Monday 25 June 2012

Dorset & Normandy - Day 3

After sleeping off the previous night's dinner, we awoke to another bright sunlit day, again with 40 mile per hour winds. Another full English breakfast set us up for a full active agenda for the day. We had already scheduled a bike ride (more on that later) for the afternoon over on Portland, but first we headed over to Lulworth Cove. The idea was to either try and rent some kayaks or walk the footpath over to Durdle Door. The wind being so strong, the kayak companies had cancelled their rentals & tours because of the high seas, so walking it was. It was a bit steep in places, but definitely worth it. Since we weren't going further, Gib, Stephen and I all walked down to the respective beaches to watch the waves crash against Durdle Door and the Man-of-War. By this point on the Jurassic Coast the sandy beaches give way to shingle and pebbles, which makes the most amazing sound as the waves recede. We got a bit mesmerised in fact, and ended up back at the car a bit later than originally planned, so we headed straight over to Portland, grabbed a quick bite at the Portland Heights cafe (quite good value considering the quality and location). 

Then it was time for our bike ride! I had come across Marshwood Trails prior to our trip and was intrigued by the idea of "electric assisted" bicycles. I knew that this corner of the English coast wasn't exactly flat, so it seemed like the right spot to give them a try. When poking around on the website, I'll admit that my first reaction was "that's cheating!" but it turns out that "cheating" was not quite so bad after all. Martin was our guide, and he had everything we needed - helmets, gloves, panniers and of course the bikes were all provided. After a bit of riding about to get used to the bikes, we headed off on our tour. We cycled down the East side of the Island first, stopping to see the fomer barracks/current prison, the Verne high angle battery, the pirate cemetary and then down to one of our favourite places - the Portland Bill. We were particularly lucky that day and got to see a seal! At first I thought it was a dog swimming in the water, and then it dived. So fantastic to watch! We were also fortunate that while it had started to rain a little bit, it wasn't foggy and so we got to keep our ear drums in tact. From there, the winds meant that we couldn't cycle down the Western coast path, so we headed down the middle of the island, stopping at St. George's Church (built, apparently, by a follower of Christopher Wren of St. Paul's fame) and then passed through the really incredible Quarry and Sculpture Garden, both of which I would love to come back to and explore in more detail. By then we were way over our time, and with many thanks we parted with Martin, grabbing tea again at the cafe before heading back to Swanage.

At this point we discovered that a Saturday night in Swanage is not particularly hopping. We had originally thought we'd grab dinner at the pub across from the B&B, but turns out they stopped serving at 9. . .as did every other restaurant in town. In fact, the only place open was a Chinese takeaway, which turned out to be tastier than we expected, but then again hunger is the best sauce. :) By that time, it was time to start winding down (and washing our fivefingers - traipsing through seaweed does not nice smelling shoes make) and so ended another fantastic, active day in Dorset! 

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