Visiting West Bay was the number one thing I wanted to do in England, but to get there we had to take the train from Southamtpon to Weymouth. Now, the immediate area around Weymouth was nothing special. A roundabout, some pubs, the classic brick architecture I’ve seen everywhere else in England. It’s not until we walked towards this clock tower at the end of King Street and discovered the beach, that Weymouth really shined and became a beautiful memory in its own right.
The ocean in Weymouth was a beautiful, tropical blue, like turquoise. The sands, a khaki tan, and covered in crows. In the sky a storm seemed to approach, as grey clouds above us were being chased by darker, black clouds. For a while we took refuge from the rain in a bus stop, waiting to take the x53 or Jurassic Coaster to West Bay. During a pause in the rain, we committed to finding a nice cafe and having a lunch before heading to West Bay. We chose The Good Life, a small cafe ran by very kind women, who prepared our drinks of choice–Cappuccinos and Americanos–and two ham sandwiches. The staff took an interest in my being American, and they were the first to ask in all of the cafes I had been too, what I was doing in Weymouth. I took such delight in explaining that I was here to visit my friend, and that I was here in Weymouth to visit the Jurassic Coast, specifically West Bay.
From our window seat in The Good Life, we could see the beautiful ocean, some white cliffs off in the distance, palm trees, and a statue of King George III. The woman running the cafe said to us that the storm out in the distance, the menacing black clouds, would completely miss us. According to her, the storms always break on the cliffs, the formations in the other towns, Weymouth never gets the worst of it. And sure enough, she was right. The worst storm never reached Weymouth and in fact, the weather became magnificent, bright and sunny–fitting for a beach town. With that, we boarded our bus, and headed towards West Bay.
This was an extraordinary bus. The route it took was just, so diverse. Steep uphill through heavily-wooded areas, where sun showers fell, and branches slapped against the second floor of the bus. Open, high-altitude farm areas, where the ocean could be seen in the distance, and massive cliffs filled the thin space between farm and beach. The road swooped downhill through small brick towns, with cottages, beds and breakfasts, and historical tea shoppes and schoolhouses. A small church on a high hill was the tallest thing in the area, overlooking all the towns and farms as far as the eye could see.
Finally, West Bay. The town was as small and precious as I could have imagined. A small, humble church, a beach side arcade advertising “Family Entertainment,” no towering corporate hotels, no corporate anything–just six fish’n’chips shacks lined up in a row to do friendly small-town competition. As cute as it was, I wasn’t here for the town of West Bay, not entirely.
The cliffs were powerful, and awe-inspiring…
Here, we spent close to two hours. Walking along the entire first chunk of cliff. Digging our feet into the pebbly beach. Admiring the giants, passing by courteous strangers, and many of their curious dogs. The experience was nothing short of spiritual. Just you, your friend, and nature. A wondrous, ancient cliff, whose sediments tells a story about the Earth you don’t understand, but you listen anyways. The layers of the Earth formed such flat rocks that they just called out for you to rest on them. And at a low point in the cliff, where the threat of falling rocks was low, we rested on the flat rock of West Bay. We rested, and looked out into the ocean–where not a single man made thing tainted the horizon. No ships. No buildings. No airplanes cut across the sky. I really mean it when I say this was a natural experience. Besides the cameras in our hands, I think we really were there, carefree and happy.
The Ships Galley
We ended the day in West Bay with some choice fish’n’chips from one of the town’s small seafood stands. The food was a bit tastier than what was had at the Crown & Anchor the night before, I think partially because you just get better food–or assume you get better food–from small town, small business people. We took our fish over to a little marina, and sat on a public bench where we met just the friendliest people. A group of Starlings surrounded me and my friend as we tried to eat our fish in peace, a couple with a dog came by to scare off the buggers, and we thanked the pup for his heroic deed.
This, this was probably the best day in the entire trip.