I was lucky enough to live in Dorset for 13 years and I can’t believe we left this lovely English county nearly 18 years ago. It was in Dorset that Adonis and I met in April 1992 and where our son was born one year later. We left Dorset for equally beautiful West Sussex in the summer of 1998 for new job opportunities and, although we have been back a few times, we hadn’t actually come for a holiday break, but to visit family and friends in nearby Bournemouth and Christchurch.
I was reading the Motorhome Montly magazine recently and there was an article about this part of Dorset, also known as The Jurassic Coast, a World Heritage site that stretches for 96 miles from east Devon to East Dorset in the south of England. Reading this article got me thinking about spending a few days here again and enjoy the magnificent views of the coast, where we used to come regularly for long walks, fossil hunting with our son and picnics at the week-ends. And so it was decided that we would come this February school half-term and relive our memories and make new ones.
We stayed at the brilliant Highlands End Holiday Park, where we were able to enjoy the various falicilities on site, such as the swimming pool, sauna and steam room, as well as a couple of the local Palmers beers and a lovely meal at the restaurant. The site is also equipped with a well stocked shop and a gym, but we didn’t feel energetic enough for that kind of activity and opted for long walks intead to get the heart going. For those with children, there is a wonderful and large outdoor playground with all kinds of activities and for those with dogs like us, a very large enclosed area where your four-legged friends can be let off the lead and run to their hearts’ content and Beano certainly enjoyed it here, as I did the views.
We arrived at lunchtime on a very sunny and warm Monday and it was such a beautiful day that we skipped our usual siesta time rest and went for a long walk down the hill and onto the beach right below the holiday camp at Eype mouth and towards Thorncombe Beacon. It was the perfect kind of winter day, warm enough to have a picnic on the beach, but we just enjoyed a couple of hours admiring the cliffs and fossil hunting like in the old days, with Beano off the lead the whole time to enjoy a long run along the beach and meet other dogs. We returned to base via the South West Coast Path, just off West Bay, with a bit of hill climbing as a final burst of energy before enjoying a beer in the sun outside the van. Later on in the evening, we enjoyed our lovely dinner of Fish Pie and Ham, Egg and Chips with the local Palmers beer, which sent us to bed quite happily feeling very content with everything.
Tuesday was another lovely sunny day and, after swimming a few lenghts of the large pool, we decided to take the cross-country footpath to Bridport, about 6 km (4 miles) round trip, but this turned out to be a labour of love indeed, as the path was in places almost impassable due to recent rain and muddy fields and, on one stretch, it had disappeared altogether and the land was being churned up after a sort of landslide had invaded a barn and, subsequently, the farmer was in the middle of a major clean up operation, but he waved us through when he saw us turning away the way we had come and kindly showed us the way to join the path further on. The walk to Bristol ended up taking up much longer than we anticipated and thus we decided to come back on the road to West Bay after doing a little shop at Morrisons. The whole hike took over 2 hours, but the return journey was far easier and enjoyable and gave us a chance to enjoy the little port and seafront amenities of West Bay.
The rest of the day was quite relaxing and still warm enough to sit outside reading with a beer and only interrupted for Beano’s afternoon walk in the magnificent safe enclose on site.
But this being England, one can never get too complacent about the weather and, true enough, Wenesday saw the wind, rain and cold return with a vengeance, which started before we got up and didn’t stop until the evening, taking care of our plans to walk up East Cliff, as I would have loved to do. Instead, I spend the whole day ‘indoors’ and only ventured out to exercise at the pool and enjoy the steam room for a few minutes. Wednesday was our last day here, so we never had the chance to go on that walk. However, this part of Dorset is only a couple of hours away from our house and we can easily return for another short break any time we please, as this will not be the last.