Do it yourself

Last night I checked in for my flight and printed off my boarding pass. This morning I made my way to the airport and had to print off my own baggage label and take my bag almost all the way to the plane.  

If that wasn’t bad enough imagine how I felt at having to do my own security checks and then being put on the roster to fly the plane, airline travel is not what it was.

Advertisements

Roughing it

So when I first thought about doing this crazy walk I had this idea of chucking a few essentials in a pack, sleeping under the stars and living off my wits.

Needless to say it got far more complicated, and I ended up with a tent, stove, spare clothes, wash kit, book, phone, phone charger …..and a very heavy bag.  I have enjoyed the comfort that comes with this gear, particularly on wet and windy nights but I have also wondered about the other options.

So yesterday I made my way to Coverack where I stopped earlier in the year for the 40km walk to Falmouth.  Only this time it was back to that original idea, sans excessive kit.  Having a light pack was wonderful especially as I had to move fast to catch a ferry at the halfway point. 

And what a perfect day it was, bright sun, not a breath of wind, beautiful paths and me and my super light pack. I walked into the evening and as the sun began to set s found a spot and laid out my bivy and snuggled down to watch the sunset.

The thing about being in a bivy is that you see so much, I watched the stars appear, the moon rise and then…I feel asleep, for about 30 minutes before waking up, freezing.

I thought this will be a long night, but thankfully I was wrong, I didn’t wake up again until about 4am when I forced my eyes open to see the incredible stars and was rewarded with three shooting stars.

The next time I awoke it was light and I managed to wriggle out of my bag, find a squashed scotch egg for breakfast and get moving. At 7.30am it was already beautifully warm and I had a lovely potter into Falmouth, bought some snacks (and possibly some cider and wine) and was lying on the couch before noon.

I think the bivy experiment was a great success, I might have to repeat the experience.

Logistics

So I have decided to sneak a couple of extra days walking in before I head back to Australia.

I need to start walking about 20 miles from my Dads place and need to get to the start (all family and friends who regularly transport me all over the land seem to be otherwise engaged and I think it could be fun to try out other options) so I am at the whim of the local public transport service. I was planning to make an early start but the first bus goers at 9am and the whole journey will take 3 hours. This would not be an issue if the ferry I need later in the day had not reverted to its winter timetable today and the tides weren’t against me.  

So my options are:

  1. Try and walk really fast to catch the last ferry 
  2. Walk slowly, overnight on this side and wait for the first ferry tomorrow 
  3. Cut a corner and save a couple of hours
  4. Chill out, walk to Helford and see if I can cadge a lift across the water when I get there
  5. Give up and go back to bed…..

Clean

So I have completed the 143 miles (about 240km) of the second stage of the coast path.

It was an excellent walk and much easier than last year, not because I am any fitter but because the hills were much smaller.

It took 13 days and of those two were very wet, quite a few were quite nice and a good number were superb. 

If I have to choose a favourite spot it would probably be Lizard though it was all lovely except the bit from Penzance to Marazion in the rain, that was crap.

So now I am waiting for some dry weather to complete drying and cleaning process so everything is ready for next time. 

In terms of lessons learnt I need to get some gaiters for the English conditions, because I really don’t like wet feet. That will have to wait until I have finished my year of no buying.

Sherpa

Today I managed to avail myself of a rare Cornish Sherpa.  Paul has way too much energy and made carrying my bag look way too easy.

The walk really was. Harming and having made our usual early start (we got out of the campsite before 11am!) we made excellent progress on the relatively easy walk.

At Kynance cove we were slowed by the mass of people trying to squash onto a tiny beach but after making a swift exit found sustenance at Lizard and then saw a chough,I spotted it and called it (really I did not have any idea what it was but my more bird minded friend confirmed my initial identification).

After Lizard we found the completely charming village of Cadgwith  and a lovely ice cream with clotted cream, high performance snack (nutrition is very important on this sort of venture).

I lost my Sherpa at this stage and was forced to carry my own bag to the campsite. The campsite is an experience. It is not my usual campsite style, it has a pizza shop, a ‘bar that is a bit sad and a burger bar. However on the upside it has great showers and an amazing view and they squashed us in so we are grateful.

Where were we?

Poor internet access and persistent rain has slowed down my posts and and cause me some very wet feet.

Last year every campsite had a drier, this year non of them do and I am down to my last pair of dry socks. We are in Porthleven in a campsite that has no drier but does have the best showers and a pub attached, I may have to stay here until my socks dry out.  This could take a while.

Lovely walk today on quite easy going ground with much scenic action. Much better than yesterday walking down a river and then along the seafront in the rain.

Photo is the alternative Lands End shot, I was to tight to pay for the other one.

Cheat

Ok here is a confession, sometimes I don’t follow the official route. This is for a number of reasons, the inland route is usually a bit less up and down and sometimes a bit more direct (good for lazy walkers like myself) sometimes I want to see something inland and the coast path doesn’t pass it and sometimes I just fancy a change. 

Today for all of the above reasons I took the inland route and it was a treat. The path was an ancient route linking the farms to the church at Zennor.

It wound through little fields and over the cutest little styles that involved no climbing but where large slabs of granite over a deep hole.

I went past some cute little ruins and through magical mini woodlands, all following in the footsteps of generations of people. The only difference being I have a great big pack full of stuff that would not have been dreamed of in days of old. I do love these ancient rights of way especially when they lead to a pub which served a most excellent cup of coffee (the real ales and ciders looked good too, have made note about them in my book).

Lost

After a lovely party it was a bit sad as all my traveling companions got off the train to return home and I kept going to the charming little town of st Ives. A lovely spot but a bit hectic on a sunny Summer Sunday. 

Having picked up a pasty I found the path and followed it through the marshy land, up and down and up and down …..

According to the map (I love that expression, blame the map) there was a track up to the campsite but when I got there the track was not there and the only way to the campsite was to go off piste across the fields.

I decided this was ok as it was getting late and somewhat guiltily strode across the fields towards where I could see the campsite. I got to a point where there was just a hedge between me and the campsite but could see no way in.  

I  snuck into the farmyard thinking I must be able to get in that way but still no way in, so I had to climb a wall. However this took me into someone’s garden, I began to think this campsite was a mirage. The only way out of the garden was through a gate so I went through there and then thankfully found myself in the campsite.

There were lots of rules all over the place but none seemed to be about climbing over walls, through gardens and through gates so I figured I was OK.  And it did have the best shorts ever so it was probably worth the effort.

Rest

Rest is very important so we planned a rest weekend, joining up with Julie we caught a train to Barnstaple for Murray’s 50th. And because we are classy (and because is was actually cheaper) we went first class. It was ace and we made good use of the free tea, cofffee and biscuits.

The party was excellent and very restful in a drinking, dancing and staying up very late sort of way. Now I am back on the trail, it is 8.20pm and I am ready for bed, big day tomorrow getting very close to Lands End!