The farmer shouted the question above the roar of his 4×4 farm vehicle and switched it off but the racket continued. His two Collies, protective of their domain, continued in their protestations as to my presence.
He had no doubt watched me from afar, toiling up a slightly inland slope that had garnered a local reputation. By the time we met, I had regained both composure and breath,- “it was, interesting, it certainly made me… think”. We had a brief chat and just before restarting his Kawasaki and roaring off, he replied “some of these hills do make you think about what you are doing”
The walking on the South West Coast Path is superb. Amongst the best I have ever done. However the terrain, with continued ascents and descents, often rocky paths and that damned mud in the first fortnight means that I cannot manage high mileage days. The most I have done so far on this trail is a tad over 24.5 miles, and that was simply because of a lack of camping opportunity and a ferry to be caught. Daily ascent has varied, the most ascent so far has been 4516 feet on day fourteen.
Most days have been far shorter and I see I am currently averaging around 13 mile days. I am not overly concerned by this as it will pick up once I move inland after the SWCP.
Spring is very much here. Flora has been changing and increasing. Now into Cornwall, Bluebells are prevalent. A bank of Early Purple Orchid was an unexpected joy, Spring Squill is a west coast beauty and Thrift is THE flower of both headland and grass covered stone walling.
I continue to take a few minutes out when I can to both explore what I pass, and to chat to people I meet. That is, after all, one of the primary aims of my adventure. And come on, who isn’t thrilled to come across a skull and crossbones on a 17th C. memorial slab in a church?
My weight hasn’t exactly, ahem, dropped dramatically. But I put that down to a conscious effort to keep the calorific intake up.
The Cornish Pastie was, or should have been, made for hikers. And I am pretty much convinced that the Cream Tea is the perfect lunch time meal- calories, mix of carbs and protein, even some vegetable for vitamins. And I can ask them to refill my water bottle, all essential hydration.
My gear is mostly holding up well with few failures other a hole in the heel of one sock, a tear in the left sleeve of my hiking polo shirt, courtesy of thorn bracketed paths, and a small failure on the seam of a Z-Packs stuff sack that holds my quilt. Easily repaired with a square of cuben repair tape.
My continued use of campsites and hostels, where present, means that I am keeping on top of clothes washing to an acceptable level. Socks and skiddies get at least a daily rinse. If they aren’t dry in the morning, they go on wet.
I have managed one additional wild camp since my last blog. That was purely due to a lack of ‘official’ sites and my need to hit a low tide, early morning, to make one particular ‘wet feet’ crossing of a harbour.
The weather has mostly improved, as has my ‘hill fitness’ and as a result the walking, while not easy, has been mostly superb. I have taken one zero , today, as a result of torrential rain.
This gave opportunity for rest, repair, a decent meal and a bit of exploring. Beside that, I can only report that my First Point of the Compass- Lizard, the most Southerly Point of Mainland Britain, has been passed. Suitably celebrated with a steak and a bottle of wine in the excellent Witch Ball Inn in nearby Lizard village
Well done. I hope you’re enjoying yourself. There have been quite a few ‘cardiac hill’s on my route so far, with several more to come. I’d rather walk up them than down them though.
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I really am not sure which I prefer, ups are hard(ish), downs punish the body more. What I do try to perservere with though, is the taking my time downhill. I watch people slipping, sliding, positively bouncing, down selfsame hills, I also see the occasional tumble. I really, really can’t risk a turned ankle, a wrenched knee etc. So, I take my time decending. OK, I think I agree with you. I prefer the ascents! Enjoy your trail
It was pleasure to meet you in Treyarnon Bay YHA. It seems like a long time ago now (I believe it was Saturday 5th May). I am glad to see that you are doing well and making good progress!
The day after we chatted I decided to walk to Padstow. I went the long way round (on the coastal path). It was a lot longer than I’d thought, especially after my morning surf! I’m sure the view would have been great, but the sea mist meant I couldn’t even see the sea. It was ‘atmospheric’. re: pasty – well deserved
Just in case you didn’t take note of it – the two books I mentioned to you were ‘Barbarian Days – A Surfing Life’ (no particular knowledge or interest of surfing required) and ‘Crossing Europe on a Bike Called Reggie’ (includes comedic observations of camping and travelling that you will be able to relate to).
Anyhow, keep up the progress. I hope all is going well!
Don’t forget – wine, beer and cream teas are necessary fuel!
Hi Andy, thanks for taking the time at Treyarnon to enlighten me in on ‘all things surfing’. That sea mist was something, hung around the coast for three days or so. I quite enjoyed the ephemeral quality it lent the cliffs, though I know not all walkers were appreciative. I agree on the calorific benefit of cream teas, savoury teas rival it though! But having relied on pasties for much of the SWCP, those are a serious rival too. I’ll look up those books on my return, thanks. Take care on the waves, Jools