Free from lockdown, seven ladies and a dog met up at the end of Bincleaves Rd, Weymouth and proceeded along through the Nothe Fort gardens, down to the old harbour and along to the beach of Weymouth sea front.
After a coffee stop and loo break, on the sea front, it was onward into the Lorton Valley Nature Reserve. We were hoping to see the Marsh Harriers, but our luck wasn't in.
Walking back to the Sea Life Centre car park, where we met up with Katie (a very brave soul with her poorly hip) who walked with us along the esplanade to the King Edward fish and chip shop. A delightful lunch was had by all, sitting and looking out over the bay at the cruise liners. Here there was a parting of the ways as some wanted to pop into shops and others had to simply get back.
As luck would have it, it started to drizzle with rain as we got back to the cars. So nice to be out again with other people and have a good natter. That's just what we do best!
Mileaters’ Night Walk
"T’was the night before lockdown and all through the village,
Not a thing was stirring not even the silage."
In fact thirteen bold mileaters were stirring their limbs for a night hike to the ridgeway path and what a glorious walk it turned out to be.
We met on the green under moonlight (and some head torches) and quietly animated, plotted our way up Groves Hill, through the wood and along past the tumuli to the ridgeway path. It was a walk familiar to most although the darkness added an element of suspense and adventure.
The multi coloured lights of Portland and the brightly lit cruise ships in the bay provided a fitting backdrop to some moving poems read by Cathie and Stuart.
It was such a lovely night that we didn’t want to leave this special time andplace but we did of course, how else could I be writing this!
In some way the walk seemed a fitting tribute to our solidarity as we enter another period of isolation.
Many thanks to all those who made it such a memorable night.
Mileaters and the Blustery Day
Six intrepid souls turned out, some in their best Fastnet gear, to brave the weather after the rain had put paid to our attempts at a walk 2 days earlier. The outlook was not good, and even our usual canine friends had deserted us for a dry day in front of the fire.
Well, we did the walk and I think we managed to convince ourselves that we were glad to have got out in the fresh air; however, drizzle, low cloud and a keen breeze put paid to any chance of views on our 5 mile circuit from Tibbs Hollow (above Frampton), taking in the hamlets of Cruxton, Notton and Southover in the Upper Frome Valley, but a delightful spot beside the river was found for our break, at the largest picnic table you could imagine; social distancing would not have been a problem with 3 times our number. (see picture)
It was not a day for lingering long so after crossing the old water meadows and Southover mill stream, a final climb returned us to our cars and home for a warming cuppa.
Dorsetshire Gap Mileaters Walk
17 ‘raring to go’ Mileaters set off to walk the short circular course of approx 4.5miles. However, the initial section was a steep uphill gradient that left the group with little breath for talking. Never known them so quiet! Once on top of Nettlecombe Tout a well earned breather was had whilst we learned some of the history of the hill fort and geography of the area.
A pleasant downhill stroll ensued over Cross Dykes and Earthworks towards our coffee stop. The slope being gentle meant the views could be enjoyed without having to watch foot placements. Nick believes that on a good day Glastonbury Tor can be seen from up there. We looked but couldn’t see the Tor but could make out Hardy’s monument in the distance. The views were worth the slog.
After coffee on a sunny grass bank (socially distanced) we continued with a ramble across fields that brought us to Higher Melcombe, these days just a Manor house and farm. The original village, mentioned in the Doomsday Book, was called Melcombe Horsey having 33 inhabitants is no longer present. These days remains of the village can only be seen on maps and from a couple of viewing points along the route.
A more gentle incline takes us up to the Dorsetshire Gap a major crossroads in days gone by, the ‘Spaghetti Junction’ of its time and possibly the route through which the Black Death spread to the Midlands and the North, having alighted from Europe via Melcome (adjacent to Weymouth but an important port in the 1300s).The Black Death was responsible for the death of 30-50% of the 5 million population in England.
Once back on the top, lunch was partaken in a sheltered spot and the sun came out again so that we could enjoy the views for a second time. Despite the lovely situation some members had to get back to take part in a WI ‘zoom’ meeting and we all know from the Pantomime that "nobody messes with the WI”.
The Other Winterborne
Our first walk in October took fifteen Mileaters to the valley of the other Winterborne in Dorset just this side of Wimborne beside the A31. This 6 mile flat terrain expedition started in Almer at the church of St.Mary next to the Elizabethan manor. The church is Saxon in origin, has Norman features and has the remains of a medieval preaching cross. From there we walked on wide walkways making it easy to socially distance. We made our way to Winterborne Zelston alongside the dry river bed (it is a “winter borne” after all) and through the picturesque village with another medieval preaching cross.
En route we passed one of the “famous” red signposts of Dorset and arrived at marvellous Norman church at Winterborne Tomson (St.Andrews), a church that Thomas Hardy rescued with restoration funds. Still with its 17th century pews and orchestra gallery. After coffee at Winterborne Tomson we walked around the grounds of Anderson Manor home to the Tregonwells for nearly 300 years, which was the base to the No.62 Commando unit between 1940 and 1943. We passed St Michaels church Anderson, it has 12th Century origins with a mostly 17th century outer.
Through the countryside and back to W. Zelston for lunch and a quick hop back to Almer. A walk of historic churches and manor houses. “A good time was had by all.”
Mileaters on Tour: ...and look what happened after we left!
Well, it actually happened; after all the uncertainties surrounding Covid and the trials & tribulations endured by Mark, our organiser, over the last 6 months in his negotiations with our hotel, 18 Mileaters and assorted canine companions managed to gather at Oxwich Bay on The Gower in South Wales.
Over the next 3 days, 3 good walks gave us a sample of the fine countryside and glorious coastal scenery that The Gower has to offer - not to mention the inside of gorse bushes, rickety stiles, and encounters with brambles and streams. Who was it who said "I'm sure the map shows the path goes this way?"
Our Day 1 afternoon walk enjoyed fine sunshine as we visited Oxwich Point and Oxwich Castle, even if the 400 foot climb up steep steps near the start came as a rude awakening to all, even the fitter ones amongst us. Day 2 and more coastal delights from Rhossili before lunching on The Beacon, with grand views over Worms Head and Rhossili Bay. A 3 mile extension for some ended in a sprained ankle for one, who had been concentrating on discussing "Endowment" policies or something similar, rather than safely negotiating the steep descent ! No names, no pack drill. Day 3 brought a walk along the beach before climbing Cefn Bryn for more wonderful views across the peninsula and to Lundy and the Devon Coast to the south. Here more joined us for the "essentially downhill" return journey to our hotel. Well, it looked straightforward on the map, and that's all I'm saying. But we did get back safely after our 8 mile circuit, and the rain held off until we had finished our celebratory cuppa.
Although the omens had not been good, we were all so looking forward to getting away for a break, that we were determined to make it work, and it did. The hotel's 4 metre table rule at meal times did make for some boisterous cross-restaurant banter however. Some intrepid souls did even venture into the sea, but as the tide was out that involved 1/2 mile out and back!
And did The Gower recover from our visit ? I think not, as it is now in extended lockdown. Timing is everything.
Finally, a big "thank you" again to Mark for all his patience in organising such an enjoyable and well needed staycation.
The village walking group began some 25 years ago with the aim of walking the Dorset Coast Path, in sections, from the Devon border to Sandbanks. Subsequently the reverse route from Sandbanks to Devon has been undertaken.
We are a friendly group of local residents, ex-residents, and colleagues from the area, who meet on a fortnightly basis to enjoy the diversity of the wonderful Dorset countryside. We take it in turns to lead a walk with most members being allotted a fortnight's slot twice a year. The choice of distance, location, and day within that fortnight is at the discretion of the fortnightly leader, but walks (anywhere in Dorset) are usually between 4 and 8 miles.
Walk details are distributed by email. A picnic lunch is often carried in the Summer, but a pub lunch in the Winter is the norm - rehydration is de rigueur! Generally we meet on the Village Green at 10.00 a.m.