There’s going to be a spot of action this week: no rain is due in the foreseeable future so it’s time to get walking again. I’m on the top of a hill in the village of Kingston with directions for a new circular walk to Corfe Castle and back. This photo was taken courtesy of my zoom lens: in truth, it’s further away than it looks. Also, owing to the fact that I’m on a hill, it hasn’t escaped your intrepid explorer’s thought processes that there might be some hateful upward striding on the way back. I’ll do a Scarlett O’Hara and worry about that later.
First, there’s a lot of fuss and bother before I’ve even left the car behind. All the bother is me changing into walking boots, transferring worldly goods to backpack and generally faffing around. Susie has escaped from the cottage across the road and arrives to investigate and to be made a fuss of. Look carefully and you’ll see she sports a pink ribbon in her hair. I think this is more to do with vanity than any practical use as it doesn’t seem to be enhancing her vision. In fact, she probably thinks I’m the postman.
Second, there’s St James’ Church to visit. Kingston already had a church but it was deemed unsatisfactory by the third Lord Eldon who coughed up £70,000 for a new one. I don’t know what was wrong with its predecessor. I know what’s wrong with it now because I have to tramp down the side of it. It’s a private house with a frightful dog that runs from room to room barking and snarling at me. St James has a pretty churchyard but the inside is boring. Pevsner I am not.
At first, the over-stile, across-fields walk is charming. It’s Spring (sort of) and the lambs are plentiful and pretty and not as noisy as they were the other day up at Garston Woods where you could barely hear one’s friends’ constant chatter for the endless baaing of lost children.
The way is getting a little trickier as the fields disappear into a path between the trees. I will only meet one other person on the first half of this walk. Here he comes: a wild old man with a long white beard and flowing locks. Looks familiar but I expect he thinks the same of me. Dorset is full of we oddities traipsing around. I think he’s David Sterne from Detectorists. Can’t see the Labradors.
Because we’re British, we exchange observations on the weather and David tells me he’s glad the ground is drying out. I get lost in a wood and, on finally crossing the Purbeck Way and eventually relocating the path, have to disagree with him. My downloaded directions advise me that the way might be muddy. Are you having a grin? In all my walks, this is the first time I’ve had to fashion a stick from a branch in order to get through. I am fearful of the quagmire.
I’m not entirely sure I’m on the right path as I wander across a number of fields, stopping to clean my boots with a handful of dock leaves. According to the plan, there should be a house on my left. There isn’t but there is a small herd of deer, startled to see the mad woman of Dorset make an unexpected appearance. And there should be footbridges.
Do you mean this one? Ok. I’ll just negotiate a route over the tree trunks. Wait – what’s that noise? Doesn’t sound like a pheasant. Which is because I happen upon four geese that are employed to guard the way. Fortunately, they leg it only to leave space for a random bunch of turkeys. Happy Christmas, I say in passing.
Finally, I’m away from all that unexpected nonsense and out in the open of Corfe Common; the largest stretch of common land in Dorset where folk still pay a peppercorn rent to house their livestock. I only see a solitary pony as I amble the last mile into Corfe where I treat myself to a jacket potato. With tuna. No butter on the spud thanks – I’m doing Slimming World. And no tomato with the salad. People specifically ask for tomato, the waitress informs me sadly. Well, give them mine then. I study the directions. It’s not looking good for folk who don’t like walking up hills.
I know this picture of the next main part of my walk isn’t particularly interesting but, see that clump of trees on the skyline? Well, that’s where my car is. Depressing or what? Good job the day is glorious as I trudge uphill looking for Blashenwell Farm, number seven on my instructions.
I walk for a long time and it’s by no means terrible. At last the weather is wonderful and you have to walk the Purbeck alone to appreciate the splendid solitude of it all. However, speaking of solitude, I haven’t seen a living soul since the tomato debacle and I can’t find Blashenwell Farm. I’ve run out of road but here comes Julien on his bike. He’s not very happy at being accosted by me. ‘Are you with a group’, he asks? I look round cautiously. There doesn’t seem to be numerous people to hand. ‘No, I am all alone’, I say pitifully. In this photo, where Julien is cycling away from me as fast as he can, there’s a road between those posts. Well, who knew? Not exactly obvious is it?
I’m not so far from the end-game now but the last mile is torturous. There are no pictures because, frankly, I wasn’t sure I’d make it and all my strength was taken up with trying to breath. I walked UP a green field, pausing, as instructed, to look back across the valley; UP through a wild garlic infested wood; UP some steep steps alongside a row of cottages; and UP to the church from whence I began my walk. Fortunately, it was still springtime in Kingston. I collapsed in my car seat and, of course, felt rather smug