30 km London Bridge to Cape Schanck
Weekend Day Walk on 25 September 2016
Walk Leader: Matt, Ray and Marty.
At 6.45 am on Sunday Sept 25th, a group of hardy souls gathered in the London Bridge Carpark in Portsea, ready to take on the London Bridge to Cape Schanck Lighthouse 30 km walk, part of the iconic 100 km Mornington Peninsula walk. The three leaders were the redoutable, and there were the ten disciples left standing from the original 15 intended. These people need to be recorded for posterity, as the world needs to know that we all made it!!!!! Yesss!! High fives all round.
After milling around adjusting gear, ablutions etc and taking the obligatory photo by the London Bridge sign, we headed off a bit after ?7.00 am. It turned out to be glorious weather for walking, despite the grim predictions earlier in the week, and all were in excellent spirits. Matt was leading the first 10 km, and he gathered us up and set a cracking pace, although we slowed to a snails pace going down the slippery ramp near the Portsea yacht club, site of recent mishap.
We had some beach walking from there, then up the sand dunes and into the coastal tea tree trails. The coastline was pretty spectacular, with bright blue sky, and a stiff breeze giving the waves a bit of character. Then in the coastal scrub the birdsong was glorious, and being Spring, the tea tree was in flower, and the wild flowers were everywhere. Lots of talking and laughter, but still some quietude, soaking up the ambience.
Matthew was taking his best camera for its second hike. After only one hour, he had taken 30 photos, so we stopped counting after that. The other statistic of interest was the number of layers of clothing put on and taken off, and put on and taken off……. We stopped counting there too.
By ?10 am we were more than ready for a spot of morning tea, but as the wind had decided to arrive with a brisk Antarctic chill at that point, we found a nice area of beach with decent rock shelter, and enjoyed taking the weight off our feet.
Soon after that, it was time for Matt to hand over the reins to Ray, who was boss-in-chief for the second 10 km. Again, we had some variability in the walking, with beach walking, cliff top walking and tea tree scrub walking. From a difficulty point of view, it was hard to pick between walking on the beach sand (trudge, trudge) to walking on the inland trails, which had an easier surface, but reminded us all of the reality of the meaning of the term ‘a few undulations’. It didn’t actually matter, as the environment was superb in all locations.
Things got a bit more tricky at lunch time. We stopped for lunch, to get in before a front, which we could see advancing ominously from the horizon. But packs were barely opened when so did the heavens. So some partook of refreshments while huddled under a bush, and others nibbled under the friendly verandah of the nearby toilet block. By the time lunch was finished, so was the rain. So off we set again, soon disrobing yet again.
Ray found us an interesting rock formation called Lizard Rock – looked like a dinosaur to me, the carnivorous kind. And there was a magnificent view of a very large and flat rock shelf over which the waves were breaking. The water then ran off the vertical edge of the shelf, giving an appearance reminiscent of the Niagra Falls in miniature. It was quite stunning. And further round the coast there must have been an underwater rocky outcrop, because every so often when the conditions were right, a huge gout of spray would go up, to remind us of the power of the ocean.
We were route marched along a good few kilometres of beach again, then had a pause for some blister treatment. Marty on one foot and Mike on the other, armed with a multitude of band aids, was an impressive surgical team, and soon saw the patient restored and mobile again, if still somewhat tender. Then off we went up a rather steep sand dune, and off around the back of some cliffs, not wishing to trust the tides with our fate.
Finally it was Marty’s turn. He decreed that we should go at a leisurely pace, and then took off barefoot and carrying someone’s pack as well as his own, two poles and his sandals, at such a pace that the rest of the team was rather reduced in conversation as we endeavoured to keep up. All except Phil, who decided to run up one of the hills like he had a train to catch, although when invited to repeat the performance a little later on, he respectfully declined. Not sure if he had run out of trains or run out of puff.
We avoided Boags rocks which would have been extremely slippery with the rain, so we took a bit of a detour. And Marty had been talked out of sending us up the 450 steps at Fingal’s beach – instead we climbed the ascent more gradually and walked the upper route through the bushland. I didn’t do a poll, but I suspect it was not only me who was secretly relieved.
Eventually we made it back to the road into the lighthouse, but not before there was a plaintive call of ‘are we there yet?’ Once on the road, Ray came charging along overtaking all others till he got to the front, as he wanted to make sure we took the obligatory photo by the Cape Schanck sign. Soon we were all assembled, and the picture was in the can. Then off to the car park, for kisses and handshakes all around, and the removal of boots from some very grateful feet. ?4.15 pm. Just over 9 hours on the trail. If we allow about an hour for rest breaks, that comes out to 4 km/hr. Not fast, but not too shabby given that it wasn’t exactly pavement walking. And it gave us time to take it all in, and revel in the luxury of living and walking in such a beautiful part of the world.
Then happy and eminently satisfied with the day, we headed off via the car shuffle gentlemen to collect the cars at Portsea.
Many many thanks to the leaders of a really excellent walk, to the powers-that-be that managed the weather gods, and to all the participants for the great conversations and friendship shared with all on the walk.