Firstly I would like to apologise for the delay in getting these last few blogs out….turns out being back into real life is quite hectic!
Abbotsbury -Weymouth (14.4 miles)
Distance from Minehead – 578.4 miles / Distance to Poole– 56 miles
Chesil Beach is somewhat of a feature throughout this part of the Coast Path. It is 18 miles of pebbles, which start being pea-sized at West Bayand as the beach approaches Portland, the pebbles have grown to fist-sized, although I would think it depends slightly on the size of your fist! Someone at some point must have counted all these pebbles, because the Chesil Beach website boasts that this tombolo (technical geographical term for a gravel spit which connects an island with the mainland), the largest in theUK, has a massive 180 billion pebbles!
Behind the beach is Fleet Lagoon, a shallow patch of salty water between the beach and the mainland. And with it came the choice. I could either walk along the beach in a clear straight line, just 8 miles in distance. Or I could take the inland path along the lagoon, its irregular shape adding miles to the journey as the path wiggles in and out, back and forth.
The longer, wigglier path was taken for the simple fact that walking on pebbles is a nightmare – you slip and slide, you sink and scramble and you exhaust yourself in the first few meters. 8 miles of pebbly induced leg torture is not something I wanted to experience with still so many miles left to walk. But in choosing the inland path I inadvertently chose to walk the whole day without a view of the sea, with the immense Chesil beach bank constantly blocking the view. There is something quite depressing about walking on a coast path without seeing the sea. The fun continued as the Chickerell firing range was closed for firing. A detour was necessary not only adding on miles but also the distance from the coast. A highly unsatisfactory situation.
I can be quite indecisive – it will take me forever to make a menu choice in a restaurant, to the point where up until the moment I am asked what I want by the waitress, I will still have two or three possibilities in my head. For most decisions if I am not sure about which to choose I often reassure myself with the thought that if I wasn’t right the first time, I can change my mind. I constantly take clothes back after I get home and realise I should have gone for the other item. The problem with the choice of which route to take, Chesil Beach or the inland route, is that once you are on your chosen path that is it. You are stuck on it. There is no way to change your mind without going all the way back to the beginning. I had quite wanted to experience a little of walking on the pebbles, but knowing once I had started I was stuck on them for 8 miles made me realise the sense of not even trying.
I think that this idea of set paths and journeys are carried over into life. There is the thought that once we have chosen a life path then we are stuck on it. There is no deviation from it. And once we realise that this path, like that of Chesil Beach, is painful and destructive to us, there is no way to get off it. Yet this is so far from the truth. There is no place that you can travel to that Jesus can’t find you. It doesn’t matter how far you have walked along the pebbles, walked into the darkness, walked in the wrong direction, there is a bridge back to the right path – which can often appear to be the less attractive at the point of decision. There is nothing that we can do, nothing we can say, nowhere that we can travel that can make Jesus love us any less. Therefore there is nothing we can do, nothing we can say and nowhere we can go that takes us on a permanent path away from God. There is always a path back, there is always hope, there is always restoration for our weary bodies and souls.
So I emerged from the inland route around Fleet Lagoon to see a bright and shining sea at Weymouth, and I was reminded that even when we can’t see Him, often not due to large pebbly beaches, but more to do with barriers of our own creation, God is always there, always constant and always love – and what a beautiful sight that is!