For Leg 5 of the journey we headed back to West Bay to start another 20 mile stretch of the SWCP. Ending in Beer we had now finished off the Dorset section of the path and crossed county borders into Devon. We knew we were in for some tough hills out of West Bay as this is another familiar part of the path to us both. These early miles roll the coastline towards Lyme Regis, taking us from our previous dark end of the last leg on the pebbles of Chesil beach, round the harbour side of West Bay and straight up the cliff path the other side.
In recent weeks there had been some significant landslides and cliff fall in the area, so we were very early on sent on a diversion to avoid the cliff edge. This section of path is similar to some of the terrain around the Lulworth area, constantly dropping us down to sea level and back up again following the natural formation of the cliffs. The weather was playing nicely and although chilly we had blue skies and winter sun as we hit the first of the significant climbs up to Thorncombe Beacon. This provided us with stunning views over the Jurassic Coast all the way back to Portland. The descents were slippery but fun as we ticked off the miles towards Charmouth and the ascent of Golden Cap. Usual strategies were in place of walking the uphills and keeping moving steadily across the flats and downs, crossing the little coastal villages as we went.
We knew Lyme Regis was the midpoint of this run and provided us with a good opportunity for a coffee and cake stop. Leaving Charmouth we picked up the first of the signs for a second Coast Path diversion taking us slightly inland. Having seen these before we knew they generally worked well and got us back on track fairly quickly. This one however, kept going into the town and onto a long stretch of road. A quick consultation with our friend Google Maps showed us this was correct due to further cliff fall, so we trusted the signs and stuck with it. After a couple of confusing miles we popped out on a familiar roundabout that we recognised from driving a car to the finish point and from there we figured out the diversion was more significant than we realised and would take us the whole of the remaining distance to Lyme Regis via the road! Although this was definitely disappointing knowing we were missing a stunning piece of coast path, we knew that the erosion and safety warnings meant the diversions were for the best.
As we dropped down the road into Lyme and onto the sea front we found a welcome dose of caffeine and cake to keep us going. The prom was busy with people out enjoying a walk in the sun and we finished our drinks as we walked towards the caravan park at the end of the promenade. A small set of steps between the caravans took us out of Lyme and back onto the coastal trail. Weaving into the trees and back out again with the mud building under our feet, the coffee was kicking in and we were feeling good. A couple of miles out of Lyme we came across a sign warning us of the nature of the trail ahead. Meant as a potential deterrent to some, this was perceived as a challenge to us!
Running and pace/distance maths quickly coming into play and knowing this section was approximately 12km long the curiosity grew as to what was ahead and how quickly we were going to cover it. The path was a muddy trail, weaving in and out through trees and bushes, littered with slippery roots waiting to trip you up on every step and rolling up makeshift staircases and down winding slippery descents. The concentration levels increased and the fun factor rose with it. Proper trail running at its best, unable to anticipate whats round the next corner, a constant challenge and excitement through the roof.
The miles to follow ticked off nicely and after a long period in the trees where apart from the odd glimpse you wouldn’t know you were near the sea, we popped out onto another clifftop for the final descent into Seaton.
Warning sign – 3 1/2 – 4 hours / Completion 2 1/2 hours
Kit and Kirsty 1 / Signage 0!!
We had a slight moment of confusion as we had to cross a golf course but a lady pointed to an opening across the green and we made a dash through as to avoid ruining anyone’s game! We had arrived on Seaton prom and only the final miles to Beer remained. We were both tiring by this point and the final couple of miles seemed quite a challenge. Leaving Seaton we were faced with a pretty intimidating hill and a further diversion onto yet another road. After another couple of miles of climbing we encountered one of the steepest roads yet requiring a final push from fading legs to get to the top.
Thankfully this was the last climb and it was all downhill into Beer where some very welcome chocolate reindeer awaited our arrival in the car! We have successfully ticked off another section of our 630 mile journey.
Run 5 Stats – 20 Miles (96.5 of 630) – 5h30 moving time (23h29 total) – 6h08 total time (26h36 total) – 4252 feet of elevation (14,340 of 114,931)
1 coffee – 1 tea – 2 slices of cake (carrot and chocolate) – A couple of Clif Bars and a Chocolate Reindeer for recovery! 1 x Fall!