Thick mist amongst the trees in Chewton Bunny, a chine that marks border of Dorset and Devon and an old Smuggling route. Finger sign proclaims “To the Sea”.
At the waterfront a CCTV camera rotates high on a post in the fog.
A man strikes up a conversation “Normally you can see Old Harry Rocks and the Polar Bear in the cliffs of the Isle of Wight, but it’s too misty today” I nod enthusiastically trying to imagine these wonders from the tracing paper vista before us.
Two women wearing gilets in plum and navy blue each carry little plastic bags of dog shit, the creators of which ignore the commands shouted urgently in their direction.
By a neat row of pastel beach huts a silent couple read the Telegraph with mugs of tea, golden Labrador at their side.
At Stanpit Marsh I rest to discover wild horses crowding around me biting and slobbering over my pack to try and get at my lunch. Not wanting to share it with my new friends I decide to eat elsewhere.
Two women overheard on the path to Christchurch:
“His name is Dr Emmanuel, big black man …”
“Very black” she added moments later
I’m not taking any ferries across rivers or estuaries on this journey so it’s with some smugness I discover the the ferry to Hengistbury Head isn’t running today in any event.
Start of Bournemouth’s celebrated 7 miles of sand. The weather takes a turn for the worse, sand castles stand deserted, many half collapsed atop burrows like badger sets.
Although I’m close to Bournemouth now I need to rest/collapse on a bench under the glow of a sodium lamp – aware that with my backpack I look like the homeless men I’ve just passed preparing to make a bench their home for the night. Dog walkers avert their gaze.
A man jogs past at speed with a prosthetic leg and an Alsatian harnessed around his waist.