On Sunday 19th January 2020, we drove down to Barton-on-Sea, a beautiful cliff top village in Hampshire. We’re here to do a week’s house-sit, including looking after a magnificent Bernese Mountain dog called ‘Bugle.’ Bugle’s owners, Sally and Gary, are the editors of a local magazine called ‘The Barton Bugle’ in which there is a regular feature based on Bugle’s life and antics. And so our charge is apparently quite a celebrity in the area – walking him should be interesting!
Sadly on our first day, Monday, we￼ had to drive up to Oxford to say our goodbyes to Sheila, Steve’s Stepmum, who passed away at New Year. It was a beautiful blue sky day and Sheila’s life was celebrated as we said our￼ farewells. After lunch with the family we drove back down to the South Coast to resume our house-sitting duties. Bugle was pleased to see us on our return and after a walk around the block (Bugle is elderly and only manages short walks) we all settled in for a cosy evening.
Tuesday 21st January 2020
So today we were ready to get back on that coastal path. Unfortunately this stretch of the coast doesn’t have an official coastal path but we worked out our own coastal route to Lymington and off we set, all excited on our first day back. When we got to the beach Steve said “shall we take the clifftop path or go further down towards the beach?” Now, being all eager to get back to those smells, sounds and feel of the lapping waves we opted for the lower path.
Magnificent weather today, clear blue skies and bright sunshine but still some frost and ice lingering. The manageable path continued for a while as we meandered our way through throngs of dog walkers and large groups of ramblers busily clacking their walking poles as they chatted and rambled.
But inevitably the path ran out … and we had to clamber over some slippery rocks, then plough through some sticky clay underfoot to make our way down onto the shingle beach. We trudged along the shingle for some time (not great on the calves), praying that the tide would be on our side. Noticing that the shingle route stretched for miles ahead, we made the decision to get up onto the clifftop path. Oh we have such a chuckle about how great hindsight is!
Now, getting up to that path was no mean feat – first a spot of rock climbing was required and then a scramble up a steep vertical ascent on all fours … planting my hand into a gorse bush in the process. It was a relief to get to the top and find the path much more manageable, although pretty muddy and slippery in places – we really had to take it easy and watch our footing all the way.
A little further on the path had been fenced off due to cliff erosion. There was me thinking it would mean an early finish to the day’s adventure but of course, Steve in true Mrs T form, was “not for turning.” And so it was a careful squeeze through the barbed wire fence on to the farmer’s land for a stretch until we could safely return to the clifftop path.
At Milford-on-Sea we stopped for a cuppa and snack. A sweet old man started chatting to us in the queue, firstly commenting on Steve’s size and then trying to flatter me by remarking “is he your son” … then quickly realised his mistake and added “I mean, are you his daughter!?” Turned out he lived in Barton-on-Sea and he was so impressed that we were looking after Bugle for the week – he was quite a fan!
We passed so many fabulous beachfront properties – quite the place to come and retire I would imagine.
The day’s walk was completed by pacing the long winding embankments through the salt marshes – plenty of bird life to be seen …. as well as huge clusters of twitchers and photographers.
We had interesting views of the Isle of Wight for most of the day, partly shrouded in low mist at times and watched as the ferry made its way back and forth.
And so into the picturesque town of Lymington … greeted first by its spectacular sailing club, then past the outdoor swimming pool and into the streets lined with arty shops, bars and cafes.
Hope to discover more of Lymington during the week – after 10 miles of walking we were ready to jump on the bus back to Barton and catch up with our large furry friend Bugle. It was a wonderful first day back on the path.