A Pilgrimage In Abbotsbury Village

With the New Year in full swing, we decided to take a little road trip down the Jurassic Coast in search of a sea breeze and fresh air.  If you’ve visited my blog before, you’ll know we love exploring the Jurassic Coast and with there being over 90 miles of it – there’s still plenty for us to see.   The drive along the coast itself is always a beautiful one too.

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On this trip, we found ourselves in the coastal village of Abbotsbury.  This village is a quaint little place, which often attracts tourists because of its swannery and suptropical gardens.  We didn’t take in any of these attractions on this trip.  Instead, we drove straight to the village’s beach – known as Chesil Beach.

whatsapp image 2019-01-14 at 17.49.51whatsapp image 2019-01-14 at 17.49.51 (1)This pebble beach is an incredible thing to see up close. It stretches 18 miles from the Isle of Portland down towards Abbotsbury and provides the village with a natural defence from the sea. We felt really fortunate to be there on a such a bright and crisp day.

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Abbotsbury is a particularly good place to visit if you’re a big fan of walking and hiking like we are.  As you get onto the beach, you come across markings that direct you onto the South West Coastal Path.  This splendid path is one of England’s longest walking trails, stretching for over 600 miles all the way from Minehead in Somerset to Poole in Dorset.

whatsapp image 2019-01-14 at 17.49.50 (4)whatsapp image 2019-01-14 at 17.49.50 (3)The coastal walks are famed for being picturesque and peaceful, as well as for taking walkers through areas of historical significance.  We had decided to follow the trail because we were on the look-out for a historical site too – but getting to it was quite the uphill trek!

whatsapp image 2019-01-14 at 17.51.04 (5)whatsapp image 2019-01-14 at 17.51.04 (1)whatsapp image 2019-01-14 at 17.51.04 (2)whatsapp image 2019-01-14 at 17.51.04 (3)whatsapp image 2019-01-14 at 17.51.04Our journey upwards was graced by so much natural beauty and winter sunshine, we really felt very lucky.  Then again, we always feel lucky when we’re out in nature, unplugged from the bigger picture of life but also switched into the here-and-now moments.  Walking in nature can truly be one of the best therapies out there.whatsapp image 2019-01-14 at 17.51.06whatsapp image 2019-01-14 at 17.51.05 (5)whatsapp image 2019-01-14 at 17.51.05 (4)

One of our favourite parts of the walk was going through a field of sheep.  They were prettily easily spooked so we tried to keep our distance.  We were also slightly jealous of the stunning view these sheep had of the sea, Chesil beach and little Abbotsbury village. It’s not a bad place to graze!

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As we got higher, we were treated to some spectacular panoramic views of the Jurassic coastline, the countryside and the village.

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We also came across a crumbled dry-stone wall.  Dry-stone walls date back to the Neolithic Age and are a building method where walls are built from stones alone – there’s no mortar!  It’s quite the feat of human engineering and unfortunately, it’s a bit of a dying skill now.

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As we got higher, we finally started to see the end in sight!

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St. Catherine’s Chapel sits on top of hill overlooking Abbotsbury village, Chesil Beach and the Isle of Portland.   The chapel dates back to the 14th Century, having been built by monks of the nearby Abbotsbury Abbey as a place for pilgrimage and retreat – and what a pilgrimage it is!  Once you reach the chapel, you get the most superb views of Dorset and the coastline.

whatsapp image 2019-01-14 at 17.51.08 (2)These days, the Chapel is no longer in use and is maintained by English Heritage who allow the public free entry.

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Constructed mainly with limestone, the Chapel has really withstood the test of time.

whatsapp image 2019-01-14 at 17.51.36 (1)whatsapp image 2019-01-14 at 17.51.08 (4)whatsapp image 2019-01-14 at 17.51.37 (1)whatsapp image 2019-01-14 at 17.51.37Although it hasn’t been officially used as a place of worship since the 16th Century, we did see flowers and tea light candles indicating that this is still a special spiritual place for many.whatsapp image 2019-01-14 at 17.51.36 (4)

On our way out, we saw two doves perfectly positioned around the arches of one of the Chapel’s windows.

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We also took one last minute to appreciate the peace and beauty up on that hill.  Again, the view was gorgeous.WhatsApp Image 2019-01-14 at 17.51.37 (3).jpeg

The journey downhill was slightly less taxing on the legs but just as beautiful.  On our way home, we stopped at a look-out point just outside the village of Abbotsbury and captured some really amazing photos of the blanket that is the English countryside.

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On our way home, we stopped by a farm shop for some groceries and by the time we left, the sun was starting to set.  Despite it being a very sunny day, we were quickly reminded that it was still winter and that after four o’clock, it quickly starts to get dark.  I didn’t mind the daylight disappearing so quickly because it allowed me to witness (and photograph) one of my favourite sunsets of all time.

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One of our resolutions for the year is to keep walking and keep exploring so I think we will be back at this part of the coast again very soon.  How is your New Year going?



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