Day 38: Charmouth to Beer – 1,000 Km!

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Devon - South, England
Sunrise at Bar Ledges, Charmouth, Dorset.

Sunrise at Bar Ledges, Charmouth, Dorset.

I’d been put up the previous night by Mac Mackenney, a friend from the Royal Geographical Society who’s company Max Adventure, provides logistical support to Everest expeditions, Ranulph Fiennes’ exploits and far flung vehicle based TV shows. Tales of adventure flowed and it was some reluctance that I accepted the need to turn in. The morning is still night as he waves me off at Charmouth from one of his well travelled 4x4s.

River Char at Charmouth beach, Dorset.

River Char at Charmouth beach, Dorset.

At the deserted beach in Charmouth waves break in quick succession, threatening and insistent. A red smear above the horizon hints at the dawn about to break, Golden Cap is shrouded in mist.

Golden Cap from Canary Ledges, Dorset.

Golden Cap from Canary Ledges, Dorset.

The cliffs here are tiers of landslip and the whole thing looks like it may slide into the sea at any moment. In parts the mud oozes down the cliffs like custard. I feel a little anxious to press on to Lyme Regis as the tide only just gives me time to get there before rising to the base of the landslip.

Intersecting waves, Canary Ledges, Dorset.

Intersecting waves, Canary Ledges, Dorset.

1,000Km walked from London. Charmouth & Golden Cap, Dorset.

1,000 Km walked from London. Charmouth & Golden Cap, Dorset.

I write 1,000 in the sand to celebrate the number of kilometres walked since London. On calling Mila to share the moment she sweetly sings me ‘Happy 1,000’ to the tune of happy birthday.

Base of Black Ven which has the largest mudslides in Europe and is rich in fossils, Dorset.

Base of Black Ven which has the largest mudslides in Europe and is rich in fossils, Dorset.

Black Ven, famous for all the fossils it contains is black like coal – though on closer inspection it’s a very dark glistening clay, alarmingly fragile.

Ammonite and fern? fossils on the beach near Lyme Regis, Dorset.

Ammonite and fern? fossils on the beach near Lyme Regis, Dorset.

On the approach to Lyme Regis the beach is populated by stooping fossil hunters some hammering away at rocks. The tide is not in my favour to see the extraordinary ammonite pavement today and I have to imagine these ancient mysteries under the waves as I cross the invisible Dorset to Devon border.

Black Ven clay, Dorset.

Black Ven clay, Dorset.

Fern pool, Lyme Regis Undercliffs, Devon.

Fern pool, Lyme Regis Undercliffs, Devon.

I’m excited to press on to the Lyme Regis undercliffs, an environment celebrated most famously in John Fowles’ The French Lieutenant’s Woman for its otherworldly wildness in such close proximity to the polite society of the town. The dense foliage closes around moist and silent.

Hart’s tongue fern I, Lyme Regis Undercliffs, Devon.

Hart’s tongue fern I, Lyme Regis Undercliffs, Devon.

There has been a large land slip making the path officially impassible. The track is fenced off where a sign unhelpfully states ‘If you wish to travel along the coast you are advised to catch the bus’ The land slip area is two hours walk into the Undercliff with limited side paths so I skirt around the barrier hoping for the best.

Winter pool, Lyme Regis Undercliffs, Devon.

Winter pool, Lyme Regis Undercliffs, Devon.

Hart’s tongue fern II, Lyme Regis Undercliffs, Devon.

Hart’s tongue fern II, Lyme Regis Undercliffs, Devon.

Ivy trunk, Lyme Regis Undercliffs, Devon.

Ivy trunk, Lyme Regis Undercliffs, Devon.

Hart’s tongue fern III, Lyme Regis Undercliffs, Devon.

Hart’s tongue fern III, Lyme Regis Undercliffs, Devon.

Forest floor, Lyme Regis Undercliffs, Devon.

Forest floor, Lyme Regis Undercliffs, Devon.

The broken ground and lush ferns look just like the dinosaur dioramas in the book about the Jurassic coast fossils that I’m carrying. Not a soul is about and fallen trees obstruct the path in a few places. I half expect to see monkeys swinging from the trees. Occasionally the forest canopy opens up too give breathtaking glimpses of the cliffs towering above.

Path through Lyme Regis Undercliffs, Devon.

Path through Lyme Regis Undercliffs, Devon.

Rainbow Bracket Fungi, Lyme Regis Undercliffs, Devon.

Rainbow Bracket Fungi, Lyme Regis Undercliffs, Devon.

On reaching the landslip it looks like the ground suddenly dropped three metres leaving a jagged edge of raw earth across the landscape. I negotiate this step by lowering my pack before me hooked on the end of my trekking pole before making an ungainly slide-dropping performance in it’s wake. A few hundred metres further on and I’ve crossed the landslip, a short scramble up the torn ground this time. I feel elated as I pass the reverse of the no entry notice. I’d imagined the obstacle to be far worse than it is so it’s a relief to be through.

Ruins of engineer’s house and pumping station, Rousdon Cliffs, Devon.

Ruins of engineer’s house and pumping station, Rousdon Cliffs, Devon.

Promenade, Seaton, Devon.

Promenade, Seaton, Devon.

At Axe Cliff golf club house gents with Santa hats and Xmas jumpers chat amongst the golf buggies.

Seaton Bay, Devon

Seaton Bay, Devon

Old Beer Road collapse, Seaton, Devon.

Old Beer Road collapse, Seaton, Devon.

Old Beer Road had spectacularly fallen down the cliffs – this is one No Access sign that I would definitely obey. Despite being dark Beer Youth Hostel where I am staying tonight won’t open for another hour. I wrap up with all my layers cinching the hood tightly and wait for the door to be unlocked, relishing the feeling of stillness.

Beer Head, Devon.

Beer Head, Devon.

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British Architectural & Landscape Photographer.

7 thoughts on “Day 38: Charmouth to Beer – 1,000 Km!”

  1. Paul Davis says:

    Cracking images again Quintin. I was wondering what proportion of your day is spent on photography as opposed to walking, what sort of photographic kit you carry, and how you process and post your images and blogs etc. Oh, and do you go home at all, e.g. weekends, or are you on the road full time start to finish?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Paul, Around 10-14 hours walking per day depending on season. I don’t hang around long preferring only to stop if inspired. I base my rate of travel at 3kph whereas it would be 4kph if I wasn’t taking pictures. Most days I take around 400 images which I edit in Lightroom down to those posted here,The editing process takes a further 8-12 hours per day which I do at home. Kit wise I carry a Canon EOS 6D with 24-70mm f4L & 70-300mm f4-5,6 L and a knee high 450 gram carbon fibre gitzo tripod that I sit down to use. I’m doing this in sections from a couple of days to two weeks on the road, sometimes with a tent – then back home for paid assignments! It works out abut 6 or 7 days walking per month on average.

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  2. Congratulations on reaching 1000 km, Quintin! It has been exceptionally foggy in my part of the world over the last few days, and I was thinking of your photos of foggy shorelines when trying to convince myself that there really was something worth shooting in all that mist. (And there was!)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Fiona. Glad to have provided a bit of inspiration! – I love it when its misty, but over hear it normally requires a very early start to catch it before it vanishes.

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  3. Isabella Barbara Power says:

    Quintin, Congratulations on reaching 1000 km! The foggy views of Golden Cap and East Ebb from Burton Bradstock, and the Burton Beach photos are marvellous. I had just been bemoaning the vivid intensity of our summer landscapes. But like Fiona McQuarrie’s thoughts on shooting in the mist, I’m reminded that looking at the tonal values will help dealing with the glare. Thanks for the inspiration.

    Liked by 1 person

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