Lyme Regis to Seaton
This was a critical point - at Lyme Regis we found out that the coastal path would be closed. For the entire length of our journey, pretty much. And we were set to be walking the entire width of this map.
We took the news surprisingly well.
Heading inland was fine - somehow we always seemed to be walking in hidden tracks, with raised beds reaching up above us on either side. Or walking through gnarled and ancient forests which were pleasantly soft beneath our boots. It was so different from what we had planned, but it was wonderful, like a hidden, magical realm. And suddenly, we found ourselves in a mystical gated community, unlike anything I could have expected. On the map it's nothing to look at. We walked through an impressive arch, like a coach house, and commented on how cute it was. Like tourists, "isn't that a cute house. It's like a coach house". And then, out of the mist and the densely planted trees, there was a giant hall. And then churches and houses and postboxes, and maps of the village. Was it a village? It was like a small campus, or a feudal settlement. There would be a lord and members of the clergy and all the workers that pay tithe to the lord. It seemed like possibly another self-sufficient community (a peculiarly popular model for living in Dorset?), but this one had no people in it. After walking along the straight road for a good 10 minutes, with the strange village unfolding around us on either side, we left under another arch that was just as cute as the first. We didn't see a soul.
As I say, the rain set in. It was in for the long haul, getting heavier and more piercing, and joined by stronger and stronger gusts. But at this stage it wasn't too bad. The most depressing thing at this point was Seaton itself - the most hideous dive of a town we have ever encountered. It was the ultimate kick in the teeth.
Seaton to Branscombe
We passed through a few villages that seemed incredibly picturesque but we just couldn't stop to admire them. Beer looks like a really nice village, but the experience was marred somewhat by our journey over Beer Head, where the wind was so strong that I couldn't move forward unless I ran. Near the edge of the cliff, these strong gusts were particularly frightening - I kept picturing my mother being so cross when she found out what a foolish end we had met - "and they were on the coastal path, even though there were signs that it was CLOSED?! The folly!"
My patience was tried so much by the weather that we hopped two barbed wire fences to get to the Masons Arms at Branscombe. Adam's glasses blew off his face and he fell flat on his ass running down a steep slippery hill. When we reached the Masons Arms I looked so bedraggled, and was fumbling so much with all my stuff that a woman was moved to undo all my buttons for me. A tender and intimate moment I had not expected.
The Masons Arms
I could have wept with joy in the steaming hot shower, and wept again when I sat down for dinner. I did not wear any shoes in the restaurant as they were drying in the bath. Again, I fell asleep staggeringly early and woke with the break of dawn. Our bathroom stank something rotten where we had hung up all our wet jumpers to dry. It was like an old dog's mouth.