It is no secret that I regard Dorset (or perhaps more particularly Wessex) as my spiritual home. The call is constant. I have my special places here where I feel particularly connected to something much more powerful than myself: Ringstead Bay, St Gabriel’s on the way up Golden Cap, Colmer’s Hill, the particular stretch of the River Frome between Bockhampton and Stinsford and, of course, Stinsford Churchyard itself…………………… but more recently the pebble beach at Eype has filled me with an inner peace
What better way to spent a Christmas Eve morning than in the market town of Bridport – a cornucopia of bookshops (four, I believe), proper greengrocers, bakers and butchers, ironmongers, countless charity shops and market stalls offering fossils, smoked duck, gloves, soaps, books, records, the list is endless. I have never enjoyed the experience of “shopping”, but wandering around Bridport is different. T and I spent a couple of hours just meandering and picking up last minute Christmas treats before having the rest of the day to spend on what I enjoy best – walking!
Parking the car near the Leisure Centre we were soon far away from even the “acceptable” face of consumerism in Bridport and following the end section of the Monarch’s Way towards West Bay.
Passing by Palmer’s Brewery attractively situated by the river we initially followed the route of the Brit, before crossing meadows and fields on a well-marked footpath down to West Bay.
Perhaps better known now as the setting of the TV Programme Broadchurch, West Bay will always remind me of a very rainy afternoon the first time I introduced T to the delights of Dorset. (A lot of his walking seems to have been unfortunately done in the rain!). That afternoon the deluge was just too great to be outside and we spent the afternoon doing crosswords and Sudoko in a local pub. Today, no rain but a really blustery wind – and then I realised I had broken my “cardinal rule”!
I remember someone telling me years ago to plan a walk so far as possible with the prevailing wind behind and so with all the miles I have covered and the times I have walked the Dorset coastline I have always trudged west to east with the sea on my right. How strange today to be walking with the sea on my left – and facing a bracing wind. At times we were left breathless as we followed the coastal path westward for a couple of miles. It was interesting, however, to see the coastline from the other direction and appreciate a different aspect of the cliffs and downlands.
It was slightly misty and the views were not grand but once we reached the privacy of Eype Beach (we were the only people there) we knew that our exertions had been worth it. We stayed a while each in our own thoughts ; waves too rough for stone skimming but plenty of time to build a pebble tower.
It was Christmas Eve To crouch carefully placing pebbles one atop another became a form of meditation – such a perfect way to spend this special time awaiting Christmas Day.
A wander along the footpath adjacent to the lane leading to the A35, Bridport bypass, took us past Eype Church which I couldn’t see marked on the OS Map. We ate our sandwiches (how many times have I expressed gratitude for all the benches in Churchyards) and I pondered on the beautifully simple words on the headstone of a local man. With distant views of Colmers Hill we followed the footpath back towards the A 35 and after crossing it again followed a path through fields.
We passed through a farmyard and back to the River Brit and returned to the outskirts of Bridport. The route was easy to pick out using Ordnance Survey Explorer Map 116. There was a tough climb out of West Bay along the coastal path and a further hill up out of Eype. Refreshments available at West Bay and of course Bridport. It was only about five miles but felt a little longer with the climbs.
How blessed were we to be able to enjoy such peace and quiet, refreshed and awoken by the brisk wind, moved by the ever ceasing waves and ready for tomorrow’s festivities. And, yes, there is something a bit special about Eype.
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