escape to the chapel

The gridlocked cars on the other side of the road stretched in a long, shimmering, heat-hazy line and I couldn’t help but smile a cheeky smile.

The road on our side was clear.

They were bound for the Weymouth beach, we were destined for a chapel in the woods.

I feel the draw and pull and spell of the sea in my blood pretty much every day and I know I am incredibly lucky to live so near the coast, but on a sun drenched UK Bank Holiday weekend you won’t find me anywhere near the sand. Last weekend, my heart wanted lush green leaves and light dappled bluebells and pretty bird song and burbling streams and old chapel ruins with ivy spilling down the walls and a wash, a wave, a shiver of peace through my veins.

And, at St Luke’s Chapel near Abbotsbury, that is exactly what my heart got.

After getting a bit lost due to me mixing up St Luke’s Chapel on Ashley Chase with Chapel Coppice in Abbotsbury (it was the nicest and prettiest lost I’ve ever been), Patrick and I eventually made it to the right woodlands (thank you to Bellenie’s Bakehouse for the directions and the yummy pasties).

The road to the walking track was twisty and bumpy, but stunning. We parked up when we got to the end of the public road and set off to the chapel on foot.

Shaggy grass, patchworked across the hills, rippled in the wind. Branches of gnarly trees, knotted from a lifetime of sea breezes, pointed us on our way. Constellations of salt-misted bluebells twinkled beside the path as we walked by. Canopies of leaves shimmied above our heads and showered our feet with dancing shadows.

It felt like heaven.

The chapel was bigger than I’d expected. It was beautiful and peaceful and eery; a muddle of brick, statues, and gravestones haunting earth, ivy, and trees.

And the quiet.

It was the sort of hush that sinks into your bones and untangles all the noise in your head and all the worry in your heart. We only saw one other pair of walkers the entire time we were there, and that was when were almost back at the car. For most of the journey, we had only the cows in the fields beside the path for company.

We were so close to crowds and crowds of people but so, so far.

And the traffic on our journey home? Well, the universe got me back for my cheeky smile as we’d zoomed passed the morning’s traffic jams…

Only in Dorset.

❀

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