Hurst Spit was a bit of a shingly trudge, to be honest. As we made our way along it I thought forward to Chesil Beach which waited for us some 40 miles and a few walks on. It is about 7 miles longer than Hurst Spit. Would we venture out onto that (or would we take the alternative “inland” route which follows the coastline rather than the spit) and if so how would we find it? They say that walking the 10 miles of Chesil Beach shingle is really like undertaking a 20 mile walk on normal ground.
During the period August 1996 to January 1997 Hurst Spit saw some major stabilisation works. These were extensive, involving bringing in 124,000 tonnes of rock from (mostly) Norway and dredging of 300,000 cubic metres of shingle.
Coastal protection and stabilisation is a big issue. During the winter of 2013 and early part of 2014 storms battered the UK, hitting the southern coast of England quite hard. It was around this point in our walk that we began to see for ourselves just how devastating these storms had been. Look!
At first glance you may think this beach, at Milford on Sea, looks quite normal. But look closer, at the cliff edge:
Layers of tarmac and hardcore were visible at the cliff top. The cliff looked as if it had been cut with a cake slice. Flat slabs of tarmac lay on the rubble below – almost as if the cake had been reduced to crumbs. The entire cliff path had been demolished. A little further on we saw a fence which also illustrated the extent of the erosion.
Just after we passed this fence we climbed a set of timber steps up to the cliff top. There, we found a banner erected by the Council. This proclaimed that storms in February 2014 had caused the loss of 4m of the cliff here, as well as destroying 75 beach huts, 30 of them concrete-built. Remember all that shingle that was brought in to Hurst Spit in 1996 and 1997? Well 100,000 tonnes of it was lost during the storms. The Council had done quite a bit of work to repair all this damage by the time we arrived in mid-April, but there was still a lot more to be done.
Be prepared for a lot more storm damage in the miles to come; entire sections of the coast were ravaged.
Points on this part of the walk (copy and paste the co-ordinates into Google Earth):
- Hurst Spit: N 50° 42.750 W 001° 34.270
- Collapsed Cliffs: N 50° 43.340 W 001° 35.850
Walk #70 Statistics (of which this post forms the third part):
- Date of Walk: 19 April 2014
- Walk #70 total distance covered (excluding ferry): 13.35 miles
- Coast of Britain Walk Total Distance Covered: 606.70 miles
- CLICK HERE FOR LINK TO INTERACTIVE MAP!!!
Neither myself nor Ruth attempted Chesil Beach – that’s penance. The inland walk is fine and not difficult to find as far as I remember. You are making rapid progress – I really admire your children for sticking with you.
All the best
Patricia (joining the dots)
I thought I might try walking Chesil Beach… until I got there. The reality of walking only half a mile of the shingle brought it home to me – no fun at all. I’m with Patricia on this one. Even David Cotton gave it a miss (http://www.britishwalks.org/walks/2003/318.php). You have our permission to do the inland route 🙂
Ruth – It is my firm intention to walk Chesil Beach, but I am almost certain we’ll reach it “out of season” when it is closed. If so I’ll just have to put it on my “Broomway List” as a walk I need to go back and do. We’ll see… Nic
When I was looking up why everyone does not like to walk on shingle, I came across this:
Shingle beaches are often criticized as undesirable for visitors. Canterbury City Council notes that the nearby shingle beach at Whitstable is uncomfortable to walk and lie on. Also, advertisers have been known to replace images of shingle beaches with sand in promotional material.
It must be pretty bad if shingle gets photo-shopped out of tourist brochures lol!
Jill – that’s terrible! OK so sand beaches are more “beachy” than shingle beaches, but replacing shingle with sand? I repeat – that’s terrible! Nic
I did both routes, around the back of The Fleet and along Chesil Beach. The walk along Chesil Beach is indeed tough (and there is an awful lot of litter/debris too) but also quite interesting with good views both out to sea and of the fleet. It is closed at times though, there was a sign about not walking the beach at spring time I think it was for nesting birds. I’m afraid though I didn’t write down what it said, so I can’t tell you for sure. That said I’m pretty sure there was only a sign at the Abbotsbury end anyway.
Worth noting, as I’m sure you realise, there is no access off the beach until you get to Abbotsbury so bring plenty of water and food.
And I seem to remember there was a firing range on the mainland that could sometimes close the shingle beach too.
Good point. There was a little brick lookout type building on the beach. I wonder if they send someone over to it to sit in there when firing was going on? Must be a lonely job!
Thank you. I did a Google search a while back and the website gives the times it is open and closed. From recollection we’ll be there at “closed” time at the rate we are going – we’ll just have to see…
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