Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Heritage Coast – 2 July 2011

Continual sunshine was only forecast for the South Coast, so we packed our tent, and headed for one of the very popular summer areas. The Dorset coast is a UNESCO World Heritage site, because of the amazing fossil finds in the cliffs.

We started our weekend at the Subtropical gardens, near the stunning town of Abbotsbury. These gardens are listed and enjoy a special microclimate, allowing them to grow many sub-tropical species outdoors. The effect was a lush green jungle.

From here we enjoyed a loop drive in the glorious sunshine. The first side of the loop was an inland route parallel to the coast through a series of attractive market towns, from Beaminster to Honiton. We stopped for a picnic lunch at the Blackbury Camp – a hilltop fort with a wonderful calm silence, on our way to the south coast at Beer. This seaside town is totally delightful, and we noted the name of the cliff-top guest house, hoping for a chance to return.

Further east along the coast is Lyme Regis, a larger town, and also extremely attractive. When we swapped travel tips with fellow guests last weekend, we recommended nearby Rye for them to visit, and they said Lyme Regis was their favourite seaside town. We totally agree, and enjoyed the town built on a bay, where one end is stony and the other uncharacteristic sand. This may be the result of the large semicircular 'Cobb' or breakwater started its life in the 13th century and featured in Jane Austen's 'Persuasion'.

The last stop of the day was the tiny town of Whitchurch Canonicorum, where the village church's claim to fame is a tomb housing the bones of St Wite. The tomb has three oval holes, which pilgrims put their crippled limbs through, hoping for healing. The intriguing facts are this tomb, and Edward the Confessor's tomb in Westminster Abbey, are the only two shrines in the country that escaped the destruction during the Reformation with their relics intact.

Our campground for the night 'Freshwater', is right on the South Coast path near the small village of Burton Bradstock. It was an ideal location, as we could walk to the village, with a choice of two pubs, for dinner. The coastal path meant we could enjoy a walk along it in the morning, while our tent dried.

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