Home Again

Wednesday 30 May

Well I have arrived home!

I spent last night on the cliffs high above Old Harry’s rock about 15 miles from home.

From this point, had the weather been better, I could have seen Hengistbury Head where we walk Hugo most mornings and my whole route home.

The night was uneventful apart from the rain that started at about 3 AM and woke me up – rain in a tent can sound very loud.

I packed away my wet tent at 7 AM and walked along the beautiful, deserted Studland Bay and its miles of sand, then across on the ferry and back to reality. Sandbanks and its ridiculously overpriced homes for celebrities was followed by several miles of tourist beach and promenade. It’s easy to see why the Bournemouth area became so popular; its beaches are amazing and it is surrounded by such lovely countryside.

Then at 2.30 PM it was over: I walked up to my house and was greeted by the builders (yes they are still here), Hugo the dog and Kerriann. It’s lovely to be back but I will miss the freedom of the walk. The only worries when walking are where to get food, where to spend the night and how to keep warm and dry.

En route I washed in the sea, ate mainly in Cafes and enjoyed cups of tea, hot chocolate and dried food heated on my little gas stove.

Coverack to home
Coverack to home

This walk was a tough one: 311 miles over 21 days averaging around 14.8 miles per day.  It was tough because I had to climb up and down hills all the way, never achieving much more than 600 ft on the unrelenting, often erratically spaced, difficult steps.

I wild camped every night apart from one (in Plymouth) where it was not practical and I was getting very smelly.

My favorite bits?

  • Without doubt the people I met:

the Kurds who shared their food and a pineapple

the woman who told me about the gorse  fire on the Cornish Coast and how her husband cut fire breaks with an antique crawler

the woman who was looking down on her home village, showing her daughter where she went to school and where the blacksmith shop was

the gay couple who were delighting in having spent a lovely night under the stars

the seasoned ‘wild campers’ who joined me eating ice cream in a car park at Kimmeridge and many, many more.

  • Walking with my friend Anthony
  • I loved camping in so many great locations – waking up to views across the cliffs.

I knew the Cornish Coast was beautiful but parts of Dorset and Devon are a close match.

Least Favourite bits?

  • Steep, slippery steps up steep cliff edges.

What next?

  • Walk Hugo half a mile by the river
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I Can Almost See My House From Here

Tuesday 29 May

Just after I got the tent packed away this morning it started raining quite hard. Maybe I’m getting old or just becoming a wimp but climbing those long steep  inclines when they are wet and slippery knackers me.

Part of the problem is fear; if I slip and break a leg or fall over the side …

Another part is frustration at having to go so slow; each foot has to be precisely placed. There is no room for error which makes progress very slow. This, along with the very hot wet weather which necessitates wearing full waterproofs from top to toe, soon turn the experience into a personal sweat sauna.

‘Get Gortex,’ I hear you shout – I have got Gortex kit but this weather overpowers it.

I had a slip on one of  the  steep sets of stone  steps and knocked my right elbow again but all seems okay now.

Walked into Worth Matravers this morning hoping to get some breakfast but the cafe and pub were both closed – never mind.

The weather improved after Worth and I enjoyed the walk to Swanage and beyond to Old Harry’s rocks where I am camped. I could see home from here if the visibility was a bit better.

Walked around  13 miles  today.

Total miles 295 miles so far

Around 16 miles to go.

Home tomorrow evening ???

Hot Tick Action

Monday 28 May

Slept well last night but still very hot.

It’s good to be covered over to prevent insects having a free meal but with the close weather and nocturnal temperatures in the mid teens it is uncomfortable.

Talking about insects, I have just removed a tick from my lower back. It was an interesting operation using a mirror propped on a boot and special tick removal tweezers from my first aid pack. All went well and Germolene has been applied.

Lulworth Cove
Heading into Lulworth

Walked past Durdle Door into Lulworth Cove this morning then followed the “diverted coast path” signs right up and around the village then down hundreds of awkward steps and ended up a few hundred yards round the cove.  I could have walked on the sand for 10 minutes and got to the same place.  Lesson learned- never blindly follow the signs – check map and ask locals.

Soon after that experience was one of the toughest climbs of the walk involving loads of steep steps again. While I was struggling up these steps a young man ran down them, then back up, then back down; this continued for the half hour or so it took me to climb the hill. It turns out that the chap is in training to represent England in the European hill running championships. Good luck to him.

This morning I met Sam and Steph, a couple of fellow wild campers. They were using a crude bivi, i.e., a tarp supported with two walking poles – ideal in these conditions but in fact it was so warm they chose to sleep beside the bivi rather that under it.

I met some other nice wild campers whilst having two cans of coke and an ice cream in Kimmeridge – they were recommending the Penbrokeshire coast path – I must try that one. Wild campers are all such lovely people.

Only did 13.8 miles today as the going was so tough and the weather was so hot.

Lets see what tomorrow brings

A Stormy Night

Radio 4 this morning said that there had been over 50,000 lightning flashes last night.  I saw and heard every one. It was strangely beautiful and slightly frightening. At around 10 o’clock the first of the flashes illuminated the tent like a camera flash gun, then a few seconds later the boom of the thunder, then another and another for three hours.

I stuck my head out of the tent for a while and watched in awe; then the rain came. It was as if a couple of people had set power washers on the tent – the intense noise  was unbelievable. The rain stopped after about 10 minutes but the storm gods carried on with their display. I didn’t get much sleep.

This morning it rained and I had to pack away my wet tent. I donned full wet weather gear – naturally the sun came out immediately making me look like a fool.

Today I followed the coast path into Weymouth and caught the ferry across the river.  Walking along the prom on a sunny bank holiday was near on impossible. There were just so many people with misbehaving kids, blowup dolphins, buckets, spades and other plastic tat that progress was very slow. I did however get myself a nice fish and chip brunch and charge my phone for a while. I also found a convenient post to tie my tent to – I let it flap in the wind for half an hour or so – it dried it out a treat.

Walking with a large backpack and walking poles doesn’t attract attention on most national trails but on a tourist, seaside prom I was aware that I simply didn’t fit in.

I was pleased to leave the tourist mayhem and get back on the hills and have ended up on the cliff top two miles from Durdel Door – about 3 miles from Lulworth.

I should be able to get breakfast there tomorrow.

16 miles walked today bringing the total to  269 miles

Shingle Sucks

‘I Hope you’re not camped by the cliff edge – that’s where they have all the land slides.’ She could have told me that before I pitched my tent on the cliff top, I thought to myself.

Still, despite worrying that every little noise was the start of a major cliff fall, I slept well but woke to the pitter patter of rain on the tent. I waited and waited but it did not pass, so at about 8.30 I got up and packed the wet tent. As I started to walk, in full waterproofs, the rain stopped.

I called in to a cafe in West Bay and asked if it would be ok for me to charge my phone while I had breakfast. ‘No, she said, ‘it’s against fire regulations.’ I thanked her kindly and walked to the next cafe where the owners were lovely. I can’t understand why some people like to make life difficult, especially when it costs them business.

Chesil Beach
Chesil Ahead

Strange walking today, several miles of energy sucking shingle. Walking on this stuff or dry sand is as tough as climbing a steep hill.  All good exercise I suppose- I will have well-toned calf muscles by the time I finish.

I stopped for a break at a small cove that had very convenient car park railings. As the sun was now shining and the wind blowing I tied my damp tent to the structure and within half an hour it was dry. I also found a tent peg in the sand and added it to my collection. Only this morning, when looking for a lost peg, I thought that it would be good to carry a spare.

Walking along parallel to Chesil Bank this evening I noticed that I had a rash on my right arm. I think it must be a heat rash or maybe I brushed against some giant hog weed or similar. I felt that I should wash it. This, combined with the rumbling thunder and spits of rain, made me decide to stop and pitch my tent. I am alongside the South West Coast Path but in a nature reserve so I am sure that I am breaking a few rules but needs must.

IMG_4027
not loving this rash

I had a quick wash in the lovely warm lagoon waters – they are shallow and a  bit muddy but it felt lovely skinny dipping on such a muggy day.

The thunder clouds have passed (I Hope) and the winds are picking up a little.

I think I replaced the batteries on my GPS today without turning it off which seems to have affected the total mileage count although the track log seems ok.  I’ll be able to check when I get it back home but by my calculations I walked around 14 miles today added to the 239 total last night brings my new total to 253 miles – less than 50 to go!

 

 

 

 

Graham King

41 Broadway

Southbourne

BH6 4EE

 

07837 633171

 

 

 

It’s a Sweaty Business

I was a little worried that I might get disturbed last night as I’d pitched next to an intersection of footpaths but I was undisturbed until I left at 7.30 in the morning. I say undisturbed, but the night noises were wonderful, the tawny owls hooting incredibly loud and close and the foxes and badgers were doing their thing.

At about 3am I woke up soaked in sweat; I’d zipped up all the flaps on the tent to keep out the insects but the internal temperature had risen to somewhere near boiling point.  Over the past few nights I’ve used the sleeping bag as a mattress and just slept in the liner.  Tonight I’m high on a cliff top and I think the breeze will keep me cooler.

Had a good walk along the Dorset coast today – yes i had breakfast in Lyme Regis  which is in Dorset. Hooray!

Up and down hills all day – Golden Cap was a killer.

Set up camp nice and early, around 5.30, so that I can have a bit of a rest.

No Beer in Beer

Up early and on the path to Beer before 7am. I passed through Beer without stopping for one- it was a tad early.

I was soon in Seaton where I had breakfast, a pint of orange juice and two pots of tea. I’m drinking loads on this trip; I think it’s the heat and constant up and downs. The south west coast path is tough; tougher than many of the high paths of the lake district and Peaks – its unrelenting undulations are a killer.

I found a lovely stream to have a wash in and even managed to wash a pair of socks and some underwear – the problem is that today the sun’s not shining and after a couple of hours dangling from my backpack they are all as wet as when they started.

Luckily I found a launderette in Seaton. I removed my socks but, though tempted, I did not strip and wash the clothes I was wearing. Its comforting to know that I have some clean, dry clothes in my pack.


After Seaton I climbed yet another sweat-inducing hill behind a couple of women who are also walking the path. After about half an hour we all reached the top. It turned out that one of the women was born in the village and wanted to show her daughter the aerial view.

‘That was the school, I walked up that lane past the blacksmith and tuck shop …’ She was not happy with the changes but had to admit that the village was still very beautiful.
The walk towards Lyme Regis was tougher than I had expected and at about 7 oclock I had had enough. There weren’t many flat places to pitch a tent as the path runs through thick vegetation on the side of the cliffs. I’m told that the locals call it the jungle route . In the end I found a clearing under a big old tree on the junction of an old track. Not ideal but it will do and the evening chorus from the birds is a real treat.

I am almost in Dorset, hooray, should have a Dorset breakfast tomorrow.

Mileage to date 228.3 making today’s around 14 miles.

Dorset or Bust

He’s made it to Lyme Regis. I spoke to Graham this morning and he was happy to announce he has made it back to his new home county, Dorset. He’s hit some pretty massive hills over the past couple of days so has been taking it slowly.

Golden Cap
Golden Cap

Fab Ferry Man

Wednesday 23/5/18

Had a good day today.

It’s funny but everything (well, a lot of things) just worked out right.

I got up early and headed down through Dawlish Warren to find the ferry station. It was slow going. I was walking on dry, powdery sand for a mile or so. Eventually I was at the end of the peninsular facing Exmouth. I noticed a small red boat pulling away from the shore a few hundred yards away. My frantic waving caught his eye and yes it was the water taxi and yes he turned around and collected me.

After being ferried across the Exe my next problem was finding an OS map; I had just walked off the old one. I soon found W.H. Smiths and they had a ‘buy two get one half price’ deal on maps. The shop also had a post office so iIposted the old one back home.

Had a great breakfast in Exmouth and charged my phone and battery pack. Later I enjoyed a rather lovely cream tea in Budleigh Salterton in a traditional tea shop then I hit the track for Sidmouth.

Sidmouth in Sight
Sidmouth In Sight

When I arrived I was a sweaty mess so after a cold drink and an ice cream I headed for the beach, dumped my rucksack on the stones and stripped of to my underpants and went in (much to the amusement of some nearby onlookers). It was bloody freezing but I felt so much cleaner.

After last night’s fiasco I decided to climb the big hill East of Sidmouth and find a wild pitch. It was a slog but I am now on a level pitch beside the coast path. I though it would be quiet as it is 7.30 in the evening on the top of a hill but about 30 runners have just gone by.

So all in all a good day.

Am running out of clean clothes – will have to think about resolving that tomorrow.

The weather forecast is not so good tomorrow so I will need to get an early start.

214 miles so far (about 17 today – that’s good by my standards).