On Day 7, Pete caught the bus and train back home, but I had an extra day before flying back to Geneva. My plan was to walk part of the South Dorset Ridgeway then turn north to Dorchester. But it was soon obvious that the weather and, more importantly, the state of the paths, (see pic 3), would determine the best way forward. I figured, after all, I was there to enjoy myself and not slip and slide ankle deep in mud.
A quick look at the map showed a very direct route along quiet roads and paths and so that became Plan B – especially as it went through the delightfully named Martinstown or Winterbourne St Martin, where there was a pub. 😊 I arrived there a little early so I explored the church before spending an hour or so drying out in front of a roaring fire and chatting to the locals. That included a 95 year old gentleman who walked in shortly after me (completely unaided by an stick or other support) and quipped “You’ve got to get up early to be the first in this pub!” He was a great character, who’d been in the RAF. He told me his home was flooded just before Christmas and he was living temporarily in a rented cottage nearby. He hoped to be back in his house sometime during April.
The route also took me past the Hardy Monument on the top of Black Down, where there’s a 360 degree viewpoint – on a clear day of course. (See pic 8). I should explain that this ‘Hardy’ was not the Dorchester writer, Thomas Hardy, famous for his Mayor of Casterbridge, Tess of the d’Urbervilles and Jude the Obscure. (I’ve never read any of these by the way, Pete told me… You can learn all sorts of things on these trips…!) The monument was built in memory of another local hero, the Vice-Admiral Sir Thomas Masterman Hardy (1769 – 1839), who was Captain of HMS Victory at the Battle of Trafalgar (1805). Almost any British school boy or girl will tell you, as Vice-admiral Horatio Nelson lay dying, he uttered the immortal words: “Kiss me Hardy”.
That brings us to the end of my UK trip. I hope you have enjoyed the series. The sun is now shining brightly in the Val d’Hérens, so I hope to bring you some more Swiss pictures in the next few days. 😊