I’ve been meaning to do the walk from Taylor’s mistake round Godley Head for a while, and today was a muggy hot day. Perfect for a coastal walk with plenty of breeze.
It’s a nice easy walk, with a smooth path that’s not too steep, and the whole loop is only about 7 km, so it’s pretty popular. Busy enough that saying hello to everybody you meet seems a little over the top.
We started from Taylors Mistake, the next bay along from Sumner beach, on the outskirts of the city. The bay got it’s current name when the master of a ship mistook it for the Sumner bar, the sandbank that guards the mouth of the city’s river, and ran aground. This was the 1860s, and walking on the headland was popular then too.
On the way up we passed a little hut perched on the hill alone, topped with a widow’s walk. I began wondering about it, and it sparked a memory of reading something. I can’t think where. The story was of a hut which had been taken to Antarctica in flat pack form in the early 1900s, but never used. Back in Christchurch, it was assembled in the garden of a Sumner home, belonging to a seafarer and his wife. A widow’s walk was added so she could look out for him to return. One day, he didn’t. The hut stayed in the garden, looking out to sea, until the 2011 quake shook the house it belonged to off it’s foundations. And then it was relocated somewhere, to be saved from the failing cliffs. Was that somewhere here? I like to think it was. This little hut looked just right for the tale.
After the hut we got distracted by some hot and bothered looking lambs, sheltering from the sun in the shade of a lone tree. And then we totally lost the path. But we made it to the top anyway, with a brief fence-line excursion. There is a carpark up on Godley Head where you can begin the loop walk, and miss out the spur that connects it down to Taylor’s Mistake. We took the summit as a sign for a water and peanut break, sitting on an old concrete slab, watching a ship slowly chug into Lyttelton harbour.
The slab belonged in some way to the collection of old gun battlements and lookout posts which dot the headland up here. They make for some nice gritty vistas of sea through rough concrete window frames. My favourite was the miniature firing range.
It seems they used this room to play grown up battleships. A sight was trained on a model of the area, a virtual shot of some kind fired, and then a peg raised in the grid underlying the model to show where the shot had landed. The
game exercise was over when a peg was raised under the ship they were aiming at.
You sunk my battleship.
Because we’d lost the path on the way up, we ended up doing a lollipop loop, rather than the big loop the walk is supposed to entail, and we only took 2 hours. But it felt like an adventure. So much to discover, so close to home.
And we didn’t even manage a beer at the end, or a swim at Taylors Mistake.
Something for next time!