We have friends who are walking the Southwest Coastal Path. They have been covering about 50 miles in two tranches per year, since 2004. The path is some 630 miles and they are nearing journey’s end. Having worked their way onto ‘our patch’, and not having seen Rob and Rosie for at least two years, we asked to join them on one of their current days’ route marches!
And so we convened in the car park for the Swannery at Abbotsbury. (We had met up the previous evening to join them and their walking companions for dinner at Perry’s on Weymouth Quay.) Today we are going to walk the eleven miles to Ferrybridge at Portland Harbour. Our way takes us along the landward bank of the Fleet . The Fleet Lagoon is 8 miles long and is home to a wide variety of wildlife and is protected by both National and International law. I’ve had a long association with the Fleet (since 1986) having found a minute Wildlife & Countryside Act-designated marine snail which lives interstitially in the shingle, my find confirming for the first time a previous record for the species 100 years earlier.
But today it’s not about molluscs, rather a chance to get some fresh air and exercise, and have plenty of time to catch up on each other’s news. Rosie and I touch base on a range of subjects and it is extremely propitious that we all find ourselves at the Moonfleet Manor at coffee time, a Georgian hotel overlooking the Chesil Beach and the Fleet Lagoon.
Moonfleet Manor is part of a small chain of hotels which specialises in catering for families with young children. At lunchtime, should you walk through the restaurant, you are quite likely to find very young guests in high chairs who have been served double boiled eggs with dipping ‘soldiers’. The first thing you notice when you walk into Reception is the graded row of small sized wellies standing to attention, waiting for young feet to borrow them.
Before we get too comfortable on the capacious, period sofas in the day lounge at Moonfleet we must press on, stopping not long after for a sandwich and KitKat break. It is at this point that Felicity inadvertently drops her camera, but she only discovers the loss two miles further on, so must retrace her steps to search for it. Whilst four of us press on to Ferrybridge, she and John add another 4 miles to their walk. Completion of the day’s route is timely for Nick and I and fortunately there is an inn at Ferrybridge.
The following day is Saturday and Dick and Eileen come from Surrey for an overnighter at Winterborne K. We eat dinner in and on Sunday, after a late start, we take a short walk at Ringstead Bay where we enjoy watching kite-surfers, before repairing to The Crab House Cafe for lunch, as it happens, at Ferrybridge. One of the dishes of the day is a platter of five fishes – whiting, pollack, John Dory, red mullet, sardine – roasted with tomatoes and herbs. It is served in its cooking pan straight from the oven.
We must not tarry as Rob and Rosie are coming to spend the night with us before returning to Devon. We have a brief overlap, the turnaround before the Hunters return to Surrey, and Rob and Rosie move in. We eat supper and everyone being tired we turn in not too late. I have a successful convert to the waterbed in Rosie!