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Sunday, 16 September 2012

With bus pass, boots and a backpack!

WARNING:  This is a long post so you may want to skip through it or not bother with it at all - I am writing it as much for myself to look back on as to share so haven't cut it down as much as maybe I should for you all!

Some long while ago in December 2010 I heard a series of programmes on Radio 4 about people who had done various longer trips using their bus passes and resolved to try it myself.  I had just had an e-mail from a friend living in France in which she said that she and her husband were hoping to go on a Caribbean cruise and that it would give her the chance to wear some of her evening dresses.  I had to laugh as there was I thinking of doing a trip where I would pack a couple of clean pairs of knickers and a toothbrush!  Vive la difference eh?!!  I never heard whether or not she got her cruise or the opportunity to wear her frocks but procrastination being my middle name I have only just got round to doing my planned break!

Mr Marigold not really being up to it as yet (and truth to tell I don't think it was ever really his idea of fun) I decided to go alone - wanting to do it whilst I still can and before the dark nights and cold weather close in.  Mr M was happy to act as Research Assistant having far more patience than I when it comes to looking up bus timetables and walking routes etc on the internet.  I spent several happy evenings at the kitchen table surrounded with maps, timetables and leaflets and a plan was drawn up.  My original plan was to stay somewhere different each night but on second thoughts although this might be possible it would have been exhausting so Plan B came about in which I would spend 3 nights in one B&B and thus not have to carry my belongings with me all day every day.

The route to town

On Tuesday morning I woke to a beautiful apricot light making the rose hips on the hedge along our driveway shine crimson and bathing everything in a soft orange glow.  So much for the cloudy and wet week I thought I was in for.  At 8.15 I shouldered my back pack, waved goodbye and set off to walk to the bus station (Mr M had offered to drive me but that would have rather defeated the object - not that I really know what the object was!)  It was quiet and peaceful as I made my way along the usual route thinking about the day my daughter set off carrying an enormous back pack on her way to Australia for a year all alone and my admiration for her grew!  What I was doing was very, very small beer in comparison.

I caught the bus to Dorchester - a journey which took us about 30 minutes in the car last Sunday took over an hour but the route was via Sherborne and on through villages with names like Longburton, Glanvilles Wooton, Minterne Magna and Cerne Abbas where the Giant could be seen in the fields alongside the road. In places the hedges were brushing the bus on both sides and the countryside was at its early autumn best in the sunshine.  The hedgerows were clotted here and there with creamy honeysuckle tinged with pink (pity I couldn't smell it inside the bus) and plenty of other wild flowers were still in evidence.   At one point we met the bus coming the other way and the road being so narrow our bus had to back up quite some distance.  It's not a job for the faint hearted being a country bus driver as we squeezed past a tractor and trailer loaded with golden straw on a right angled bend in one village and parked cars in another!

In Dorchester I changed buses and with a very short wait caught a bus to Weymouth.  What a difference to the last time I was here - the beach was almost deserted this time.  I wanted to go up in that tower you can see at the end of the pier - last time we hadn't had time to do so - so that was what I did first of all.  It wasn't a patch on the London Eye and I didn't think it worth the money but I am glad that I tried it!  The photos below are all taken from the tower.

Shadow of the tower in the water below!

The harbour and Portland in the distance
 After that I wandered back along the beach, where the donkeys were still patiently waiting for customers,

 before buying a sandwich and a bottle of water and taking my lunch round to the old harbour where I sat on a seat under the beady eyes of the many gulls!

Made my way back to the beach when I'd finished my lunch.  You learn something new every day and I had never noticed this plaque before!  Imagine the scale of the sickness and death that must have been if it killed so many people.

The bus I got from there was the X53 the Jurassic Coast Link bus which runs from Exeter to Bournemouth mainly along the coast.  My next stop was Wareham - the photo shows the bridge there - I had a wander round and a cup of tea before catching yet another bus to Swanage where I had booked my 3 nights.

Swanage in the early evening light - the land you can see on the horizon is the Isle of Wight if you click on any of my photos you will get them enlarged and so easier to see.

I discovered that the B&B I had booked was a 15 minute walk along the front so was glad it was a pleasant evening!  So a journey which could have been done by car in an hour and 20 minutes had taken me all day but I had seen places I could never have seen by car and enjoyed a couple of hours at Weymouth and a wander round Wareham too and after all there's more to life than increasing its speed!  After settling in and unpacking - all of 5 minutes as I had so little with me, no evening dresses of course - I went to a pub a few steps up the road where I had a rather ordinary meal and half a pint of shandy before returning to an early night.


Having slept well I enjoyed being waited on and to having not only cereal but toast and a choice of English breakfast items.  I chose grilled tomatoes on toast as I didn't want to pile on the weight!  Over breakfast another guest told me of a bus which I could get from Swanage which would take me to Durlston Castle and the walk I had planned.

I decided to have a look at Swanage itself before taking the bus to Durlston as it is  a town with an interesting history and I wanted to see some of it including the stone work and other building materials brought from London by George Burt whose uncle's company Mowlem was involved in many prestigious building works in London and who scavenged many items and brought them back to Swanage.  The town Hall facade is one such place and apparently came from the front of the Mercers Hall in the City of London.

This was the jail - only about 7 feet X 5 and a half feet!  With a stone bench along one side - you'd have to be really tired to lie on that!

Click on this one to read clearly the info.

Everywhere I came across these bollards many of which were marked City Of London.

I think this came from Billingsgate - I love the waste not want not idea of reusing all these things in another setting don't you?
Having got the bus I reached Durlston

 The little cat in this photo had a note on his collar saying "Have I an owner?  Please contact Cats Protection League" and a telephone number.  He seemed happy enough and very friendly and somebody was obviously feeding him as there he is at his bowl!

 Those white rocks shining in the sunshine are the Old Harry Rocks about which more later!

 Fabulous globe made out of Portland stone and is one of the largest stone globes in the world apparently!

 Views on my walk to the lighthouse:

 Tilly Whim Caves no longer accessible as considered dangerous.

 Lighthouse in the distance

 Back at Durlston again

Time for a cup of tea and a slice of cake which actually turned out to be rather dry - will I never learn that things like cake or desserts which look so tempting are so often a disappointment!

 This part of the walk wasn't a disappointment though it was beautiful...

 Wandering through the woods in the dappled shade...

 Lots of seats where one could sit and rest and admire the view

 That's the coastguard station down there on the peninsula and where I am headed.

 Back in Swanage now just a walk along the coast a little way...

 Passed this interesting bit of art on an empty building.

Time for a sit down and a sandwich now, although not here!  I found a nice pub which served delicious crab sandwiches and my favourite bitter shandy! 

Just taken a short break from posting to watch the final moments of the Tour of Britain cycle race which Mr M has been watching and to see the house where I used to live, the Law College and the Library where I once worked and the High Street where I used to shop in Guildford!

To continue with my second day on the Isle of Purbeck:

 After lunch I wandered round some more and discovered this lovely tranquil spot where the mill pond is overlooked by the church.

Decided to get a bus to Studland and to walk out to the Old Harry Rocks which had been gleaming white in the sunshine all morning when I saw them from Durlston.  Studland was such a small village I overshot it on the bus and had a 10 minute walk back along the road! 
 It had by now clouded over and was an afternoon of sunshine and showers - I was glad of my waterproof not only becuase of the showers but also as there was a chilly wind.

 That's Bournemouth you can see over the water in the sunshine.

 The Old Harry Rocks - the large one with the arch is Old Harry and the smaller one is called Old Harry's Wife!

And turning towards Swanage these are called the Pinnacles.  That headland you can see is where I was this morning.
 I got back to Studland in time to get the bus to Bournemouth where I planned to have supper.  By now the sun was out again and  the route attractive as it crosses Studland and Godlingstone Heath on its way to the ferry.  I don't know if this is unique but there can't be many bus routes which involve a ferry crossing! 

 View from the bus!

 Not many buses which can be delayed by a Brittany Ferries ship passing in front of them either!

At the other side - this is Sandbanks and we are on our way now to Bournemouth.  Sandbanks is one of the most expensives places in the world to buy property only Tokyo, Hong Kong and Central London are more expensive!  There is some serious money here and yet the properties are all so very individual that they are the same if you know what I mean.

Bournemouth seemed much less genteel than I remember from my time there - I used to visit often when I was at college in Weymouth as I skated regularly at the Westover Ice rink which has gone now.  I thought it all looked a bit shabby and what my mother would call "common" now.  I had a jacket potato in a cafe in the Square and by then it was pouring with rain so I was glad I didn't have long to wait for the bus back to my B&B where I had a lovely long bath and another early night having watched some Tv and made myself a drink.

If you are still with me here - you deserve a medal - I will stop now and continue with the other 2 days of my trip another time. 


  1. What a lovely journey. I would have come with you if you'd asked! I used to know this area well, so it's good to see it again, and even better when it's done on a bus pass.

  2. So glad you didn't cut it down Jane - it is an amazing journey. I can't wait to read more.


  3. I really enjoyed that Jane, your photos and words were great.
    A lovely adventure through some beautiful little villages and towns. :)
    Vivienne x

  4. A terrific adventure, I am enjoying it immensely. It is a beautiful area though I agree with what you say about Bournemouth - so many signs saying that things are not allowed. Love the art work on that building.

  5. What a great trip (as far) - you are lucky to have such a fab area nearby to tour around - look forward to part 2 :)

  6. I really enjoy reading about your trips,, lovely pictures. Was it lonely?

  7. I just cannot seem to comment on your blog but I have enjoyed reading your travelling tales enormously. I wqas at college in Weymouth in the 60's, before your time I'm sure. Enjoy the rest of your travels.

  8. What do you know? The comment actually appeared this time. As a family we hire a beach hut down at Studland for the winter months, it is the best time to be down there, often have the place to ourselves. Happy travels.

  9. I loved this post and all the place you visited. Looking forward to the second instalment!

  10. What a beautiful adventure. I do admire you for undertaking it.

  11. A stonking post Jane, and what an adventure. Looking forward to more from you....

  12. Lovely post and a reminder of our time there, you must go to Corfe Castle also, the cafe there does a decent cake!

  13. Jane, you are fearless aren't you? I can't tell you how envious I am of your resolve to do this. I loved every step of the way and can't wait for the next two days. I've only been to Swanage once, only for a day out, and didn't think much of it but your post makes me think I didn't give it a fair chance. Some great photos here too. Roll on Part Two!

  14. I love how you did this Jane...going off on your own and exploring! I enjoyed reading about your travels and seeing all the pictures, you always find something of interest to photograph wherever you go. Looking forward to the tales of the other days too.
    Wishing you a happy new week.
    Helen x

  15. Enjoying every minute Jane. Keep it up !

  16. yes I did read it all and enjoyed my armchair tour very much!
    It made me want to go down to the sea side!

  17. It was really lovely wombling along with you via the beautiful photographs and well written story.

  18. What a fasntastic trip, love the pictures!

    Jan @Door251

  19. This was so interesting to read...and now I am going to click your photos and take a closer look at all this lovely scenery. Thank you for writing all this, and I look forward to the next installment!

  20. Thank you for taking us along your mini adventure. I should like to do something like this one day. I look forward to part two also!

  21. What an adventure - I don't quite qualify for a bus pass just yet but as soon as I do I shall be eager to go exploring. My dream for when I do retire is to buy a camper van and set off one day and go around the world. Can't wait for part 2 hope you are going to post it soon.

  22. How brave you are doing this all on your own. Loved it all, some I recognised and some new to me.


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