29 July – 2 August: A dalliance with Dorset

Author: Mr A

Location: Moreton, Weymouth, Bridport and Charmouth, Dorset

Arriving at our next campsite, another Camping and Caravan Club site, it was becoming “normal” to have to wait in the motorhome and be given a list of all things you couldn’t do because of the restitutions designed to minimise the spread of the COVID-19 virus. But the sun was shining and we tried to cast aside our concerns, deciding to catch the train into the nearby seaside resort of Weymouth. Not a place either of us had recalled visiting before when we lived in England, but the wow factor on this blue sky day was huge.

We walked around the old harbour area, I’m always fascinated by them, and not just because that’s always where the cafes and restaurants are (although that does perk me up), but its the history that seeps out off the buildings. What tales they could tell.

One of the loveliest harbours we have visited
On this stunning morning it could have been the Italian Riviera
A working fishing fleet

This town just had both of us gawking at it loveliness. It seemed to have just a great balance between feeling like a working harbour, and a place you would love to holiday in. It wasn’t until afterwards that we read it was the first place to record the Black Death arriving in 1348!

Extensive marina filled with glistening yachts
Fishing boats moored up alongside the jetty
Working fishing boat
Pleasure boats
A lovely coast walk, with views out towards Swanage

Once we moved around the edge of the harbour, walks opened up along the coast. The South West Coast walk for instance stretches for hundreds of miles in either direction from here.

Picture perfect
The bridge opening up to allow the yachts to head out to sea
We decide to treat ourselves to lunch at Rockfish

But our tummies told us it was time to pick a lunch spot, and after chatting to one of the locals, who turned out to be a London chef with a holiday house in town, we went to the restaurant he recommended. It was our first “flash” lunch since Sydney in February. It was so perfect, until they messed up the order and brought Catherine a dish that contained dairy. But once the error was pointed they were mortified, and wouldn’t let us pay for a thing! What exceptional service.

Some places just have a great vibe about them, and this was one of them. I even managed to get my eyes pressured checked on the spot – and all was well – a great relief.

Where in the world are we?

Every time we looked up and out at the sparkling ocean, we had to remind ourselves that we hadn’t been transported to some mediterranean resort. Well until you looked at the people wandering around – definitely Brits!

Pedestrianised town centre…

Next stop on the Dorset whistle stop tour tour close to the small town of Bridport. We had managed to find a space on a Caravan and Camping Club farm site. These are great places for us, with just a water tap, somewhere to empty your toilet waste, and on this one, mains power.

We could walk right from the site out onto the hills, and ended up doing an 18k circuit.

Walking alongside picturesque countryside
Lunch on top of a hill with panoramic views
No other people but a lot of friendly cows
Views down towards Charmouth and Lime Regis
A full body workout on this hike!
Following ancient pathways criss crossing the countryside
More friendly locals
The sea is tantalisingly close on this hike
Is this an extinct volcano we wonder? Apparently not – a sandstone hill and a local icon
The trusty secateurs come in handy
The footpaths are certainly not well used – we have to tramp our way through plenty of undergrowth to work our way back

A little stiff, the following day a we pumped out a 39km cycle up through enough hills to give us decent workout, even with our batteries. People seem to think an electric bike is like a moped. You just twist the throttle. Some of them are. Ours are whats called “pedal assisted” – you get a little help – but you still need to work.

A quiet little bridleway keeping us away from the traffic as we explore across country
Fabulous views, our reward for all the uphill riding
Looking down at the little town of Charmouth, the English Channel glistening like diamonds in the sunshine
Catherston Leweston – and the grandest entrance gateway we have seen in a long while – apparently leading to an 18th century manor house

We then had the pleasure of a long, fast downhill into the small seaside town of Charmouth, heaving with school holiday visitors, but with almost no tourist development. The few cafes there were had massive queues for the standard fried fare. As usual we were relieved to have brought a picnic and a flask of tea.

Charmouth – looking west towards Lyme Regis
Charmouth – looking east towards Weymouth

This is a part of England‘s south coast that we will come back to and explore more, ideally when its not peak season. It has ingredients we love – walking cycling, and enticing pubs. Hopefully it will at least be when we can actually get in to a pub spontaneously and not have to book – as we were told we needed to at the one place we tried. Testing times.

Sun sets on our final night in Dorset…for now….
Truffy…out standing in his field (again)….

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