A typical walking gathering assembled by Norm and Becky to explore The Wales Coast Path around Whiteford Bay on The Gower Peninsular. I had visited earlier on my own and had got lost in the sand dunes. Norm and Becky are almost locals and volunteered along with family and friends, to act as guides. All welcome – come join us!
This blog, now up to Episode 126, by way of a letter to our six Grandchildren, Rosie, Lauren, Stan, Jake, Rowan and Maisie, records my progress walking Mainland Coastline of England , Wales and probably Scotland since November 2013. The actual start date is slightly vague because previously, there was no formal start – it just happened.
We live alongside the English/Welsh Border formed by the River Teme, and not far from Offa’s Dyke.
Prior to 2013, I had been irregularly walking Offa’s Dyke Path, roughly following the Border, eventually finishing in the North at Prestatyn and The Old Severn Bridge at Chepstow in the South. Here, in Shropshire, we live very close to the most beautiful stretches of Offa’s Dyke trail, and access to the route was easy, using The OS Trail Guides as the Bible, aided and abetted by the Stretch Maps by Natural England.
The Welsh Coast Path is already up and walking, but The England Coast Path is due for completion by 2020, according to English Nature’s website. They regularly update and are publishing Stretch Maps covering the whole England Coastline recording the progress of their deliberations. The Maps are colour coordinated but only the stretches in green represent the full and final England Coast Path (subject to erosion of course) –
the other colours represent the intended route but as yet , for various reasons are incomplete . Consequently , as this is an ongoing process until 2020, my route was established as a best guess between established existing coast paths and/or the O/S Proposed Coast Path
On November 11th 2017, I ceremoniously completed The Walk Round England, in my hometown of Southend-on-Sea, at the end of the world’s longest Pier, with a party following on to celebrate the completion of the English stage. I had walked every coast path in England, visited every resort and coastal town and city, and crossed every river that led to the sea. Only very little coast line escaped my attention, particularly Military occupied coast and some private islands; some restricted nature reserves; most islands were set foot upon with attempted walks to their extremities as a spur to the main coast path. Sometimes the existing coast path bypassed islands, but I visited if I could. It was after all a mainland coastal walk. Perhaps I should do a chart indicating which islands received a visit. The Isle of Wight (and lately the Isle of Anglesey were both treated as mainland.
All my walk routes have been highlighted on Ordnance Survey 1:25,000 Landranger Maps. I’ve tried all the electronic gizmos but the well over one hundred O/S Maps are by far my favourite method of planning and recording where I’ve been. Because much of the coast, by its very nature is out of range of reliable modern communication, and dependent on re-charging, I could not rely on the modern aids and kept gadgetry for emergencies. I found having recording devices accurate to several places of decimals distracting and made me competitive, sometimes focussed on distance travelled, rather than quality of surroundings.
At the time of writing I am well into circumnavigating Wales – under 200 miles to go. I am presently at Tywyn approaching Aberdovey and Aberystwyth and coming from the south I am approaching St David’s.
To date I have clocked up nearly 4,200 miles miles in 350 walking days from about November 2013, approximately when I started recording my exploits. Although, with the passage of time my targets are lowered and my daily achievements reducing, I can say that my resolve to carry on has never faltered and I find the whole experience exhilarating and fascinating. I must say that walking in the recent heatwave, uphill tested that resolve to the utmost, more so than any wet, windy or frozen weather. Presumably I was getting nearer the sun.
The obvious question is what happens when Wales is circumnavigated? The obvious answer is ask Nicola. I have no choice but to walk round Scotland to complete my tour of the mainland Island of Great Britain, unless Nicola gains Scotland’s independence from the Union.
I haven’t a clue whether a hard or soft Brexit will or won’t affect any decision to venture off Mainland Britain. Although it did occur to me watching the departing ferries at Holyhead, how easy it would be to stow away to Ireland…….
Get in touch if you want to join in – firstname.lastname@example.org – it’s all pretty random – except I’m very strict about completing every last yard ….. we haven’t gone metric either.
From now on all the remaining Episodes of the Blog will be at https://still0england.com
Previously they were at https://still0england.wordpress.com
Prior to that try https://rdmaccord.wordpress.com
Confused? Join the club! It’s one of the terms and conditions.