South West England, UK: A Solo Road TripNovember 6, 2023
South West England, UK: The Cornish BitNovember 10, 2023
The Dorset & East Devon Coast is also referred to as the Jurassic Coast and is one of the few wholly natural designated World Heritage sites in the UK.
The Next Instalment
After the excitement of the previous few days, I packed away camp at Norden Farm and resumed my journey along the Jurassic Coast.
First stop for the day, was Ringstead Bay. Following a private road, there’s a car park at the end that costs £6 for the day. There is a free car park but that is a longer walk so weigh this up.
I headed for their shop and paid the fee. The usual beach toys and some snacks, there were also a few pieces of jewellery and nicer gifts available.
I wasn’t ready for the huge beach that awaited me. It was bright but windy with very few people. To the right, I could see several dog walkers but, to the left, there was no one. I went left. Changing into my swimwear with a strategically tied towel (easy enough to do whilst preserving one’s modesty), I was finally ready for the sea.
Abandoning my belongings on the deserted beach, I jumped in. It was freezing! To the point I questioned if my back had been stung by jellyfish because it stung so much. Fortunately, I hadn’t been stung it was just the sheer temperature drop that my skin was reacting to. After about 10 minutes of vigorous swimming, I began to acclimatise and enjoy myself. The sea was calm and clear, making it deceptively deeper than it looked. I berated myself afterwards for not bringing a snorkel set.
As well as swimming and watching the fish, I scrambled amongst the rocks investigating rock pools and seeing what I could see. I found some very soft rock that gave way at the slightest touch. Intrigued, I poked about a little and found some fossils in some of the rock that had already chipped off. I left the area alone after that, it was delicate, and I didn’t want to destroy it. My wild imagination wandered off into the realms of Jurassic Park as I wondered what other fossils lie buried.
Ringstead Bay is just a 5 mile walk to Lulworth Cove if you’re feeling full of beans and want to see more of the Jurassic Coast on foot. It’s a beautiful coastal walk, just be mindful that it can get extremely windy, particularly on the higher ground nearer Lulworth.
In need of some food and a chance to warm up, I went onwards to Beer. Once there, I parked in the big car park on the cliff.
I wandered across to the Beer Head Bistro in Beer Head Caravan Park, picked up a coffee and went to Hooken Cliffs to admire the view.
Once I'd been wind beaten enough, went back and found the pub I’d heard about. I can now say that I drank a beer in the Barrel of Beer in Beer. It wasn’t much to write home about, but the staff were civil enough.
After this, I walked down to the beach. There was a little café that I caught just before they closed for the day. Armed with coffee and walnut cake in one hand and a hot coffee in the other, I found a spot on the beach to rest and feast. It’s a clean little beach with some boats about but it was very quiet when I was there.
I had planned on staying there overnight, sleeping in the back of my car. However, you cannot park overnight in the main car park as I found out when I was moved on by the police…
Lost In the Dark
I decided to drive on, continuing my venture further South. It was late, I took a wrong turn, and reached Dartmoor around 10PM. I’ve never felt so uneasy driving through somewhere. Pitch black, random fog patches, and not another soul on the road, I nearly had a heart attack when I came face to face with glowing eyes. As I slammed on my brakes, I realised it was just a flock of sheep casually stood in the road.
After managing to manoeuvre round them, I laughed it off and tried not to feel too creeped out. I also had no phone signal and was hoping I wouldn’t break down. I eventually reached a pub on the Moor, but it appeared to be closed. After what felt like hours, I left Dartmoor and started seeing signs of humanity again. Finding a sensible looking neighbourhood, I parked up, double-checked my doors were locked, and slept for a couple of hours in my car.
After a few hours of disturbed sleep, I continued my drive South. I was awake before the sun and caught the most magnificent sunrise as I drove round a hill. All in all, not a bad day! I’d certainly recommend Ringstead Bay for swimming and fossil hunting, and I think Beer would be quite nice to revisit, though I’d advise booking accommodation. Next update, coming soon.
On a serious note, be aware of where your belongings are at all times, I exit the water if I see people approaching too close. Don't forget to advise someone of your location if swimming alone, too.