I was born and raised in Slough; a diverse and bustling urban environment which is about as far from the green and rural idyll of Dorset that you can get. But that didn’t ever stop me from loving the outdoors or having a passion for the coast. Every year, my family would go for a short summer pilgrimage to the Isle of Wight; a kind of seaside and samosa type of holiday. Taking a ferry to the island seemed almost exotic, bringing back memories for my elders of the time when they travelled between Mumbai and Nairobi on steamships.
Walking along the coast path was never a past time that we considered as a leisurely activity. Walking was something you did for a purpose like going to the shops or dropping children off at school. Instead, we ate homemade Indian snacks on the beach whilst making sandcastles and looking at funny shaped pebbles on the beaches. I vividly remember my sari clad mum, my aunties and grandmother whooping with laughter as they ran in and out of the surf trying to avoid getting wet. We had no idea about the natural processes or the dangers of the coastal environment. On one occasion on a holiday to Dawlish Warren in Devon, we got completely caught out by the rising tide in a sandy inlet where we had set up our picnic. I remember being absolutely amazed how one minute we were making sandcastles and the next the water was up to our knees!
Now when my family from Slough visit me here in Dorset, we often visit the coast and I still experience that sense of newness and discovery through their eyes. Walking has now become for us a leisurely past time, and with it we have gained a far greater sense of awareness and respect for this dynamic natural environment. We often walk past the same kind of outdoorsy looking people wearing Gore-tex jackets and tough looking boots. It makes me smile, because I think as long as you have a pair of comfortable shoes that you don’t mind getting a bit muddy or sandy and a rain jacket to keep you dry if rain is forecast, you will still see and experience the same things.
Ensuring that you can understand the tide times is important, particularly if you are out on a beach that is liable to be cut off. The tides refer to the rise and fall of a body of water, such as the sea, and it is caused by the interaction between the moon, sun and Earth. In the UK, we experience two high tides and two low tides each day. You can check the tides at BBC Weather online and it will tell you crucially what time the high tide is expected.
For example, if High Tide at Lyme Regis is at 11.47am, you could plan to have fish and chips for lunch in town and then head off for a walk along the beach towards Charmouth about 1.00pm, noting that low tide is at 17.03pm. In short, it’s always a good idea to go out walking on a falling tide (when the sea is going out) so you have plenty of time to walk along the beach and get back again without being cut off by the sea.
Some good beginner routes include the walk from Lyme Regis to Charmouth, Knoll Beach to Old Harry Rocks and also the route from Lulworth Cove to Durdle Door. I have taken my mum on all of these walks in her trainers and her battered old coat, and she has loved them. So what are you waiting for? Have a look at our Jurassic Coast Walking Tips below, then pack your sense of adventure, a couple of tasty Indian snacks and off you go!
Jurassic Coast Walking Tips:
• If you are not sure where to start a walk, take a look at our walking guides.
• If it’s going to rain, take a waterproof coat. Umbrellas on the coast tend to get blown inside out!
• Wear shoes that you don’t mind getting muddy or wet.
• Take a bottle of water, some snacks or a packed lunch to keep you going.
• If you are on a cliff top walk, stay well away from the edge of the cliffs. Also make sure you and your family and friends are comfortable with heights.
• If you are walking along the beach, make sure you check the tide times before you go.
• Take all your litter home with you.
Written by Anjana Khatwa Ford, JCT Programme Manager