Posted by: natsevs | February 18, 2010

A few milestones

Since my last update I have hit the most Southerly point in Britain, as well as the bottom end of Britain and completed one tenth of my entire journey. I have also stayed in possibly the worst B&B in Britain and discovered that McVities chocolate digestive share bags do not even hold enough biscuits for 1 person for 1 morning.

From Falmouth, I set off towards Helford where I had decided to allow myself a ferry crossing as it was very clearly across river and the way around looked very long. The ferry was not running. I asked in the pub if there was any other way of getting across and was told the ferryman would be in the shop round the corner selling handknitted jumpers and suchlike. Apparently, his hands were tied by THE RULES and  my options were to wait and see if someone turned up with a boat or walk around.

So off on the road I went, thankfully the scenery wasn’t too depressing and I went through a few interesting towns. That night I finished somewhere near St. Martins and jumped at the first semi-secluded and flat spot I could find. This turned out to be the edge of a cabbage field right next to the road. It was one of the coldest nights I have had yet, but I still got a fair bit of sleep. In the morning, as I was packing up, the field next door started to fill with people who were being directed by one man and were fanning out into a semi-circle moving down towards my field. They weren’t after me in the end, they were just picking cabbages on their field, so I got away unharmed.

I was excited to finally get back to the coast at around 10am, and then I had to walk 2.5 miles around a creek. After a slight bit of tresspassing, I did at last get onto the coast proper and was able to start making headway again, although a lot of the coastpath in the morning would take you down into a cove and then out, inland. These routes were always accompanied by a “Coastpath Inland Route” sign. This is fine if they offer a proper route alternative, otherwise it’s making you feel like you’re cheating when its quite clearly them that couldn’t be bothered to put a proper coastpath in at that bit.

It was then through old mines, fields and burning scrubland before reaching Coverack. From there the scenery was epic and come mid-afternoon I could see the Lizard, my first major milestone! It looked a lot closer than it was and I arrived at Cadgwith, about 4/5miles short, just before 6pm in the dark.

I’d decided to treat myself to a B&B in advance of reaching the most southerly point. When I arrived there all the lights were off but the sign on the pub door said it opened at 6pm. At 6.45pm a guy arrived, said hello, and went inside. Five minutes later he was turning on the lights downstairs and let me in. As he led me to the reception, a rat ran out of an external door, he then told me a room would cost me £45 or £55 for en-suite! Apparently they can’t go any cheaper because of linen costs and they have to make a profit, don’t you know. Like 450% profit. He dropped £5 off when I said I was walking the coast. Washing linen must be expensive because £45 doesn’t get you a towel either and he had to bring in a plug-in radiator.

The bathroom unfortunately did not have such added warmth so post shower was interesting considering we were in the middle of quite a cold spell. Ham, egg and chips served suspiciously quickly for tea whilst the folk night warmed up. Thats right I’d arrived for folk night –lucky me – and guess who was sleeping above the bar as it carried on until midnight? During the night, the rat either came back to have another look at me or mice were in on the show because I woke several times to the sound of scratching around my room. Next time I want to treat myself, I’m going to save the money and camp.

I reached Lizard Point at around 11am the next day with some fo my previous excitement coming back after the anger of paying a lot of money to such undeserving people (I can’t help remembering how much cheaper and better the B&B at Lulworth cove was and wondering how that can happen). At Lizard Point, everything was shut, but I don’t really have room to fit a turtle made out shells in my bag anyway.

Had some very picturesque coastline from there on, with Kynance and Mullion coves being favourites. At Mullion, I needed some food so headed into town. I got distracted by a sign pointing me towards a chocolate factory shop, which was a lovely little place which made its own chocolate, not an actual factory, and I got myself a couple of the cheaper bars. I then visited the local shop which surprisingly didn’t have Lion bars, so  I had to settle for trying my first kitkat chunky caramel. It was very good, a contender even, Lions still have it though.

I finished in Porthleven after taking lots of pictures of the sunset from Loo Bar, and stayed with Trina, Craig and family that night. I was treated to a roast chicken dinner, as well as packed lunch in the morning, and was made to feel very at home. We watched a programme on infinity which has taught me that in an infinite universe, such as we are thought to be in, every single one of you is/has/will walk the coast of Britain an infinite number of times, whilst a monkey types the entire works of Shakespeare.

Walking through the tin mines between Porthleven and Rinsey Head, I met a guy called Steve who told me about a race that takes place between Lizard Point and Lands end, 44 miles, and the winner does it in arounf 7.5 hours! Having now walked that route, I can fully appreciate how ridiculously fit you’d have to be to do that. Rinsey head is privately owned with a house right on the end which is awesome – I want that house.

From Marazion, with its views of St Michael’s Mount, it was flat and pathed all the way to and through Penzance. I was excited about getting to a Morrisons in Penzance until i got there and a railway blocked me from getting to my cookies. I had to walk on and settle for a lesser more accessible supermarket, unfortunately.

At the end of the day, I walked through Mousehole. Kind of. From the harbour, I had the option of going up a steep road along the proper route or going along the flat looking rock beach. I chose the rocks because I saw a person with there dog walking there and figured there must be a path. The route went from concrete, to rock, to wet rock, to wet rocks you have to climb up, to slippy climbs up rocks with water pouring down from the cliffs above. At this point, the dogwalker was long gone, if they ever really existed. I saw the faint markings of a path heading inwards so checked it out. As I climbed up, someone emerged from the trees around the path, so I was pleased I’d found a way out. Except once in amongst the trees, I couldn’t see any obvious way to go. Eventually, I was dragging my bag along the floor so it would get caught on branches as I ducked through the thick foliage, then through brambles, never looking like I was going to get out of this place until suddenly an opening. An opening about 8 feet vertically below me. I got down ok-ish then had to use a crate to reach up and get my bag down after me. When i rejoined the road the guy I’d seen come out of the opening was stood there looking rather smug it seemed to me.

I was expecting a really cold night, but with the aid of several layers I was acutally quite warm and had one of my best tent sleeps yet. I woke to a beautiful sunrise over Lizard Point, the last good one I’ll see for a while as from then on I was going to be waking up on the west coast until post John O’Groats. In the first hour of the day, I gradually removed my many layers until I was down to just a t-shirt (and trousers, obviously). I was expecting to hit Land’s End at around half 12, but it was proving very elusive.  Around every headland, I was waiting for it to pop up, but didn’t glimpse it until half 3. I think the signs may have been slightly wrong, or I was walking at 1.5miles an hour because it should have been around 9 miles from where I camped. It has led me to suspect that the South-West coast path may actually employ someone, or several people, who have never even walked to the shops let alone along the path they are producing signs for. This could just be my pride speaking but as I have rarely seen 2 signs where the distaces add up I feel i am at least a little bit justified.

I finished in Sennen Cove in the end. I considered going further, but gave into reason and a better offer and stayed put. My parents arrived in Cornwall on this day, so I was planning on getting a taxi to the travelodge they had booked, but that was going to be expensive from Sennen Cove. In the end, I waited for them there in a pub and we headed to travelodge after all having some tea.

So I now had company and did not have to carry my life on my back every day. I felt so ridiculously light walking from Sennen Cove to Zennor it was crazy and I was surprised by how easy I found the walking without the added weight, apparently all this walking has actually made me fitter. Unfortunately for them, mum and dad didn’t have 5 weeks of continuous practice behind them, needless to stay they struggled although, they will want me to point out that they are keeping up a lot better now, although not walking whole days.

Saturday evening marked the end of week 5, which made 35 days and approximately 700 miles, 10% done, 90% to go. Progress.  Sunday took us into St.Ives and also saw a dramatic increase in the number of people on the paths. I’ll be honest, after 5 weeks of predominant solitude whilst walking, having company and being surrounded suddenly by loads of people made me slightly uneasy. My toilet stops have had to become a lot more discrete as well. St. Ives marked the beginning of the bays. Up to that point its been mostly coves but now there are beaches reaching up to 3 miles long which I actually find really pleasant to walk on, although surprisingly I have yet to take my boots off for a proper barefoot beach walk. Next time.

Moday morning we set off from Godrevy Head and after just 15mins or so came across a big seal colony on the inaccessable beach below, which was a very nice surprise. My brother had mentioned I hadn’t been tweeting very much lately so at least I had something to say now. Later on that day, around Perranporth Aerodrome, the cliffs shifted to a really reddy colour and the path became yellow whilst the sea was a brilliant turquoise, the most colouful my scenery has been by far. It was a little before this that I was dumped on by a short but very heavy rainfall which absolutely soaked my trousers. The following freezing wind was a great addition. Eventually finished in Holywell after another lengthy beach walk.

I think i’m going to finish up there even though there’s still 2 days i haven’t caught up with. Tuesdays highlight was the finish at Trevose Head and the 2 bays just before then, which despite the slightly rank weather, made for great views. Today I ventured onto the Camel Trail for a bit, which was fun after seeing it on tv a few times. Tomorrow I will be setting off from Rock and apparently venturing into some quite hardgoing terrain. Just in time for when I have my bag back on.

New photos have gone up the photo page. I will try to get some captions sorted for most of them.

x

Advertisements

Responses

  1. Hi Nat
    I’m the brother of Colin Craggs who is married to your sister Kath who mentioned that you were tackling the whole coastline and to be honest, I must be as mad as you because it is something that I would have loved to have done .. but maybe when I was younger !! We (that’s my wife Paula and I) would love to help in some way, and as we own a B&B in Whitby we would love to put you up for a night or two. I’m sure you won’t know at the moment when you are likely to be passing close by but if you could let us know via email when you get a little closer we could possibly do some pick ups and drop offs while you pass thru’ the area??? Anyway we wish you the Best of British, take care, keep warm & blister free. See you …. P&P

  2. well done. There will be some sponsor money coming to you soon, am a bit broke at the moment!

  3. Hi Nat
    Dad here using mum’s computer, we are now home having been walking behind you for 7 days. They say pet owners become like their pets, it seems to me that you have become like the ferral goats along the shore line, tough, wiry, prestigous balance, speedy and sure footedness, with the extra additions of hairiness. I would love to smelliness but somehow you manage to avoid that embarrassment. I am amazed how quick you walk but have had to come to terms that mum can beat me over ten miles as long as its has no inclines! I will let you know when my great toe nail falls off, how the hell you have no blisters beats me!
    Since coming home we have been trying to work out how to get the cream eggs from Cadburys down to you in a way that you can carry them and not die undert the weight; not succeeded yet perhaps we should eat them?
    Luv
    Dad

  4. Pleased to hear Lion bars still have the edge over Kitkat Caramel. At the end of your journey you should name and shame that B & B, sounds disgusting. But hopefully the good outweighs the bad, and judging from your blog, it certainly does.

  5. i can’t believe you hadn’t eaten a kitkat caramel yet!xxx

  6. I know someone that has done that 44 miles run. Took him 9 hours. Seriously impressive.

    Also in course of research I have discovered there is a lot of confusion of the length of the coast path. It used to be considered 258 miles long, now thought to be 299! So that could certainly explain some sign-posting confusion.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Categories

%d bloggers like this: