The Strollers walked from Corfe Castle to Swanage along Nine Barrow Down. Nine Barrow Down is described as “an elongated hill” stretching for about 4 miles, according to my OS Maps app. We travelled to Corfe Castle on the Swanage Railway and our train was hauled by a Bulleid Pacific locomotive, 34028 Eddystone. This locomotive was recently overhauled at a cost of £350,000 and at one time worked from London Waterloo to Bournemouth and Weymouth. On arriving at Corfe we spent some time looking round the village. I went to the bus stop to see if anyone had decided to come by bus, while the rest of the party went for a coffee, following an old Stroller tradition.
On leaving the village we crossed the railway line and started to climb up to Nine Barrow Down. The path took us obliquely up the side of the ridge so was a steady but not too strenuous ascent. I assured the party that once we got to the top we would have easy walking all the way to Swanage. However this was not exactly true as the path kept going uphill, albeit at a fairly easy gradient, so was hardly noticeable. It was considerably less busy than Ballard Down on the previous day but we did stop for a chat with some young people from London. We passed a herd of handsome dark brown cattle who some people described as cows but one member of our group described them more accurately as “boy cows”. Visibility was better than on the previous day and we were able to see the Isle of Wight. However we were unable to see the Spinnaker Tower in Portsmouth, which apparently can be seen on very clear days.
We left the ridge before the end to avoid the busy road that runs between Swanage and Studland. The descent was like the ascent in that it ran obliquely down the side of the hill. By this time one member of the party was having difficulty and when we reached the foot of the ridge we decided that four members of the group should return to Swanage in a taxi. Three of us still had about a mile to go and were looking forward to an easy walk. However we encountered a lot of mud and came to one field entrance which resembled a bog, with footprints sunk deep into the mud. We had to make a detour through a field, uncertain where the faint path would lead. Fortunately we were able to join the main path and after going over two stiles were able to join the main road into Swanage. My two staunch companions went to the seafront to have an ice cream and I returned to the splendour of the Purbeck House Hotel, noted for its unusual showering facilities.
Report by Sandy
Photo; Corfe Castle and steam train on Swanage Railway. User SGGH CCASA 3.0