A Soggy Start

The builders arrived at 8 am and caught me pouring whisky. ‘You start early,’ they said. I was actually topping up my hip flask to tuck away in my backpack for emergencies.
Two years ago, in preparation for my LEJoG walk, I walked from Lands End to Coverack on the Lizard peninsular with my friend Anthony. We would have walked further but the unrelenting rain made the paths slippery and dangerous. More importantly the walk stopped being fun so we gave up after a night in the old lookout tower.
Now I am returning to try and finish the walk and continue on to my home in Southbourne Dorset.

All roads lead to Santiago de Compostela

Wednesday 9th May 2012
I set out yesterday at about 2 o’clock in reasonable weather but expected the odd shower. By 4 o’clock the rain set in and it rained continuously for 4 hours. The path had been blocked by cliff falls in several locations and the diversions were long – in one case 2.5 miles.
I arrived in the Shipwrights arms in Helford, wet and bedraggled, at about 8.30 at night. Luckily Kerriann, Anthony, Donna and Malcolm, who I had arranged to meet, were still there and bought me a pint. On the advice of the locals I set my tent up in the dark on some reasonably flat grass next to the car park. The team helped and I was soon tucked up for my first night in a tent for two years.

Ten and a half miles covered so far.
10th May
Woke up early as the sun hit my tent – what a lovely view! Overlooking Helford and the estuary – fantastic! Anthony and his dog Bowjey joined me for most of today’s walk and what a pleasure it was. The sun shone and there were no more diversions. The Lizard is stunningly beautiful, if a little more genteel, than the rugged north coast that I was used to when I lived in Cornwall. We covered the 10 miles to Falmouth in around 7 hours. We got some funny looks when Donna (Anthony’s wife who had come to collect him) came running up to me with a suspicious bag of white powder. It turned out to be the milk powder for my tea that I had forgotten to put in my rucksack!
Anthony and Donna left me at the ferry terminal where I caught the next boat to St Mawes and then another to Place. I walked a couple more miles and have pitched my tent on the cliff top near St Antony light house .

I’m now 25miles along my route.

Anthony took some great photos which I will add later.


Watten Amazing Place

A short day of flat walking along the quiet back lanes of Caithness.

Again I have been walking in ancient footsteps – the way has been dotted with hut circles and standing stones. The juxtaposition between the 3000-year-old standing stones and the modern wind farm is an interesting one.

It’s been a short walk because we chose a nice loch-side wild camping location at Watten for me to meet up with the motorhome. I’m not keen on walking along roads other than country lanes and Kerriann is not keen on driving Dickie along the very narrow roads which means there are not many places where we can meet up.

Loch Watten looked ideal on the maps and when I arrived after some 4 hours Kerriann had found a lovely flat place to park in the shade, alongside the loch.
So today I’ve walked about 8 miles but tomorrow I will be walking around 18 miles to a campsite just 2 miles from John o’Groats. On Saturday, all being well, I should complete the last two miles of my marathon journey.
I’m not sure how I will feel about finishing; mixed emotions. Sadness, pride, elation? We’ll see.

Beards Unite

As I set out this morning I had a brief chat with a poor young employee of Starbucks. He had turned up to work at 5.30 (they open at 6am) and nobody arrived to let him in. It was now raining and getting on for 8.30 and still he waited. I advised him to nip into the Travelodge and phone Starbucks head office. I hope his day gets better…..
Walking into the southern suburbs of Edinburgh I was overtaken by some young soldiers in camo gear complete with rucksacks that looked very heavy. They might have been faster but I bet they weren’t walking as far as me.

Hidden Edinburgh
Hidden Edinburgh

Kerriann is getting excited/worried about her forthcoming adventure. She is going to drive Dickie out motorhome and Hugo our dog to Somerset for a service then start catching me up with a view to offering me support and eventually a lift home. The motorhome is quite wide and Scottish back roads are quite narrow so she is a tad nervous but from my experience last year she won’t have a problem. She is a very good driver.
This morning drizzly weather cleared around lunchtime and I took my jacket off and had a lovely walk on the Union Canal in the sun, then, at about 5 o’clock, it started raining and showed no sign of stopping. I found a pub/hotel in Winchburgh and asked for a room – yes, they had one.

Union Canal
The Union Canal

Later in the evening I was approached by a chap from New England who had a beard slightly longer that mine, he had overheard me asking for a bed. Had the pub not been able to put me up they would have offered me a bed on their narrow boat. How kind, I would have enjoyed a night on a boat.

They will pass me tomorrow on their way to the Falkirk Wheel – a sight I have wanted to see for many years. Narrow boats are restricted to fairly slow speeds so they may not be much faster than me walking. I wonder where we will pass each other.

Nightly Guide to Stop-Over Locations

Should be halfway tomorrow – 609 miles

For anyone interested here is a night by night location guide to the walk
Wild camping locations
21th March
Carn Boal the Sw coast path and the Michael Mary Pilgrim trail No services – very exposed but beautiful N 50deg 03.475′. W 005deg 42.12′

22 March
Newlyn by the fishermans carpark
N50deg 06.030 W 005deg 30.663

23rd March
Edge of field
50 deg 08.080 W 005deg 19.708

24 March
Premier Inn (as its pissing down and all the b&bs are full!) Carnon Downs N 50 deg 13.595 W 005deg 04.978

25th March
Lovely spot by the river Fal between Tregony and Grampound
N50°16.614 W 004°54.717. ( now found where the ° symbol is on an ipad!)

26th March
Eden project YHA

27th March
Eden valley holiday park
Met up with Kerriann and stayed in our motorhome Nl 50°24.145 W004° 41.903

28th March
Lanhydrock NT carpark
Kerriann to the motorhome to Lanhydrock and I walked to it.
The NT kindly let us stAy the night.
Lots of good wild camping sites on the NT estate especially by the river.

29th March
Cheeswring Farm B&B

30th March
Near ish to Lazant
Camped in woods – signs say keep out but………
N 50°35.222′ W004°19.05′

31st March
Edge of Dartmoor
N50°36.982 W 004°07.789′

1st April
YHA Okehampton 139.4 miles so far.

2nd April
Shirley pool on Dartmoor – simply gorgeous!
N50°42.295 W003°54.584

3rd April
The Drew Arms In the bunkhouse

4th April
High ground to the South West of Stockleigh Pomeroy N 50° 48.788 ‘ W003°35.842
Edge of meadow – lovely views. 171 miles to date

5th April
Wild camping on a bit of rough ground adjoining a field next to the towpath Stampford Peverell Ok in an emergency but not ideal.
N50°54.845 W003°23.430. 187.3 miles so far.

6th April
Taunton staying with friends 203.5

7th April
Wild camping inside the ruined church on Burrow Mump I couldn’t resist!
N50°04.228′ W002°54.973’. 216.7

8th April
The George and Pilgrim
Glastonbury. 235.6

9th April
Wells in motorhome with Kerriann. 244.4

10th April
Wild Camping on edge of field near Chew Stoke
N51° 21.375′ W 002°38.796′ 257.3

11th April
Bristol yha. As it is pissing down! 265.9

12th April
In woods above Chepstow.
N 51°39.041 W002°40.887. Lovely old woods 286.6m

13 th April
Camp site in Monmouth. 301.8

14th April. 311.5
YHA Wye Valley. A lovely youth hostel – old rectory with its own church!

Note change of format of locations for Malcolm Addition of Long distance path code for John (John I hope the above change is ok with you)

15th April. 326.3 Wvp. Wye valley path
51 59.620 -2 35.677
Capier camp. Wild camping in old hill fort. Tucked into a corner to be discrete.
No facilities.

16th April. 339.4. Wvp
Wild camping adjacent to trig point – side of field – elevated position lovely views No facilities
52 03.526 -2 47.539

17th April
Wild camping on top of a wooded hill on the Herefordshire Trail
Nice spot – plenty of room and flat. 355.9. Ht
52 07.549 -3 4.940

18th April
Wild camping besides the Offas Dyke Path which is in fact a farm track here. Ok for one tent.
No facilities. 370.7 OD
52 14.642 -3 03.520

19th April
Wild camping in vacant field next to Offas Dyke which is also next to the Offas Dyke Path (OD) Nice flat field In elevated location – near trig point. Should catch the morning sun.
No facilities
52 23.984 -3 05.778. 383.8 OD

20th April. 396.9. Close to OD
B&B tonight – very nice too – bath with radox! Washing being done for me Slightly off the Offas Dyke path in Montgomery. Spar and PO also in village.
Llwyn house, Market Square, SY15 6PY.

21st April
Wild camping beside the canal near Clawdd Coch. 415.2. OD
52 46.241 -3 06.465
Near road bridge a tad noisy.
Flat and on the non towpath side. No facilities.

22nd April. 430.8
The Hand Hotel Church road Chirk
Sorry no gps indoors so no lat/long
Has seen better days but is cheep and accepts dogs – Kerriann has driven up with medication and maps.

23rd April
As above

24th April
Wild camping just North of Bangor-on- Dee. 444.8 DW
Corner of field under trees on The Dee Way 100m from River – very nice.
Evidence of past flooding.
53 00.832 -2 54.778

25th April
Chester Backpackers Hostel. 461.2
Boughton rd
53 11.547 -2 52.703

26th April
Wild camping near Netherton Cheshire on the North Cheshire Way ( NCW)
Edge of field adjacent to woodland. Other possible sites in the woods.
No Facilities.
53 16.668 -2 44.104. 476.5

27th April
Wild camping in woods near Grappehall 492.9
Woodland trust woods under young silver birch – flat and dry.
53 22.179 -2 32.436

28th April
Checked into The Greyhound Hotel as it was pissing down!
Warrington Road, Leigh,WN7 3XQ. 506.8

29th April
Booked into Premier Inn as weather so bad- passed some very good wild camping locations on the East bank of the Lower Rivington Reservoir – was tempted until I felt the cold wind!
South Chorley Premier Inn, Bolton Road, Chorley. 523.9
53 38.424. -2 37.028

30th April. 539.1
Been offered a bed for the night in Forton – willingly accepted!

1st May
Royal Oak Garstang on the Lancaster Canal towpath and Wyre Way
PR3 1 ZA
£45 per night b&b 551.4

2nd May
Wild camping again (at last) on edge of field next to tow path on the Lancaster canal. Near Hest Bank.
No facilities
54 04.848. -248.898. 567.6

3rd May
Wild camping in Larkrigg Spring a small bluebell wood on the Lancaster Canal path. Not that the canal exists any more here.
No facilities
54 17.057 -2 44.721. 586.0