Many happy returns and we’ll make up for it as soon as we can!
Spring Bank Holiday, Monday, 24th May 2020 was the start of our fight back against our Self imposed Home Isolation at The Mill in Landlocked Shropshire. We are alongside the English/Welsh Border which is defined by the River Teme our only contact with the sea many miles downstream.
We hadn’t forgotten, and only just forgiven, The River for flooding in February – the highest levels ever recorded. The main damage was most of the garden shifted about twenty metres to the left. The flood barriers overtopped by inches and internal damage was minimal. Now, bordering on drought, there is barely enough water to call it a border any more, let alone a River. Even the molehills have set hard as concrete and now the moles burrow at surface level. I follow them around with a wheelbarrow and collect copious amounts of topsoil for our recently adopted seedling nursery, to combat food shortages and supplement grocery deliveries by Tesco and Donald. We’ve been very lucky really; the summer’s task though, is now Well defined ; raise the barriers to the new record high and take heed of King Canute.
The River at low ebb somewhere in there amongst the foliage, above
The most recent excitement along our lane, sorry – highway, involved a one vehicle pile up outside our gates when after many weeks of not driving I forgot The Car ZUD was an electric hybrid and stopped dead trying to change non existent gears!
I left quite an impression on the inside of the windscreen!
Even the millpond on the left is drying up leaving the water lillies high and dry
A continuous uphill climb for the first mile or so passing the farm and farm cottages with a sneak view through the fence back towards The Mill.
A mystery diversion, not sure why? maybe they’ve been filling potholes? The road surface is now pretty dreadful. We turned right anyway still gaining altitude.
We’ve been tinkering with The Progress Map, courtesy of Ordnance Survey and have a fresh supply of Black Worms supplanting the Crimson Species. Actually my marker pen dried up, so it was time for a change.
To recap – the overall map of Britain shows that I have completed walking round England and Wales. This happened in November 2017 and July 2019, respectively.
The detail map of Scotland introduces the new Black Worm starting from Carlisle over the border to Gretna following loosely the A75 with visits to Annand, Dumfries, Dalbeattie, Castle Douglas, Kirkcudbright, Twynholm, Newton Stewart, Glenluce and temporarily fetched up in Stranraer, heading for Ayr next trip. Not forgetting a diversion to Mull of Galloway – southernmost Scotland!
My Scottish route started at Gretna Green alongside the upgraded A75 which rendered it faster for traffic but not necessarily safer for pedestrians. The excellent Stagecoach West Scotland 500 and X75 bus services used the same routes.
The clip below illustrates my confusion captured first day disembarking the Stagecoach bus on the A75 where I’d previously finished last trip. With no refuge.
I like to think I captured the panic;
guessing when to push the bus stop bell;
the bus dropping me in the middle of nowhere;
knowing I would get to see the bus several times today if I didn’t get lost;
the drama of trying to capture it on “film”- it was meant to be a photo not a movie ;
the high speed intrusion of a car;
dropping the camera;
three minutes earlier I had been dozing luxuriously in the comfort of this express bus and now I was unceremoniously disgorged on the roadside.
Let me know if it works!
I’m still learning how to drive this blog!
So the movie content can only improve?
The speeding car did miss me!
and in future the quality will improve?
There were some alternative back lanes, tracks, military roads, realignments, lay-bys and service roads, but negligible signed footpaths. The photo below shows the cycle lane/footpath merging with the highway.
Interesting – there are miniature “Give Way” markings!
Anyway I’m pleased the A75 finished on entering Stranraer, let’s see if the A77 outa-there towards Ayr improves anything.
I have the Mull of Galloway Trail to look forward too before then.
But the weather was fantastic, for February in Scotland. The bus, logging truck and lorry drivers were helpful and generally gave me a wide berth. Too close and the backdraught would knock me over .
Whenever I managed a concerted diversion away from the traffic, the noise and nuisance disappeared and the countryside of gently rolling fields and occasional woodland was serene.
A word about routine and weather. There may not be many pictures, and no selfies, once underway I’m reluctant to stop for other than the most necessary reasons. Listen and learn while I describe a (shall we say?) photo opportunity, or more precisely the disrobing required to take that opportunity.
Are you sitting comfortably ?
Then I’ll begin!
A road sign foretold of deer on the loose. The undergrowth nearby is disturbed and a young deer is startled and breaks free a few feet from me.
Brain triggers such a photo opportunity is probably worth it. Go for it.
Remove rucksack; stow walking poles.
Remove mittens and stow in zipped pockets; the sun might be shining but the heavy frost hasn’t cleared if it’s not yet mid afternoon
Fingers not working- remove inner gloves and massage fingers till they work; stow liner gloves. Probably working up steam under bobble hat and neck warmer- remove and stow
remove hi viz jacket holding everything together
unzip outer waterproof jacket and locate phone/camera in fleece after searching total twelve pockets
recall code/password -yes proceed- no abort
recall Nanny altered fingertip id, but don’t recall to what…
locate towel: dry phone/camera of condensation, sweat, rain tears
password timed out- abort or go again.
Young deer is now three fields away
Accidentally locate food and drink – and – no surprise sample same
Refreshments trigger need to search for ablution privacy – degree of urgency determines how much privacy required
This actually happened, only the names have been changed to protect the deer…. to prove it – there is no deer picture.
Incidentally I no longer tootle at anyone taking relief since it’s happened to me😩….
I hadn’t quite got to the bottom of things, still several insulating layers to go, but anyway- you get the picture?
Here are the surviving pictures
MacMillan Hall – the transport hub in Newton Stewart. The Crown b&b just down the lane and my mega bus pass gave me bus freedom for a week. The Crown’s huge breakfast, including porridge and haggis (different plates) ensured no other meals necessary, and I returned home still overweight.
Genealogy note- MacMillan was my very late Granma’s maiden name; she had sisters Dorothy and – wait for it- Victoria Jubilee! What foresight of my Great Grandparents to name her futuristically after two not yet built tube lines.
Perhaps our G G GKids will be High Speed One, Two and Three…..
Below- Wigtown Bay sunrise from the A75
Above – on the A75…..
Below – off the A75
River Luce below
port of call, Stranraer.
But next time on returning to Stranraer I must complete the Mull of Galloway Trail to the most southerly part of Scotland- the A75 will be a distant memory.
We are so sad to inform you that Stanley and Rowan’s Nanny Ros passed away early Sunday morning at her home in Ludlow. Sarah and her brothers Nick, Paul and Matt were with her and our sincere condolences go out to them at the loss of their mother.
Nanny Ros Was a lovely lady and is now at rest. Stanley and Rowan will have many happy memories of their Grandmother, as will Sarah and Donald have of Sarah’s Mum.
All our love,
Marilyn and Bob
The added Coastal Crimson Worm indicates so far, my stroll of 4594 miles around Britain’s coastal paths, since November 2013. With England and Wales completed, only the rest of Scotland remaining, from near Creetown in South West Scotland to border town Berwick on Tweed on the East Coast.
The story so far – 28/1/20- bringing new readers up to date -on Lauren, Sue and Dick’s birthday! – About November 2013, when I finished walking the Offa’s Dyke Path , at both ends, I needed a similar challenge to occupy my recent retirement. So I just kept walking the English coast, north from Prestatyn, and/or south from Chepstow. This morphed into walking the (then) proposed England Coast Path route, originally due for planning completion this year -2020. I finished my version of The ECP at the end of Southend Pier on my seventieth birthday in November, 2017. There were some discrepancies and coastal erosion but essentially the two ECP versions matched – but I got there first before the Environment Agency had completed their route round England.
And so I steered my walking boots in the direction of the Wales Coast Path, which I finished on my 72nd birthday in Aberystwyth .
Inevitably, that left Scotland, whose debatable long distance coast line is worth at least England and Wales combined, of which I had already supplemented by bagging Hadrian’s Wall, thinking (or maybe hoping) Scottish independence would negate the need to circumnavigate the Scottish Coastline, which incidentally is nigh on impossible to define – let alone walk!
My itchy feet combined with indecision on the Scottish independence referendum eventually I chose the Scottish high road for my final walk of 2019 which was also my first into Scotland crossing from Carlisle into Gretna.
As my walk progresses round Scotland the route will gradually unwind, or unravel depending on circumstances and my walking rules still apply – you’ll have to scroll back to very early editions of the blog to find the rules, but they still apply.
Basically the main rule is that I make the rules!
The other side of the country, I had completed the ECP up to Berwick upon Tweed, not yet venturing across the English/Scottish border, nervous about my Scottish reception from Nicola and her SNP
And here we are, in the present, just about to write up Episode 140 following completion of the second Scottish walk of 42 miles bringing the frontier to within three miles of Creetown in Dumfries and Galloway and the grand total of 4,594miles walked around The British Coastline.
you are now up to date……
Here’s what happened on the way to (nearly) Creetown-
For the uninitiated, my walk reports take the form of a letter to our six grandchildren currently aged five to fifteen, with instructions about how to walk round United Britain when their turn comes. Take care- there are 140 episodes and hundreds of O/S maps logging my exact route…..
Last time out walking in December 2019, time and weather conspired to prevent me completing my schedule and there was a big gap in my progress along the A711 from Beeswing to Bridge of Dee and I need to regularise my progress map.
Once I had tidied up these loose ends, I could then concentrate on advancing the frontier in the direction of Mull of Galloway, Stranraer, Ayr and Ardrossan, where there will be a significant sea change in strategy?
Serendipity plays a big part in my planning, but as you will find out – how do you say – the Calmac fairies will also come out to play……..?
All will be revealed as the tour unrolls!
Dear Rosie, Lauren, Stan, Jake, Rowan and Maisie,
Didn’t we all have a lovely time ski-ing in Trysil over Christmas? I’ve never done it before and I amazed myself that by the the end I could ski – well sort of! I finished one of the formal routes with only two major collisions and how I ended up with no real damage is beyond me. Serendipity (and the fairies) is/are alive and well in Norway too!
You were all very accomplished too and made me wish I had taken it up at your ages. But discretion is the better part of valour and I’m quitting whilst ahead or at the top of my game and concentrating on my walking. I’m sure the slippery, sliding experience will come in walking use and who knows what the Scottish weather has in store for me? But at least I’ve got a whole new range of cold weather gear.
Last episode I described The Walk crossing the border into Scotland and this time it’s all about establishing a foothold and getting my strategy right to attack the next – maybe- four and a half thousand miles.
Leading up to this last visit I had been watching the the long range weather forecasts and a period of exceptional high pressure foretold excellent walking conditions.
The tried and tested (Nanny operated) train and bus travel arrangements swung into action accompanied by value for money Scottish accommodation with odd days left for the tenting option. I covered all eventualities.
As it turned out I lugged a full rucksack, tent and all, around for several days and proved my fitness and planning capabilities, whilst managing to keep the tent in its wrapping paper and a solid roof every night whilst adding 42 miles to the walking tally. All part of the greater plan! Plenty of low cloud and mist but not a drop of rain
Bridge of Dee – below
Below – in and around Gatehouse of Fleet – I’m sure the Houston’s minibus was following me around
Port Macadam, Gatehouse of Fleet below
Below – I Following the A75 where necessary but using the back lanes if possible. The old road was left intact in many places and occasionally country lanes duplicated the route. Walking the single carriageway main road without footpaths was downright dangerous and wherever I could I opted for the less trafficked option. Progress was slow but at least I didn’t become a tragic traffic statistic. Heavily laden Logging trucks in one direction with processed timber products the other way made for lengthy convoys at top speed plus a bit. Somehow the bus services dodged all this and provided an excellent long distance and local service which meant I only faced the traffic music one way.
Although I managed one dark evening to be three miles short of my Twynholm lodgings on the wrong side of the River Dee at Kirkcudbright. And no more buses!
i had no choice but to leave Kirkcudbright on foot following the streetlights on the B727 over the River and into the darkness beyond . Worryingly the B727 plus it’s streetlights turned off shortly after crossing the river and for the next hour I followed the vague dotted white line of an unclassified country lane with a head torch and hand torch. The rare vehicle that passed proved unsurprisingly unhelpful for lifts but tail lights allowed me to memorise the upcoming route once I’d recovered from diving for shelter in the ditch.
Spooky! I survived but I’d have been happier with Max or Jay alongside. There again both Max and Jay wouldn’t have ventured out.
Above the infamous A75 and side show.
Above- views of Wigtown Bay and Solway Firth – in January – hasn’t rained all this trip
Below – End of the line this trip where the back road from Barholm Castle intercepts the bus route and rejoins the A75. The bus would need sufficient warning to pick me up safely on this fast roadway- I was concerned it would go sailing by. Needn’t have worried😜- the bus service worked like clockwork and I was soon reunited with my rucksack in Twynholm
Photogenic Dalbeattie below
hanging around waiting for the bus
And finally a word for the hostelries: both Glenlossie in Dumfries and The Burnbank in Twynholm I would happily return to for value for money, friendliness and helpfulness. Both remain on the direct route heading for Stranraer and could suffice as a staging post on future journeys.
My carriage awaits; just need a lift with the rucksack and about to depart Dumfries and return home
Having safely reached the start of my homeward journey I had time to reflect on an excellent trip. The only downside of this particular episode was walking the A75 when I couldn’t locate a safer less trafficked route. Often the old route duplicated the new alignment when it hadn’t been buried and there might be safe walking on parallel lanes or private land, but generally there was no provision for walkers either alongside or away from the main road.
This contrasts poorly with the Wales Coast Path where there is a dedicated trail and the England Coast Path where there is a proposed trail assuming they keep their promises.
Am I missing something in Scotland? I’m a bit nervous for the rest of the walk, but there doesn’t seem to be obvious alternatives. Surely they had the opportunity to include footpaths on the realignment of the A75, my observations as an erstwhile bridge engineer leads me to believe that the highway upgrading is very recent and has speeded up the traffic with no benefit at all for the pedestrian. In fact it is more dangerous. After all we are all pedestrians once we step out of that car or lorry or public transport.
PRE-RAMBLE – Last time out, when heading for Dumfries,I’d terminated at Clarencefield about ten miles short. My programme this time was to make up the shortfall and then continue vaguely westwards towards Kirkcudbright and have a brief respite whilst investigating paternal ancestral connections.
I was also experimenting with sustainable transport links – abandoning the car and resorting to public transport. I had prebooked accommodation in Dumfries and Kirkcudbright, but not allowed for the disruption caused by almost continuous” rain which resulted a ten mile gap in the itinerary between (nearly) and Bridge of Dee.
Returning home above…,,,Surprise Sunrise at Carlisle Station above- the train was 20 mins late due to driver taken ill – but I made all my connections and ended up a few minutes early at Kiddy, reunited with Nanny and dance and travel weary, flu ridden Annie, Rosie and Lauren
Verdict. The sustainable travel method is ok!
NOTES ON THE MAP
Notes on the map? What map?
-Although I walked well over 30 miles and thoroughly examined Dumfries and Kirkcudbright this trip, I have not brought the route map up to date, because I did not complete my scheduled program.
-I started by joining up my previous terminus at Clarencefield with Dumfries and intended to complete the walk via Castle Douglas, as far as Kirkcudbright but the wet weather interfered such that there is a gap in my colouring in between Bridge of Dee and Beeswing.
-I therefore cannot claim to have walked as far as Kirkcudbright until I’ve filled in the missing link – next time out ……… nevertheless I stayed in Kirkcudbright a couple of nights to investigate Clan McIntyre’s allegiance with the area particularly Sea Captains John and Alexander, and twin uncles Colin and Malcolm’s association with The Kirkcudbright Academy
Dear Rosie,Lauren,Stan,Jake, Rowan and Maisie,
Travel day Wednesday. Target Dumfries.
With Nanny on duty babysitting Rosie and Lauren, coupled with dance chaperoning last week, I sadly missed their performances and on Wednesday left Kidderminster Railway Station heading north, changing at Smethwick, Galton Bridge, again at Wolverhampton, then Carlisle, terminating at Dumfries where I checked in at Glenlossie Guest House for two nights. Four and a half hours door to door. Not bad struggling between platforms with a full back and front pack.
This is the way it’s going to be now. Sustainable! Trains, buses and Shank’s Pony.
Sorry ZUD! Sorry Nobby!
Next day, on the Thursday, I got to know the buses to and from Clarencefield where I’d fetched up last time out. The main difference this time was that I was soaked- the forecast rain swooped in earlier than anticipated after I’d left the Farmer’s Inn (lunch) in good time but the bus made bad time picking me up after losing a wiper. I didn’t know that until after standing 40 minutes shelterless a very apologetic driver explained. If I’d known I’d have stayed in the hostelry below, longer!
Glenlossie Guest House above my home for two or three nights, truly accommodating – for all!
above – with the banks of the River Nith in Dumfries meandering all over the place, it was easy to become disorientated- and Craig who provided me with a personal taxi service to the railway station after I mistakenly turned up at the Bus Station. Accolades also for Mark and Laura of Stagecoach West Scotland who got me back on track.
As a general comment on the people I met on this recent tour, I was quite taken aback by their hospitality and helpfulness. I suppose a loaded up walker slightly out of season is going to attract attention. I’m learning to carry all my equipment and would probably appear overloaded and worthy of comment. I’m still shy of telling people what I’m doing but with two countries circumnavigated and four and a half thousand miles under my belt I can speak with credibility while being listened to with incredulity
Above views of Kirkcudbright – I will return to do more family detection around the fishing harbour and old buildings. So far we have evidence of sea faring captains Johns and Alexander’s McIntyre. The two museums, several churches and the cemetery all provide fertile grounds for deeper research – and maybe a few skeletons…..
……apparently uncles Colin and Malcolm attended Kirkcudbright academy when evacuated to there during WW II – sadly no records are kept by the school. I visited the cemetery not long enough to get spooked and this time no headstone scraping – it seemed bigger than before – well it would be – that was 60 years ago!
i stayed at the Baytree House for my duration in Kirkcudbright – again the couple running the place were most accommodating. I will return and next time will not lose the keys. How I can say that with any degree of confidence is beyond me.
i suspect my technique for crossing barbed wire fences may have something to do with it……
…..,, I carry several hi viz vests and during a particularly wet journey along a disused railway line I grew tired of the number of barbed wire fences the right to roam made me hurdle with full back pack and front pack. I roll the vest round the barbed wire covering the spikes and with a mixed western roll high jump technique complete with packs, execute a flight through the wires whilst my sticks hopefully hold the strands apart. If not I end up trussed like a turkey at Christmas trying the eastern cutoff to disentangle myself. You only need one stray barb to penetrate a trouser pocket and there’s yer key gone!
the option of not walking the rail track but in the gutter of the A75 or A711 is dubious – there are very few footpaths.
Above: Where I gave up on Sunday – a mile or so short of Beeswing on the road to Castle Douglas rain threatening and daylight fading – no buses seen all walk and energy levels dropping.
Tried sticking my thumb out and within ten minutes Neil in his long wheelbase white van had loaded me and my gear aboard – next stop – Glenlossie- again
An early morning start retracing my steps to Dumfries Station and back to Kidderminster via Carlisle, Wolverhampton, and Smethwick Dalton Bridge,
Nanny picks me up at Kidderminster station and I fall asleep in the passenger seat back to the Mill
Early Monday morning start stood in front of Rockcliffe Church spire which had been my guiding beacon across the misty marshes of the River Eden the night before
Introduction to other than Rosie, Lauren, Stan, Jake, Rowan and Maisie!
Since about November 2013 I’ve been knowingly walking round the Coast of Britain. It’s not the sort of thing you immediately crow about until you’ve got the first couple of thousand miles stashed away, and even then knowing looks give away the sender’s thoughts that this is only a passing phase. It’s only now that I’m embarking on my third country, Scotland, after completing England and Wales, that I have some credibility. But now my age, stamina and longevity are brought into question. Not to mention my mental health.
I’ll have it known that until now, and for as long as I haven’t collapsed exhausted in a screaming heap, I’m doing ok – thank you.
Except the blogging bit! I record details of each walk by way o a letter to grandchildren Rosie, Lauren, Stan, Jake, Rowan and Maisie. This takes up disproportionate time and effort and my recent travel memory comes under severe scrutiny, and that’s only remembering passwords and systems to get into and outmanoeuvre WordPress, a constant nightmare on publicising my walking efforts.
I have therefore established my intention to walk round the coast of Britain and if I need a reason it could be that, especially now bits are falling off ( me too) and eroding, and countries are seeking independence, so I probably need to move more quickly.
Last July (2019) I completed the circumnavigation of Wales after finishing my version of The England Coast Path some two years earlier. I phrase it that way because last time I looked, The ECP wasn’t due to open until 2020, so it involved much research and guesswork and a lot of being lost. It’s all recorded in the previous 137 episodes and I have it on good authority that what it lacks in literary genius it makes up for as a cure for insomnia.
And so after almost four months rest, ostensibly to catch up on home repairs and maintenance last Sunday Nanny, ZUD and I returned to the fray and headed for the Scottish border; in particular Carlisle and Gretna where I reunited with Hadrian’s Wall Path and Solway Firth. I’d previously passed through in October 2014 on my way to Berwick on Tweed linking the East and West coasts of England.The crimson worm strikes out again along the Cumbria Cosstal Way, starting from The River Esk in Carlisle heading north westish to cross the River Esk and the Solway Firth heading for the border at Gretna.
Below a footbridge over the railway at the River Esk gives a aerial view of the low lying countryside but after that no connection whatsoever with footpaths. From Hereon I had to take my chances with traffic. Somehow I fear this is going to be the general pattern. Worn footpaths generally don’t exist and if they did the heavy frost soon disguised them. Mists had a habit of descending just before dusk and I was aware of the danger of getting completely lost
Gretna and the first and last house after and before crossing the border from England into Scotland. Many young couples made their way here to get married when the age of consent was 16 in Scotland but 18 in England
Annan was the home to The Devil’s Porridge Museum and 30,000 in comers during the wars when they manufactured Cordite for artillery shells. A highly dangerous place but quality volunteer accommodation and mixing bowls for the “porridge” of cordite
Crossroads at Cummertrees and Ruthwell – nearly time to stop as the mist descends
I always record the final position of each walk just in case I need help remembering where I fetched up – this time at Clarencefield some eleven miles short of Dumfries. Let’s hope the road is open when I return?
Final approach to Aberystwyth courtesy of Ian Buckingham. Happy landings.
Progress Map – by courtesy of Ordnance Survey – At last, the Crimson Worms meet up at Aberystwyth. I have finished my circumnavigation of Wales to add to that of England, which leaves me nowhere to go but Scotland – before independence?
Watch this space!
Dear Rosie, Lauren, Stan, Jake, Rowan and Maisie,
plus Ian, Sue, John, Sheila, Sarge, Rhiannon, Elizabeth, Donald, Sarah, Annie, Richard, Andy, Caroline and Marilyn, with apologies from Janet and co, on account of partial incapacity plus alternative family commitments….
….Thank you very much for turning up at Aberystwyth on Saturday and helping me cross the finish line of the Wales Coast Path. You have now walked some of the way round Wales and England and as such you qualify as cast of the Order of The Crimson Worm
You, more or less, walked, stumbled, slithered and slipped, the final five miles from Morfa Bychan to Aberystwyth and crossed the line with me. Some of that Path was quite daunting. Well done!
Here are the best pictures of our walk and the celebrations afterwards.
In the beginning. Gathering Grandchildren at Morfa Bychan rendezvous prior to our mid morning stroll. Ignoring the grown ups – we have , left to right- Lauren, Rowan, Rosie behind Maisie, and Jake behind Stan.
The cliffs are quite high so it’s mainly down hill to Aberystwyth …..,
Richard’s view of things, more courageous than most😅 considering he doesn’t like heights
……Andy led the way down to sea level, where there are rock pools, stony beach and artistic stacks of stones
past the marina and RNLI fund raiser on the opposite promenade
and then more refreshments; which duly turned into pile on Richard relieved to be back on terra firma.
…Frequent rests and a steady strolling pace still put new joints to the test and they weren’t found wanting. A wonderful effort from Big Sister Sue and Big Brother John.
It was soon time to head towards the finish line at the Pier
One last time; Dear Rosie, Rowan, Maisie,Stan, Jake Lauren and Bobl – let’s finish this together. Thank you!
Best of the rest 👌please submit your photos for inclusion here
– like family friends Andy/Sarge and Elizabeth; please forward similar for Rhiannon our Welsh Translator.
A glorious, peaceful sunset brought a fabulous day’s walking to a close. We adjourned to the pier indoors and celebrated…
cliff railway photos…..above….. relaxing on the Sunday after
And finally in the aftermath on Saturday and Sunday survivors of the walk celebrated in Baravin and took off for the Cliff railway at one end of the prom and back to the other end of the prom for a personalised guided tour by Tim, of the RNLI Boathouse where Christopher and Rosemarie presided over exchange of wealth for RNLI trinkets. My souvenirs cabinet is now complete for England and Wales…… although I do rather covet those yellow RNLI boots….. size ten …
RNLI Tim gave us a wonderful impromptu lecture on every last detail of his rescue craft. For me it was a personal culmination of visiting most,if not all, the RNLI stations around the English and Welsh coasts and managed only ever to use their rescue facilities once, when I ran out of drinking water.
Random picture overflow…
Head and foot massage; foreshore rescue team of Rowan and Maisie; in turn Maisie rescued from the waves by lifeguard Andy
Richard meets Cassie – I foresee a new pet coming along? – promenade and sunset.
Above; Apres -walk various sedentary occupations on the Cliff Railway and Pier slot machines.
Ganging up grandchildren mischief
Even more pictures can be added anytime.
I apologise to everyone for not making a more gracious speech of thanks at the end of this second chapter of my walk round Britain. I really was quite speechless and overwhelmed by what was taking place. I can’t quite believe myself what I have done.
It is rather special.
Thank you everyone for your interest and sampling the flavour of my coastal walk. In particular special thanks and adulation must go to Marilyn for her excellent organisation. Without her detailed menu knowledge the meal at Baravin would have been a bun fight. The organisational success of the Finale days on Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday were entirely due to Marilyn, my wonderful wife, and so I must now repay the debt by catching up on all the outstanding work and maintenance back home at The Mill.. No more walking for a while while I repay the debt with interest.
l must say that other than the above mentioned lack of home maintenance there have been no repercussions caused by my elongated walking.
I am hugely pleased that my body survived the tests and rigours I threw at it, in extremes of weathers and walking conditions. I recall a non-walk related self inflicted twisted knee sidelining me for three months, which excellent NHS physiotherapy resolved, but otherwise I can only think of one corn that gave me grief in all of this.
The only other grief was from Bruvver John who pointed out that my tummy would cross the finish line before me. Maybe he was right, but it did inspire me to lose a few pounds and as I gaze at my reduced navel, I think the finish was a dead heat.
Diolch yn fawr
Serendipity and it’s rewords
I’m not too sure about that last apostrophe, nor the spelling and/nor the pronunciation. The more you study it the more one realises what a strange set of irregular rules we have governing our use of language. Anyway my final footnote is not to Flossie on about pedantic trivia, but to distribute rewards to those thoroughly deserving of them.
I long since realised that Marilyn has been an enormous influence on the resounding success of our joint escapade and as the walk rambled to ever nearer its completion I stepped up my search for a suitable momento and reward.
My tour has always been punctuated with convenient visits to junk shops, Bric a brac, brocante, fine art sales, curios, flea markets, car boots etc and resultant booty has been added to the ever growing museum of walking the coastline.
But, although the perfect gift for Marilyn, continued to elude me and my growing odd sock fund, I had no doubt the correct specimen would eventually reveal itself probably aided and abetted by my ever lasting walking companion, Serendipity .
And it came to pass as we drove home after the finale in Aberystwyth, we called in at our own big smoke, Knighton just a few miles miles from home, parking under the clock tower , almost alongside Knighton Fine Art, run by near neighbours, Graham and Richard, one of the few local outlets that doesn’t serve coffee – although, I suspect given a request, they probably would.
Can you see where this is going? I knew even before stepping inside that Serendipity was already present and the right gift for Marilyn was within reach.
I’m not too sure Graham fully understood my quest or my sock fund, (secretly pondering we’ve got a right one ‘ere) but it only took him two attempts to find a watercolour of Little Haven, Pembrokeshire by R V Pitchforth RA no less and within minutes I was able to have the purchase approved by, and in the possession of The Accountant, accompanied by Fine Art instructions of Provenance and which way round to hang it.
Now you may say you disbelievers that’s just coincidental that the place you started the tour de Pays de Galles many years ago, Tref y Clawd (Knighton) housed a painting of one of the more outstanding and memorable scenes of The Walk from the sixties, awaiting you at the finish.
So, is it also a coincidence that amongst the painter’s portfolio is also a similar seascape of Porthmadog Wharf, which has immediate family connections?
Unlike yesterday the weather was not so hot for this Friday Walk of seven miles from Llanrhystud to Morfa Bychan. In fact it managed to rain lightly two or three times and there was a pleasant cooling breeze.
ZUD, Marilyn , Elizabeth and Bobl gathered in llanrhystud at exactly the same parking lay-by as yesterday and with an extra effort began to get underway just before midday. I was a bit concerned about the rain clouds and that once we were moving along the Wales Coast Path there was no access till we reached the other end. Well maybe a bit at Tynbwlch, but my history of finding these poorly signposted tracks wasn’t good!
Note the dark clouds- but the rain never really happened.
The Path was a reasonably gentle slope mainly along the cliff edge and not much access to the beach and plenty of sheep
Above – Elizabeth’s view of the walk
And below some of her portraits
We ended up at Morfa Bychan in the middle of nowhere,really, all set for the main party tomorrow / but very little car parking. So tomorrow’s logistics are going to be interesting.
Marilyn had driven ZUD as far as she dared fortunately it coincided with our escape route
It took ages posing for this picture and lining up my witches hat…..
Last Thursday was the first of three carefully scheduled days needed to complete my circumnavigation of Wales. Everything worked like clockwork except the heat, which was solar powered and record breaking.
I drove to Llanrhystud to catch the 08-33 bus to New Quay
First port of call, after dousing myself in sunscreen, was the New Quay Life Boat station . No one around to talk to so move on round the bay before the midday sun arrives and it gets too hot.
Soon moved off New Quay Bay to the shelter of the foliage overlooking Little Quay Bay, me dodging from shadow to shadow.
Passing through Aberaeron, Aberarth and Llanon which isn’t on the O/SMap!
Shade was now at a premium and my water bottles were heating up. Serendipity found me a caravan park gardener hosing down his bedding plants. He pointed out the drinking water tap and I was soon replenished and underway again. Even though the sunscreen had now melted on my forehead and was running into my eyes stinging them quite painfully. Navigating was always quite difficult. This was just rubbing it in!
My oasis below at Llanon
I too had heated up, having been out all day in the sun. It was now five o’clock and I needed a boost. Or a chill.
As the Wales Coast Path gradually merged with the shoreline, an executive decision was made for me also to merge with the seawater. Despite the heat the sea was still quite cool and although I otherwise changed, paddled, splashed and towelled down for about an hour I never had the courage to fully immerse myself.
l am long out of practice at beach changing and balance is a forgotten art so when my ablutions were eventually over I began the rest of the walk with sand and damp patches everywhere. So no more pictures!
in fact the final walk in to Llanrhystud was quite an adventure. I had to change maps and there was no overlap which is probably why Llanon got missed. Also the WCP comes inland and merged with the main road. Sadly in the confusion, I messed up and ended up on the main road too early and was immediately in conflict with peak hour traffic, which does not acknowledge pedestrians.
Nobby was still there when I reached the city limits of Llanrhystud. Someone appeared to be standing guard over my car as I approached. Ever cautious I swapped to the other footpath and as I drew level ran for the driver’s door and was in and away all in one swoop. The “guard” hadn’t moved, or indeed woken up! Perhaps I was mistaken?
i arrived home by eight in the evening only to get an alarm call from Nanny telling me that we had acquired a cow or bull in the garden munching it’s way through out raspberries.
After a bit of peekaboo around the barn the heifer eventually decided it was more peaceful in the river and leapt the fence to get back with her mates.
The farmer made a belated appearance when the fun was all over.
Below – Progress map courtesy of Ordnance Survey shows almost imperceptibly eleven Miles travelled from Llangrannog to New Quay on Monday 8th July, leaving a gap of about twenty miles to complete the circumnavigation of The Wales Coast Path
And making the grand total miles walked 4,466 in 355 walking days
Dear Rosie, Lauren, Stan, Jake, Rowan and Maisie,
I’m sadly running down the clock and also trying to make my last few days finishing The Wales Coast Path take as long as possible. This trip, which contains some of the most Cliff hanging edges encountered without safety harnesses, involved driving ugly ZUD to New Quay, parking up and catching the eponymous Cardi Bach bus to Llangrannog and walking 11 miles back to NQ and back home all in one fantastic sunny day with just enough breeze behind me to keep cool. Just as well – either the hills are getting steeper or I’m running on empty.
The story in pictures;
Below at New Quay – awaiting the bus to Llangrannog, watching the “Flying Fish” removed from the water and beating the bus up the hill; eventually the ubiquitous Richards Cardi Bach Bus day drops us off at Llangrannog where the steps to the Wales Coast Path hint of further steps to be taken
Leaving Llangrannog the aerial way – zoom in on the notice to read how a giant’s toothache created the bays…
Above – after Lochtyn ,NT, the Path seems to be creeping ever nearer the cliff edge…..
The notice, which I ignored, says something about there being a safer path somewhere avoiding the cliff edge – zoom in to see how narrow it gets! I survived😅🙈
Above – Craig yr Adar, NT or oblivion?
Finishing this walk to New Quay, below right, at the Harbour ….. and looking ahead in the distance – that’ll be Aberystwyth twenty miles away, hiding in the heat haze on the horizon, left. See you soon.
Just a congratulatory word for the Wales Coast Path bus services, which provide transport facilities to remote parts of the Wales Coast Path. Without them and their very helpful drivers I would still be walking. The logistics and planning are made so much easier when they go to places other transport cannot reach!