Exploring the Jurassic Coast by train & bus with the family
Join guest blogger Madeleine Sugden as she shares her car-free family adventure earlier in the year.
We're big fans of slow adventures. We love being able to explore somewhere new on foot and through the cinema window of a bus or train. In April we headed down to the south west of England for an adventure in a part of the country we'd not been to before.
We packed the kids up with their waterproofs and got the train from London Waterloo to Weymouth where we were starting from. When you live in-land you forget what a pleasure it is to be by the sea. The huge beach at Weymouth with its super fine sand put instant smiles on our faces!
From Weymouth we did day trips to Portland and Durdle Door on the bus. The weather was sunny but cold and windy. Perfect conditions to blow away the London cobwebs. It was wonderful to finally visit those iconic places in person. The wild-ness of Portland Bill with its white cliffs and lighthouse warning of treacherous waters. The impossible magnificence of Durdle Door and chocolate box treat of Lulworth Cove both took our breath away.
Even on a cold day in April it was busy. The bus driver advised us to do Durdle Door first and walk the path to Lulworth, rather than the other way around to make the experience better. Always ask the bus driver!
After four days in beautiful Weymouth, we got the bus along the coast through Lyme Regis and beyond to the middle stop of the holiday - West Bay. The scenery changed to golden cliffs and a pebbled beach. Broadchurch country. Very dramatic. We did the coastal path, saw a kestrel fluttering at the same height as us and met a huge beetle we called George.
Then finally on to Exeter. The train we were going to get was cancelled so we got the bus instead. It took longer, went the slow way round but we weren't in a rush. Going through tiny villages, up and down hills and through lovely countryside was part of the adventure. We got to see how it all fitted together, changing from Dorset to Devon.
While in Exeter we did a trip along the branch line to Exmouth. A different colour of cliffs again. Red. And a different seaside vibe. We did a spontaneous stop off at Topsham to explore the estuary on the way back.
On the final day, maybe the highlight of the trip, an adventure on the newly opened line to Okehampton so we could walk on Dartmoor. The ultimate wild location. When in London, we crave big open spaces with no one around. We walked along the Dartmoor Way, along the East Okement River, through ancient woodland still stuck in winter. It was magical. No one around. Spring birds welcoming gentle rain. Sheep on the hillside as we came out onto the moor. We retraced our steps back to the station, a quick cup of tea and a brownie in town before heading back.
Six trains. Eight buses. No stress. A perfect way to explore.
You can listen in to sounds from some of the places we visited through our slow radio podcast, Radio Lento.
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