A Travellerspoint blog

Every day has its ups and downs

After a whole career of teaching maths, I've finally started to understand the concept of infinity...there seem to be an infinite number of massive steep hills on the South West coast path - truly never ending! I started off the walk cursing the buggers - now I accept that they are a part of this absolutely magnificent coastline. I treat myself with an extra strong mint at the bottom of each hill (thinking the sugar rush may actually help) - I almost look forward to the next one!

The night after I wrote my last blog it poured with rain, so the next morning I walked for hours through very wet long grass - resulting in my boots finally letting in water. A long tough day walking to clovelly with wet soggy boots and socks. I camped wild that night by an old lime kiln and even I was shocked by the appalling revolting cheesy smell when I took off my boots! I washed my feet, socks and clothes in the stream and my feet still stunk! Didn't put me off my food though!
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A family walked past my tent (with me inside) at dusk and they all thought it hilarious when the daughter swung her rucksack with considerable force into my tent - bleddy ignorant emits!

Breakfast of tea and porridge on the cliff tops with this as a view was wonderful.
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I'd bought some food in Clovelly for overnight but had no food for the next two days until I got to Bude - I was going to stock up on sandwiches at the little shack cafe at Hartland point...so was in a little trouble when the bloody thing was closed! That meant walking all day with nothing other than a handful of nuts and a bit of chocolate. My destination was Hartland Quay with a great pub - I thought I'd buy food there... But it was closed due to all it's staff off with covid having been to Boardmasters festival the week before! Luckily there was a campsite nearby and thank goodness they had a small shop! I was so so hungry as it had been another long hard day. The weather had changed to sunny skies so now it's really really hot walking up the massive hills. On the plus side - I emptied my entire rucksack contents to dry in the sun, along with my freshly washed cheesy socks and sweat sodden shirt and undies.
The next days walk from Hartland point to Bude is known as the toughest days walk of the entire 630 mile hike. It was a baking hot day so sweat poured off me all day (not pleasant to feel it dripping from your bottom and armpits). What makes this section particularly tough (besides the 15 miles) are the ten massive steep descents to sea level then ridiculously steep climbs back up to the cliff tops. So steep I was using my poles like ice picks, helping me to lever myself up the cliff faces. I was absolutely exhausted by about 4pm but still had another hour to get into Bude. I limped into Bude camping and caravaning holiday park at 5pm, dripping with sweat and stinking horribly!
Sod me - the place has converted into a park of self catering units - no tents allowed! They suggested walking over 2 hours to the next campsite at Widemouth bay! My knees were saying no to that option.
What to do? I was soaking wet with sweat, very tired, ravenously hungry, extremely dehydrated and had nowhere to sleep. I walked into town and found a supermarket. I first bought some deodorant and wet wipes. Next bought was food and fluid. I found somewhere nice to sit, refuel and gather up some enthusiasm to walk out of town to find a place to wild camp. An easy lovely walk/stagger across fields out of Bude and I quickly found seemingly an ideal spot.
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I washed with half a pack of baby wipes, watched the sunset, crawled into my tent, was reading then heard a tractor come into my clifftop field. It was pitch black so had 12 spotlights blazing on the front. I watched it drive up the left side of my field, across the top then was heading straight for me!! It was mowing the grass (at night!). I leapt out of my tent, waving my arms like a lunatic and flashing my torch at the driver, fearing being mowed down. He stopped just in front of my tent saying he'd seen me. He said he'd carry on mowing the grass and go round me each time he circulated the field. Each time he drove round I would lie in bed with eyes shut waiting to be squished by a tractor - hoping he would continue to remember I was still there. I eventually fell asleep and obviously lived to tell the tale.

The next day I was surprisingly energetic and keen to walk. I was now in Cornwall and know how amazing the coast up here is. What an incredible walk to Crackington Haven. It has its fair share of hills but nothing compared to the previous day. Infact it felt good knowing that no other day to come should be as hard as the one I'd just completed. I felt real joy and happiness walking in the sunshine along a beautiful coastline. I reached Crackington Haven by lunchtime and craved food - a lot of it! A toasted tuna sandwich and a massive cream tea (with 2 pots of tea). Delicious and it barely touched the sides. I bought another sandwich and a pasty to take away as I was heading to lower penny crocker farm campsite 2.5 hours away (which had no food) - more hard but incredible walking.
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Colin who runs the campsite is an amazingly laid back guy. All hikers camp for free - he said it's amazing what we are doing and he makes enough money from all the other people. I enjoyed a hot shower and ate my dinner watching the sun set into the sea.
Off early for the 2 hour hike into Boscastle for breakfast. I bought a bag of porridge at the spar shop and they were kind enough to give me a kettle full of hot water (as I'm almost out of gas). Along the gorgeous coast for a few more miles to Tintagel. A huge shock to leave the tranquility and beauty of the coast path and walk into the horrendous throng of people in Tintagel. I needed food supplies, so sat at the first cafe I found. Downed gallons of tea, topped up my water bladder and bought 2 sets of sandwiches and 2 pasties. I couldn't get out of there quick enough.
I walked several more hours along tough but incredible paths to where I thought there was a small campsite. Turned out to be just a group of rental properties - rented by the poshest sounding people I think I've ever heard. The lady literally ran away and hid when she saw my sweaty form walking down her driveway. I topped up more water from an outside tap and headed to the nearby beach and most idyllic wild camping spot ever.
There was a flat patch of grass right by my own massive and stunning beach. I headed straight into the sea, still wearing all of my sweaty clothes of the day. It was just heaven. Playing and washing in the surf in the evening sun. Oh - total bliss!
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There was even a bench on which to eat my takeaway yummy dinner. Whilst eating 5 lads (from Surrey) had come down to the beach to fish. It was now high tide and one of them had dived into the sea to swim... But then couldn't get back out! Luckily there was a life ring where I was sitting. For half an hour this lad was in real danger, but they eventually got him out ok. I didn't want the drowning of a tourist to ruin a pretty perfect day.

Breakfast on the cliffs and a lovely long hike to Port Isaac. The place was stuffed full of tourists dripping in money. It was horrible and claustrophobic. Gallons of tea (and a well needed poo in the pub toilet), two pasties to take away and I escaped back to the sanctuary of the cliff path. The section from Port Isaac to Polzeath I think is one of the most stunning sections of the walk so far. Tough but beautiful walking. It made a very long day but boy was it worth it.IMG_20210827_114148.jpg

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A huge shock staggering very sweatily into the crowds of wealthy holiday makers of Polzeath (glad I didn't bump into David bloody Cameron - I had a speech prepared about sodding Brexit if I did). I managed to get the last spot in the valley campsite (they've given me low season rates - probably because I looked like I was desperate and about to die when I first arrived).
My ailments mentioned in my first blog aren't too bad anymore, but my knees are now really sore when ascending and descending the hugely steep thousands of steps that make up large parts of the coast path. I'm not sure there is a lot of knee cartilage left in either knee. I'm taking a rest day in the sun at Polzeath and hope they're a little better before I set off again tomorrow.
I'll keep going as long as my body will let me. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity!

Posted by simonstravels 15:33 Archived in England

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Comments

Well done Simon. You are doing ok for retired oldie.
Love. C

by Chris

An interesting and amusing read Simon with the usual expected and much loved toilet talk. Lots of adventure and pasties! You really are a Cornish man at heart. Will the theme of bare skin shots continue...... I wonder lol x

by Bev

I think the pasty count in this episode exceeded the poohs- well done.
This is a once in a lifetime adventure that I am too old for, as my older brother this qualifies you as mad.

by munichnewman

We were staying near Ilfracombe for a few nights the other day, we must have just missed you! I know what you mean about the coast path be great idea on the mints at the bottom of the hills.

Amazing what you are doing Simon. You are forever a pasty eating inspiration!

Lara & James xxxx

by Lara

Beautifully described as always. I feel like I’m walking alongside you, without the effort and smells. Are you now an ex tractor fan?

by Steve Newman

I'm glad you survived the tractor! 🚜🙌😊😄
Alfie will be envious of the pasty count!
Take care
X

by Joanne Newman

Fantastic read! Sounds hard work but incredible, we were in Hartland on Tuesday, shame as it would’ve been nice to bump into you again, looking forward to your next blog!

by Nicky & Trev: Exeter

Well done Simon; seems tougher than India! Knew you couldn't get thru a whole post without mentioning a poo or your ass.

by Andrew W.

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