|30 & 31 Mar 2019||Viv & John||Keith|
Our hash weekend in Dorset is now several weeks ago, but my memory of it remains vivid in many respects.Kay & I had booked three nights in a Premier Inn, in North Poole, and Simon & Ainslie had done the same. On our way down, Kay & I had planned to have our lunch at Kingston Lacey, a National Trust property close to Poole, and a place we have been too previously. It was a delightful start to the weekend especially as the weather was so pleasant, and forecast to remain that way all weekend.
We met Simon & Ainslie early evening, and went to a restaurant in Poole that was highly rated on TripAdvisor but failed to quite live up to the hype. But we had an enjoyable time nonetheless.
After a solid nights sleep at the Premier Inn (what else?) and, in my case,a solid carb-fuelled breakfast there (croissants, toast, muffins, etc etc) in readiness for our 9 mile walk, Simon, Ainslie, Kay & I, made our way in separate cars towards Kingston and the start of the walk at 10.30. However, there was some trepidation about the prospect of us all completing such a long walk and thus we decided to leave one of the cars at Kimmeridge as an ‘escape route’. The journey to Kimmeridge was pleasant over a 30 minute drive in bright sunshine, with glimpses of the Jurassic coast en route.
We arrived at Kingston and parked up the hill away from the Scott Arms, greeting the others who had made it down; Jeremy and Noodle (for the day), Simon & Ainslie, David, Mike and Annie, Brian (and friend Colin), Caroline, Val & Lynne ,Hilary, and of course our Hares, John & Viv. I don’t recall much of the briefing for the walk but we took group photos and headed up the hill through woodland and out onto open country with fields either side and views through the early mist towards Corfe Castle. The incline soon meant we were stretched out with faster walkers 200 yards ahead of the stragglers (of whom I am one). I spent much of this time chatting with Colin, Brian’s long-time friend, comparing knee (and other ailments) among other things, as people our age seem to do.
It seemed quite soon we were at Kimmeridge, having enjoyed mostly easy walking on a beautiful , if misty, morning. Kimmeridge was to be our stop-off point for a bite to eat or turning-back point for anyone who did not want to do the full walk, but in fact everyone felt invigorated enough to want to continue. It is a small but delightful village (population in 2013 was 90), with a fossil museum, neat stone-roofed cottages and a decent pub/restaurant (Clavells).
Clavells was busy, not just with our group, and we sat outside to enjoy coffee, tea, teacakes etc in the sunshine.
After this rest we set off and from here our walk took us across fields to eventually arrive at the Coast Path and to turn eastwards to make our way slowly back towards Kingston. The views were amazing from the clifftop, as we were high up and able to see a long way down the coast. The cliff top paths were generally level, but now & again the path descended steeply to an inlet, and steeply back up again the other side. One particular incline back up had over 200 dug-in steps before the top was reached , and most of us found reason to stop and admire the view many times as we climbed it!
At an early point along the cliff-top, not far after Kimmeridge, we reached the Clavell Tower, a 35 foot high, Grade 2 listed Tuscan- style tower built in 1830 as an observatory & folly. Colin told us the tower was moved back from the crumbling cliff edge 25 metres in 2006. Thomas Hardy often took his first love Eliza Nicholls to Clavell Tower, and P.D.James’s novel The Black Tower, was inspired by it. Here we stopped for photos, and a breather.
Our walk eventually took us back inland towards Kingston, along a grassy track beside woodland, a happy bunch of tired walkers, looking forward to enjoying a well-deserved drink in the garden of The Scott Arms, with far reaching views across to Corfe. We reached Kingston some 5 hours after setting off, and everyone arrived back in one piece. A pint of ale never tastes as good as it does after a long hike, or hash run.
It was a most enjoyable day, spent in great company and amazing scenery. I only wondered how I would be the following morning given there was still a hash run to do!
No breakfast but a cereal bar this morning as I was going to run, despite some stiffness from the walk. Our drive to the start at Worth Matravers was becoming familiar, and again the Sun was shining brilliantly.
Our starting point was the pub at Worth Matravers, the ‘Square & Compass’. It is a pub I had been aware of but never been too before. I had heard of it as a small music venue (folkie stuff mostly) and a venue favoured by Emily Maguire on her regular tours around the UK. Built in the 18th Century as a pair of cottages, it became an alehouse in 1776 called ‘The Sloop’ and had connections with smuggling. Its name changed in 1830 to Square & Compass as the (then) landlord had been a stonemason. It has been in the same family since 1907, and still has no bar – drinks being served through two serving hatches. It has a small fossil museum, only two small rooms, flagstone floors, and basic furniture. It won CAMRA’s ‘Unspoilt Pub of the Year” in 2014 and it was easy to see why. Characterful with great beer and atmosphere, views down towards the coast…
But back to our Hash. All those mentioned as having been present for the walk on Saturday, presented themselves for the Hash (minus Jeremy, Noodle, & Colin). There was a breeze and it felt a little chilly as we waited for the briefing and the “on-on”.
Fortunately we were not facing 9 miles but more like 6 for the runners, and a lot less for the walkers. We set off through the attractive village, past the village pond and up a track between stone cottages to be soon risen above habitation and running through fields. I remember descending into a narrow, pleasant tree-lined valley and following the valley floor before rising again to meet the Coastal Path – a section not, as far as I could tell, the same as that met the previous day. We relaxed as we jogged along undulating coast path heading East, at times very close to the vertiginous edge & a certain demise if a stumble took you over it. Viv later declared she had tripped at one point but regained her balance in time. It was a great pleasure to be in this place enjoying the sea air, the views along the coastline and the exercise. It got warmer as we went along, the sun stronger and any early mist largely burned away. Our runners trail overlapped with the walkers at some point before we eventually met an old quarry, and turned inland along a stony track that took us gently uphill towards the Pub.
Once we were all back, we sat outside on long wooden tables, doing our usual thing. Musicians arrived and began setting up in one of the small rooms inside, though sadly we had to leave (for lunch at The Scott Arms) before that really took off. Our Hares were thanked for their efforts in researching it all and giving us two events that were very much appreciated. The weather could not have been better too.
We said our goodbyes and most headed back towards Wiltshire. Kay & I had one more night before spending Monday at Corfe Castle & then heading home. All in all a perfect weekend. We should do it again sometime. Thanks to John & Viv!