Saturday, 13 November 1999


Sandbanks → Christchurch


Distance: 11.6 miles
Ascent: unknown
Duration: unknown

Taking things seriously
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A week off. Time to spend time with Mum and Dad. And while staying at their house, the south coast is within reach, calling me.

For the first time since starting this walk, I've decided to take time away from work and tackle a good chunk of the coast. The UK's longest National Trail, the South-West Coast Path finishes at Poole Harbour, two hours' drive from Mum and Dad's house. I'll start here (well, just across the harbour at Sandbanks) and work my way east. (I'm leaving the SWCP for another day. Wimp.) I have no idea just how far I'll be able to walk this week. I think I could make it as far as Brighton, but I'll be happy to reach Southampton.

From Sandbanks I headed into Bournemouth along the sands. It's suddenly clear from the beach that large swathes of the town are privately owned estates; public access is very clearly frowned upon. Once in Bournemouth itself, a wide prom opens up and provides easy walking. So easy that I get sloppy with the map-reading.

Now here's a warning: Bournemouth has two piers, and if you're using Ordnance Survey's 1:25,000 maps you'll find the two piers on separate maps. If you're paying attention you'll notice this. If you're not, you might assume they're the same pier and that the two maps overlap. Let's just say from hard experience that the extra mile I suddenly found myself walking wasn't the most joyous surprise.

On the east of the town I decided to not walk all the way round Hengistbury Head, but cut north across the peninsula and take the passenger ferry across to Christchurch. I was suddenly overcome by guilt and fear: if I'm going to do this, if I'm really going to walk the whole coast, am I allowed to cut headlands? Are ferries permissible? Is it important to distinguish between vehicle ferries and foot ferries?

Just what are The Rules?

My legs are too tired to get into a debate right now, but this is a good question that'll need sorting soon. I'll just have to make sure the answer fits today's route.

Posted by pab at 21:53