THERE is a track that runs for two miles behind Chesil Beach, between the villages of West Bexington and Abbotsbury.

It was once part of the original coast road and now serves a scattering of cottages and holiday lets. It is also the route of the South West Coast Path, making a popular short walk through a stunning stretch of coastline.

The sounds of waves striking the beach accompany any visit. Here there is a constant battle between sea and land. The author John Fowles described it as “an elemental place, made of sea, shingle and sky, its dominant sound always that of waves on moving stone: from the great surf and pounding ‘grounds of seas’ of sou’westers, to the delicate laps and back-gurgling of the rare dead calm…”

Overlooking the Abbotsbury end of the track, from a hill known as Buller’s Cliff, are the enclosing walls of Strangways or Abbotsbury Castle (not to be confused with the nearby Iron Age hill fort). These are all that remain of an eighteenth century summer residence built by the Fox-Strangways family, the kitchen garden of which developed into the Abbotsbury Subtropical Gardens.

Lawrence of Arabia is known to have been a regular visitor here. On the beach and in the adjacent fields remain a number of World War II defences, for it was felt that the deep waters off Chesil made for a viable enemy landing place.

Surviving salt-laden winds and a lack of freshwater, some highly specialised plants root deeply into the shingle. As we enter September the main flush of colour has gone. Thrift and Sea Kale are going over to seed, but still hanging on are some white mats of Sea Campion and the odd Yellow Horned-poppy flower.

The walk provides stunning views round the sweep of Lyme Bay and, on a clear day, the coastline from Start Point in Devon to Portland Bill can be seen.

At each end of the track is a car park, one owned by West Dorset District Council and the other by Ilchester Estates. Both can be reached from the B3157 coastal road using the X53 bus service. There are toilets and seasonal cafes at both ends. It is a rural track, parts of which are uneven and rutted, with a covering of shingle that some people might find difficult.