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July 2021 - Dorset - Day 4 - Lulworth Cove

A planned early start to beat the crowds today start ended up not much earlier than normal, as Karen slept in but again, we were the only ones in breakfast. There were poached eggs available this morning. They were nice and runny as the drip on my clean T shirt for the day would testify.

Today we were headed to Lulworth Cove which was about a hour drive away. Again, the Sat Nav took us a convoluted route to avoid the congestion. Just before getting to Lulworth we drove through the tank live ammunition firing range with red flags flying and I heard a couple of explosions which was exciting.

We also passed the site of Camp Bestival that is due to take place the next weekend. There was a lot of activity as the site was being prepared.

The drive down into Lulworth was quiet and we thought we may have beaten the crowds. How wrong we were, it was bustling. It seems the cove and surrounding area is owned by the Lulworth Estate and it reminded me of the last time we had been to Lands End, where a natural asset is owned and milked to the last for commercial benefit.

Admittedly it was all done quite nicely yet there was something I didn’t really like, but that may have been down to the sheer number of people everywhere. We wandered down to the Cove. In truth it is quite beautiful but again and I couldn’t quite put my finger on what though, I wanted more. Maybe bluer skies or less wind or something.

I was amazed at the number of people settling around the cove on the beach for the day. Well, I say beach, it was rocky and covered in shingle and very narrow. There are some lovely beaches in Dorset so why all sit here? I could see the attraction for those using SUP’s (stand up Paddleboards) and dingey’s but for the rest?

There was a shack selling coffee and so as Karen was not feeling great in herself, I got her a Latte to try and make her feel better. Baulking at the cost of hot drinks I went without. We managed to grab a picnic table overlooking the cove which was rather nice. There was a lovely young dog at the next table (brown cockerpoo?) that Karen said I was not allowed to dognap. I think it might be nice to have a dog like that, but I really do not want to be tied by having one and I certainly would need one that was trained to pick up its own poo.

We then decided to start on the 1 mile walk to Durdle Dor. We could see the route up and over a large steep hill. It looked already full of people. It was only a mile there so we thought we would easily make it.

By the time we had got to the top of the sloped car park and just reached where the path went upwards, Karen was struggling badly. For some reason, today of all days she had not brought her knee or ankle strapping. I think wearing those gives her more confidence as well as support. She had just been worrying about her blister rather than thinking about all her other problems.

The climb up the path was hard work, and we were soon out of breath. Karen complained about the speed we were doing but the truth is we were barely moving. I had got less than ¼ way up the first incline when I realised, she was not with me. I waited for her, but she didn’t move. I went on a bit further and stopped again. I realised then she had completely given up. As we had previously agreed that I should carry on if that I happened I did so.

It was flipping hard work and once I reached the top of the path, I realised that I had still only covered half of the ground to get to Durdle Dor. There was still a reasonable climb but on lose gravel which was even harder work.

On top of the hill though the view was fantastic. I could see where Durdle Dor was but not the rock itself. The route then went downhill, gradually at first. Then it got incredibly steep, in fact stupidly so. It was just on loose scree and very difficult to walk down not only for me but also for the dozens of other people on the same route.

When I finally reached the viewing point it was very crowded, as was the beach which was still a long way below. The beach was at least nice and sandy, and I could see the appeal. At least whilst I was watching there were no idiots trying to climb Durdle Dor in order to jump off. I wondered how long it had stood there and how much longer it would last before crumbling away.

I didn’t want to leave Karen too long and so messaged her to say that I was now making my way back albeit I could be some time trying to scramble back up the steep scree path. I had to stop a couple of times to catch my breath but eventually made it back to the top of that part of the route back. I just had the rest of the hill to climb and then start the walk down to Karen.

Karen was waiting for me when I had last seen her. She was almost frozen to the spot as she felt she couldn’t go forward and was even more nervous about going back down on her own in case she slipped. It wasn’t the blister; it was her worry about her knee going that was the issue this time. I had to walk half a pace in front of her so she could lean on my shoulder and prevent her slipping. We made it down slowly.

She has been so keen on coming here and so I was disappointed for her that she hadn’t made it. But also, I hoped this would be the final catalyst for her to do something about her ailments. She knows what she has to do (weight loss, fitness and then surgery in that order). However, she must be the one to put her mind to doing this and until she really wants to then it won’t happen despite whatever nagging or cajoling, I do. I worry about her a lot. This is not the first time this year she has not been able to do something she wanted because of her problems. I hope it will be the last.

Back at the car park we decided to drive on because there were so many people around and we fancied a quiet sit down and drink. We eventually decided to drive to the National Trust property at Kingston Lacey (after realising we couldn’t get into Lulworth Castle as that was the actual site for Camp Bestival.

Kingston Lacey was about 18 miles away, but completely across country. We seemed to Criss cross every road in Dorset but after a while did arrive at the entrance. After parking I was pleased to note that it would have cost us £18 each to get in without membership. I was therefore expecting great things.

Well, the café in the old stable block was very nice. We stopped and had a sausage roll and tea each for our lunch before exploring. The house was open for tours, but it didn’t look interesting enough for even Karen to want to venture in. The formal gardens were nice and formal but nothing to get too excited about. The fernery was a dull and dismal area. On paper it sounded nice but in practice I would put something more interesting in.

The whole estate was huge with woodlands etc, but with all our earlier exertions we didn’t feel up to the 3-mile trail. Instead, we found a couple of elegant Edwardian wooden deckchairs that were scattered on the formal lawn and sat there for ages looking back at the house, contemplating the world and for some reason Disney’s Tiki rooms. Karen then decided we needed some of these chairs at home and set me the challenge of sourcing them. I googled the make on the label and found they retail at £376 each, provoking a rethink.

My summary of Kingston Lacey was that it was OK to get in for ‘free’ but not worth more than £5 each if not.

It was then time for the drive back to the Hotel for the last time. After a quick change we headed back on foot up the High Street to the Ludo Lounge again. Karen was keen to get there and back before the rain that was promised for 9pm.

We were lucky enough to get the same table (and our opinion the best table) as the previous night, just as our ‘friend’ appeared again giving out weather warnings. The people at the next table to us, were in fits of laughter at his antics. I spoke to them and they were local and have known ‘Disco Dave’ as he is called for 30 years. They confirmed he is harmless and the only way to get him to move on is to just agree with him. The reason they were laughing is that more people interact with him the more animated he gets. They said all the locals know not to do this but instead all sit back and enjoy watching the ‘holidaymakers’ get the full treatment from him. He was just so earnest in worrying if people had the right clothes on for the weather. It seemed that all the bars and restaurants look out for him and don’t mind the daily show.

Tonight, we ordered the same as what each other had had the previous night. I can confirm the buttermilk fried chicken was absolutely delicious. Karen enjoyed her burger and couldn’t find room for carrot cake tonight although that may have been more to do with the clouds that were now building up.

Back in the room we watched the latest Amy Winehouse documentary which Karen and I disagreed upon what light it showed the people around her. Whatever it was another tragic loss to the world of her talent (I like her singing though – for Karen it still doesn’t do anything).

As we turned the light off, I could see the lightning in the sky as the glorious weather of the week finally broke.

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