We left our friends home to our final trips of hitchhiking. It was a usual cold and raining morning in London. Having stayed with her for an extended week after a failed hitchhiking attempt.. a terrible continuation to hitchhiking in the UK, we were forced back to our friends and after staying an extra two nights were now heading on London’s underground tube, an excessively expensive mode of transport, then to a bus station. We had saved quite a lot of money having spent very little whilst at our friends however still, a 20£ bus was a blow. It also felt wrong when we eventually boarded the bus, our backpacks stored conveniently underneath. It seemed we were on our final trips of hitchhiking.. Our final plan, was to see whether camping at Durdle Door, an incredible rock formation of a large arc protruding out into the water along an equally impressive Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site was possible. Our bus took us to Poole.
The weather had improved sometime along the trip. We couldn’t pick when because we fell asleep almost instantly.. It wasn’t quite as exhilarating or fulfilling as opposed to having to sit with a stranger and talk, but at the same time we were grateful to have covered distance in a exact known time. Time was no longer on our side, as we had a plane to catch in four days! That felt very strange to imagine. We walked to the train station in Poole. We had agreed if a ticket to a town nearby the coast was below 10£ we would take it, wanting to make the most of the improved weather and again, time was not on our side.
For 10£ for two, we rode a train to the tiny town of Wool. It lay only 10km from the coast. We departed feeling refreshed, having eaten boiled egg sandwiched prepared the night before. Walking along the one road heading towards the coast, in the direction of Lulworth Cove, it wasn’t until 4km that a safe pull in spot timed perfectly with a friendly park ranger, resulted in a redemption to our UK hitching and a lift. The friendly New Zealand man dropped us at his office, directly on the coast and only after a few dozen strides, our jaws dropped in awe.
Lulworth Cove is part of the Jurassic Coast and World Heritage Site, however Durdle Door, the structure we so wanted to see as it was the highlight, was what had burned in our minds. What we saw in front of us almost removed that. Rolling green grass hills, indescribable eccentric white cliff shapes and patterns, like non we had ever seen, met the yellow, gold sand and unusually blue water in unison. As its name suggests, we felt as if staring at a form of the earth which had remained unchanged, raw, since the beginning of time. What made it even better, was the now empty from clouds sky and having the entire afternoon, explored the cove, its wild cliffs and simply laid in the long green grass.
It was a Friday, and while the weather was luckily amazing, the time of year kept the huge masses of tourist away. We didn’t have it to ourselves, like many of the landmarks we did throughout Europe however as we began the 2km hike to Durdle Door, which followed up an aggressively steep cliff side track, we were hoping to change that. We hoped to camp somewhere nearby, possibly the beach, despite the ranger who gave us the lift stating it was heavily controlled and illegal. The hike only proved how even more incredible the Jurassic Coast was, and once over the large hill, our eyes swept across the green fields and fell upon the unusual arched rock. From a distance, we realised it was not purely the formation which made Durdle Door so amazing.
It was the entire landscape. How the contrast of the blue water against the gold sand reflected against the pure white cliffs, capped with a blanket of strictly green fields. The Door was so peculiarly raw in shape, it fit in perfectly with the beauty of its surrounds. As we walked down closer however, something became alarmingly apparent. There were many, many tourists and the steep hilled grass fields would make camping impossible. We needed a plan B and thankfully there was. An enormous trailer park sat just above the tourist hot spot and on the fence of defeat again, we walked to the reception and asked if we could pitch our tent.
They had a designated area, it cost us 8£ each a night and we had it entirely to ourselves. Perhaps because the temperature was expected to hit below zero but we excepted that. This was our last “Oorah”, we wanted to finish on a high, or low, however one might look at it. “It is in our highest levels of discomfort which we find our satisfaction”, or something like that.. From where we pitched our tent it was only a 10minute walk down the steep hill to Durdle Door and we spent the rest of the afternoon taking photos and exploring its magnificence. As the light began to fade we retreated to our campground, cooking noodles for dinner off our beer can stove then having an extra long, extra hot shower before climbing into our frozen tent and sleeping bag with absolutely every layer of clothing on. It was a cold night, and we only found sleep in the early hours of the morning.
We weren’t prepared to leave the next day. Having slept in until 9am waiting for sun to warm up everything, we used the campgrounds wifi and found it to be the cheapest option of staying another night. We needed to catch a plane from Bristol, 125km North, however finding little which interested us in the city, we decided to go via Bath, a medieval city with ancient Roman history. It was cheaper, and much more beautiful to camp another night so that left us with plans to spend an extra night camping, one in Bath, then our last in Bristol before an early plane the next morning (to a location we will reveal shortly ;).
It was another blue skied day, however now Saturday the landmark was riddled with tourists. Having seen the impressive formation the day before, we took a rug we had been carrying since Slovenia, some bread, cheese and what was left of our hard boiled eggs and walked up another steep hill to have a picnic, away from the crowds, yet still with a view along the coast. It was perfect, and that day we simply laid in the sun, absorbing what warmth we could and appreciated where we were in the world. That night we followed a similar preparation as the night before except scavenged some recycling bins for cardboard and made a thick under matt for ground insulation. It slightly gave us better nights sleep.
We were up early, bodies numb from the morning coldness and lack of sun. It was a windy day and we felt the full grunt walking out of the campground and 3kms to the town of West Lulworth. It was a beautiful and charming small village, some houses still having medieval style thatched roofs. Standing beside a hostel where cars could pull into the carpark, it was only 5minutes before a small hatchback stopped and a lovely man drove us out of his way to a town named Dorchester. We held no sign only telling him we needed to reach Bath. It was his advise to head this particular way and it payed off. Dropped into the town centre we walked along the one road leading to the next highway and surely enough a Polish women saw our sign stating the next large town and she dropped us on its outskirts.
Now we feared things were slowing down. Very little cars past and while Bath was only 35 kilometres away, we stood in a place hitchhiking seemed well extinct. Our thoughts were diminished however. Possible the most stereotypically dangerously perceived car stopped. A large old white truck with no windows in the back. What had this trip taught us though? To never judge, and that this world is filled with amazingly kind people, and that was what it gave us. Fin, the driver was a philosophical free man, living only just on the grasp of the modern world. He worked at festivals throughout the UK building tipi and living out of his truck. His plan was to drive to Portugal and simply surf and enjoy life. It sounded like a good plan. Despite heading to Glastonbury, only 10km along the road before turning off, he took us directly into Bath and upon departing, gave us a bag full of hand picked apples. What a legend! We said our goodbyes and walked into the centre to find a hostel feeling extremely content on our second last day of hitchhiking.
Bath was incredible. Untouched by WWII it had all of its historic stone buildings, row up row for kilometres which all matched and looked identical. The streets were cobblestone and despite the crowds of tourists, the historic abundance and beauty around us made it a city we felt comfortable in. We didn’t see the famous Roman baths, which the town is renown for because 15£ tickets made it too expensive. We weren’t too disappointed. By night the weather turned around and heavy rain and low temperatures forced us into our hostel for an early and good nights sleep.
Then came what we thought would be our final day of hitchhiking! Despite finding a bus for 3£ which would of taken us the remaining 25kms to Bristol centre and to our last hostel before boarding a flight early the next morning, we walked 5kms in drizzling rain to the outskirts of Bath. It was actually a really beautiful walk along the river and we could not fathom ending our hitchhiking experience taking any other easy option. So we stood in rain under our trusty umbrella (the best item we had brought!) and waited coldly for 30 minutes until a man in a work van stopped and feeling sorry for us, half drenched, dropped us where he thought would help.
It was on the opposite side of Bristol to our hostel. As a result we ironically caught a public bus, because hitchhiking inside of large cities is basically impossible, and it cost the exact same 3£. From being in the city centre it was another 5km to the slums where our cheapest hostel, an ex homeless salvation house, stood awkwardly in a suburb it looked it shouldn’t belong. It’s location however, was perfect to hitchhike to the airport in the morning as it was simply 15km down the road and a bus stop sat perfectly out the front.
The next morning we were fully packed, quite tired yet excited to end our European hitchhiking experience. Having realised the fated location of where we were, we figured we would try and hitchhike to the airport, despite it being dark and 6am in the morning. As we sat in the reception writing our sign “airport”, the man at reception kindly pointed out had he seen 5 minutes earlier, his daughter could have driven us! We kindly thanked him anyway then walked to the bus stop. It was well worth a try, but only 5 cars past in the 45 minutes before our final option of a bus came. We weren’t disappointed, we were ecstatic! We had done it! Five months of hitchhiking and living of 10€ a day was accomplished. It had been such an awe empowering, comfort zone smashing and fulfilling experience, something we would carry with us for our entire lives, but now.. we have began our next leg of our journey; An Irish road trip
(59km walked, 145km hitchhiked)
If you have followed along our Europe hitchhiking trip, we thank you 🙂 it truly has been one incredible experience. Something we did for ourselves, but also for others so we could inspire and showcase that this world is not so scary, it is full of wonderfully kind and beautiful people and that if you have some crazy dream or an idea, you can do it! We are all Limitless, both mentally and physically, and we can do anything!
We have some big plans in the future, travelling many more countries and continents, everything based on what is possible and accomplishable. We would love it if you would tag along..
xo Jian & Kayla