Mini Birthday Bash

Tuesday 22/5/18

Another long, hard day but with a nice break in the middle.

It was hot today; too hot to be lugging a 15kg pack up and down hills on the coast path – but thinking about it, I would rather the heat that the rain.

The coast path immediately after Torquay was particularly up and downy and I worked up a good sweat. Thank heavens for the ice cream man in the car park at the top of one of the tougher climbs.

I stopped off briefly to say hi  to my friend Maia who lives on route. She was celebrating the birthday of a  friend of her’s called Carole. Thanks Maia and Carole for sharing your feast with a smelly walker.

I caught the ferry to Teignmouth and pushed on hoping to be in time to catch a ferry from Dawlish across the Exe but needless to say I was too late. (This is becoming a bit of a habit.) Unfortunately, because I was in a town, it was hard to find somewhere to camp.  I decided i would try a commercial site but I traipsed around all the sites marked on my OS map and they were either closed or were now holiday parks.

I reverted to the coast path in desperation and spotted a promontory with a grassy top. Cutting a long story short, that is now where I am.  It’s a tad noisy as it is next to the train line but beggars can’t be choosers.

197 miles so far – five of which were wasted looking for a camp site.

Lesson learnt – use phone.

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Over Half Way

Slept like a log last night – my little space by the flag pole turned out OK.

grass seen through the flaps of a tent
my own personal flagpole

Typically, after I started walking this morning, a few minuets further on was a lovely large, flat area with great views and a fire pit! Never mind; my spot did the job and tonight I have a fabulous pitch low down on a grassy bank, overlooking the sea and a couple of  islands covered with sea birds.

 

Dartmouth was very pleasant and I had a great breakfast of muesli and yogurt after a minor scare – my wallet was missing. I eventually found it in my sleeping bag.

Paignton was a bit of a shock with lots of tourist shops selling the same tat…..

Torquay was a bit better. There seemed to be a lot of gay men posing on the sea front – I wished them well and moved on swiftly.

Covered around 18 miles today. some of them on the Dart Valley walk. The trees made a welcome change from the cliff path.

GPS says I have done 178 miles so far.

No Brekky Before Beesands

Sunday 20th

Woke to the warmth of the sun’s rays beating down on the side of the tent and lovely views out of my front door/flap. Thank heavens I was able to have a cup of tea but, horror upon horror, I discovered  that I had run out of porridge. No breakfast!

tarmac track peters out - beach to the right
this looks interesting

Slapped on the sun lotion and trotted off to find the first cafe of the day; unfortunately this happened to be around eight hilly miles away in Beesands. I had an excellent fish pie and the staff were fun; they pulled a map up on their computer so they could see how far I’d walked.

Oh, and did I mention that the sun disappeared and the temperature dropped as a sea mist swept in spoiling all the fun for the sun bathers and kids – and me.

grass seen through the flaps of a tent
a flappy view

After  lunch the path took me to a strange long straight sand bar called Slapton Sands for what seemed like miles. I was planning to head into Dartford but ran out of time and energy so initially set my tent up on a NT field after Stoke Fleming but no sooner had the last peg been driven than a herd of dairy cows were driven into the field. I rapidly packed up again to search for a better spot – it was after 7pm when I found a bench with some flat ground tucked away next to a flag pole further along the coast.

Looking at the map I notice that the coast path takes a huge detour to take in the Brixham peninsular.  I may nip up the Dart valley trail and head for Paignton and Torbay.

160.3 miles covered in total so over halfway I think!  Horay!

A Melodious Meander

Oh the water is wide
I cant swim o’er
Neither have I wings to fly
Bring me a boat ……….

I found myself singing the old folk song as I waited for the ferry man to come across at 10 o’clock – still, there are worse things than sitting on a river bank watching the world go by.


The sun shone and the miles passed and before I knew it I was in Salcombe and even had time for a cold drink and an ice cream before catching yet another ferry; this one over the Kingsbridge estuary. I started looking for a nice place to camp and as usual there were very few flat spots. I ended up using one from the Backpackers Club database – a list of places where others have stayed.
As I sit in front of my tiny tent the sun is dropping in the west and the sea is lapping in the cove some 50 fet below me. My t-shirt and socks hang on the barbed wire fence behind me getting a well deserved airing in the last of the day’s heat.

143.3 mikes so far

I Missed the Ferryman

Walked to the river Erme estuary in the morning – the middle of the night option to catch the tide lost out to getting up late and having a gentle walk to the crossing point.
There is a lovely cafe/restaurant half a mile inland ( The Old Schoolhouse) that served me the best breakfast of my trip so far. I lingered around as long as I could then went and sat by the river waiting for 1.30 when it would be safe to cross. At about midday a group of very athletic joggers forded the river with a huge amount of splashing.

I managed to speak with the man in charge who said, ‘yes you can cross safely now if you are prepared to get wet up to your knees and use your stick for stability as the river is flowing quite fast.’ I popped my wallet and phone in sealed plastic bags and I gingerly approached the river, undid all the buckles on my rucksack (so that it would not drag me down if I fell in) and slowly waded across.

The water was surprisingly warm. With my boots hanging around my neck and water up to my crutch I must have looked quite a sight. The joggers who advised that the water was ‘knee deep’ must have had very high knees. By 12.30 I was on the other side, slightly damp but an hour and a half earlier than expected.

I walked on to the next ferry crossing to Bantham and arrived 10 minutes after the last crossing. I tried waving and shouting for the ferry but to no avail. My choices were a 4 mile diversion inland or put my tent up and get the first (10am) morning crossing. I chose the latter and my tent is now adjacent to the ferry site. It’s a tad frustrating that there is a lovely looking pub about 100 yards away on the other side of the river.
Noticed my right arm and the back of my neck are on the verge of sunburn – will cover up more tomorrow.
Milage 128.3 so a shortish day today

No Ferry Man to Pay

Plymouth looked after me well.  I got a new battery installed in my iphone by a very professional  shop that Kerriann found  online. With any luck that will make communication from my tent a lot easier and I will be able to take more pictures.  Having said all that, I have just put my tent up, laid my head down and tried to phone Kerriann – no signal. I got up and climbed to the top of the  hill – still no bars on the phone.  So no phone call tonight.

The B & B in Plymouth was OK but they were especially good because they did my washing. He was a brave man indeed to get close to my dirty walking socks.

I managed to purchase a new OS map for the area east of Plymouth and have posted home the three OS sheets that I have walked .

Caught the Mount Batten ferry and set off on this very scenic and interesting stretch of Devonian coast path. I immediately recognised Wembury as the place where Antony Hircock and I set off on The Two Moors Way around three years ago – that was a fabulous  ‘boys own’ adventure camping on Dartmoor and Exmoor.

After Wembury there were lots of National Trust signs encouraging people to walk the coast path and take the ferry across the river Yealm. The posters didn’t  say that the ferry man might be in the pub (a local told me this) and that this time of year the service was very erratic (from another local). Yet another local gave me the ferry man’s number and he confirmed that he wasn’t running until 3pm. After waiting an hour I noticed a chap in a rowing boat sorting out a mooring buoy. ‘Can you give me a lift to the other side?’ I called. ‘Isn’t the ferry running?’ he asked …….

I ended up being rowed across the river by this nice chap who had come to the village 69 years ago aged one and had ended up as the local pharmacist. This was lovely but quite time consuming and it meant that I could not get to the next estuary for low tide.

The river Erme is tidal and can only be waded an hour either side of low tide – there is no ferry. I could get up in time to walk the next few miles to reach the estuary at 3am and wade the river in the dark or have a lie in and a slow amble to the river and wait for the afternoon low tide……

What would you do?

Lets see what tomorrow brings.

118.9 miles

UPDATE I spoke to Graham this morning and he decided not to walk across the river at 3 AM (thank heavens).

Farewell Cornwall

Wednesday 16 May

I had a lovely pineapple breakfast and got my tent packed away before the rain started.

map of south coast walking track with route outlined
along the track

You will know by now that I hate putting up a wet tent so I always try to leave it up long enough for the sun to dry the dew or to get it down before the rain starts. Last night there wasn’t any dew but the rain was forecast so I was up and away by 7:30.

I finished the Cornwall stretch of my walk today a crossed the Tamar by ferry to Plymouth.

It rained gently all day and was quite warm so I was feeling rather sticky and smelly.  Six nights wild camping and washing in the sea has left me in need of a B&B for the night.

I took my rucksack off on the ferry and the arm of my shirt came with it!  The shirt was an old one that had done LeJog with me so it had done well. The elbow was torn and bloodied from the fall I had a few day ago so I purchased a new, quick-drying shirt from Cotswold Outdoors, nipped into the Drake Centre toilets, had a strip wash and put the new shirt on. The old shirt and separate sleeve are now living happily in the bin.

I’ve just had my first shower in 100 miles in a guest house near the Hoe in Plymouth  The landlord is doing my washing for me – brave man.

103.7 miles on the clock.

Onwards into Devon

Kurdish Kindness

Had a long, hot day’s walking and struggled to find a reasonable, flat spot to put my tent.

port wrinkle
Port Wrinkle – yes really

A couple of miles past Portwrinkle (yes really!) I noticed a lovely, grassy flat space, low down and  overlooking the sea on two sides.  I descended. The steps on the cliff path  to get to this spot and as I approached I noticed three young men were having a barbecue close by.  They looked as worried about me as I was about them but I asked them if they minded me erecting my tent close by.  I wasn’t sure if they understood – they weren’t English but we exchanged nice smiles.  Some time later I was sitting in my tent admiring the view when one of them came over with two huge flat breads and barbecued lamb. He explained that they were Kurds and they had some spare food.

As they left they presented me with a big pineapple.   What a lovely surprise from lovely people in the middle of nowhere.

Managed to eat most of the food but have saved some of the pineapple for breakfast.

Eighty nine point six miles so far.

No Water For You Here

Monday 14 May

Slept well despite the noise of the china clay works reverberating over the bay – the works must be mile or so away.

Had a wash in the sea this morning and no it wasn’t freezing – it was much colder than that!

Took part of The Saints Way into Fowey where I had an excellent breakfast and caught the ferry to Polruan. While there I asked the owner of the local shop if  he would top my water bottle up (there was a sink behind the counter). He said his tap was too small and besides that he was on metered water.  I declined to buy anything in his shop and got some water from the pub.

A woman approached me in the street and said she had witnessed the  water incident and she apologised for the shop owner’s bad behaviour. ‘I see you have got water now but if you hadn’t I would have got some from my house,’ she said – so remember not to buy anything from the shop in Polruan .

Carried on along the coast path to Polperro. I made slow progress as it was very hilly and extremely hot.  I am a bit like a VW camper, steady on the flat but dead slow up hills.

Had a couple of pints of shandy in the pub and continued rather further than I had intended. The coast path was diverted  inland and it was difficult to find a discrete, flat, spot for the tent.

I am now pitched opposite St George’s Island  a couple of miles from Looe.

Ouch

Slept well on the slopes above Mevagissey and the morning sun soon burnt through the mist and dried the condensation and dew from my tent.

Some of the paths were still wet  from the rain and as I stepped off a style my foot slipped from under me. Luckily I fell backwards onto my pack and my only injuries (I think) were a graze to my right elbow and as jarring of my right shoulder. I must be more careful.

Quite a hard day’s walking; lots of ups and downs and a set of over 100 steep steps down into a valley then up again the other side.  Knackering!

Saw a stoat (at least I think that’s what it was) running along the path towards me. It stopped when it saw me – it had a mouse or some other small furry creature in its mouth.  After several seconds it dashed off into the hedgerow  when another walker came towards us.

Had some good cafe grub  in three cafes although most of the day’s walking was off the beaten track.  Might take some of The Saints Way into Fowey tomorrow.

Didn’t enjoy the coast path around The Par china clay works; they are as ugly as sin.