Coast and Castles – A Very Special Walkers, WALX and Weather Combination

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And this is what Ros said about it – the April walking break in Dorset was a big success – we were warmly welcomed by the HQ staff and very well looked after throughout our stay. They were receptive to our needs and willing to accommodate our preferences to the programme, adding extra walks and arranging for us to join local groups. Everyone was friendly and welcoming and we were blessed with beautiful Spring sunshine and flowers, and blown away by the beautiful, iconic Dorset views. The various opportunities to reward our daily efforts with delicious food and drink in the evenings proved a bonus! Don’t hesitate to book yourself on one of these breaks – you won’t regret it!

 

Our April Dorset Walx Break Guests had the best of the first of the really good weather in 2022 – and we maximised the walking and wow moments for them as a result. On arrival on Sunday afternoon, we had a group chat to reassess aspirations and expectations, at Kingston Country Courtyard, and handed over a goodie bag of Walx essentials to start the week on a peak! Then we headed straight out for a short, 1-hour, beautiful circular farm and coast route that took in the best early bluebells and wild garlic to be found. The view from the cliff top is a favourite of all our local walkers. After a long drive to reach us, our guests stayed in that night and had supper at the Courtyard.

 

On Monday we drove everyone to Knoll Beach in Studland for a whole day of walking in 2 halves. Both times with local Dorset Walx members who had chosen to join the adventure. Local Instructor Lizzie went inland to start with to hunt for the Agglestone Rock, a local phenomena that can also be hard to find as it blends in to the surrounding landscape. On the way are magical views of Poole Harbour and Old Harry Rocks at one point – just stand still and swivel!

 

The morning was about 5 miles, mostly flat and on heathland, ending back on the beach where we bought lunch and sat in the sun with Old Harry Rocks now much closer and in perfect view. The afternoon walk took us right to the Rocks then uphill on to the ridge above Swanage with another set of 360 degree views. The walk ended back at Knoll Beach after a small detour to visit some WW2 installations with a fascinating story of their own. Lizzie stayed with us all day so there was lots of local knowledge shared and fun had. On the way back to base, we detoured again to see some early orchids that had suddenly appeared a few days before. It has been a very good year for them as they have turned up a lot since then. Supper was at the local pub.

 

On Tuesday we meet another group of local walkers and Walx Leader Nick for a quarry and geology adventure. We started at Walx HQ and after walking on a path past some very obliging cows with calves, past not amongst or between mum and babies, we arrived at real actual fossilised dinosaur footprints. Nick was able to explain how this is possible and when they were found. He then led us down to the coast path below Worth Matravers till we found the old quarries. This was our picnic lunch stop, right where some of the latest Star Wars was shot. Having dodged the invaders, and checked out the ammonites we headed back to the village and re-joined The Priests Way. Back at HQ refreshments awaited and a private shopping experience in the HQ store followed by a quick pint at the world famous Square and Compass and an Italian dinner in Wareham.

Wednesday was an early start for a bird song morning, leaving the Courtyard at 7.30 AM and a drive to Corfe Castle village where Gill lead a wildlife exploration on the hidden paths and lanes round the village. After a late breakfast, the walkers then set off again to walk from their base back to Corfe and through the woods to the magical Blue Pool for a cream tea with Dorset Walx Manager, Lucie. The promised visit to the cider farm followed, where the apple blossom was in full bloom. Supper was ‘in’ after a busy and long day.

 

Thursday’s walk was ‘the big one’, again with Lucie. We started at Ringstead and followed the coast path towards Durdle Door and Lulworth Cove. The views out to sea were a bit muted but the views of Durdle Door approached from this direction are the best, and much less crowded. Whilst not more than 5-6miles, the hills are legendary and coming back down them on your bottom is allowed! The stop for refreshments in Lulworth Cove was very welcome. The drive home involved a call in at the best farm shop we know for local beer and other gifts to take home. This was sadly the last night, and a splendid 3 course meal was had to celebrate at another favoured local pub.

Friday was the last day, but still crammed full. After checking out by 9.30 AM, the walkers went to join a regular group in Swanage for a coastal walk around the paths of Durlston Castle where more orchids were found, and lots of sea birds and birds of prey. The last lunch was back in Corfe at a venue kept as the best till last. Joined by Gill again, we reflected on the fabulous weather, walking, company and experiences we had shared all week.

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