Day Eight: West Bay

We decided to have a leisure day, and spend the morning wandering around West Bay.2016-05-28-17-59-44 Although we didn’t know it at the time, this is the town where the British television murder mystery series, Broadchurch, takes place. West Bay Hotel, where we stayed, is part of the story, as are many of the scenes in this post.   2016-05-28-18-11-17

west-bay-harborWest Bay is a lovely little fishing village. No crowds of tourists, and a much more authentic feel to the place. Fishermen out on the end of the pier, and a couple of well used fishing boats motoring in and out of the narrow harbor. 2016-05-28-18-10-092016-05-28-18-10-37Looking back down the coast we could see the Golden Cap off in the distance.2016-05-28-18-10-50

There was an interesting market, set in a courtyard, with a long, two-story stone building, and several pubs. The lovely old building had been a brewery, but was recently converted into little shops selling all kinds of sea shells, fossils, ammonites, beautiful stones, and jewelry. ammonite-jewelryAlso, the usual artsy hand-made pots, crystals and lovely scarves.  Jennifer bought an ammonite, and then we decided to try our hand at fossil hunting. The weather had cleared somewhat. So we wandered down to the beach.2016-05-28-18-56-44

What an amazing scene. Can you see how tiny Jennifer looks, that dark speck of a figure right in the center? The cliffs loomed above, layers upon layers of sandstone, representing millions of years of evolution, just like our Jurrasic Coast Bus advertised. The wind was blowing in heavy gusts, and it was hard going because underfoot there were rounded stones instead of sand, and the stones ranged in size from pebbles to ping pong balls. We must have walked the beach for about an hour, keeping some distance from the rocks because they are so unstable. west-bay-cliffs-1I was hoping to spot an ammonite, but found some interesting stones on the beach instead, quite satisfying. The wind was gusting, and the water lapped quietly, washing up more and more stones. This was the English Channel I kept reminding myself. Across the water somewhere not so far away was France.

Around noon, we caught the bus for Abbotsbury. As usual, our double decker careened down unimaginably narrow lanes, brushing past hedges, and scaring us with every near miss of oncoming vehicle. Got to Abbotsbury in about twenty minutes. Oh was I glad I wasn’t walking that distance.

Abbotsbury is the prettiest town yet. We found our next stop, Swann Inn easily. It was my perfect fantasy of an old English country inn. 2016-05-29-15-44-00Stone houses, thatched roofs, and masses of the most beautiful flowers everywhere. More about the village in the next post.2016-05-28-21-17-58

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Day 7 Lyme Regis to West Bay 10 -12 miles

Estimates  of the distance varied, and my Fit Bit needed to be charged so we had no independent distance calculator. But never mind, the morning was bright and beautiful. We started off in high spirits, wandering along the promenade. boy on scooter2016-05-27 17.05.14Our first challenge confronted us at the end of the promenade. Because of so much serious, and ongoing erosion to the cliffs,  the SWCP was not safe along the coast. We had to detour inland, so we back tracked, and followed one of the only roads leading up a steep hill out of town. The strand Lyme RegisWe got to a car park and were puzzling over the SWCP signs, when a very nice couple came along and offered to lead the way, through some woods, back onto the road, up again, me huffing and puffing like a leaky bellows. Then a right hand turn onto the Lyme Regis Golf Course.

Over the First HillAcross the golf course, and down the hill, again on a macadam road into the lovely little town of Charmouth. The nice couple whose name we never found out, invited us in for a coffee and a “comfort stop.” We thanked them, declined their offer, and headed on down into town, looking for the beach cafe, and the Charmouth Heritage Coast Center, selling lots of fossils in a crowded touristy stop, and some insipid coffee.

Back we walked into town, looking for Stone Barrow Rd. Up Stone Barrow Hill. Up, up, up we climbed on the narrow, macadam road. It was shady and quite windy, so fairly cool. But the road was steep, and much longer than either of us thought. It must have taken at least a half hour to get to the top, where we found an enormous car park, and wide meadow. We crossed the meadow and regained the SWCP. The coastal views began to unfurl, ahead to our third big hill, the highest point on the SWCP, the Golden Cap. Lyme Regis to our right.Coming off Barrow Hill 2

Lyme Regis HarborDown we went, over some stiles, and past a lovely old stone barn, and even lovlier stone cottage. Old Stone BarnOld Stone Farm HouseThis was Westhay Farm. My ideal for a summer retreat. We passed some very contented cows, and their calves, who had no interest in us at all. Over a footbridge, and through a copse of trees. 2016-05-27 21.25.35Then we started up through a meadow filled with buttercups. Buttercups close upSomewhere along this stretch of coast was the setting for the dramatic scene from Far From Madding Crowd, when the sheep are driven over the cliff by the crazed dog.2016-05-27 21.01.45

Now we are coming to the really challenging climb, up the side of the Golden Cap. There were steps dug into the path. Thank goodness for the walking poles. It was really windy, and the poles provided anchorage. My hat blew off, so I took it off and put it in my backpack. We sat down under a gnarled old apple treed and drank the last of our water before the final push.2016-05-27 21.40.12

Golden-Cap-walkersToward us, down the hill, came a stream of walkers of all ages, who scampered past, while I huffed and puffed, counting forty steps and then bending over my poles to catch my breath. Jennifer walked steadily ahead. At one stretch, we had ropes to hang onto as we climbed, and there were steps cut into the path to help with the footing. Just below the summit, Jennifer found a bench, and sat down to wait for me. It was a beautiful view. The coast curving west toward Lyme Regis, and the farmlands, meadows, sheep, and lovely stone houses.2016-05-27 21.46.20at the top

At the top we admired the little monument, and ventured cautiously to the edge of the cliff. Very windy, and not wanting to be blown over, we sat down. There were many people enjoying the view. We started down the other side of Golden Cap toward Seatown. Again the signs were bewildering, but we kept walking, over a stile, and through a meadow onto a macadam road, and into a camp site and a  car park, right on the beach. There was also a nice pub, where we had a cider, and I had a sandwich. It was now 3:30, and I was well and truly knackered.golden cap camp ground

According to our guide book, West Bay was another 2.5 miles, over a final “bump” not quite as big as Golden Cliff. I voted to walk into Cheadock, about a mile away, where we could get the Jurrasic Coaster bus. We didn’t fill up our water bottles, which was a big mistake, because the road to Cheadock was of course up hill, and seemed more like 2 miles. The road was so narrow that we had to spring back into the nettles when cars passed. Not at all pleasant. Chideock main streetWe found the bus stop on the main road with no trouble, but it was in the blazing sun. A middle aged couple was waiting too, and said we had probably missed the bus. Another wouldn’t be coming for an hour.

Jennifer went off to a little store up the road for some drinks, and I wandered up and down looking for shade. I didn’t think I’d pass out, but I have rarely been so totally wiped out. After an hour, I got so desperate, I went into the little store to ask if I could use their phone to call a taxi. But just then the bus came. All was well, and we arrived at West Bay Hotel at 6:00. Thought of all the synonyms for knackered – wasted, beat, done in, ground down, dead tired, dog tired, exhausted, run into the ground, used up, drained, wiped out, over done, pooped, fried. That’s about how I felt, but also so happy to be here!



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Day 6 St. Ives to Lyme Regis by train and bus

map or south west EnglandSaturday was a travel day. We leaped from St. Ives on the Atlantic coast, inland and cross country to Lyme Regis, on the Channel side. where we could pick up the SWCP along the Jurrasic Coast, a World Heritage site.

First thing in the morning, we made a hurried tour of the little harbor in St. Ives. Actually I walked, while Jennifer had a latte. St. Ives harbor 2 ST. Ives harbor 1 St Ives Harbor 3The light house in St. Ives holds nothing to the one we saw in Godfrey Point yesterday. No way was Virginia Woolfe inspired by this squat little fire plug. We took a few pictures and headed for the train station.Jennifer in St. Ives

At 9:30 we caught the local train inland to St.Erth, supposedly one of the most beautiful and shortest railroad routes in England. Train StationThen on to Exeter, and from there to Axminster. In Axminster, we found the Jurassic CoasterJurrasic Coaster bus, whose motto is “One bus, millions of years of history.” We came to know this bus well.

At about 3:30 we arrived in Lyme Regis, an historic resort town, on the English Channel. The charter dates back to 1284, so we’re talking hundreds and hundreds of years. Subject to constant erosion the Jurrasic Coast is famous for the fossils that turn up constantly as the cliffs slide into the sea. The erosion is a serious problem here, threatening the beaches.

We lugged our suitcases down a steep hill through narrow streets filled with tourists, much more crowded here than on the Atlantic side. We got to the beach, the strand as its called, and looked for our Hotel. The strand Lyme RegisI knew it was right on the water, at the far west side of the harbor. Sure enough right near the Cobb, the curved retaining wall that has sheltered and protected the harbor for centuries, we found the Cobbs Arms Hotel, practically on the water. Cobbs Arm Hotel

The cobbThe Cobb, nobody seems to know why it is called that, was featured in Jane Austen’s Persuasion, when Louisa Musgrove jumped off the steps and came to near disaster. Lyme Regis was also the setting for the French Lieutenant’s Woman. Who can forget the first scene in the book, when Charles and his fiance, Ernastine, come upon a solitary woman wrapped in a dark cape standing far out on a deserted jetty, The Cobb, looking out to sea.

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Day 5 Portreath to Corbis Bay 13 miles

Portreath from Battery HillSteady rain beat at our windows all night long. By morning it had stopped, but the bushes showered us with great droplets as we brushed past on our way to breakfast. Intermittent showers forecast, so by 9:00 we had packed up, put on our rain gear, and left Portreath.

Up we climbed on Beach Road, curving and turning to Battery Hill, where we found signs for SWCP. Once on the path, we climbed again, another steep ascent to the cliffs. Now the walking was on the flat, and we looked out on a lowering sky and sullen sea.just out of portreath 1 No rain as yet, although very humid, and warm. Off came the jackets. Surprisingly, I liked the path much better. It was soft and more forgiving underfoot, wider in places. 2016-05-25 17.42.20The pastures on our left were shamrock green in this subdued light, rich and inviting. I’d always heard that cows stand up in the rain, and all face the same direction. These bovines reclined in all directions. Maybe it wouldn’t rain.

The clouds were another surprisingly pleasant aspect after days of brilliant sun. We made good time on this level ground. Our walking poles were always in hand, arms and legs coordinating each stride, like cross-country skiing without the glide.  I lost myself in the rhythm. Vast and limitless sky. The Lyn with walking polesocean far below, spreading westward in mellow grays to meld with the cloud banks on the horizon. An awareness, a kind of euphoria took over, and I felt refreshed, at one with the Universe.

The euphoria didn’t last long. We had one steep descent that jarred my hips, and pounded my knees. Then a steep ascent back up onto the cliffs, my head pounding, my chest heaving, one step at a time, count, one, two, three. At the top, our reward – a bench where we could sit down, regroup, and drink in the beauty of the ocean. 2016-05-25 19.21.38We had set ourselves a challenge for this last day on the Atlantic coast. Thirteen miles to Hale, and then a bus to Carbis Bay, just north of St. Ives, where our next B&B was located.

The clouds gave way a bit, and as the light got brighter, we began to notice the beautiful wild flowers along the path.
2016-05-25 18.51.40 Gorse was in bloom with wide swaths of 2016-05-25 18.49.26spectacular golden flowers, and cruel looking thorns. There were delicate Queen Anne’s Lace, and foxglove, pink flocks, and the white blossoms of chives that gave off a faint onion scent. We crossed several stiles, and met a steady but not terribly frequent succession of day walkers, often with a dog happily running along beside. 2016-05-25 18.17.472016-05-25 21.01.16We were surprised at how few through hikers there were, identifiable by hiking boots, backpacks, and water bottles. Every so often there would be a car park with a dirt road leading past a few fields to a main road that paralleled the path.

2016-05-25 19.37.24Around 12:00 we came to Hell’s Mouth, an awe-full, deep ravine, and looked down on the  crashing waves, and evil looking rocks. Just past Hell’s Mouth we followed a path over a grassy knoll and down the hill to the charming Hell’s Mouth Cafe, a tiny cottage set back from the road, with picnic tables out front. We had been walking for three hours, and come a little over six miles. Not Bad. We sat down outside, and enjoyed a latte with a flapjack for Jennifer, and a scone with butter and jam for me.

2016-05-25 20.44.07Then back up onto the cliffs.  Sat down on the grass to watch the seals basking on the rocks. We couldn’t get a good photo because they were very far away. Supposedly there are wild ponies in this area, and signs to talk quietly and keep dogs on leash.2016-05-25 21.18.35 But we didn’t see any ponies. Soon we could spot Godrevy Island, and the light house, said to be the inspiration for Virginia Woolfe’s To the Lighthouse, one of the few books I’ve read of hers. Godrevy Point was the second big headland we encountered since Portreath, and the light house attracts lots of visiters. We sat on the side of the path and looked south toward Hale. Only six more miles to go! Miles and miles and miles of wide beach and sand dunes.

2016-05-25 22.16.20Up and down and over the dunes and through we wandered. Sometimes it felt like we were in Florida, walking through the high grasses, that in places grew over our heads. So many paths, like rabbit runs,  that we lost the SWCP and wandered aimlessly2016-05-25 23.05.08, Our land mark was a headland that signaled the beginning of the Hale inlet, but we lost sight of it in the dunes. Eventually we sat down to rest, and along came a man who led us back to the SWCP. He said Hale was at least a mile to go. Back on the trail, and mountains of dunes. The Hale headland seemed to keep receding.

cider and snacksSand is tiring to walk on, and the sun was very hot now, about 3:30. Just by chance, Jennifer spotted what looked like a cafe up above us on the dunes, near a caravan park. We climbed up to the cafe, and sat outside gulping down our cider. Delicious! I had french fries. Jennifer had a pastie. 2016-05-25 23.24.13We’d been on the trail for 6 1/2 hours. Gone about 11 miles. We asked the waitress about a bus to St. Ives. We thought it would be easier to get the bus on the road outside the trailer park, rather than wander around in Hale. She said there was a bus stop just outside the trailer park. We walked up the hill and down to the road, dragging a bit by this time. Sure enough the Hale bus stop that Jennifer had found on her I-Pad the night before. What luck! A young man slouching along by the road,muttered, “the bus is always bloody late,” as he passed. But our luck held, and the bus arrived in ten minutes. We asked the driver to let us know when we got to Corbis Bay. Soon everyone on the bus knew we wanted the Atlantic Hotel. A great chorus went up when we passed it by. The driver stopped about 500 feet from the hotel. We checked in. Our bags had already arrived. 2016-05-26 17.20.48The hotel had a restaurant, so we could relax, take a shower, and not have to go anywhere for dinner. A GREAT DAY! We had walked 12.7 miles. Just about what we thought.





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4th Day Perrenporth to St. Agnus and Portreath

Thursday 7:-00. After applying blister plaster and two layers of moleskin, and taping the whole thing securely, I noticed my middle toenail was turning black. “Boot Bang” its called. I was reminded of Wild, that incredible hike on the Pacific Coast Trail. I’m no Cheryl Strayed. I’m not out to purge my dark past, or reinvent myself. I’m seventy five years old, and this may be my last hurrah as far as long distance hikes go. I have neuropathy, plus a bad hip, and more than occasional twinges of sciatica. Jennifer said last night, “It’s about hiking. You adjust, you make do, you deal with what confronts you.” Lyn on the cliffsWe’ve, mankind that is, has been walking long distances for hundreds and thousands of years. It speaks to our most basic human need to be on the move. I love wide vistas, and big sky.

Once the boot is on, my foot felt pretty good. After a delicious breakfast of crepes with blueberries and raspberries on top, and another fabulous view of the ocean, we set off. High tide again, and a few good surfers out to catch the morning waves.2016-05-24 17.28.58

We walked up Cliff Rod to Droskyn Point where we could look down on the little town and the lovely wide beach. More uphill, past a youth hostel and onto the SWC Path, and another sharp ascent to the cliffs. Once up on top, it was lovely. We began to see stone chimneys, really like stone smoke stacks, left over from the tin mines in the area. The ore lies imbedded in the granite, and those tall round stone chimneys housed pistons that hung inside the chimney like plungers. mine tower and engine houseThe steam engines drove the piston up and down to pump out the water from the mine shafts which went deep into the ground below sea level. We saw wired mounds, like giant anthills, or upside down baskets. These were the sites of abandoned mine shafts. The s2016-05-24 18.14.34ides of the cliffs had been scraped away to get at the ore. Great heaps of granite everywhere.

We passed gun emplacements from the First and Second World Wars. The cliffs were high here, and at one point, we explored what must have been an military arsenal of some sort, with bunkers, and gun emplacements, concrete pilings, tunnels that were partially caved in, and covered. This was a very high headland, and commanded almost 180 degrees of lookout. Very good place to watch for the enemy.bunker 2


We followed along the path, making a sharp descent down into Trevallas Coombe. The path down was difficult, deeply cut in places, and loose stones made the footing unreliable. I had a death grip on my walking sticks, and my boots lost purchase. When we got to the bottom, we followed a road that led past several more stone chimneys to a little cove which must have been where they loaded the ore onto ships. 2016-05-24 19.54.39Many different paths meandered up either side of the cove. Checked our trusty guide book, and followed the path between a narrow road and the river to the Blue Hill Tin Streams, a tin mine that is open to the public. 2016-05-24 19.47.51We stopped just to take a picture. Then started up a very steep ascent, so steep I had to stop every 40 steps to catch my breath. Beautiful views of the ocean and the cliffs from the top. Some had been ravaged by the miners.

swimmersLooking down on the ocean, we saw two tiny bright yellow markers bobbing in the water. They were so far below it took us a while to realize they were two swimmers, one behind the other, slowly making their way around the headland where we stood. When we got around the headland, we saw two yellow rubber boats paddling out of the next cove,Trevaunance Cove.

By now we had gone 4.6 miles and it was 11:30, better time than usual. We stayed up on the cliffs, following the signs for St. Agnes, where we thought we could catch a bus to Portreath, our next B&B. The path led us inland, and along a shady path, the first shade we seen since we started. It was lovely in the shade, a restful stretch into town. 2016-05-24 20.29.12In St. Agnes, we asked for directions, and were told to climb another steep hill. At the we were told we’d find a bus stop near the Institute. Sure enough, we huffed and puffed our way to the top of the hill, and there was another patch of shade, and a bench, and a bus stop, just across the road from the Mines and Mechanics Institute. Now it was 12:45 and we had gone 6.2 miles. 2016-05-24 21.07.15We bought lunch at the Coo Coo Café in the Mines and Mechanics Institute. A very nice lady helped me carry out two coffees, and two croissants out to the bus stop.

The bus took us up and down and around the narrowest, curviest roads at breakneck speed barely squeezing past oncoming cars. Saw more old chimney towers. Stopped at the train station in Redruth, where we were somewhat put off by a drunk that wanted to latch on to us, and was pretty obnoxious. Glad to get on the bus for Portreath. We were somewhat surprised to see that Portreath is a National Heritage Site. It’s because of the beauty of the coast line from Portreath south.

2016-05-25 16.13.42Our B&B, Cliff House, was only steps from the bus stop. We thought we’d stop first at a quaint looking inn just across the street from the bus stop that advertised “home-made food.” This was our second encounter with drunken men. We walked into the bar, backpacks, hiking boots etc. and were greeted with cheers, and guffaws, really, guffaws. “Give us a hug,” said the loudest of them, which I did. Yick. The barmaid said quietly, “Sorry for that.” She suggested we go to the little café on the beach.

Portreath channels 1We walked through the quiet village of small white houses. Jennifer said the houses were all painted with the same pallet, and she was right. We passed a complicated series of locks that fill with the tide, and lead to a channel out to the sea. Beautiful white sandy beach, leading up to cliffs on both sides. We found a nice little café on the boardwalk above the beach. It was about 4:00 by the time we finished our meal, not sure if it was a late lunch or an early dinner.

2016-05-25 16.17.16Gillian, our hostess at the Cliff House showed us into our nice room on the ground floor, with a double and a single bed. She had recently moved to Cornwall from London, purchase Cliff House on a kind of whim. She was eager to befriend us. Told us her story, and was disappointed when we said we had already eaten. She said she had four other guests, men who were staying for a few days. Her dog barked quite steadily as she talked, obviously wanting to go for a walk. After two pretty light days of walking, we decided that the next day would go for it, and make the trek all the way to Hale, about thirteen miles.

Word for the day – Porth, as in Porthcothan, Perrenporth, Porthtowan, and Portreath. Porth is the Cornish word for bay, or cove. Told us by Mary Neale our hostess at the Penlan in Porthcothan.

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Day 3 Newquay to Perrenporth – 4.6 miles

We spent the morning doing errands in Newquay, after Jennifer had bandaged my foot 2016-05-23 First stop was the bank to get more cash. Next stop pharmacy, very helpful. Bought several packets of “second skin” a product I will write a testimonial about. Then we took the bus into city center to look for a T-Mobile shop to find out why my phone wouldn’t unlock. Everywhere we went, we were told that my phone wouldn’t work in England. That was that.

We walked back to the Best Western Hotel where we sat out on the terrace for a cup of coffee. Beautiful sunny day, lovely beaches on either side of us, a nice view of Newquay. Newquay the town-05-23The ocean, the beach, the surfers, all good. My blister was at ease. When you’re not in pain, the world is at ease too. Newquay stretches way up the beach. It is very much a tourist town.

We got the double decker bus to Perrenporth, about nine miles away, and arrived at about 1:00.

In Perrenporth  and we sat on a bench eating our cheese, onion, and potato pasty. The tide was out and we watched dogs happily chasing the seagulls and each other. Children playing in the sand. 2016-05-23 21.44.54Elderly couples walking along the quay, and resting on the benches, young couples with children and elaborate strollers. There are a surprising number of hefty, that is to say, overweight, and even obese people here. Old and young, and everything in between. We wandered around a bit, looking for hiking socks, but only found surfing gear in the stores.

2016-05-24 17.17.25Perrenporth is well known for surfing because the beach is several miles wide. Seiners Arms Hotel, which is right on the beach, has a surfing school. We checked into the bright blue, funky hotel, and decided to do our laundry since we weren’t going anywhere. Had a wonderful supper at Seiners Arms. 2016-05-24 04.46.18It was high tide, and the surfers were out riding the waves, or trying to. Not very impressive waves, or surfers, but the evening sky was lovely.

Word for the day: Blimey as in “Blimey, you won’t find hiking socks in here my luv.” (the response I got in a little sports shop.)

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Day 2 Porthcothan to Newquay 11.25 miles

Day 2 Porthcothan to Newquay 11.25 Miles

Mary and Tim Neale gave us a hearty breakfast. Two German girls joined us. They were walking north from St. Ives and talked about the awful weather they’d had. Decided to walk to Mawgan Porth, about seven miles south. We wanted a short day after yesterday’s marathon.

2016-05-22 19.46.55The day was sunny and quite warm, with a nice breeze to keep us comfortable. We passed some spectacular headlands, the ocean colors always brilliant and always changing shades of blue and cobalt and turquoise. As we walked the wind came up and although the day was sunny,the wind came into our faces, and we kept our jackets on. The flowers and gorse along the path were quite wonderful. Long hedgerows of pink, blue, and yellow flowers growing in and on and over the stone walls, beautifully designed in herringbone patterns made of thin slabs of slate.2016-05-22 18.22.03

At about 11:30 and two hours of walking, we had gone four miles. Came to Bedruthan Steps, very famous, and the first time we saw groups of walkers. First we climbed down a steep descent, and then up the steps, the steepest and longest climbs so far. 2016-05-22 17.45.31We passed a series of small islands, and then followed the path every upward to the National Trust and Information Center, where we found a café, carpark, and visitor center. We stopped in for a coffee. Busloads of elderly had just disembarked, out for the day from their rest homes, canes and wheelchairs, and walkers crowding the café.

By the time we had gotten coffee and a roll, the day had turned overcast and the wind blowing fiercely. I pulled my hoodie over my hat to keep it from blowing off. A mile or two farther along the trail we came to a beautiful beach,Mawgan Porth. 2016-05-22 20.04.08

Sliding gravel, deep cuts in the path, rain washed out the tracks, and the steps to deep crevices in the path. Difficult going. Jennifer and I had our walking sticks which helped with balance, and with purchase on the loose stones, and gravel. We round our way down to Mawgan Porth, a small cluster of houses riding down the cliffs to the beach. At one point I stopped to take a photo, and one of my walking sticks slid down the hill and fell into a ditch! Yikes, that could have been a disaster. There were surfers, and children, and sunworshipers on the lovely little beach, and we walked by them, across the sand to the road where there was a hotel, a couple of stores selling beach gear, and a some fish and chips shops. 2016-05-22 20.04.14

We had walked six miles in three and a half hours, not bad. Jennifer had researched the bus schedule and bus stops. Sure enough a bus was coming, but in two hours. It was 12:30 and we were short of English pounds because we’d paid Mary Neale, and the Luggage Transfer people earlier with cash, so we had to be prudent, since there was the bus fare, and possibly a taxi to our next B&B. We checked out the eating establishments, but none seemed too inviting, so we sat down at a picnic table by the road to wait. I thought I’d try the little convenience store to see what they had. Good idea. I bought a cheese and onion pastry, called a pastie, rhymes with nasty. Delicious! And not at all expensive.

We got to talking to an elderly couple sitting at the next table, also waiting for the bus to Newquey, pronounced Newkey. They both looked to be in their sixties or seventies, she in a cotton dress and loose cardigan, and sneakers with no socks. He in shorts, and a long sleeved shirt, and hiking boots. They had walked from Newquey and were taking the bus back. They were definitely walkers, told us about a trip they’d taken where his knee gave out the first day, but the wife had walked the fifteen miles for five days. She didn’t look capable of walking to the nearest tea room, but looks can be deceiving.

double decker busThe bus came, and we told the driver to let us off at Lusty Glaze beach, the first beach you come to in Newquey, which I had been told was right near our B&B. When we got to Newquey, he let us off, saying, “Just walk around the motor circle and you’ll be at Lusty Beach. Not So! After we’d walked about five minutes, we realized we were totally lost. Newquay is a small city, and there are about five big beaches. The bus driver had let us out on Fistral Beach, at least a twenty five minute walk from where we wanted to be.

NEWQUAYMy blister had begun to complain, quietly at first, but as we tramped the pavement, the complaints turned to yells, and then shrieks. I said I needed to take a taxi. I hobbled into the The Three Tees, our cozy little B&B with my spirits crushed. The walk ruined. Fiona, our very cheerful hostess, was reassuring, but when I took off my boot, Jennifer looked at my blister in wonder. “It’s ginormous.” Red, irritated, and huge. “You won’t be walking anywhere tomorrow.”
Jennifer went on line to find out how to treat a blister. Between the two of us, we had all necessary medical supplies. The next morning Jennifer put on a non-stick gauze bandage, and cut out two layers of moleskin to put around the blister, then taped the moleskin securely. She also researched the bus stop for our next town, Perrenporth, and luckily there was a bus from Newquey, and she found where it stopped. Lots of angst on my part about the future of our walk.

Word for the day. “Get it sorted” As in, “I hope you get it sorted.” And “Well then, that’s sorted.” Encouragement given by Fiona on hearing about the blister.


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Walking the South West Coast Path

May 21-22  Flight and Arrival in Padstow on the Cornwall Coast of England

Delta’s night flight from Philadelphia to London was almost completely empty. As the night wore on, passengers took advantage, and quietly appropriated the empty seats, curling up with pillows and soft red blankets. When I woke up the next morning, I looked around the cabin and saw what looked like row after row of lumpy, red, laundry bags stretched out on the seats, a sleeping head stuck out at one end or the other.

We arrived in Padstow, a small fishing village on the Camel River, just south of Port Isaac on the Cornish coast, where they film the Doc Martin series. The Camel is actually an estuary that flows to the Atlantic Ocean about two miles to the west. It was 3:00 in the afternoon, a gorgeous blue-sky day, and after almost twenty four hours on planes and trains, we breathed in the chilly, fresh, air of the sea, and looked around with delight. Gulls swooped and soared overhead, charming little shops lined the three-sided parade, or quay, and all kinds of small boats bobbed cheerfully in the harbor. We walked up the steep hill to check our bags at our B&B, Simply Padstow, and then back down the narrow streets and alleys for a fish and chips dinner and some Cornish cider. Delicious! Then back up the hill to bed. Steep hills, up from the village and down to the sea, this was the pattern and rhythm of our ten day walking tour. I was already out of breath.


Word for the Day- Crikey, as in, “Crikey, the shop closes at 4:00. Yes, you can make it. Oh, Crikey it’s just fifteen minutes back up the hill.”  ( I was looking for a shop that sold a Sim card for my phone. No luck, no working cell phone. Luckily Jennifer had brought her I-pad, or we 2016-05-20 23.17.09

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Day 1 From Padstow to Porthcothan 13.75 miles

Another beautiful, clear day. Up at 7:00, down to breakfast. Our cheerful waitress showered us with endearments, “What you want dearie?” “That’s all right then my darling’” Will that be all mi luv?” etc. etc. Set off by 9:30.2016-05-21 17.49.27 Passed the war memorial from the First and Second World Wars. So many names from such a small village.

2016-05-21 17.50.20South West Path stretches high above the Camel estuary as it makes its way to the ocean. This part of the coast is where they filmed the shipwreck scenes in the Masterpiece series, Poldark. Easy to imagine smugglers and shipwrecks, and all sorts of goings on. These are deserted coasts with many hidden coves.

After two miles we came to Steppes Point, the headland that reaches out into the ocean side. Looking to our right, the cliffs, with the ocean in gorgeous shades of blue green and turquoise with the waves crashing and foaming against the rocks far below. To the east, pastures, and hundreds of sheep as far as you can see. No commercial property, no condominiums cutting off the view, just open sky and space.

2016-05-21 19.30.02 The path narrows as you dip and turn and becomes a shallow stony ditch, no wider that two boot widths. We clamber down, and around, and over stiles, and through pasture gates.  Jennifer has brought her walking sticks, and soon we each take one to help with balance and in my case to lighten the load on my left hip, which has been giving me some trouble. But not today!
2016-05-21 20.16.272016-05-21 20.35.23At  Trevone Bay we look down on a lovely beach. nestled between the rocks. Surfers in the water, and sun worshipers on the beach. At the little café we eat lunch. We have walked 4.5 miles in three hours. Not exactly fleet of foot. I have my fit bit, so there is no mistake. It’s 12:30 and we need to go another nine plus miles. Jennifer estimates we’ll get to Porthcothan about 6:30.

After lunch we walk across a half mile of hard, wet, sandy beach, avoiding rivulets and puddles when possible, but my boots seem pretty waterproof. The coastal path starts again and leads back up onto the cliffs. 2016-05-21 21.18.15Around a blunt headland and a couple more sharp descents to the beach and back up to the cliffs. Looking at our map we see how little progress we have made. We round a grassy headland at Cataclews Point and it so inviting we lie down on the soft grass for a short nap. Looking at my fit bit, I see we’ve gone 7 miles. We decide to take a chance and circumvent the next prominent headland, Trevose Point. So with some trepidation, as our map only shows the coastal path, we head inland, down a dirt road just north of Mother Ivy’s Bay. 2016-05-21 21.52.18After a few twists and turns we see signs for Booby’s Bay, and find the sea again, and the path comes along to greet us like an old friend. Here the waves are really big. Surfers and life guards are all along the beach. The good news is we’ve cut off about a mile and a half of walking. The bad news is we have four more miles to go.

At Constatine Bay the beach is covered with small polished pieces of slate. We move on, as the afternoon is  moving on. There is another rest stop and some accommodations at Treyarnon Bay. But after trudging across the sand we find the café is closed, although there is a little shop by the parking lot for beach stuff, and cold drinks. I sit down under a bush beside the car park and take off my boots. The bottoms of my feet feel like grilled sausages. That’s the neuropathy complaining, a condition of jangling burning nerves that is not pleasant in the best of circumstances. Jennifer goes into the little store and buys a Dandelion and Burdock soda.  Mostly sugar!

Up we get, and on we walk, back up onto the cliffs, past the Minnow Islands, which in my view should be called Whale Islands. They are big, and hump-backed. We 2016-05-22 17.29.08round several deep cuts in the cliff where we look looking down, down, hundreds of feet to the brightest sea green water, and the waves crashing and foaming and shooting spray high up on the rock face, ghosts dancing against the cliffs.

On we go, past a bird sanctuary for sky larks, and corn buntings. Then the path turns inland, and finally, finally, at last, we are looking down at the village of Porthcothan, a few dozen houses clustered at the end of the Porthcathon bay. Down we climb, using our poles for balance and purchase on the stony, steep path. Down onto a paved road, across a stone bridge, and after asking for directions to our B&B, along a dirt road to our B&B Penlan. Mary Neale, our hostess, is waiting at the end of her walk. How did she know it was us?  “Well.” she said, “the others are already here.” We had walked 14.6 miles according to my fit bit, and it was 5:30. So our speed was not quite 2 miles an hour.BB_Image3a

I had developed a nice blister on the knuckle of my right big toe. So Tim, Mary’s very nice husband drove us up to the hill to the pub. More Cornish cider and a BLT for me. Jennifer had a ham and cheese and Ale. We had  glorious view from the deck of the little cove and the hills surrounding. Mary and Tim arrived after we had eaten. Sat and talked awhile. He is into computers, videos, and websites. He and his son have a business some miles away. She is the B&B hostess, a beautiful woman, white hair softly pulled back from her face, charming, probably in her forties or early fifties, with a wry sense of humor. They raise a few sheep, a few chickens, and a dog. Two or three grown children. One in Washington D.C. It’s a rural life. They love Cornwall, have lived in the area for thirty years.

Porthcothan_airal-shot_0064-cropped-4We walk back down a very narrow road, bending, turning, on a steep hill. Back over the bridge and to our B&B. It’s 8:30, but still a bright sky. As evening descends, It turns really chilly. We turn on the heater. This is where the I-Pad comes to our rescue. We decide not to walk all the way to Newquay, which is 11.25 miles away, (pronounced Newkey) the next day. Jennifer researches buses lines and bus stops, and where the path comes close to a bus stop. While she does that, I take an ibuprofen for hip, just a precaution, put a Salinpas patch on my hip, just a precaution. Put on a band aid, and cut out a piece of moleskin for my blister, and fall into bed.

The word for the day:: Knackered, as in “What you get here are walkers, and they are knackered, and that kind of puts me off.”  (The answer we got from our B&B host at Simply Padstow when we asked him whether he had ever walked the South West Coast Path. Today I understood.)

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From Windemere to Swathmoor Hall, unzipped

We spent a day and two nights at the Fairview, enjoying the elegant comfort of an English country inn, and touring the Lake District. Dales Way 115It was a full day of winding up steep narrow roads, visiting a stone circle, taking a boat ride, having lunch at a bustling market place. There were traffic jams, cars, buses, campers, cyclists.,etc all trying to do the same thing we were. Beautiful scenery, but unpleasant crowds.103

A terrific storm blew in the next day. Liz, our terribly efficient hostess, helped us figure the best route to Swarthmoor Hall, our next destination. I wanted to take the train, but Liz said the bus would be easier. She said Ulverston was a big town, where we could get a taxi to Swarthmoor Hall. Not to worry.

In the Fairfield’s beautifully appointed library, we watched the rain smashing the flowers outside our window, and listening to the cheerful houseboy/waiter singing Castillian love songs. Silke said, “It’s Agador Spartacus, the houseboy in “The Birdcage.”” Yes, the same clumsy good nature, the same disheveled look, shirt hanging out of his pants, etc. and a pronounced Castillian accent. A nice voice too. He was quite a contrast to the oh-so serious Liz.

Around noon we caught the bus, and forty minutes later we were in Ulverston, a half hour ahead of schedule. Market_Street, the bus pulled over to let us off, Silke’s mouth dropped. Mine must have done the same. “Is this the center of Ulverston?” “Yes,” said the bus driver. Now Silke’s worst fears were being realized. It was raining, we were utterly clueless, and besides our backpacks, we now had our suitcases to deal with. Just then an elderly couple came along. They directed us to the main street, and dragging our bags behind us, we found a cozy little tea shop and squeezed ourselves, our sopping wet ponchos, our backpacks, and our rolling suitcases inside.

It was about 1:30 by this time, and I had been told we should arrive at Swarthmoor Hall after 4:00. 131 Only two and a half hours to kill. We ate our soup and sandwiches slowly, trying to decide what to do next. Our waitress knew Swarthmoor Hall. She gave us directions to the train station, where we would have a better chance of finding a taxi. Luckily it had stopped raining, and once we found it, the train station was opened, although it was Sunday. The clerk gave us a list of taxi numbers. On my eighth attempt, I finally connected with a live person. The taxi ride was short, and suddenly we passed through a stone archway into the courtyard of Swarthmoor Hall. 129The hall was a sixteenth century manor house, tall and dark, with small, mullioned windows, and a heavy, wooden door. Beside the manor house and some lovely gardens, there were three other buildings, a barn, the office, and a row of guest quarters.

Nicole, our young hostess showed us to our suite. She gave us lots of instructions about the alarm system, very sensitive, the heating system, the hot water system, very complicated, the toaster, which could easily set off the fire alarm. A notebook of additional instructions, and information was set out on the table. I knew I was in Quaker territory. After giving us an orientation, Nicole said our supper was in the fridge, and not to call her “unless it was an emergency.”132

The weather had cleared by then, and the wind had come up, so after Nicole left, we found a foot path on the other side of the wall around Swarthmoor Hall. The path led through a meadow, across a creek, and back up into Ulverston, a much shorter distance by the path than by the road.Around swarthmoor hall

Our dinner, some tasteless soup, salad greens without any dressing, and two rolls  was by far the worst meal we had eaten since our arrival in England. Quaker simplicity is not always tasty. After dinner, it began to feel a little bit nippy in the apartment, and the hot water went off. A red blinking light appeared on the hot water heater, which meant according to our instructions, “flame failure.” We were supposed to push the “Reignite button.” Nothing. Now the room was downright cold, and outside the wind was fierce. Worried about fires, we called Nicole. She arrived and tried the same ritual. No luck.  She said we could change rooms, and took us over to the old hall, which at night was dark, gloomy, and a little scary. By the time we got back to our suite, the radiators had started to warm up again. This series of outages went on all night as the wind howled and the temperature plummeted. Other than that we had a wonderful visit.







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