EPISODE 105 – EPISODE 104 WAS A BIT PREVIOUS – THE EARLY JUNE SCHEDULED WALK DID TAKE PLACE – FROM BANGOR TO DULAS BAY ON ANGLESEY – IN MEMORY OF LOCAL LAD DAVE SHIPP – 33 MILES IN THREE DAYS – GRAND TOTAL 3,640 MILES IN 295 DAYS.

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Ave atque vale Dave.

Dave Shipp was bi-local; he shared 1959-1966 with me, in  Shoebury and at Southend High School for Boys and then eventually in Llandudno Junction, North Wales, making him very local to the North Wales Coast Path around Llandudno,  Bangor Conwy, Anglesey,  Caernarfon and The Llyn Peninsular. I was hoping to hand over a great chunk of walking responsibility to him, in his  home Welsh  territory. I’m over the border in Shropshire and in need of a local guide to complete my Welsh circumnavigation.

Dave left behind a wonderful family and lovely wife Gill.  It was obvious when Marilyn and I  stayed with her that he was sorely missed. The house is bursting at the seams with Dave memorabilia. If it was curious, historical, bookish or Militaria then I’m sure Dave had it secreted away somewhere.

I have to congratulate Gill on her superb efforts as back up driver, tour guide, chef and hostess, obviously well schooled in walking with Dave, and dealing with his idiosyncrasies. I was well aware mine were up for discussion with Marilyn and Gill…. plenty to have a go at.instability

Looks like early stages of instability to me…..

 

 

Unlike the solid British Isles Physical Map by courtesy of Ordnance Survey; my completed route overlaid in Scarlet. Just when I thought the Copyright Authorities were after me – I didn’t have written authority for using the map , although I’d spoken to a O/S gentleman several years ago and been given permission verbally. Recently, I’d heard a radio piece that warned of getting proper permission otherwise you can run up huge penalties , and what’s more, copyright  people operating on a “no win – no fee” basis are getting involved. I phoned O/S and spoke to lovely Linda who immediately reassured me that the map is OPEN DATA and available for my use, with scarlet worms and no written permission is required – despite the small print on the map. She even thanked me for acknowledging  “BY KIND PERMISSION OF ORDNANCE SURVEY” each time I use it. Thank you Linda and Ordnance Survey! 

I   completed walking round England in July 2017, and by June 2018 reached Dulas Bay on Anglesey, North Wales; and beyond Llanelli in South Wales. I probably started all this around November 2013, on Offa’s Dyke Trail, near where we live on the Shropshire/Wales Border.

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

My previous visit to North Wales in January this year, was curtailed abruptly by the Beast from the EAST, version one. Rapidly deteriorating weather turning to heavy snow caused VERA’s dashboard to light up like a Christmas tree and the heater finally expired. I abandoned progress to my booked YHA Llanberris Bunkhouse at Llandudno and drove home, hoping VERA would get me there. She did, but faith in her future all round back-up capability was severely dented and even VICKY substituted occasionally. Intrepid explorers must have reliable gear, so it came to pass that, merciless as it may seem, VERA and VICKY were replaced by ZUD. This is his/her first round-Britain escapade.

Two unknowns have sneaked in there; in anthropomorphising (look it up) ZUD, I haven’t assigned a gender; m/f/n? I’m still coming to terms with the name! What do you think?

And (never begin a sentence with “and”), of course it should be “And”;

So; And notice how Walking round England morphed into England and Wales ; and now Britain. I have no explanation for either.(except I don’t like “so” either)

Get on with it.

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The view from Dave and Gill’s sunroom by Gill – River Conwy middle distance.

 

I had always assumed that since this was Dave and Gill Shipp’s territory, I would hand over control of  North Wales Walking to Dave, but Dave died suddenly in September 2016, so, instead, I will dedicate my walking round Anglesey to his memory. Gill was there to play wonderful hostess and unexpected back up driver, and offer beds for the nights, Marilyn and I stayed over. The memory of Dave was everywhere; he collected anything and everything, particularly if it was curious, military, historical and books. He is still obviously very much sadly missed by his family and friends. And me. I shall just have to get lost, on my own , without him. Somehow I don’t think he would have approved of my no longer drinking alcohol….. Walk on , Dave!

 

 

 

 

Let us begin this trip – returning to Bangor Pier with Marilyn, leaving me on the exact spot where I had fetched up last visit. I get very ocd about starting where I finished. No missing bits on my walks.! Heading off to Anglesey – leaving the mainland via Menai Bridge.

 

Walking the banks of the Menai Straits until I got to the Raft Race Finish on the seaward side of Telford’s  Menai Bridge. It was Carnival day and they’d also closed the bridge to film Dr Doolittle. I wondered how I was to get across – my own raft? 

 

 

 

The film crew had laid on a shuttle bus, but I still complained that my walk round Britain would be bereft of one full bridge span – enough to get me disqualified or accused of short cuts. “Come back after four and you can walk – the giraffe will be bedded down for the night”. Can you see the giraffe? Amazing what CGI can do. Meanwhile a cycle group had approached the far side and negotiations were taking place. I was told the Brittania bridge was also closed.

 

 

 

I’M OUTA HERE. Heading for Puffin Island. That’s Bangor Pier across the Menai Straits in the middle distance. 

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Two more mugs from RNLI BEAUMARIS and the Lifeboat Station

 

 

 

Heading for Puffin Island which is low on Puffins and the Straits with the tide out – end of day one.. and it was a hot one too!

 

 

 

DAY TWO began very misty after yesterday’s heat.. Returning to Penmon Priory near Puffin Island, Gill and Marilyn delivered me to the re-start before heading off for clotted cream ice cream scones at Plas Newydd, National Trust, The Marquess of Anglesey’s pad  etc..I kept to my water,fruit, figs and prunes and The Wales Coast Path – or nearly….

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As I left Penmon, the Wales Coast Path became a series of fields with irregular boundaries bounded by huge stone walls or derelict fencing, all full of cattle or sheep. Generally they moved aside as I approached except on one occasion the cows and calves remained crowded round a stile I needed to climb. The calves were very young and the mothers very protective and bellowing. They were agitated by my presence and started getting belligerent . I looked for an escape route and only the high stone wall looked possible. I wasted half an hour good walking time trying to keep safe and eventually the cows realised I wasn’t a threat and I hurriedly climbed down  and over the stile only to confront the bull in the next field separated from me by a flimsy gate.   I  also hurried out of that field. cowsWell – you would wouldn’t you

 

 

I was closing in on Red Wharf Bay but somewhere around Bwrdd Arthur, the Wales Coast Path became diverted and I contacted the ladies to advise my several delays and change the rendezvous to somewhere nearer – we ended up meeting at Brynn Hrddin for my late lunch.

Diversion signs above eventually lead me to Red Wharf Bay below

 

 

 

After a delayed lunch, there was time to stroll into Red Wharf Bay town, where Gill and Marilyn force fed me a 99 ice cream and persuaded  me it was hot enough to end today’s walk after 10 miles.

Home to Gill’s where more than enough good food and drink lay in wait to restore tired and overheated bodies, while we admired the view of The River Conwy.

 

The final day began with another Gill breakfast before saying farewell  as we headed back to Red Dwarf Bay unaccompanied to The Pilot Inn, Dulas Bay via Benllech and Moelfre. The following pictures say it all – there’s some serious scenery….

But not without incident – The Route was barred  due to landslips but someone had decided to scrawl that it was actually safe – but at your own risk. Nuff said.5

 

And the scenery goes on…

 

Until I met this lady with bags asking for “help”…

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Which was at hand with the Life Boat Station just around the corner..

Of course the gift shop suffered, more mugs, early Christmas Cards, sun hat, notes, badges – only essentials – and lunch. But we had promised our late, long term  friend and  neighbour Pam to give to RNLI – such a worthwhile cause. I’m sure Dave would have approved; if only you go back to early Episodes to read how we capsized a canoe, and not wanting to cause a fuss, made out we were not in danger of being swept out by the outgoing tide round Shoebury Ness. A narrow call   between ending up drowned or exhausted trespassing on AWRE forbidden beaches – officers use only. My regular walk donations are more to thank them that they would have rescued us if we’d called for help!

 

A real emergency costing over 400 lives when the Royal Charter went on the rocks around Lligwy Bay in 1859 – the monument and storyboard commemorates the tragedy.

 

And on that note I decide to head inland and complete the day’s walking. Dulas Bay represents a two or three mile diversion to ford the Afon Goch. It looks like a corner waiting to be cut. The tide was out, the sands exposed. What could go wrong, I could be at Porto Bello opposite in a trice. No let’s go home – solve that problem next time..

 

 

Thirty two miles travelled in three hot days – one mile left – resting more frequently- heading inland for pick up Rendezvous

1 mile to go

 

 

The Pilot Inn alongside ZUD and Nanny waiting in the A5025 layby near Pentre Eirianell, my start point next visit.

Episode 104 – Unfortunately the Early June scheduled walk on The Wales Coast Path has had to be cancelled due to a catalogue of interruptions, mishaps and a plethora of unforeseen adverse unhealthy circumstances. No miles – no smiles – but progress on The Mill is grinding on, without VERA and VICKY. If you wondered about Privacy, read on….

dudley town hallpasha

Dudley Town Hall -Where’s Pasha? Anya?? Rosie and Lauren??? They were all giving us a “STRICTLY”  take on Hollywood. One of the unforeseen interruptions from which I gladly rested.   Scroll on for more detail….but first a bit of Admin.

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

Everyone, recently, seems to be enthused about privacy. You can’t have missed those countless emails intended to reassure that your vital statistics aren’t being sold to the highest bidder. You’ll be pleased to note that I couldn’t do that even if I tried. Some of the Privacy Statements I’ve read seem to do the exact opposite and encourage the recipient  to disclose even more personal data and give away their  rights.

It’s not for me to decide what you should and should not do with your personal information, but I personally guard everything carefully, and realise I should treat other’s personal data similarly. It seems many people are a bit casual about signing up for terms and conditions , and the like, without even reading the contents.

From now on, I shall contact all entries in my BLOG address book, firstly to see if they are comfortable there and secondly, to ask if they wish to continue to receive the blog via their preferred e-mail address.  Thereafter only those who explicitly request the blog will get on the list.

This will deep cleanse my address book and get rid of a host of out-dated information , and possibly leave me with only a handful of unfortunates still wishing to find out where I’ve recently fetched up on the England/Wales/Scotland coastline. Suits me fine! Less admin….

As for the contents of the blog, I will only include comment about guests joining me on the walk with their express permission, and offer these victims the right of reply.

In distributing the blog via email addresses I will endeavour not to disclose addresses to others without permission.

Any questions?

 

 

Answers – here’s Lauren and Pashalaurenpasha

 

And here’s Rosie and Pasha!

rosiepasha

 

But we lost Anya – Where’s Anya? Rosie and Lauren and friends from Fusion Dance Factory performed with Pasha and Anya at Dudley Town Hall last Saturday to a packed house. They then slept for three days……. please send a picture of Anya, when you awake, Sleeping Beauties! 

All the best to my reader,

Bob

PS A last postscript to say goodbye to VERA and Vicky, the legendary back up vehicles – my carbon footprint wasn’t very green. Swapping to a petrol driven RAV 4 Hybrid called  “ZUD” has changed everything.

Their last day at The Mill…..vicky and vera

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Episode 103 – The one with Andy Sargent – 3,607 miles and 292 days spent walking the Coast Paths around England and Wales – This trip 31 miles from Broughton Bay on The Gower to Burry Port in Carmarthenshire. Andy’s contribution – 9 miles from LOUGHOR to LLANELLI

 

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Famous Author Andy Sargent and Bobl obscuring a perfectly good view of Llanelli Mudflats

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The Scarlet Worms have never been more appropriate reaching Llanelli…….              … MAP BY KIND PERMISSION OF ORDNANCE SURVEY

 

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

Background. Uncle Sarge/Andy is not really your Uncle, in the same way as Auntie Jean was not really my, or John, Susan and Janet’s Aunt.

Auntie Jean, Andy’s Mum, was a school best friend of  Nanny Tab. Their children became friends and  knew respective parents as Uncles and Aunts. Sarge/Andy attended the very same Southend  High School as John and The Writer and even the same House – Athens. It was not possible to attend that school and not be unaffected by the raucous presence of Sarge even though he was several years ahead of me  and a couple ahead of John.   His fingerprints were on everything and footprints all over the playing fields. Hockey was his particular game and I do recall, when one particular House Match result was not to his liking, his stick flew from one end of the pitch to the other.

I was impressed.

Don’t try this at home…..

So: Imagine my delight when after months of trying I signed Uncle Sarge/Andy up to join in The Walk when it passed near his home in South Wales.

I was honoured.

After hours of bartering and bantering we hammered out a suitable level stretch of the Wales Coast Path extending from the off ramps of The Gower Peninsular  over the Loughor Bridge via The Sewage Works, through the National Wetlands Centre and Millennium Coast Park, past The Golf and Country Club along the Llanelli Promenade to join Nanny Marilyn at The Visitor Centre Café at North Dock for refuelling. In all nine miles the high level of humour and jocularity didn’t falter; many common names would have been recalled if only we could have remembered them; but  the spectacular recollection remains  the Sargent/McIntyre fifty partnership At The Southend Waterworks Cricket Ground – the highlight of our respective sporting careers. A one off. As is Sarge.

He gallantly accepted the challenge of contributing to THE BLOG and without further ado The Famous Author produced the following…..

A Scarlet Letter Day

I once heard Phil Bennett (Llanelli RFC, Wales, Barbarians and British Lions, in that order, he would probably say), speaking at a dinner. He said when he was younger he’d been taught to hate two things:: “Baghdad and Swansea…only not in that order” .

I suppose Llanelli, which he has in his veins, is an acquired taste, if you weren’t born just up the road, like he was. I have to say that at first sight,  ” Romantic Weekends at Llanelli and Burry Port” might win a competition for the world’s best short book titles. The access road to what passes for the beach is a No Man’s Land on which the pre stressed concrete team is fighting out a goalless draw with the one representing plastic and glass. Never in your life have you seen so many ASDAs,and the like, crammed into a couple of square miles. It’s hard to tell who’s winning this but my money would not be on the Town Planners, for the architectural award.

But I wasn’t going for a romantic weekend. Instead, I was spending a Sunday or most of it, with Bob McIntyre, whom I have known since he was born. I can see him now, but will leave it at that this being a family blog……….

But now he is older, leavened with age, slightly grizzled with the sands of time, but still with that very soft voice which reminds me so much of his mother. She was a person of grace and kindness but also of authority, a big character, who would fight for what was right and never give up. I played a lot of hockey, and she would have graced any team I represented and then some.

Which is where Bob gets it from.

Words are the only thing available to describe this fellow: utterly determined, stubborn, resolute, stoical, funny, honest, human. Thank heavens Marilyn has to live with all this. Give me a few character defects any day. I know where I am with these. Mainly my own, although I hotly deny the hockey stick story. (The American golfer, and club thrower, Tommy Armour, used to deny such allegations vehemently. This was explained by the late Sam Snead who said Tommy threw clubs so often, they became a blur in his memory. Maybe that was my own problem?)

Anyway, Marilyn met me in this car park, next to a mainly empty building, unsurprisingly called ‘Visitor Centre’, and together we drove in the venerable RAV, (not quite as venerable as me) to find the doughty hiker, who greeted me with the assurance that he had already got lost twice that morning, and he hoped I had strong feet and boots to match.

His brand however, is worse than his bite. He had been described to me as- well, merciless, not to put too fine a point on it. Tales of Malcolm McLeod having to be revived by Diana (murmurs of ‘why bother?’- from graduates in Cynicism from SHS). Other kind wishes offered me from Henry Staunton and Elizabeth Watkins (Abbot) along the lines of: ‘you’ll be OK Andy. Don’t let his enthusiasm run away with you though.’

As it happened, I had nothing to worry about at all. The walk itself, was mainly very easy, flat, lined with blackthorn trees, nature reserves, and, in fairness to Llanelli, some simply stunning scenery, and wonderful estuary views. Not a great deal of wildlife though. Probably they knew we were coming.

 I actually live in South Wales, although the magnetic pull of Llanelli and Burry Port had yet to work its magic spell upon me. But my mate up the road is a Llanelli man, born and bred at Gowerton Bridge where he became a fearsome off spinner later recruited by Glamorgan. When I told him where I’d been he went all dewy eyed (he only has one) and said that if he’d only known, he would have come as well. Which, dear reader, is the thought with which I will leave you: Go! JFDI (Nike customers will translate), and enjoy the buzz. He is truly great company, and I shall definitely go again, hopefully before the so called last hoorah at Aberystwyth. I only wish my legs had lasted longer but truth to tell, nine miles was OK, and more than I had thought. He was very kind to me and Marilyn too.

Many thanks to them both for a great day. Well, half day anyway. He did another nine miles after I had staggered away. His name should be ‘Felix’. his Mum would be very proud.

Perhaps she is?

Andy Sargent

 

It was quite sad and subdued to complete the rest of my visit alone when Andy decided to retire from The Walk  while he was winning at The Cafe.  He promised to return when he had recovered – at least 6 months  – probably for the finish party at Aberystwyth?

Together we didn’t get lost on The Coast Path, despite immersion in conversation; the same couldn’t be said of my lone trekking. Prior to meeting up I had already taken two serious off piste misdirections, firstly at Whiteford Sands National Nature Reserve where i got comprehensively lost in the dunes; and secondly I was well on my way to Three Crosses from Bryn y Mor. Both I put down to poor signage and diversions. Couldn’t possibly be my map reading.

Nothing so adventurous on the last lone stage of the trip as i followed the well appointed extra wide footpath and cycleway into RNLI Station at Burry Port. Another sad occasion  – this is to be the last time Vera meets up with me.  Scrappage beckons. The new incumbent is called ZUD!

Overtaking a herd on our way to Broughton Farm Caravan Site, start point of this walk – and within minutes I’m on the beach, no sign of the Wales Coast Path Signs and soon to be hopelessly lost in the sand dunes. I will have to return with local knowledge to check which parts of Whiteford National Nature Reserve I missed! Norm!

Help!

I shouldn’t be allowed out in your patch unsupervised.

 

Being lost in the dunes  – little consolation when I found out too late there was a diversion ! If you can name any of the above pictures please advise…. although below is self explanatory, but I wish to be informed as I enter such interesting features – not as I leave.

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The Coast Path to Llanrhidian followed an old railway track, the area was formerly mines docks and industrial activity but little evidence remains, nature has a way of covering our false tracks.

 

Llanrhidian Marsh – National Trust – free car parking – we’re members! That would be mainland Llanelli in the   background on the far side of the River LOUGHOR

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That threatening cloud came from nowhere to finish off a previously sunny walk; so a phone call ahead for rescue as no shelter available. 

Evidence of the old railway line now the Wales Coast Path next stop Gowerton , then heading for Loughor Bridge and  Llanelli. I shunted into sidings at Crofty at the end of the first day , as the rain increased, awaiting collection by back-up crew Vera and Marilyn

 

Day two  began with a beautiful sunrise and I resumed my tracks at Crofty

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anticipating rendezvous with Andy/Sarge. He’ll never recognise me….a bit podgy? And odd boots? Shades?? Beany hat???

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He’s arrived – on the LOUGHOR Bridge heading for Llanelli and lunch.

 

 

Apart from skirting the sewage works by way of soft marshes the trail to lunch was for the most part paved, level and well signed; only interrupting conversation to check our course was correct.

 

DSC_2958After nine miles walking and lunch, Andy said his farewells and we parted company promising to do it all again. Check your recovery period first Andy! 

 

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The Walk post Andy was quite subdued until I came across this monument to The Welsh Legend Phil Bennett sidestepping an All Black.  My Kiwi readers might say….Well that never happened….. The posts are from Stradey Park Llanelli Scarlets former ground.

 

From the tribute to Phil Bennett the Walk became quite sterile, one can only imagine the industrial mayhem and heavy industry  of previous years that has been tidied up and landscaped.

This is where my energy levels, after 31 miles in two days are now so low I can only just summon my back up team, who arrive and whisk me off to hotel sanctuary. Thank you team. Thank you Andy.

 

 

 

Episode 102 – 3,576 miles and 290 days- Walking the England and Wales Coast Paths. This trip 30 miles from The Mumbles to Broughton Bay via Oxwich National Nature Reserve, Rhossili and Broughton Bay. Estimate 636 miles to complete The Wales Coast Path

 

Burry Holms….                                                   ….and Worms Head

Warning! – some of the scenery that follows is beginning to get quite spectacular!

 

 

PROGRESS MAP

– Spot the distance difference from the last Episode – clue – we’ve been Mumbling about somewhere sounding like Goa?

Thanks to Ordnance Survey for kind permission to use their Physical Map Of the British Isles with my added Scarlet Worms. Still no recent  movement around Anglesey! Northern Scarlet Worm is becalmed.

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

It’s April Fools’ Day and the weather is playing tricks with us. We picked a good day to start and managed 11 miles from the Mumbles to Oxwich along rapidly improving coastal scenic beauty. It would be difficult not to get better after visiting Port Talbot. But anyway the day finished prematurely when the previously threatening rain eventually arrived and halted progress.

The forecast is more of the same and we’re going to have to take our chances nipping in and out when the rain relents.

Remember last Episode finishing  at the Wales Coast Path signs under the Brisbane Blue Sky – here we are back again – someone’s been busy with a new seat.

Mumbles signage - where it all re-starts next time out Start point of this trip – Bracelet Bay Car Park near The Mumbles.

 

Same sign – new bench since last visit; and the Wales Coast Path heading off round the Gower Peninsular to……

 

………Langland and Caswell Bays are surfing bays round the corner from The Mumbles – not much happening on a cold Easter Sunday with the tide absent.

 

Brandy Cove – a smuggling flavour:  Pwlldu Bay more National Trust.

 

Pwlldu Bay from Pwlldu Head and Oxwich Bay on the horizon.

 

Descending to Three Cliffs Bay – get ready to wade across Pennard Pill and peek into the smugglers’ caves…..

 

Two water courses cross the sands at Three Cliffs Bay and Oxwich Bay; Pennard Pill – tide out not too deep – but wet and cold; followed by the slightly faster and deeper un-named drain to Oxwich Marsh, equally inconvenient. Now I’m totally wet but across   Home Free on Oxwich Burrows, heading for the National Trust Car Park and Vicky and Marilyn. They have survived gridlock in the carpark caused by an Easter Egg Hunt.

 

The rain is on its way and we’re off to the Swansea Ibis to dry out. See you on Day Two!

 

 

Day Two  – such a hurry to get away yesterday I forgot to take finishing photos – I can sneak in some pictures taken now, but eagle-eyed grandchildren will notice the tidal sea-change. All the bays are full of water….  walking mudflats not an option for a while. The weather started to change – not a sign of the Yellow Torrential Rain Warnings? Yes – I got wet again but not to the extent forecast. The going was very slippery and, but for my sticks, I would have fallen countless times. So although I only achieved 12 miles on day two, these were worth double for all the sliding.

Leaving Oxwich Beach above on Day Two with the tide in, heading for St Illtyd’s Church and Oxwich Woods before turning Oxwich Point below.

 

The sea turbulence where the Bristol Channel, Celtic Sea and Atlantic all try to occupy the same space is quite dramatic. It’s difficult to know which is which….

 

 

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Someone has been collecting plastic rubbish – …. thank you whoever you are

 

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Maybe this occupant has something to do with it?

 

Caught out in the open with no shelter and an enormous black cloud making ground on me, animal instincts showed me how to turn a gorse bush into a makeshift lair. I backed in and snuggled down while the offending cloud passed over without a single raindrop.

Intrepid.

 

Nearing end of day two, I turned off the Wales Coast Path at Pen Thurba Head heading for Pitton and rendezvous with Nanny and Vicky over the hill.

 

Although Rhossili is just next door the coast path does exactly that, the long way round, and takes me the scenic clifftop route via Mewslade Bay and Kitchen Corner with views over the Atlantic.

 

 

 

And then Worms Head comes into view and as I progress round the corner so too does the vast expanse of Rhossili Bay stretching up to Burry Holms

 

 

 

Arriving at Burry Holms after walking along the wet sand, although the formal route takes the clifftop for most of the journey. One last view looking back at Worm’s Head below.

 

 

 

One final view from the dunes of Rhossili Bay with a glimpse ahead of Broughton Bay and the final walk this trip back to Nanny and Vicky – the speck in the centre of the lower picture. I had managed to finish before the rain arrived. Home to the Mill.

 

 

And finally Nanny’s favourite photos  of Worm’s Head and Rhossili Beach…

 

 

EPISODE 101 – 44 miles and three days walking the Wales Coast Path, from Rest Bay, Porthcawl to The Mumbles, start of the Gower Peninsular in South Wales. Accumulative total walked round England and Wales is 3,546 miles in 287 days. Next time I’ll start the countdown to reach Aberystwyth.

 

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What we left behind in Shropshire….

ROGRESS ON ENGLAND AND WALES COAST PATH 2

Spot the progress…. the South Wales Scarlet Worm is winning?

MAP BY KIND PERMISSION OF ORDNANCE SURVEY WITH MY CRIMSON OVERLAY DEPICTING PROGRESS ROUND ENGLAND AND WALES.

 

 

 

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

Things get better all the time.  This lonely trip on my own, but  with hotel accommodation, was planned before Nanny  took flight to be with ailing Omi in Auckland 12,000 miles downunder. By all accounts Omi is so much better and Nanny is being feted on her birthday by our NZ friends and relations. Due back next Tuesday – coinciding with Beast from the East Part ii.

My trip started off in dreadful weather on day one, so much so that I used my  top secret to-and-fro technique, being my own all-in-one back-up driver and security guard.  Initially the neighbourhood technique  took a lot of getting used to and the environs of the Wales Coast Path were less than salubrious. We won’t dwell on that because a lot of work is underway to improve the urban landscape  and docklands, and as I say, by the end of the trip all was well with everything – take a look at the final sunny pictures of Swansea Bay , especially the Brisbane Blue sky.  Those antipodean skies are my last remaining hankering after the Southern Hemisphere climate, but soon diminished when I also recall  the accompanying humidity and cyclones.  New South Wales ? Eat yer heart out!

It was Queensland actually.

So! Apart from the use of the word”so”, my only point of contention – despite actually living ON the Wales/Shropshire border I find my silver haired bus pass has become a bus impasse. I’m discovering the true cost of paying my full wack on Welsh buses. My above mentioned to-and-fro technique slowly paid dividends, but meant I walked the route there AND back….. is that two bus fares saved then?

Another piece of peace of mind was keeping Vicky  in full view all the time – the locale did have a reputation and all my worldly walking equipment was stored within. A consequence of which was being able to walk unencumbered. So many bonuses but the progress westwards was slow. About two miles per hour.

So! – just get on with it. And sit in the car when it rains. There’s plenty of coffee and Bovril in the flasks! And nuts, dark chocolate; figs; dates, muesli bars; fruit;  Welsh cakes; Pugh’s Welsh pork pies all in my back pack. Plus milk and water. And prunes. And if anyone is really interested in what goes in and comes out –

-I’m very nearly back to normal – thank you – after six months of very hard going. All the above and a full English every morning at The excellent Ibis Swansea, keeps me moving.  Sometimes have to move quite smartly but won’t go into that.

Top tip. “PC” on the O/S Maps is  navigable collateral. Always check it out.

And thanks to the local bus services particularly the X1, X4 and 2C – the only concern I had was making myself understood and in turn understanding the fare structure – it seems they don’t like my accent? If I kept handing over money it seemed to make transactions smoother. Oh! And finding out how to get to the bus stop at the McD’s interchange by the River Neath where the M4 and A48 converge. I could see it but I reckon you have to be born there to stand any chance of using it. In the end  a few useful vaults over Armco barriers and railings solved the problem. I’ve still got it! Don’t try this at home.

One more concern during Marilyn’s administrative absence, was confusion over future bookings with the Swansea Ibis. I thought I ‘d be clever and arrange the next visit, knowing Nanny won’t camp, and stay at the Ibis on April Fools Day. Not so easy – should leave it to the experts – but Sam at Ibis eventually unravelled my requirements and added complimentary breakfast to boot! We will be back…

 

Finish last time out and Start point this trip – Rest Bay and Royal Porthcawl Golf Clubhouse. Surfing and golf – odd neighbours?  Had “PC ”  in common though.

“PC” O/S-speak for toilets!

I admit to not knowing where I finished Day one….

 

But rectified the situation after sleeping on it and sorting it out on day two….

 

Only to find that The Wales Coast Path has an inland option when confronted with high tides around the Kenfig Pool and Dunes National Nature Reserve. I took the inland option which wasn’t scenic,  varying between canal , A48  and housing and industrial estates.  And some dereliction. And another golf course

 

 

I’ll be glad to get back to the shoreline!

 

 

But not before Port Talbot

 

CROSSING THE NEATHAfter Port Talbot, the M4 and A48 cheek by jowell cross the River Neath and enter large scale Dock re-development before  crossing the River Tawe and into Swansea City Centre. The King’s Dock and Queen’s Dock are all undergoing massive changes alongside part of the University Campus and it would be unfair to judge whilst under reconstruction.

But all this industrial hiatus changes as I cross the River Tawe Weir and suddenly the whole of Swansea Bay is opened up in front of me. The sun comes out and lights up The Mumbles all the way round the bay, with the tide way out the early spring sun is glistening on a vast expanse of  level sand as far as I can see. Even the wind drops and I take off a couple of rain protective layers.

I  dawdle for several hours round the bay and reflect how lucky I’ve been to get this weather window so quickly after being under snow at home – with another blizzard predicted later on.  A “99” ICE CREAM is exactly what I need!

All’s well! There’s a queue at Joe’s.

Mouth full. Nothing more to say until I get to Mumbles Head and the RNLI Station and Mumbles Pier – which was closed!

 

Knab Rock; Mumbles RNLI ; and Mumbles Pier  – Closed,

 

mumbles head and lighthouseMumbles Head and lighthouse

 

 

mumbles-signage-where-it-all-re-starts-next-time-out.jpgMumbles Signage – where it all re-starts next time out – 44 miles walked in many different directions from my very rainy start point on Sunday at Rest Bay near Porthcawl. Look at that sky …….can’t improve on that.

Well – s’pose another 99 wouldn’t go amiss?

Episode 100 – Passing 3,500 miles in 284 days walking round the English and Welsh Coastline. This trip – 27 miles on the Wales Coast Path (south) from West Aberthaw to Porthcawl.

Where I left off last time out on the Wales Coast Path  – Delightful  West Aberthaw Power Station – starting Point for Episode 100…….

…let’s hope it energises me after a protracted weary layoff.  I’m feeling decidedly nervous.

DSC_2651

…..and 27 miles later, appropriately,  Rest Bay (below), west of Porthcawl, where this trip  finished after tripping  over the 3,500th milestone – 3,502 actually – and counting – round England and Wales. It was wonderful and exhilarating to have been back on the road again. For a while I’d been contemplating life without the Coast Paths. But that’s all behind me now.

Oh Yes it is!

PORTHCAWL REST BAY FINISH

 

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

Two mileposts encountered this last trip on my walk round England and Wales, firstly Episode 100 of the blog and secondly, I’ve walked over 3,500 miles. Most of it in the right direction. In another 500 miles or so, I’ll trip the 4,000 mile barrier, and the finishing line at Aberystwyth should be in sight.

Which crimson worm will get there first ? At the moment South appears slightly less sluggish than North, which seems becalmed around the Menai Strait. Progress Map below…..inkedmap-progress_li.jpg

 

I did try to add some miles to the Northern Welsh Scarlet Worm a short while ago. I set off, in good weather for Llanberis YHA to attack Anglesey. Vera’s heater declined to come with me; around Llandudno the 4×4 Warning light came on  followed by the Engine management light. The sunshine was substituted by snow, which got heavier and started to settle on the road. Although almost there, I bottled it and quickly added several layers of walking clothes and drove home non-stop!

The Southern Scarlet worm is also showing little progress from last month, but after upgrading something technical to a superior version since the last blog, I have lost the facility to edit the map any more. Progress!? So just imagine the scarlet line a few miles short of Port Talbot.

Everything is falling apart – but I still keep walking…….

The Coast Path clung close to the shoreline on this stretch which was generally scenic and pleasant as I got removed from the industrial regeneration of the previous stretch.

What I was not prepared for was the similarity with the S W Coast Path with the very frequent changes in altitude, which showed me how unfit I was after a prolonged layoff. Better get used to it – there’s far  more to come.

 

………Setting off from Gileston  and approaching Col Huw Point

 

 

England on the horizon from Wales Coast Path

England on the left horizon from the Wales Coast Path

 

 

Nash Point

Col Huw  Point – lunch break where I refuelled with Bovril, which has replaced Guinness as preferred drink of choice. There also was a choice of dismounting the ridge; the formal steps dead centre or the cliff edge. I must have missed the steps? But I got my Bovril.

 

 

Tresilian, bottom circle above, has views of Exmoor (top  circle) across the Bristol Channel .

 

 

Nash Point Light House, here and there….. near Marcross.

 

Heading for New Mill Farm Carpark to rendezvous with Nanny and Vicky – who had noticed Vera was absent?

At some stage Ffynnan Fair  …….

…..turned into Nash Brook. At the end of which Nanny and Vicky were waiting……. at the end of day one.

 

Day two started from here, but I’d have started somewhere else if I knew the wild horses were going to start on me. Luckily I hadn’t taken a short cut across their field to The Coast Path, they were superexcited…

superhorses

…..Superhorses

 

After retiring racehorses, there seems to be a monument to retiring rock bands with Dunraven Park, Dancing Stones and Slade Park grouped around Pillow Mound and Pant y Slade, ancient earthworks and fort.

The natural coast is very photogenic and culminates in ancient  Dunraven walled gardens …..

 

…containing  the Ode to Dunraven Bayode to dunraven bay

 

Moving quickly on towards Ogmore by Sea and The River Ogmore, the tide is going out and just maybe I’ll be able ford the river at the beach when the tide is at its lowest. Otherwise it’s a four mile detour to the nearest bridging point upstream

 

 

ogmore by sea instructions]

The instructions for visiting  Ogmore  aren’t helpful about crossing the River

 

I arrived to find the  tide well out but the depth and speed of the river  too much for me, but on the map I spy a Weir, but getting there it is far from navigable and the same goes for a ford.OGMORE FORD

 

I eventually find a single lane bridge (below) serving the local sewage works on which I cheerfully  cross the now wider and deeper river. How that happens is beyond me since I’m going upstream.ogmore sewage works bridge

Makes no difference  – I reach the other side only to be confronted by a human road block who will not allow me past. Apparently it’s a privately owned bridge and works are underway and I’m not permitted, and must return to the other side. I’m told that even further upstream there are  (maybe) stepping stones!

 

I find the stepping stones but crucially some are missing – more backtracking and I find a bridge signposted the Coast Pathogmore br1 S WCP

 

 

One thing leads to another and the first bridge leads to a second……..OGMORE R BRDG GUARDHORSE

…….but I hadn’t reckoned on the guard horse unwilling to let me onto the bridge until I paid a bribe.OGMORE R BRD 2….at last I’m across not particularly dry because the shire horse field was understandably sodden with huge shire horsed size divots to fall in.

I followed the River back to the shoreline quite uneventfully, but slightly perturbed by the unexpected sand dunes also pocketed by hoof prints making the going quite strenuous.

 

merthyr mawr warren tide out porthcawl

Only  the Merthyr – mawr Warren to cross and I’m in Newton Burrows where  Nanny and Vicky should be awaiting my arrival, on the outskirts of Porthcawl. Back to The Ibis in Swansea. Good night!

 

The final day’s walking started where I’d left off last night. Close to Porthcawl Harbour

….and so to Rest Bay…..PORTHCAWL REST BAY FINISH and home after walking 27 miles.

 

Episode 99 – 3,475 miles and 281 days walking round England and Wales. This trip – 38 miles on the Wales Coast Path from St Brides Wentlooge to West Aberthaw Power Station via Barry Island.

 

 

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Just to remind you what happened in November 2017 when we finished walking round The  England Coast Path  – the next party will happen when The Wales Coast Path is completed in the race to  Aberystwyth Royal Pier….. remind me to do another Crimson Worm Map!

 

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

We’ve all recovered from Christmas and New Year Celebrations and it was time to brave the wintery conditions and record low temperatures to resume the walk around England and Wales.

I am not brave enough to consolidate the title and revert to calling it a Walk round  Britain, because I have studied the maps and by including Scotland I almost double the whole walk.  Even if I maintain current policy and stick to the mainland coast paths, plus a few selected islands.

I’m not ready for that.

But at some stage during my completion of The Wales Coast Path I know a  choice is going to confront me. I’m inclined to consider Scottish Independence is the best solution for me.

The generally accepted distance completely round Wales, is about 1,100 miles.

I have already completed 182 miles of Offa’s Dyke Path whilst completing The Walk Round England; and afterwards I walked 68 miles to Bangor on the Northern Wales Coast Path; plus recently 72 miles from Chepstow,  to west of Barry Island on the Southern Wales Coast Path.  So I reckon I have under 800 miles to complete my walk around Wales.

The Crimson Worms explain all, on the map  below;

– the big thumb tack near Mid Wales is The Mill in Shropshire, conveniently placed on Offa’s Dyke Path running north/south;

– the white tacks at  the ends of the Crimson worms represent the extent of my Welsh Walk so far

– the other tacks on the English coast represent the furthest North, South, East and West I got whilst walking The England Coast Path.

map progress

The race is on to see which route gets to Aberystwyth first, and then I decide whether to take on Scotland. My proposed schedule has probably deferred that decision for about a year. I won’t make any rash promises until I’ve computed  exactly what it entails! And I’m going to need quite a lot of help……  many followers have already announced their intentions  to join in the Wales Coast Path Walk – all are welcome!  Each first weekend of every month, there will a two or three day outing – you just have to find out where to join me on the North or south Wales Coast Path. Other unscheduled visits reducing the distance  to Aberystwyth will occur and will more than likely be camping expeditions……..  again –   all are welcome!

 

This  trip started at the icey carpark of The Lighthouse Inn, St Brides Wentlooge. Wales Coast Path – south.Starting off from The Lighthouse Cafe Carpark with ice.]

 

The Seawall gives the mainland   protection from Severn Mouth and or is it The Bristol Channel?The seawall protection from Sern Mouth and or Bristol Channel.

The Path could not keep to the seawall and soon turned inland to regenerating areas that were formerly industrial – sadly attempts to maintain a suitable coast path tourist environment were heavily blighted by fly tipping and made the path look like a detour through  the local tip.Fly tipping made the path unpleasant..

 

Shortly after the unforgettable and unforgivable fly tipping, The Path then took me past this – whatever it is? I know I was slightly off the correct route but it was better than picking my way through dumped rubbish. The formal route of The Wales Coast Path now gets very complicated shooting off into the re-generating Cardiff docklands and city centre.any ideas..

I subsequently found out it was part of a Refuse Centre And Re-Cycling Plant.

Moving on and further inland following an uncharted brand new highway, it wasn’t long before I skirted the old docklands and  surrounded the Welsh National Assembly below – no fly tipping here! All of a sudden I was in the heart of Cardiff and wandered off-piste looking at local highlights…DSC_2609

…..there’s a lot of work to be done here…

……..I finished the first day’s walking crossing Cardiff Bay Barrage and ready again the next morning to head off towards Penarthon Cardiff Bay Barrage

 

Penarth Pier – fly tipping a distant memory  – and, from now on,  The Wales Coast Path really does hug the coastline – mostly…..Penarth Pier

 

Penarth RNLI Station – not open for business – we’ve damaged two in our collection of RNLI Mugs and need replacements for Mablethorpe and Bembridge…. we’re sunk without them – anyone going to either resort, please replenish our stocks!RNLI Penarth

 

 

Approaching Lavernock PointApproaching Lavernock Point

 

 

 

 

Vera and Marilyn  overlooking Sulley Island.. in wait for plying me with coffee or Bovril..Guard over Sulley Island.JPG

 

 

Barry Docks Entrance, but not for me to visit the Lifeboat – I was barred.

Barry Docks Entrance - no access to RNLI - GATED

 

 

And so I continued my scenic tour of  Barry Island – this is  Whitmore Bay, see the bright lights? Some  fun parlours are still open even in the murky depths of winter. Compare and contrast with Southend Pier! We’ve got Jamie Oliver…..?

Scenic Barry Island - Whitmore Bay

 

Instructions for fun at Barry Island…..

INSTRUCTIONS FOR BARRY ISLAND

 

 

Barry Harbour awaiting Summer visitors…..

BARRY HARBOUR

 

RNLI Visitor Centre – Barry Island – closed! Time to move on……

RNLI BARRY ISLAND.JPG

What’s the quickest way out of here? The Wales Coast Path of course. Well signposted from now on and plenty of evidence of the industrial heritage as I leave the city heading West.

 

Porthkerry Viaduct served the quarry and now the power station. Apparently 5/6,000 tonnes of coal a day reach the Power Station by Rail. (Wikipedia) How come I didn’t see one freight train?

DSC_2640[3763]Porthkerry Viaduct

 

DSC_2642[3761]Former Rhoose Point quarry now regenerating

Rhoose  former quarry now regenerating – at times the path had sheer drops either side – to the sea or to inland lagoons formed by centuries of  excavations.

 

 

DSC_2641[3758]Rhoose Point

Rhoose Point  – the sign marks the area of the most southerly point of the Welsh Mainland

 

And suddenly I was hemmed in again by mobile homes and campsitesescape from camp

 

 

 

 

But I found an escape route, leading to the environs of a coal fired power station

 

 

The Wales Coast Path threads its way around coal fired West Aberthaw Power Station, while The River Thaw tries to slip out un-noticed, but a bit the worse for wear.. apparently the power station is doing trials on carbon capture and also I noticed stockpiles of timber in addition to the vast tracts of coal brought in by railway. Sorry – I mean bio-mass – all this jargon doesn’t disguise the unhealthy nature of the processes. Wikipedia claims 5-6,000 tonnes of coal a day is brought in by rail.

I, too, back at The Mill, am at the cutting edge of energy production, with my 0.66 kilowatthour micro- hydro- generating plant due to be installed where the millwheel was; to supplement the maximum 4 kilowatthour PV Panel installation …… all we need is plenty of sun and plenty of rainwater! Latter guaranteed!

The Wales Coast Path goes round West Aberthaw Power Station

That’s the River Thaw emerging from The environs of the power station; fortunately the limekiln installations have long since fallen into dis-use. Things can only get better – nature doesn’t take long to hide our previous nasty industrial activities; but fly tipping doesn’t help…….  yes it made an impact on me. I shall find someone to rant to!

 

The finish this time out was at the WEST ABERTHAW POWER STATION, best hidden in the mist. Back again in about four weeks – hopefully we’ll get some real scenery next time? And the mist won’t be missed……sorry!

DSC_2648[3749]WEST ABERTAW POWER STATION - in the background! Start point next time out.....

Episode 98 -3,438 Miles; 278 Days; Still0England – and now Wales – carrying on walking The Welsh Coast Path, 16 miles from Nash to St Brides Wentlooge, Lighthouse Park.

PLEASE NOTE THIS EPISODE 98  FOLLOWS HARD ON THE HEELS OF THE ENGLAND FINALE EPISODE 97 – IF YOU KNOW THAT READ ON.      IF YOU WANT TO READ ABOUT THE PARTY THEN SCROLL THROUGH THIS UNTIL YOU ARRIVE AT EPISODE 97. GOOD LUCK.

DSC_2559

 

Newport Transporter Bridge, Crow Point used to take industrial traffic over the River Usk, on a Gondola slung beneath the gantry. Now it only takes tourists, in season.

 

 

Walk Day 278, Sunday, 3rd December, 2017

 

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

Continuing my walk around Wales following completion of the English Coast Path

Back on the Welsh Coast Path, walking 16 miles on the north bank of The River Severn, from Nash to St Brides Wentlooge. The terrain was  fairly level seabank and coastal defences through a regenerating, previously heavy industrial area and docklands. Now  only The Power Station, iconic Transporter Bridge and pylons remain. Two huge examples of which take the power lines high over The River Usk and the main railway line carves its way from London towards Cardiff and Swansea with no local stations in evidence. Just as well Nanny and VERA are here to back me up!

We’re staying at the Newport Ibis Budget, which turns out to be an inspired choice and excellent establishment. Thank you very much.

 

 

 

 

DSC_2570

The West Usk Lighthouse commemorates the second President of The Institution of Civil Engineers, my former Professional organisation. No comparison to his record with Trinity House, my record includes a couple of Kiwi hospitals, a few bridges and subways, many industrial buildings, numerous houses and a niche market of renovating old structures in the Birmingham Jewellery Quarter Conservation Area. And not forgetting The Mill in Shropshire…..

The Mill – if in doubt build another barn. Tick, tick, tick and tick….but first prevent The River Teme  encroaching on the kitchen…..Tick.

 

 

And eventually our walk ended at The Lighthouse Inn at St Brides Wentlooge

 

DSC_2571

 

Look what’s coming below –  SNOW – Rosie and Lauren in Worcestershire, and Hettie the snowlady …

no more walks….. God luck!

photo[3592]rosielaurensnowman

 

and Stan and Rowan in Herefordshire

photo[3600]stanrowansnow

 

Maisie and Jake with Cassie in Derbyshire

photo[3601]MAISIEJAKECASSIESNOW

EPISODE 97 -STILL0ENGLAND – AND NOW WALES – ENGLAND FINALE – ONE AND A THIRD MILES ON SOUTHEND PIER TO COMPLETE THE ENGLISH COASTLINE. FOLLOWED BY THE PARTY….

photo[3497]SOUTHEND PIER FINALE

Done it! Rosie, Stan, Rowan Nanny, Bobl, Maisie, Jake and Lauren at what’s left of The Finish Line on Southend Pier… THE BANNER WAS COLOURED IN BY EVERYONE IN THE PICTURE!

 

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Above —  Some of  The Walk Groupies reach the end of Southend Pier – the banner didn’t…

 

 

Map Below….The highlighted O/SMap shows my route all over Essex…..the Pier (bottom left) was the final piece of the English jigsaw

WALKING OVER ESSEX

 

IMG_4128[3591]Earls hall kids

 

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

 

The picture above is part of the class of 1952/1959 Earls Hall Junior School – we first met some 65 years ago……in a class of 53 children. Terry, Martin Bobl and Elizabeth – Michael and Tony were also present but had departed early. Someone  must photoshop them  in….. So where will you all be in 65 years time – you should have finished walking round England and Wales , surely?

photo[3531]poor poo....1Poor Poo Bear

photo[3519allthe kids

 

At last! By walking the final one and a third miles out to sea on Southend Pier, “We’ve” now walked completely round England – making a total of 3,422 and a third miles in 277 days – or  about four years really!

But you’ll have noticed from the title that we’ve now added a country the size of Wales to the target, so the Walk carries on! And maybe when we’ve finished Wales, howabout Scotland………  ? I couldn’t bear to stop my walking so I’ve found an excuse to carry on adding to the aggregate.

Here’s how the Last English Walk unfolded, but not necessarily in the right order – I got a bit emotional and seemed to view events from afar, as if it were not happening to me!

 

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Rosie! Jumping over the Thames Estuary.

 

Some walkers and some trainers……….

 

 

……made it to the finish line..

photo9southend pier

 

 

….and it’s official we’ve reached the end of Southend Pier….

 

.

 

 

INSERT THE FOLLOWING CROWD…..do you remember a bystander kindly offered to take the picture of the whole group, until another bystander hijacked the first, so he could be included? Another five minutes and we’d have included everyone  on the Pier.

The picture has temporarily gone walkabout, but we’ll happily insert it when it turns up

please forward if you have a copy!

 

DSC_2529

The RNLI Lifeboat souvenir shop at the Pierhead, contained my Southend Lifeboat mug to add to the collection – Roger and Gill were happy to serve us and many calendars, Christmas Cards and other paraphernalia got snapped up!

 

 

And now we return to The Roslin Hotel for celebrations via the crooked house and other Southend amusements

 

girls, boys, slush, uuggghhhh, the beach and arrrgghhhh!

 

 

 

Inside The Roslin…. the speeches…..the cake and wall to wall grandkids underfoot – it is  THEIR party…

 

 

 

 

Annie Rules – OK?

Inter Table Geographic Photo Quiz

Annie set the teacherly tone by announcing the rules of the ongoing photo party game. Since nearly half the invitees had taught at some stage and the remainder were blighted by teachers, it was important that  it was explained in words of less than one syllable, by one of their own. Although in her Post PGCE year of teaching, Annie impressed, and held the rabble at bay, with only one ex-teacher being told to see her afterwards.

 

Quiz.

Each guest at the table has a photo with a geographical  clue from The Walk written on the back.

The guests on the table collectively guess the place on the photos on their table and fill in the answers on the answer sheet.

They swap photos with people on the other tables so that they have identified all the photos on the four tables and filled in the answers on the sheet.

Annie will give out the answers later in the evening and prizes will be given out to the table which got the most answers right.

 

The competition was won by the Earls Hall contingent, who seemed to have best access to google!

A prize of Southend Rock was awarded to each guest on the winning  table.

photo[3564]elizabeth

Stanley in grave danger of being run over while Elizabeth demonstrates her walking style that claimed most guest miles – 50 and counting – and appearances – 5 or 6, and begat several poems  –  so far –  there’s still Wales to come  for Big Andy, Donald, Stanley, Terry, Henry and anyone else to compete. I don’t keep records so you’ll have to keep count yourselves! Poems are optional.

Elizabeth also orchestrated the rendition of G K Chesterton’s  Rolling English Road, aided and abetted by Terry and Martin,  I still chuckle about “….the night we went to Birmingham by way of Beachy Head…”   it’s so appropriate!

 

 

 

Donald’s Speech.

11th November 2017

Mum asked me to say a few words about Dad’s Walk, of course I said Yes – we are extremely proud of what Dad has achieved – but I worried about being able to say only a few words about such a massive achievement!

So right at the start of this, I should say – THE WALK: 3,421 miles, 268 days, round the coastline of England and including Offa’s Dyke and Hadrian’s Wall, as a lone effort or accompanied by countless friends, family and strangers along the way.

Congratulations!

(Cheers and round of applause)

(Andy toast to walk)

It is difficult to remember or even know when it all began.

In hindsight we should have expected something of such magnitude, but it crept up…….As I remember it , there was building a Caterham 7 Sports Car, collecting No 1 Record singles, renovating French property and living a French lifestyle, all mixed in with a hint of self denial about retirement.  We should have realised the challenges were escalating…  and then in August 2010 the idea of a walk was born!

 

The early days of the walk were basic. Dad would set off on a twenty mile route with only a flask of coffee and a packet of Werthers! A caffeine and sugar fuelled walk till you drop, then drive home, bath, eat, sleep, repeat.

Soon he got into a stride, equipped himself with some basic kit , and introduced water and healthy food to the walking routine – the fluid and nutrition strategy to extend walking range.

The email reports got longer and photos were added. It was not long before The Blog was launched. The Walk had now become a serious enterprise!

Gifts for birthdays, Christmases, Father’s Days were easy and from us all Dad was supplied with socks, hats, gloves, gadgets, compasses, whistles.

Confidence increased with each new experience. Safety, communications, transport and logistical back up was provided by Mum. And when Mum was away in NZ for weeks at a time, the walking increased despite the lack of safety and logistical support.

In Mum’s absence we would receive regular random text messages of current grid locations, timings, expected rates of progress, arrivals, departures and each new campsite.

Risks were taken and learnt from. Near death experiences included wading across tidal estuaries, clinging to Great Hangman in a storm and getting lost in sink estates and industrial wastelands. And as you will hear later perhaps the closest and most significant near death experience happened at the dinner table when Dad thought  he’d lost Malcolm – an old friend -of equally determined character but perhaps suffering from an unexpected long day of physical exertion.

Options for accommodation included b&b’s , hotels (if Mum accompanied), campsites, friends, family, friends of family, friends of friends…… but always the preferred option of accommodation was sleeping in the back of the car with heating on and dealing with a flat battery in the morning. And always, sleeping with car keys in the pocket and setting off the car alarm in the night!

Chat at family occasions and between walking trips was about crimson worms, mileage done, mileage to do, no time to lose, probably won’t finish it but will give it a go etc. We got used to seeing the anxious pre-walk trip look and the exhausted 1,000 yard stare post-walk face!

Things got more serious. Some might say obsessive. Kit was added to and refined with increased experience and capability, and with that kit became more specialist. The world’s smallest tent was carefully researched and purchased, and, combined with king sized down duvets, pillows and folded mattress achieved the optimum accommodation solution albeit Dad was unable to get in the tent, and if he could he could not get out! A wide mouthed bottle was also an essential item.

Lightweight telescopic hi-tech carbon fibre walking poles were ….not favoured. But instead a pair of five foot medium diameter heavy oak walking poles were trusty walking companions and added to the sense of physical exertion.

Technology struggled to keep up with the walking rate of progress. Laptops, cameras, phones, watches, battery charging systems all came and went or were lost or broken or smashed through frustration. Through it all, printed copies of O/S  Maps and marker pens were the most reliable method of navigation and recording progress.

Near the completion of The Walk, and as the end of the challenge was in sight , a stand out performance by Dad was achieving 223 miles in 16 days – which is quite a remarkable physical achievement!

Stanley and I joined in for various trips on the South Coast and Cornish Coast. Stanley quickly got the hang of what was going on and was soon skipping up and down hills- encouraged by doses of chocolate buttons and jelly babies!

And Stanley and I were lucky enough to join Dad and Big Andy for the first part of the Land’s End finish experience. We had a fabulous day’s walk from Land’s End from the north and then finished off with a pint and dinner in the restaurant. It was a very special and memorable moment for us all.

Major Big Andy has been a great supporter of Dad’s walk and has joined him on a few occasions. Andy was able to stay on for a number of days to help organise, navigate and organise support and for the final push to Land’s End from the south. We are hugely grateful to Andy for being there at the end so that Dad was able to share the moment of completion with a familiar face and close family member. These final few days walking were extremely challenging in terms of terrain and mileage covered, I know how tough it was and I know Dad was very pleased to have Major Andy  for company.

 

So Andy, on behalf of us all – family and friends, who could not be there at Land’s End- I would like to present you with a little gift to show our huge appreciation for logistical and moral support you provided- you were a great help indeed!

( Dad present gift to Major Big Andy)

(sum-up)

Two of Dad’s personal qualities that have shone through all of this are his hard work ethic and determination. You’ve shown us all that if you set your mind to it you can be whatever you want to be and achieve anything by hard work and determination. We learnt these qualities from you and Mum as we grew up and we’re pleased that our children are learning the same through your walking adventures.

We observed your meticulous planning and preparation of routes, campsites and transportation, always keen to achieve your daily and weekly mileage targets whatever the weather! Determination and dedication to your task also meant rest periods between walks were actually restless periods when you were itching to get back on a trail again!

We are all immensely proud of your amazing achievement, you are an inspiration to us all and we’re grateful that you put just as much effort into the blog so we could all share your adventure and feel like we were there with you. We hugely enjoyed the miles we managed to walk with you and my only regret is I wish we could have done more! But we look forward to joining you on the Wales Coastal Path!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Little Andy’s Speech

photo[3586]andyspeech

 

Thanks Donald…

I think there’s one encounter from the walk that you missed….

When Dad was walking a stretch of the North East coastline he saw a bit more of a Geordie chap than he wanted… when he was FLASHED from the other side of a narrow inlet!

It’s a good job the bloke ran off cos he may have had one of dad’s solid oak walking sticks wrapped round his head.

 

We’ll be hearing from Dad in a minute but before we do I’d just like to say a few words.

As I haven’t spoken at an older person’s party before, I took some advice from my wife Caroline who gave a lovely speech at her parents’ 60th birthday a few years ago.

All she said was….’make sure it doesn’t sound like an eulogy!’

 

Anyway. no eulogies this evening. We’re here to enjoy the present, celebrate a birthday and the completion of a long walk.

What I would like to do is tell you about some of Dad’s attributes that got him to 70 years of age…and hopefully many more beyond.

 

I want to start by congratulating Dad on his walk around England. It really is a wonderful achievement and we’re all super proud of you.

I’m sure Jake’s teachers don’t believe him when he said that his granddad has walked round England.

And everytime we go to the coast Maisie says ‘Bobl’s been here’….and we know that you have.

 

I think Donald, Ann and I always knew Dad would always complete the walk…not just because he’s a stubborn old git and Mum wanted him out of the house… but because of his CAN DO attitude.

When we were growing up Dad would often say to us ‘I can do anything I want to.’

To which Ann would say… ‘well jump over the house then.’

Then Dad would say….’I can but I don’t want to….’

Now you’ve walked round England Dad I think it’s time you gave jumping over the house a try.

Another one of Dad’s favourite sayings was ‘if he can do it then why can’t I?’

Which is a great attitude to have and one he has tried to instil in us. But….there are some things Dad needed to practise to make perfect.

For example it wasn’t until Dad had installed 4 wood burners and a bath in every bedroom of the mill that he felt sure he’d mastered those skills.

 

Dad is also very loyal. A nice example of this was when I mentioned to him in passing that Nottingham Uni were closing my town planning course down at the end of my time there.

I thought nothing more of it until Dad phoned a few days later to let me know he’d set up a meeting with our local MP- Claire Short- so I could start my campaign to save my course.

It all felt like too much hard work so I politely declined…but it’s just one example of Dad being there to fight our corner.

Dad has always been protective of us as well…particularly Ann… who is of course the favourite.

As you can imagine, when we were living in inner city Birmingham, Dad was especially concerned for her safety.

One story that sticks in my  mind was Ann wanting to go into town with friends for the New Years eve celebrations. Surprisingly Ann was allowed to go on two conditions;

1.That her little brother came and picked her up…and

2. That she was home by 11:45, which of course was well before the party started

 

Donald talked about Dad’s determination and work ethic which he has in spades.

We saw first hand how hard Dad and Mum worked on their various projects often 7 days a week

I think that example has stood all three of us in good stead with our own families and careers. Whatever Dad applies himself to he puts everything into it.

Except may be watching Spurs and England which is usually done from behind the sofa.

 

Living on the other side of the world…working hard…and keeping three kids busy on various building sites meant that Dad probably didn’t spend as much time keeping up with old friends as he would have liked to…and of course there wasn’t  Facebook back then!

But I know how much Dad has enjoyed reconnecting with Old Southendians in recent years. So it’s great to see Earls Hall and Southend High School represented here today…and I know some of you have joined him on the walk too.

 

So I think that’s enough from me as I know Dad would like to say his own thanks now.

 

Before he does, I would just like to finish with a toast  to Dad….

 

To Dad, Bob, Bobl… Happy Birthday and congratulations  on going round the bend…

I mean Round England.!

 

 

 

Bob’s Speech

photo[3587]bobsspeech

 

{THINK – If you can walk round England, then you can do a bloody speech}

The following is what I meant to say – I cannot now recall what I actually said – I know I missed a complete page of toasts and thanks at the end, but by then the audience was restless and I was racing to get the speech over and done with…..

Here goes…

As the youngest of four competitive siblings, it was a wonder that I reached this exalted age of seventy. I was dragged up, put upon, sat upon and generally called all sorts by my brother and sisters, probably with justification. It wasn’t easy following in the wake of three larger than life characters and I generally made a nuisance of myself to get noticed.

 

Susan, being the revered elder sister could contain me with her developing headmistress skills.

 

John bore the (b)runt of me tagging along and interfering with his social life and made it obvious he would rather Trevor Polson were his brother.

 

Janet developed exclusion zone tactics and if I entered within six feet of her she responded with screaming self defence.

 

I knew my place, which in the brothers’ shared bedroom was the bottom bunk beneath the snoring and farting machine of which I was in awe.

John considered me a terminal hypochondriac developing all the symptoms of the latest Readers Digest medical problem.

The only ever academic advice he offered me was to take the Latin Option. Apparently, it would equip me for following in his footsteps, to get into Oxford via Nepotism, to ‘read’  Sport.  Ever contrary, I used my Latin years later to study Civil Engineering at Sheffield University. Thereafter, I made a point of not doing what John did. It seemed to work….well….

 

 

…….well ….I did rebel a bit, I once disobeyed Susan by not coming home to unwanted (by all) piano lessons from Miss Fielding, previously attended by Susan, John and Janet. It was now my turn. Not if I could help it! She sounded as if she should be playing cricket for Yorkshire – Miss Fielding?? – Ever observant Janet had forewarned me about the bodily noises she made, mainly as she swallowed her tea.

That was enough to distance me from Music forever.

 

As I grew, my heroes departed.

Susan to start her own family with Ian.

John disappeared without me to Oxford, and developed a new accent overnight.

Janet had her glittering athletic career so unfairly cut short. I’ve never told her but I’ve always admired how she handled herself, and I never ever heard her complain. Upon her return home from hospital, I was always fearful of her banging her head and followed her around as a bodyguard.

 

Susan, John, Janet, along with Tab and Cam – it’s your fault – you made me what I am today,  – awkward, bloody minded, determined and mute.

All these traits served me well to complete the Walk Round England.

Thank you!

I think?

 

Good did come of the Latin Option. It brought me into academic contact with David Lloyd, and a more basic education.

Yes! David Lloyd speaks Latin.

Well. No! Probably not. Not really. He was equally awkward, determined, and bloody minded that it should be a forum for his hilarious antics. I elected to self teach elsewhere with Greg Coady,  and enjoyed the comedy while it lasted.

Result; I was one of only two in the lower Latin set to pass  GCE Latin,and with one of my better grades.

Similarly, on the football field, and the changing room afterwards, David had extremely precocious talents, with most sports involving balls, and he was great company.

I learnt a lot from him but I really wouldn’t want him as my brother.

Later in Life I found his biography – “How to succeed in business while really trying”- and sent it to him asking for a signing. It came back with a dedication to my left foot.

Which was slightly unfair, because I could use my head too!

Trevor Polson couldn’t.

My football career ended when David concentrated on tennis, and without him to play off, I went from inside left, to left wing to left back and finally left out….

 

 

But I did have my triumphs. Things got much better when I found Marilyn, and we ran away to Australia and New Zealand, where you find REALLY awkward, bloody minded and determined nations that are not so mute.

 

We eventually returned permanently to the UK  with our other successes of Donald, Annie and Andrew. Much later on; more triumphs with Rosie, Lauren, Stanley, Jake, Rowan and Maisie with help from Tim, Sarah, Caroline and Richard. This is our real success. I feel honoured and privileged to help raise this sub clan and watch them develop. I hope they see that with my Walk round England, you can achieve whatever you want if you put your mind to it.

There were a couple of occasions when the Walk got serious and memorable.

The first occurred on my walk from Hunters Inn to Coombe Martin on the South West Coast Path. The wind was gale force and I was attempting to get to the top of Great Hangman at 215 metres. I lost my way, and unwittingly was heading for a sheer drop, hidden in the undergrowth. I dropped to my knees on the cliff edge and a surge of fear went through me. It took ages to regain my composure and I crawled on hands and knees back the way I came. Marilyn was in VERA and had been talking to locals who said that no one should be out on the cliffs today…. in trouble again.

The other involved Malcolm McLeod. He was always threatening to walk with me in North Essex when his knee permitted. At last we rendezvoused at Harwich to walk to Walton on the Naze. We had a great time punctuated by Malcolm’s humorous anecdotes- he had a captive audience and there might have been one or two stops at public houses following the start from Harwich Pier café complete with coffee and cakes.

Unfortunately, Malcolm’s knee flared up and his pace shortened to a clod but he would not give up. Eventually, we were reduced to a limp- culminating in a vain exercise to administer a knee bandage. I can’t imagine what passing motorists thought as I attempted to slip the too small elastic support up his trouser leg. We eventually made it back to VERA, 16 miles I believe. And home to Malcolm and Diana’s in Maldon where Diana had a chicken casserole waiting which we both devoured. Malcolm is fully conversant with eating alongside the McIntyres- eat it or lose it. But suddenly next to me, I realised Malcolm had slumped forward- his head on his chest. OMG I’ve killed him. Diana was opposite. I looked at her terrified. How do you apologise for killing someone’s husband. But fully in control she uttered these words:

Diana:

Malcolm, WAKE UP!

Nothing

Malcolm, WAKE UP!

Nothing

Malcolm, WAKE UP!

Choke, splutter, splutter. Malcolm rose from the dead. Miracle. Diana had restarted him. Better than any defibrillator.

I award Malcolm and Diana the Round England Purple Heart for resuscitation.

There are some absent friends I would like to acknowledge.

Yvonne Pedretti played a part in getting this whole walk underway- she is on the first blog. She tasked me with scattering her ashes in selected spots around Essex and Suffolk to the strains of GK Chesterton’s Rolling English Road.

Tim, Rosie and Lauren’s father, who joined me for the finish of Offa’s Dyke Path at Chepstow in 2012. He’d led all the way and kindly moved aside to let me finish first. All described in the last blog when I visited Chepstow again starting the South Wales Coast Path.

Dave Shipp died suddenly last year. He was supposed to be joining in my North Wales Coast Path around Llandudno and Great Orme where he lived. I dedicated my first visit last month to his memory.

(Elizabeth: Rolling English Road GK Chesterton)

All of you have walked with me, some unwittingly if you have visited the Mill-that counts- even Dick with his exploration of the ditches and nettles on our lane. And everyone on the pier finale.

The most ingenious was to temporarily define Chelmsford as Coast while Michael and I watched Essex thrash Yorshire at cricket last September to cement the County Cricket Championship.

If I could single out one participant, nay organiser, it’s Big Andrew. I call on his military skills to manage any tricky bits. In particular he stagemanaged the finish at Land’s End. Thank you. Incidentally, while you’re here could I call up Little Andy, I just want to compare. Who is big and who is little Andy…….

I’m sorry about the blog-it was a necessary evil- I needed to record my moves before they disappeared from memory. I’m continuing it in a briefer way- I find it hard to publish especially when the laptop plays up.

Anyone who wants to join in the walk around Wales- please get in touch. The renewed friendships of old school friends along the walk have been a great bonus and made it fun and rewarding.

Thank you also for coming to this celebration and to everyone involved in organising it. Particularly Marilyn who is marvellous and very , very special.

 

 

 

 

I’m sad to say that I inadvertently missed the last page of toasts – here’s what would have been toasted – I can only suggest you find a drink and settle down with a raised glass for each of the following….

 

TOASTS

To my siblings, Susan, John and Janet

To the spouses of my siblings who have looked after us for 199 years

All those who were born in Essex

All those who were born in Rochford

All who attended Earls Hall Junior School

All who attended Southend High School

All who attended Sheffield University

All Spurs Supporters

All grandchildren

All following from afar downunder.

All who joined the walk around England including Southend Pier, who provided backup and accommodation and all future walkers around Wales

 

 

Thank you so much everybody for taking part

 

Love Bobl.

PS EVER THE ONE TO TAKE CRITICISM TO HEART – I’m stung that Annie thinks I wriggled out of jumping over the house. Let it be said  that this has now been completed to my satisfaction, when I recently erected a scaffold to work on the roof. I made a  platform at ridge height and jumped from one side to the other. Mission accomplished!

 

It wouldn’t have been complete without the cake, singing Happy Birthday and a present.

The cake had an icing replica of my trusty phone and walking gear and was admired by all.

Marilyn’s Speech

There’s one major achievement by Bob that has not so far been mentioned. This is the rebuilding (almost single handedly) of the mill as a home for his family and playground for his grandchildren. If ever true grit determination was needed it was needed here in spades to lift huge oak beams and stones up 3 stories using just pulleys and ropes.

We are very lucky to have a talented artist in the family, Nephew Mark, and he has painted a picture of the mill for Bob so that we will always have a memory of it when we’re too old to live there.

photo[3585]marks painting of the mill

 

The picture has now been unwrapped and is being framed – a picture of the pictureTHE MILL by MARK

painted from pictures taken by Marilyn will appear HERE shortly – meanwhile enjoy the piggy interlude taking place behind Marilyn’s back…..we were streaming random photos from the walk all night and this came up just to embarrass Marilyn.

 

 

 

Surplus picture…… kids..

photo[3541]TOYTABLE

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

More revellers…