Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Wet, windy and cold - having a day off!

Hi all,
We have spent the last week walking in really nasty weather. We're wet, cold and tired but we kept going - but today it's wetter, colder and very windy so discretion takes over and it's time for a day off. Think we'll go to the aquarium in Newquay cos its indoors and warm.
We're almost in Padstow in walking terms so doing really well. The wind has been blowing seawards tho and some parts of the path are right on the edge of very high cliffs - not nice.
Have to say, even Milo has gone on strike today - it's 10 o'clock in the morning and he poked his nose out of the tent, said noway and tucked himself back into my sleeping bag! If he says we'renot walking today, then we're not. This means , of course, that the timetable on the website will be one day out, but I'm sure you can all work it out. We will catch up in a week or two's time so watch this space and see how long it takes us.
Thw walk itself has been spectacular - this is the hardest part of the path but one of the most incredible. I'd like to see it in sunshine one day. So far we'veseen some positive signs of spring - primroses, violets, wild daffodils, and now the honeysuckle leaves are showing. The blackthorn blossom is about ready to burst too so looking forward to that.
On a lighter note, I have discovered what footpaths do in their spare time. And, what is more they enjoy it far more than their regular job as is shown by the gusto with which they perform this alternative......they become rivers!!!
Off to enjoy the unexpected day off now,
Love Susan x

PS Once again, you should all be following Charlie's blog too on www.charliemacp.blogspot.com
She sees this venture from a completely different viewpoint so it should be interesting.

Toodle-oo again
S x

Friday, 26 March 2010

Tomorrow Tintagel!

Hello again,
Bet you wondered where I'd got to, didn't you?
Well, I got to Boscastle!!! Seriously, we're in yet another mobile deadspot, so tonight we're treating ouirselves to a pint and dinner in The King Arthur's Arm's, Tintagel, because we earned a pint today, because it's too wet and windy to cook at the campsite and because the pub has wifi.
We moved to a new campsite this week, but I have to say, the last one, Budemeadows, Widemouth Bay was really good. Great facilities for Charlie, great facilities for us 'able' folks and if you've got youngsters, this is the site for you. The Playgound was incredible - even had a zip-wire, and there was also giant chess, giant connect 4, outside table tennis and a games room for wet days.
We are now camping near Tintagel on a Caravan Club Site which means less extras but very posh basics - warm ablutions block, lots of hot water and all very clean and tidy. It's also on a cliff top so the views are incredible but the wind is making even morning tea a challenge. Yesterday we gave up and went into Boscastle for breakfast but that proved to be very expensive and not as good for walking as our usual porridge, so, this morning I dragged the cooker into my tent and cooked the porridge in there. Just as well too - what a walk! The last few days have been quite tough but today was really hard and yet so wonderful it was worth every puff, blow and achy bit.
We climbed High Cliff today, imaginatively named since it is the highest cliff in Cornwall. Then came Rusey Cliff, even more hard work across rough ground, we saw the wild goats there too and the delicate aroma of 'Eau de Goat' certainly helped us move along at quite a pace! Then we saw Buckator - now that is a REAL cliff. Big, black, sheer and awe-inspiring. As you may have gathered, I liked Buckator. There was a hairy bit around the next headland but we took a slightly higher route as there was a nasty gusty wind blowing us out to seaward and it didn't feel too nice to be on the very edge in that.

Met an amazing lady yesterday - Amy. We thought our 630 miles was good, but Amy is walking 6,824 miles!!! She's doing the whole coast of Britain and not using ferries, going right round all the estuaries. She's walking for Kidney Research as she lost her brother to kidney disease. She's planning to finish early October at Guys Hospital, back where she started on Feb 1st. Look for her on amygoescoastal, there's a group on Facebook too.

The last bit of todays walk was into Pentargon, an inlet that had it been bigger could have been Boscastle instead of the bit that was, if you see what I mean. Every time we climb a load of steps out of another valley/combe, I wish I'd remembered to count the steps. Well, today I did, and there are 194 steps up from Pentargon where you cross the bridge by the waterfall. And that wasn't the biggest climb we've done either.
As we climbed out of there and looked back, we saw a huge spout of water coming from the cliff opposite! It was incredible so we got the camera out and waited for it to happen again, which it did. Trouble is, when we went to move off again we discovered that Milo had curled up round my feet and gone to sleep! That called for another photo, then we woke him up and set off for the final push into Boscastle where Charlie waited with lunch.
The colouring of the roof lining of Gertie is coming on wonderfully - there's always a little more added when Charlie picks us up after our days walk.
Well, Charlie and Roz have almost finished their game of pool so I guess it's nearly time to get back to the campsite.
Looking forward to the clocks going forward tomorrow night - less trouble cooking when its not in the dark!
take care all,
bye for now,
Susan x

Monday, 22 March 2010

Nearly at Bude!

Hi all,
Today was a horrid day! Very windy, very stingy rain and a very scary bit of path down into Duckpool - even Milo backed himself between my legs and said 'no way'. After the walk, of course, the sun came out! Yesterday was great; walked to Morwenstow from Welcombe. Met a great guy called Mark, a Marine, who is walking from Barnstaple to Plymouth in 12 days. Met up with him in Bude later on and he said he'd try to meet up with us in Plymouth when we get there. He seemed to think that 99 days of nonstop walking was a bit amazing, but you should have seen the size of the pack he was carrying on his back!!! He said if he could get his pack sent on to Newquay then he could run for the first 20 - 30 miles today. We just gasped in awe.
Saw a snail on the path yesterday and thought about waiting for it to cross before continuing on our way but then realised the snail was in fact slithering along the path in the same direction as us and to let him go first may have held us up for months if not years, so made a quick overtaking manoeuvre when he wasn't looking and kept to our schedule. Yesterday, you see, we had a very important place to visit. We saw a brown sign the other day and followed it, only to discover that the place didn't open til yesterday, so yesterday we went - to the Gnome Reserve!
Wonderful wacky place. Visitors are requested to wear a hat from an assortment provided, so we did of course, and then walked around the reserve - gnomes everywhere. Back to the house for sandwiches and coffee and then a walk around the wild flower garden to count fairies amongst other things. A really great place to visit for a total escape and to meet a very lovely lady who also happens to be a very talented artist too.
The last two days walking were the hardest so far and with todays weather thrown into the mix, very hard work. Neither of us enjoyed the walk itself much today, but there's a wonderful sense of achievement in having done it in spite of everything.
Forgot to mention, saw Hawkers Hut yesterday, built by Reverend Hawker and now the smallest property owned by the National Trust. Talked to a nice couple there with their dog Jeeves. Being a sunday and sunny there were loads of people out on the path yesterday.
Came across another hut too, even more special than Hawkers, I think. It belonged to a poet and playwrite, Ronald Duncan. His daughter rebuilt the hut and it stays unlocked for people to visit and read about Mr Duncan. There was a box on the floor containing lots of books with a simple notice on 'Please help yourself to one of Ronald Duncans books'. We brought Charlotte a copy of his collected poems and what a poet he was.
Isn't it about time we had some company for a spell, or are you all waiting for better weather? Can't say I blame anyone for that.
Think this is the dogs favourite campsite - we go to Widemouth Bay to give them a run early evening and they just run and run, even Treacle. Mac remembered how he surfed at Sandy Beach and tried it here - much bigger waves and so much more fun for him but a very wet car later on!
Speaking of the car, Gertie, she is turning into a work of art on the inside. I bought Charlie some fabric pens and the roof lining is slowly being covered with thoughts, images and impressions of places we've seen. Should be quite something by the end.
Well, think thats about all folks.
Time for a game of Uno with Charlie and Roz (evening entertainment is somewhat limited)
Take care all of you,
Susan x

Friday, 19 March 2010


Just to let you know, we're going to put all the photos on a dedicated page on the web site.
When I've finished labelling them all, Charlie will make the page. There are some good ones, amazing scenery and some of us at work and at play!
Hello everyone,
sorry I haven't blogged for a while. We were staying at Hartland Caravan & Camping Park but it was a mobile deadspot. Great campsite - Charlie loved the smells and sounds of the steel fabrication on site cos it reminded her of her childhood in Ewan's workshop!
We have now walked as far as Hartland Quay - 109 miles and stillgoing strong.
Couple of gripes tho - why are the builders of steps on footpaths all 6' 5" with long legs? (yes, I know the steps get deeper with erosion, but allow me my rant) I have to climb steps that come up to my knee and I'm no shorty, so, if the footpath step-builder employers would only employ short gentlemen or ladies, then we would have steps that are quite do-able (even after a little erosion).
Another (sort of) gripe; I'm getting annoyed - I see a hole in the ground but don't know who lives in it, I see footprints of a deer but don't know what sort of deer, there are birds, plants, trees, sounds I can't identify. Does anyone know Simon King's phone number? I need him here, on this walk, now. Any of the others on spring/autumnwatch would do just as well, but someone is needed!
Well, we're almost out of Devon already. Celebrated getting to Hartland Quay with a slap up dinner there which was really good. It was great to come round the corner at Hartland Point and see the big Atlantic Rollers breaking over huge rocks at ridiculous angles. We didn't split the section from Clovelly to Hartland very well - turned out to be 6 1/2 miles and 4 miles, but we managed it. Clovelly is still wonderful, but only if you pay £5.50 to get thru the visitor centre first.
We moved to a new campsite today - Budemeadows, just outside Bude. It's a very nice site with good facilities especially for Charlie. There's even a bath so I've promised myself a soak while we're here (5 nights). Our favourite campsite so far is still Brightlycott Barton near Barnstaple.
It was small, friendly, excellent facilities and so peaceful.
The weather has turned - it's throwing it down at the moment and we're sitting in the car (now called Gertie), Charlie and Roz are playing cards while I blog. I had to buy a new waterproof today - I re-proofed mine before we left and when I wore it yesterday the rain soaked straight thru! Bought a very bright green one so I'm more visible on the path. Tomorrow we start the hardest part of the path - Hartland Quay to Bude. We,ve split it into four days but it'll still be very hard going.
Think I'll join in this very exciting game of 'snap' which sounds as if it's getting quite violent ( don't we usually encourage children to play it?), think they're going to need a referee soon.
If anyone reading this sees Pete the Chiropractor think this site may know him - there's a bar here (not open cos it's low season) called 'Grumpy Pete's Bar'!!!!!
Should be able to blog regularly at this site as they have a re-charging service here as well as there being a signal.
Tata for now,
Love to you all,
Susan x

Sunday, 14 March 2010

Westward Ho!

Hello, me again.
Been offline again for a couple of days, but very busy walking all the same.
Arrived at Westward Ho! this afternoon having started at Appledore, so an easy stroll through Appledore (lovely narrow streets and old houses) and then over Northam Burrows where we heard a skylark singing its heart out in the sunshine. Then a walk along the beach into Westward Ho! ( named incidentally after the novel by Charles Kingsley and the only place name in Britain with an exclamation mark).
Saw loads of people kite boarding on the beach - Charliue wants to have a go!

The last few days have been hard on the ole pins as the path followed the Tarka Trail which is a tarmac cycle/walkway along the old railway line. Bit demoralising too to arrive at a place you passed three days before - but just across the river. We came upon Luke's green boat, where we met Max and his dogs and it was just spitting distance away!

Moving to Hartland campsite tomorrow and starting a strenuous part of the path - two days to get to Clovelly and then another couple of days to round the corner to Hartland Quay where we've promised ourselves a good meal.

Running out of power again so gotta go - be playing Uno by torchlight again.
For an alternative view of this expedition tryu looking at Charlie's blog;

Talk to you all soon,
Susan x
PS More charge tomorrow will result in loads of photo uploads so watch this space!

Thursday, 11 March 2010

Me again

Hello again.
Walked past RMB Chivenor today and saw a wonderful little tank that we knew Charlie would like so we took a photo of it for her.
Before that though it was a very long walk! 8.7 miles and boy do I feel it. I t was sand-dunes, hard trcks and long, long raised paths all the way. Saw a little egret and some shelduck and a lone swan which seemed odd til we saw his/her mate who had obviously hit a power line some time before and was no more. Met a guy called Max with his dogs Buddy and Saphron. Max has a ketch which he is rebuilding with a view to sailing over to France and then travelling the inland waterways there. He was a fount of local knowledge and a great guy to meet. He makes bespoke arty farty woodburners - his words not mine.
There was ice on the tent again this morning but wall to wall sunshine again during the day - don't mind how long this weather last now I've worked out how to keep warm at night ( it involves three sleeping bags and a fleece liner with an added blanket)
Walking to Barnstaple tomorrow along the Tarka Trail which follows the same route as the SWCP for this bit.
tata, Susan x

We're back online!

Oops! Nevermind, this is us right at the start, but we were the right way up, I promise.
Sorry not to have blogged for a few days - we were at a campsite with no power facilities, the car ciggy lighter blew a fuse so no charging there and we've been without phones or laptops for a while.
So here we are a t the second campsite, A wonderful site, very friendly, and thats actually a good pun because the gentleman who runs the site and the farm is called Charles Friend! It's a great site, very calm, wonderful views and we all feel much better here.
We decided after our disastrous start that we couldn't catch up as I'm walking to my limits, so we stopped at Lynmouth and started again at Combe Martin and we'll go back in June, on the way home and do those two days then. Should be fitter too which will be good as they're both 'strenuous' days. Yesterday we arrived at Croyde Bay, after walking for ages along the beach at Woolacombe. The days before were wonderful, but rather tiring with so many ups and downs. Lee Bay was wierd -seemed like a whole village of building site. There's a massive hotel, being developed, and about four or five other houses all being rebuilt or developed in some way. Saw my first lighthouse at Bull Point, and Milo broke his lead there too. Milo has been amazing - loves it when wemeet people but has worked out now which ones to ignore and which ones will be susceptible to his charms.
Roz and I are both getting better at the 'ups' with less pauses for breath and to get the life back into jelly legs. I'm coping better than I thought I would - shin splints have been very painful but I know that if I keep walking I can walk through them and then be ok. Charlie loves driving the van. We've called her Gertie and so far she's behaving. There seems to be a constant drip of oil underineath but we're preferring to ignore it cos there's nothing we can do about it!
The discarded clothing tally mounted considerably for the first few days, with more gloves, a woolly hat and a sock, but here in Devon they seem to hang onto their belongings a little better.
One wierd thing we did see was a road cone, miles from anywhere, nestled in the lower branches of a Rhododendron which itself was clinging to the side of a cliff high above the sea.
We passes a place called Sisters Fountain, a little spring in the woods where Jesus reputedly stopped for a drink with Joseph of Aremethea(cant spell that, sorry) on their way to Glastonbury.
Off soon to start the walk from Croyde Bay to Chivenor. It's a long one today but should be quite level. I'll write again later and try to put some more photos in the right way up!
Bye for now,

Saturday, 6 March 2010

County Gate so far

Apologies for not writing the blog yesterday - just got started and my laptop ran out of power!
Day 2 is now completed and we got to County Gate. We've now finished with Somerset and we're into Devon. We're trying to make up a little time each day, although yesterday we only added a tiny bit to Porlock.

Yesterday was an assault on the legs as we started with Culvercliff - very uphill. That took some time but then we came out at the top to glorious sunshine, beautiful Exmoor landscape and even a herd of ponies. Then came a very steep and slippy downhill to Bossington and on to Porlock. A good first walk, legs didn't hurt too much and all in all ok. Beginning to realise that one could kit oneself out quite well with items of clothing left on the path - today a leather glove and a splendid shoe, but only one.

Today, Saturday 6th. Started at Porlock and arrived at Porlock Weir to find the way blocked by the local hunt meet. Waited for them to set off and then we set off too - uphill again and into Culbone Woods. The woods are amazing - thick ancient woodland clinging to the side of the cliff. Saw some red deer hinds and an old dog fox too. Milo loved the woodland and especially liked the people we met if they did the 'aaah' sound because it was his cue to jump up and look cute. He soon sussed the ones who were immune to his cuteness and ignored them as they went by.
The woods went on forever.....and ever..... but when we arrived at Culbone Church it was all worth it. What a wonderful place! Eventually came out from the woods, via a Pinetum with some splendid specimens and uphill again to County Gate where Charlie was waiting with the car. The uphills are proving a bit of a problem but I'm sure they'll get easier as we get into it. Did 7 miles today so feeling good inside, sore leg, back and foot side! Hoping to get past Lynmouth tomorrow to make up some more missed time but we'll see how hard it is.
Nearly eight o'clock now and time to hit the sack.
Susan x

Thursday, 4 March 2010

Well, where do I start?
It's March 4th, second day of the walk and we haven't started walking yet! Fear not tho,we shall, fingers and toes crossed begin our trek this afternoon.
The first thing that happened that morning was the news that Harley James had been born - my first grandchild! What a good omen.
We had a tremendous send off on tuesday with all the children from school asking countless and very relevant questions, all of which had to be answered. Then there were interviews with tv and press and speeches from Will (Bettws) and Albert Owen our MP. We were presented with very warm hats by RAF Valley too which, as you will hear have been and are invaluable.
We didn't leave til nearly 11am so arrived after dark at the campsite. Putting up the tent in the dark proved very funny but eventually successful and so we fed the dogs and climbed into our sleeping bags.
Got up yesterday, I opened some cards and presents, had some breakfast and then noticed a big puddle under the car. Nice Dave on the campsite took a look and advised calling the RAC - the radiator had just decided to rot thru an d we needed a new one. The car went to Ilfracombe to be mended and we sat about wondering what to do. Charlie got too cold, it's blowing a hooley here and the wind is bitter, so , we called on help from all and sundry. Trish said she'd try to get RAF Chivenor to help with transport, Ewan called the garage and arranged to get the new radiator asap and fitted as soon as it arrived and Dave, on the campsite, made us a hot coffee in the as yet un-open cafe. We eventually got Charlie booked into a local hotel since without a car she had no bed and when she left in the taxi with Mac, Roz and I walked into Combe Martin with Treacleand Milo. About five minutes after leaving the campsite along a muddy track, we passed Charlie's hotel! Great village, hot coffee in the shop and some nice kids asking loads of questions about the dogs, Charlie, how far we were going to walk, etc, etc. A bag of chips each overlooking the bay and then we set off back to the campsite. We feasted on apples, cheese and bread for supper and had a very early night wondering if the tent was going to blow away in this howling gale. Milo was convinced we were in mortal danger so climbed inside my sleeping bag to protect me, I think.
So, here we are this morning, still windy and cold and waiting for the garage to fix the car so we can set off at last. We had given ourselves a day off on day 15, so we'll catch up by walking through that day. Charlie just phoned to say she was nice and warm again and enjoyed a splendid 5 course dinner last night - some people really know how to rough it don't they?
Going to have a little kip now in readiness for this afternoons hike,
tata for now,