Because we live in the countryside and only 5 minutes from the beach, we don’t tend to do towns with the dog, but due to a combination of a last-minute dash to school with forgotten kit and a very wet morning, I thought I could kill two birds with one stone and take the dog with me into Lyme Regis to have a beachy, mud-free walk.
I parked on Colway Lane and walked along the riverside walk, which I keep hearing about. It’s a great flat walk (rare as hen’s teeth in Lyme!) along the River Lym. It’s a nice way to see some hidden pockets of Lyme Regis, and there are benches along the way for sitting watching the birds and the passers-by. I didn’t walk down past the Town Mill, although I love that bit of the path, as our dog is absolutely water-mad and is likely to leap down the big drop to find the water, but you can walk along The Lynch into the back of Town Mill and stop by the galleries, cafes, brewery shop and workshops. Don’t forget to find the Banksy origami crane on the way through. I cut down Coombe Street and round the back of the museum to get to the new sea defences which lead to Back Beach Beach, which is fast becoming one of my favourites. It’s the ugly duckling of beaches, with grey cliffs, grey beach and grey sky today, but it’s an interesting beach for beachcombing, with loads of sea glass, fossils and weird and wonderful seaweeds, and when the tide is out the rock pools are fantastic. Part of the beach is a huge, flat slab of Blue Lias, with fault lines which are eroded into rock pools full of life, and at low tide there are very weird round pillars of stone sticking up all over the beach. It’s a very atmospheric beach which is great in grey, moody weather, and the backdrop of the huge, curving bulwark of the sea defences is a great foil to the natural ruggedness.
It is a great beach for a wet, windy day, as it’s quite sheltered from westerly winds, and it’s accessible either from the bottom of town, or via a rather challenging set of steps down/up to the Charmouth Road car park. This morning when I was there, there was the added bonus of a visiting seal, which I’ve never seen before in Lyme Regis. It was quite close in, just floating about looking at the people on the beach, and cruised his way along towards the town beach, head-on to the breaking waves.
We are really lucky here to have some incredible hillforts, cliffs and coastal paths around here, but it’s useful to have some rainy day walks up your sleeve, for when it’s really muddy or too windy for exposed hillsides. Another good one is Langdon Hill near Morecombelake. It’s National Trust property, with a car park accessible from a little lane just to the Bridport side of Felicity’s Farm shop. It’s a fairly accessible walk, suitable for pushchairs and wheelchairs (with a RADAR key), and is a level circuit of the hilltop along gravelled paths. It’s within the woodland, so is reasonably sheltered, and thanks to the surface doesn’t get too muddy. There are huge swathes of bluebells in the spring, and lots of autumn colour and bird life in the autumn. If you get carried away, it links up with lots of paths, going to Golden Cap, St Gabriel’s etc, so it can be made into more than just an easy stroll. There is even a nice little natural play area next to the car park – little more than balancing stumps and log tunnels, but it’s fun for little ones and is so natural it’s easily missed if you don’t know its there.
A good gravelled route, ideal for pushchairs, bikes & trikes, is Trinity Hill near Axminster. The tracks are perfect for a family walk when various members of the family either need or insist on various kinds of wheeled transport! On a wet & windy day it’s easy to keep to the main tracks through the woods, which are pretty typical forestry plantations, but to be honest, I find that kind of walk pretty dull so it didn’t take me long to be tempted off-piste by one of the paths leading off to the side. This was much more interesting, with logging activity having left lots of glades, and dancing boundary features having left behind enormous, statuesque beeches and oaks. On a calm, sunny day, it’s well worth investigating the extensive areas of lowland heath which make up the Trinity Hill Local Nature Reserve, as they are alive with butterflies and moths, and are quite different to the surrounding green farmland landscape.
A final option which I have not investigated yet but would like to try is The Byes in Sidmouth. This is a 2km walk from the centre of Sidmouth out towards Sidford, and has a mixture of meadows & parkland, and also takes in a children playground along the way. It’s sheltered, so good on a windy wet day, and it sounds like it’s quite push-chair friendly. It could be combined with a trip to the beach or the shops, cafes and tea rooms of Sidmouth.
On wet days it’s often a chore to get out of the door for a walk, but usually it’s fine once you’re out, and knowing some wet weather walks makes life much easier. If anyone has any recommendations, I’d love to hear them!