Sunday, September 16

Wildcamp at the Dorset Seaside

Yet again an ad-hoc trip (minimal planning - just go for it) turns into a good experience.

Fellow UK Outdoor Blogger Weird Darren had originally planned a gear bedding in trip on Dartmoor, and despite my tentative interest I'd realised by late in the week that work commitments meant I really wasn't getting my head around the time involved with a long journey and time away from home.

A suggestion to Darren, resulting from a mental note made nearly fifteen or so years ago, sounded like a workable alternative. So we went for it, especially as the weather forecast was a sunny day, and a warm night.

Late Saturday afternoon Darren stepped off the train at Wool station and 2o minutes later we were parked up on a Lulworth back road. I'd loaded up the car boot with copious amounts of fresh water - no chance to get a supply on this trip. My backpack now 5 litres (5kg) heavier despite minimal gear we made our way down into W. Lulworth village passing through the still busy car park. Day trippers returning after their day on the Dorset cliff paths. We set out westwards moving against the general trend and looking seriously like guys-who-know-what-they-are-doing. But no questioning glances? Day trippers - huh! Didn't they recognise mountain men, out on a coastal quest, communing with nature?

Finding our way down to the beach we chatted together as we trudged across the shingle, one eye on the cliff, the other on the high water mark, assessing potential spots, my mind attempting to travel back to recall the location of the caves I'd previously noted oh so many years ago.

Finally I spotted them, and after a quick assessment of the various options for suitability we picked our home for the night. A brief period of sustained sniffing required to ensure the location hadn't been used by previous visitors as the local W.C. facility.

Bivvi bags locations prepared a brew was next on. Incredibly quickly in Darren's case with his Jetboil. The initial ignition making me look up as sounded like a mini-explosion. And then as night fell supper was cooked and slowly eaten, the beach by now deserted. The lights of far off Portland winking into existance and marking the track of the causeway joining it to the mainland at Weymouth, despite its desgnation as the Isle of Portland.

A ship moored off shore lit up like a water based Christmas tree (why was it on station during the whole of our stay?) The regular sweep of Portland Bill lighthouse rhythmically sweeping the bay.

Incongruously a flitting bat made a brief appearance working the foot of the cliffs. Besides that peace and quiet except for the sound of the sea.

We lay in our bags. Two guys chatting in the dark. Sorting out the usual life problems, our individual approach to our own outdoor experiences and the specialist gear involved (and Podcast Bob's little venture got a mention - or "Darren's pimp" as he may possibly be retitled in the future - lol)

Finally to sleep. Myself bedded down inside the cave entrance, Darren on the beach below. Occasionally waking. Reassured listening to the crash of the surf on shingle. Very symbolic - a return to womb like conditions? Whatever it was the nights sleep was long and deep. A gentle breeze on the face. My combination of a 3 season down sleeping and Alpkit bivvi bag proving to be overwarm at times. But an extremely comfortable night.

The dawn chorus amounted to one seagull passing by. Well thats what I heard at least. Rolling over some time later I lazily stretched out to start the morning's brew. Still snug in my bag. And I reflected on the simplicity involved with the lack of tent. Even with that simple construction there is an insulation from nature. Although my preference is safety over simplicity every time. And in the Lakeland rain I still wouldn't swop my faithful Akto. But for random nights under the starlight, well the bivvi bag approach has got another fan here.

Finally we wandered back up the beach heading towards the car. The beach starting to get its first visitors of the day from the clifftop holiday site. And in Lulworth the Sunday visitors starting to fill up the car park. Such an unfortunate scar on the village landscape.

A lift for Darren to the train station, via the Purbeck sights.

But first stopping to picking up a lone hitchhiker disconsolately hopeful of a lift out of Lulworth against the prevailing flow of the traffic. But luckily for him, nursing a knee injury after a stomp over from Studland the previous day, our planned destination meant his journey home was much more direct than it might otherwise have been. Just a pity he also worked in IT. So that was three sad souls in one car bemoaning the state of our industry and the impact of modern commercial strategy. Hee hee.

A good night out. A number of firsts for me. First full local wildcamp. First night out on a beach. First night in a cave. And first use of the bivvi bag.

But as to the beach play? Well what an abject failure. Darren had the spade, but the bucket was lacking. Probably just as well as sand castle building is somewhat problematic when all you can find is shingle!

And with our spot well above the high tide mark no need for the flippers (that explain things Andy?)

Thanks Darren - a good one. And a useful bolt hole when next I fancy a quick night under the stars. And if the amount of litter and discarded clothing is any indication, not one to be used during the summer tourist season. Any peace and quiet is unlikely then. But for us a a trip with a number of differences. Definitely away from our normal walk and wildcamp experiences. So possibly a high note to end the season on? Time will tell

Distance: 4 miles (ish)
Altitude: 1 metre (!)

And for Darren's take on the trip click HERE

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Comments:
I enjoyed reading this. Tho' like many I was looking forward to more on the flippers! Eons ago slept out on the beach in Nice with many others. Loved the sound of waves on shingle- very soporific. Didn't much like the gangs of opportunistic thieves who descended on us at 3am however!
 
..and there-in lies the trick. I wouldn't have touched this spot May-August even with Darren's collapsable ninja stick aka Hex 3 pole as a defence.
 
Now I understand.

Even a quick and limited overnight wildcamp is worth it in my opinion (says he wondering when he's next wildcamp will be).
 
John,
excellent piece putting mine to shame. Always enjoy your turn of phrase.
 
Shucks WD - different strokes .....
 
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