Day 85 Clovelly to Westward Ho! 19th October 2016

Day 85 Clovelly to Westward Ho! 19th October 2016

Today started out very straightforwardly.  Back up the cobbled street of Upalong-Downalong to the path, greeting more Clovelly cats as we went. The first three miles were along a level path called the Hobby Track through the woods. Once again there were lots of pheasant, but today there were also lots of guns. We could hear the beating and them the calling of the pheasants as they took flight. I shouldn’t complain as I am happy to eat pheasant and it is far better than factory farming, but I struggle to understand how anyone can actually get pleasure out of killing a live creature.

The guns gradually faded as we travelled briskly along. Our first descent was to Bucks Mill. – a tiny hamlet which once again hailed to produce a café. Then up and flat again until a sharp descent into Peppercombe where there was a crew of National Trust volunteers burning brush. There was not much wind so the smoke caught my throat and got into our eyes and hair.

As we looked back, we could see Clovelly – it had a bit of morning sun, but was soon in shadow. Coming out of Peppercombe, the path climbs up to the cliff top and veers north again. There were several long, painful ups and downs, before one drop right down to the cobbly shore. There was lots of litter and driftwood, some of the bakers’ tray sleds that the people of Clovelly use to drag things up and down. Not sure if they find trays that have come ashore or whether the trays get washed away. We reached Westward Ho! along the old Bideford to Westward railway track, which was apparently torn up for the First World War effort and shipped to France. Unfortunately, it never got there, being sunk in the Channel.

After an excellent cream tea at the Tea on the Green Café, we arrived at our B & B, the Mayfield. We had noticed down on the sea-front, some of the lines from Rudyard Kipling’s famous poem ‘If’, laid out in shells. It seems he went to school here, in the buildings opposite our B & B and this is where his book ‘Stalky & Co.’ is set. Excellent school stories – not nearly as ‘play up and play the game’ as you might imagine. In fact, Stalky is a rebel who hates games – my kind of schoolboy.

Today’s distance was 19.7 km – just under 12.5 miles.

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I haven’t gone away!

For anyone who thought I might have given up – I am still here. It is hard to believe that a year has passed since my last walk, but in the meantime I have been busy with my new business www.tudortimes.co.uk and I am also writing a book. So weekends have been a bit hectic. Nevertheless I have managed to squeeze in 10 days back in Cornwall, this time in the company of friends Jon and Stephen. Jon is working on an end to end project and wanted to start from Land’s End. That works perfectly for me, because I can pick up the bits I missed last summer – Porth Leven to Mousehole on Friday and Saturday, and meet the others at the pub in Pendeen where Chris and I finished last year.

On the final day last year, instead of walking on from Pendeen, we spent the day at the Geevor tin-mine. The weather was absolutely appalling – quite different from the previous day, and my boots were slipperier than ever, so we thought the tin-mine would be a good option. And it was – absolutely fascinating. I highly recommend to anyone with the slightest interest in history, mining, industrial archaeology, industrial relations, systems, engineering, or just about anything.

Since then, no plans have actually come to anything, so I am absolutely delighted to be off again. I hope the weather is as good as last year!

The advantage to going with friends, is that we are clubbing together for a bag transport service. After the miseries of last year, I’ll welcome it, as it is fair to say fitness levels are slipping with the current very sedentary projects.

I’ve bought new boots too. I went for Zamerlan again because they are so comfortable. Just hoping that the first pair had faulty soles, rather then the whole design being poor. Fingers (and toes) crossed!

Train at 12.05 from Paddington tomorrow and a whole 10 days of Cornish Pasties and cream teas ahead.

Day 70 18th July 2015

Day 70 18th July 2015

IMG_0075I am glad to say that I have discovered the cause of my low satisfaction level. My pack is too heavy. I am not sure what it weighs, probably about 9-10 kg, including its own weight and water. It is difficult to slim down more – I could perhaps lose one sweater and two very light weight tops, but not sure that would make a noticeable difference. It is less than 10% of my body weight.

Depressed by the screaming of my knees yesterday, and having heard that today would be rainy and the path steep, I decided to send the majority of my kit on to my next hotel.  Elegantly decanted into a black plastic bin liner, my dirty laundry and spare shoes travelled in state in their own taxi, rolling up at the front door of the Treloyan Manor Hotel as Chris and I toiled up the coast path. My only physical complaint today is the horse-fly bite I got above Portloe. It has swollen up into a hard yellow lump, the size of a 2 pound coin.IMG_0095

In fact, divested of my pack, I was practically dancing along the path. The weather turned out to be absolutely fabulous – hot, sunny, with the odd breeze.

Today’s route was fascinating. Through the old tin mining territory north of Land’s End. I was particularly interested because my grandfather’s grandparents and all their ancestors back into the mists of time came from the villages around here – Gwithean, Morvah, St Just and Camborne. I haven’t had time today to look, but next time I come, I will spend a few hours investigating the local church yards.

The mines looked very romantic, set in the green bracken, with the bright blue sky and the purple CornisIMG_0100h heather setting them off. Almost all of them closed around the turn of the 20th century, apart from Greevor, which only closed in the 1980s. We are planning to do the guided tour of it tomorrow morning. We met a very informative couple who told us all about the mines – apparently most of the mining took place in long latitudinal shafts that went as far as a mile or so under the sea. Apparently, when sinking parallel shafts, they did not allow for the fact that magnetic north changes over time, and major disasters were caused by new shafts running into old ones that were not being pumped.

I am sure that when they were being worked they looked dirty, ugly and dangerous, but now they are beautiful. This is also the area where the recent Poldark series was filmed. My ears pricked up at that, and I scanned the horizon for the gorgeous Ross Poldark, sadly, I have been informed he is off on another job.

We stopped at Cape Cornwall, which is about 5 miles north by east of Lands End. There was a natural swimming pool in the rocks that Chris took advantage of, plunging in entirely. I confined myself to dangling my feet in. It was cold, but fabulous. We then sat in the sun and had Cornish pasties and ice cream.

We walked as far as Pendeen. Chris set up his tent in a campsite there, and I hopped on a bus up to St Ives to join my black bin liner.

Day 69 – Mousehole to Land’s End 18th July 2015

Last night, I was feeling pretty ropey. My feet are outrageously painful, although I’m not sure why. I don’t have any injuries, but my knees hurt and my feet are like balls of fire. I suggested to Chris that we get a bus to Land’s End, drop our bags and walk back and return by bus. This morning, however, things seemed better, so we took a bus to Mousehole (pro. MAW- zl). This will leave me with the Porthleven to Mousehole stretch to do, which is about 10 miles of mainly road. It seemed a bit mean to drag Chris all the way here just IMG_0038for road-bashing.

Mousehole is a delightful village. Much more real than some of the others, with proper fishing boats and actual residents, not just holiday homes. The sign posting of the route is as poor as ever.

The path is tough at this point. There is some scrambling round rocks at the end of the various headlands, I am glad to have done them in good weather – it was a beautiful day. It took a couple of hours to get the 2.5 miles to Lamorna, so we rewarded ourselves with coffee and cake. There was then another tough section, lots of exposed cliff, with suggestive names, such as Coffin Rock. IMG_0053We met various people coming towards us, including a Swedish couple, both 72 who do this section off the path every year. Startlingly, she was in a bikini. And only just in that. She was busy tucking herself into the top when she heard us coming. It is hard to imagine members of the Ramblers Association being quite so free and easy!

By the time we reached Porth Berth, another 5 miles, I was completely exhausted. I really don’t know what has got into me – I am never normally tired. I hope I am not sickening for something. As we rested, we chatted to some very fit looking ladies who said that the next sections were very up and down with some scrambles. I knew I couldn’t do it. We debated the merits of pub and taxi, then decided on a cross country route, flatter, across the fields. It took almost as long, as the path was frequently hidden under crops, which necessitated endless stops to look at the map but it was easier. Annoyingly, I left my large water bottle in the pub where we ate last night, so I only had a small bottle of water, which I had refilled at Lamorna. We took several false turns. Eventually, we arrived at Land’s End. IMG_0058The weather was still fabulous. We had a good meal, and Chris has gone off to his b & b (he’s come prepared to camp, but there are no pitches available. The receptionist here is fantastic. She found Chris a room , and has organised a taxi to collect my bag in the morning and ferry it to my hotel for tomorrow. I cannot contemplate walking with a full pack any more, especially as the forecast is for rain, which will make for slippery surfaces. My knees are shockingly painful as I go down steps. Hopefully, with just my wet weather gear, sweater, money and phone, I’ll be able to manage.IMG_0071

I am in the superb conservatory at the hotel, but it is already clouding over, and the sunset I was hoping for has not materialised. It is, nevertheless, rather a red-letter day, as I have reached the westernmost point in mainland Britain. I have now done the most easterly (Lowestoft), the south-eastern point (South Foreland),  and the most southerly (The Lizard the day before yesterday). Only the northern points to do – should be a doddle (!)