STILLOENGLAND/78 – 222 Days walking 2,878 miles of England’s Coastline. 28 miles this trip on the South West Coast Path from Brownsham Cliff to South Hole Farm in North Devon.

PRE-RAMBLE…..

Natural England’s website gives details of the proposed England Coast Path due to be completed by 2020. Time is of the  essence   for me and I cannot wait till then.  I started my version about November 2013, after completing Offa’s Dyke Trail,  by extending the trail both Northwards and Southwards until now when I have very nearly circumnavigated the whole of England. I hesitate to guess how many more miles I need to walk before I’ve finished  (maybe 400) – it seems someone keeps adding bits, but I must  complete  before my 70th Birthday in November. I am aided and abetted by Nanny and Vera (RAV4), the versatile go anywhere back up  duo that rescue and shelter  me in times of need..

There is a growing conga of guest walkers who also join in  from time to time.

If you want to partake, in any way ,shape or form – get in touch – I’m running out of miles, time and energy. But there’s no doubting the determination  or enthusiasm…..

 

This blog is a series of letters to our grandchildren with clear instructions of how not to do it. And lashings of pictures.

 

Dear Rosie, Lauren, Stan, Jake, Rowan and Maisie,

It’s Stan’s 6th Birthday on Monday, HAPPY BIRTHDAY Stan!

I happen to know he is going to get a creepy, crawly present from Nanny and Bobl, something that likes dirt and mud and is noisy and smelly!

I expect Rowan will like it too.

Can you guess?

No! Not another Flash?

You’ll have to read Episode 79 to find out! And  Jake’s birthday clue  will be then  unveiled too!

Rosie and Lauren are with us for half term, and hopefully, with Stan and Rowan, they can choreograph the Conga for the Finale of the Walk, on Southend Pier. I’m a bit worried about crowd loading.  And only nine months to go…..and the Jive lessons have nose dived.

And soon we’ll see  Maisie and Jake, when Jake turns five! Any one for tennis?

 

Let’s see how the walk is going;

 

The race to Land’s End continues with The Northern Crimson Worm adding another  direct 14 miles and rapidly approaching the Cornish Border. Meanwhile, although already in Cornwall, the Southern Crimson Worm remains  hooked up and disorientated around Fowey, with a big chunk still missing from Looe to Plymouth.  

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This last trip, re-starting from Brownsham Cliff, on the Northern South West Coast Path, took me round Hartland Point and its lighthouse, mainly on eroding cliff edges, past Hartland Quay finishing just inside the county boundary at South Hole Farm. Although I walked 28 miles only half of it was direct progress. Because no public transport was available, nor luxury  back up, I had to walk there and back in a series of circuitous walks – if I was to keep in contact with Vera.

 

 

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I returned each night to the now familiar Hartland Camp Site, which was much drier than my last visit. I use the technological masterpiece of the several day weather forecast offered by each Sunday’s Country File to plan my trips; it has rarely let me down but does suffer occasionally from Post Fish Syndrome, which allows for the worst to happen, just in case!  It rarely does; I filter the information and make my own judgement – but I never go out without complete change of wet weather gear. I also won’t start in the rain; and never go out if mist or poor visibility threatens. Nor snow.  Furthermore, still with several options where to walk , I can often chose according to the prevailing wind  An anecdote later illustrates very simply how disasters  are usually the result of several misjudgements coinciding. So I try to eliminate the obvious – but not always.

That this winter , so far has been fantastically mild  has allowed me to accumulate many more miles than I should and use the tent much more comfortably than I could have wished. The logistics are much easier being self sufficient; I can get going earlier, and much more easily. Camping Barns, Hostels, Pods, Guest Houses, B & B, Hotels are all over rated and in order of being  too accommodating. Noticeably missing from the overnight sleeping hierarchy   is Henry’s ‘Otel; unfortunately it only exists in Fowey.

Any prolonged period of bad weather would put my schedule in jeopardy, and I am physically rapidly slowing down, particularly on the SW Coast Path ascents. Chatting to one of the National Trust Rangers about my project and my self criticism that I left the SWC Path too late in the priority of walks, he  considerately offered that next time I should do it first.

He was joking.

– I think?

The other significant factor threatening my completion date, is the additional surplus miles required to accommodate circular walks. Without public transport and lacking back up, I effectively walk the S W C P twice – out and back . A cursory glance at accessibility of the path heading for Land’s End  makes me think  I’ll be walking most of the rest of the path twice.

I can only apologise now for the pictures that follow; I have culled them ; but the rest of this document is  full of images I could not bear to part with. The scenery is simply incredible.

The sequence of pictures follows my journey from North to South, starting at Brownsham NT Car Park and ending at South Hole Farm

Getting started; still sunny in Brownsham N T Car Park; but very muddy; note the sticks; plenty of stiles and the slopes aren’t exaggerated. I like the grid references.

A circular walk round National Trust’s  Beckland  Woods on  the first day took me past the memorial to the crew of a Wellington Bomber crashing at sea, nearby in April 1943.

 

 

The next day started inauspiciously.

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This is no ordinary patch of mud – it is part of a regularly used bridle path which I chose to walk as an alternative to the SWCP; wearing Wellies as a conscious decision to combat the mud; and I unintentionally left my sticks with Vera. Three very poor actions.

As I strode through the mud, I went in as deep as a horse’s hock, enough to suck the wellie off my right foot. My sticks would have forewarned me as to softness and depth. No matter, just keep balance and re-insert in empty wellie. Mud suction not so accommodating and stocking foot now immersed as I struggled in vain to avoid sock and mud meeting, several other attempts just encouraged wellies to migrate and submerge, until it was inevitable  I was going to lose my balance as the booted leg sunk deeper. I was going down… but I had time to consider which elevation was going to get plastered.  I chose a sideways fall, but the stuck boot thought otherwise. This isn’t going to end well. Even in slow motion….

Eventually after writhing like a mud wrestler on the ground I reinserted a very wet, muddy foot in the vacant boot . It was also cold..but strangely comfortable! I could feel the weight of mud on the rest of my clothes. Now’s the time to be decisive, so how come I chose to pretend nothing happened and walk it off. And hope I met no one else.

 

 

 

Back under way, albeit a little damp and very muddy; NT Car Park at Exmansworthy; sun and threatening cloud but no rain to wash me down; another circular walk back to Vera via  East Titchberry Cliff outwards on the SWCP and a nervous return on the very soft bridle path, but no more falls. Fortunately there was no one around to see a complete change of gear in the empty car park.

 

 

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Hartland  International Heliport…..for Lundy Island

 

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Radar Station at West Titchbury.

 

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Access to the lighthouse at Hartland Point denied……

 

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…..so turning the corner and looking back from Blagdon Cliff, there’s Hartland Point Lighthouse.

 

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Upright Cliff – The rock formations take on a distinctive character as I head South

 

 

 

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St Nectans Church, Stoke. The Tower can be seen for miles .

 

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It’s steeper than you think…

 

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This tractor ploughed within a few feet of the fence, which marked the cliff edge…..

 

The Cliff edge seemed slightly suspect, so I found access to the beach; the tide was out so it was reasonably safe . Apart from bits of falling cliff….

 

The journey over the pebbles and boulders wasn’t comfortable and fortunately I found an escape – steep concreted steps emerging near  Black pool Mill.

 

Sunset on the second day near Hartland Quay

 

 

Hartland Quay Hotel and carpark – finish of day two and start of day three, 222

 

Every so often something extra breathtaking happens….

Like a finger post with gloves and the path disappearing over the edge.

 

South Hole, looking North – just been there..

 

dsc_0878.South Hole, looking South – that’s where I’m heading

 

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South Hole Farm  – finish for now

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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