think they enjoyed it although it is hard to tell from the photos!


Once more the Group had a most successful trip with great thanks to Jane P for leading and Debbie and Sarah A for assisting with the excellent planning.

Attendees – Stephen, Sarah A, Claire M-R, John, Debbie, Ian L, Marion & James, Marion Al, Jane P, Julie, Paul N, Paul M, Ian C, Mat, Dean, Kirsty, Sarah D, Janet, Claire W, Linda, Vince, Mike and Sara (the part timer!)