Seaton – Seatown (13.5 miles)
Distance from Minehead – 551.6 miles / Distance to Poole – 79.3 miles
Between Seaton and Lyme Regis there exists an undercliff. It came into being after a massive cliff fall in 1839 and has been largely untouched since. It is like nothing else on the cliff path – nearly 7 miles of walking through what can only be the nearest thing to the Amazon rainforest I’ll ever get to. You can’t see the sea, it is thick foliage, a muddy path up and through, in and out of the humid and sometimes claustrophobic jungle like environment. I won’t lie, I felt like an explorer, although probably more of the Dora ilk than the intrepid men from history!
Paul, my exploring companion, and I walked or perhaps more accurately went slipping and sliding, through the undercliff to emerge wide eyed and blinking into the rain of Lyme Regis. After a lunch of chips and beer (essential exploring fare!) we then headed off to our next destination. Due to numerous and continuing cliff falls in the area, there are lots of diversions and optional routes. However, buoyed by our morning’s adventure we decided to ignore the book and instead go beachward to Charmouth. This may sound the easy option, to simply walk along the beach to the next village, but of course we were on an exploring adventure and nothing would be so simple….the tide was still in! So we spent the next 3 miles climbing over rocks, groynes and desperately trying to keep our feet dry and the dog with us (Toby’s not a huge fan of the water and will often only paddle / swim by accident! Needless to say he didn’t much enjoy this section of the walk). By the time we reached Charmouth I felt like I had discovered a new route, a new way to walk that section – I felt great and on top of the world. That is until I came to the foot of Golden Cap (the highest point on the entire South coast of England), which when we had climbed we would literally be on top of the world!
Today was truly a day of adventure. The jungles, the seas and the mountains. What a glorious feeling to have explored new places and found new paths (yes I do realise that the beach is not a new path, but it honestly felt like it!). I looked down at my boots which were still caked in mud from the morning’s undercliff. I felt the stone in my pocket, complete with fossil, which I had picked up on the beach. I looked at smiling face of Paul who was glad to have reached the top of Golden Cap in one piece.
I look at my muddy boots and I reminded of something that I once read, ‘Christians need to be like boots – not pretentious, proud and stuck up – but earthed in the real world….and prepared to get mucky in the service of others.’ I look at my fossilised stone and I think of all the extra weight we can carry with us, how it can be a reminder of our past and the things which have shaped our lives, yet how they too can weigh us down on the long climbs we have to endure. I looked at the view from the top of Golden Cap and I realised how we can be blessed in unexpected ways, rewarded for our struggles and strife – not by the path being flattened before us, or our aches and pains being taken away, but by the magnificent perspectives we glimpse at the top, and the sheer joy in knowing we have achieved and survived.
I know it is clichéd but this whole ‘life is a journey’ thing turns out to be true. I hope that as I continue on this journey I will continue to see my boots muddied by real life and the service of others. I hope to learn when to keep hold of the loads I carry and when to let them go. And I hope to remember that the hills may seem never ending, but with each hill comes a spectacular view, which is only seen as a reward for climbing the hill. Most of all I hope to embrace the adventure and keep on exploring!