Lyme Regis Literary Walking Weekend
Available at any time of year as a group tour
This weekend walking tour includes two coastal walks, walks along the Cobb and in the town, a visit to the Philpot Museum and two nights at The Bay Hotel in Lyme Regis where Inspector Morse in The Way Through The Woods (1993) reads a letter in The Times containing a cryptic poem concerning a young girl’s disappearance.
The walks, on clearly marked paths and sections of the World Heritage Dorset Coastal Path, are moderately strenuous with some steep climbs along the coastline.
This ancient breakwater, with stones studded with fossils, has featured strongly in Jane Austen’s Persuasion (1818) and in John Fowles’ The French Lieutenant’s Woman (1969).
John Fowles (1926-2005) moved into Underhill Farm in October 1965, and then to Belmont House in May 1969. Here Fowles wrote The Ebony Tower (1974), Daniel Martin (1977), Mantissa (1982), A Maggot (1985) and The Tree (1992).
Fossils have been discovered locally since the early nineteenth century and it is believed that the tongue twister, ‘She sells seashells on the sea shore’ is derived from the exploits of Mary Anning, who found an entire marine dinosaur in 1811 and continued to find and sell fossils in Lyme Regis throughout her life. John Fowles was Curator of the Philpot Museum from 1978-88.
The Cobb, to Fowles, is a superb fragment of folk-art: ‘Primitive yet complex, elephantine but delicate; as full of subtle curves and volumes as a Henry Moore or a Michelangelo; and pure, clean, salt, a paragon of mass.’
And one, but once, she lifted her eyes.
We will walk along the harbour wall and westwards along the grey cliffs of Ware Cleeves, and to the east along the slopes and ledges of Black Ven, Stone Barrow and Golden Cap towards Charmouth in the footsteps of (amongst others) Henry Fielding, Jane Austen, Lord Tennyson, Francis Palgrave, Beatrix Potter, John Fowles and Colin Dexter.
By Train: Alight at Axminster, a stop on the London Waterloo to Exeter inter-city line. Take a taxi or bus the last five miles to Lyme Regis.