South West Coast Path: So Many Stairs

Sue climbs a flight of the 30,000 stairs on England’s South West Coast Path. No, I did not add a zero. But I am adding as we walk. So far, 2,159 stairs in five days, 64 miles, and 13,200 feet of ascent.

But this is not a story best told by the numbers.

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South West Coast Path: Beach Walks

Walking from Woolacombe to Braunton, we passed long stretches of white sand beaches.
This portion of coastline boasts some popular surfing spots.
We also carefully skirted the perimeter of an active military installation where the popping of gunfire urged us on.
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South West Coast Path: Cream Tea Saves the Day

One of the many small coves we’ve walked around.

The weather this morning shot the day into first place for our worst trekking weather ever! Drizzle soon turned to rain compounded by gusty winds as we continued forward to Woolacombe, our next stop. Fortunately, today’s trail led us between hedgerows rather than out along the steep cliffs, so we felt it unlikely we’d be blown away.

We reached the town of Ilfracombe, 5 miles from our starting point, after two and a half hours of fighting Mother Nature.

Soaking wet, we popped into the bar of Ilfracombe’s Royal Britannia Hotel for a cup of coffee and they couldn’t have been nicer. As we unloaded our backpacks and peeled off our rain pants, the woman behind the bar up-sold us to orders of cream tea…not that it took much convincing.

I entertained the idea of grabbing a taxi to Woolacombe, but £37 seemed as steep as the hills we were climbing. Reg decided we’d continue our trek…after fortifying ourselves with one of England’s most popular treats.

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South West Coast Path: A Magical Morning

We slept until 7:00 this morning and hated to leave the wonderful Bed and Breakfast we were staying in…but the path called, and we had a long day of climbing, including reaching the highest point on the South West Coast Path, The Great Hangman, at an elevation of 1,043 feet.

As we left Lynton, our first surprise was rounding a bend and wandering through The Valley of the Rocks, a spectacular display of rock formations looming above our heads. The rest of the day unfolded with one breathtaking view after another.

Reg chats with a solo walker and a camping walker at the top of The Great Hangman.
Good night from the Newberry Beach Lodge in Coombs Martin.
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South West Coast Path: Enough Fun For One Day

Rain arrived right on schedule this morning. As we stewed over threatening weather reports at breakfast, two English women trekkers set our minds at ease, assuring us we could walk the low route along the cliffs and be sheltered from the worst of it.

This was a taste of things to come along the trail.

Our day encompassed 14 miles with 6,300 feet of elevation change. And yes, we got very wet! Rain finally eased off about 1:00 pm. I think we climbed and summited every mountain and hilltop between Porlock and our destination of Lynton.

We encountered lots of steps today. Steps up and steps down on sections too steep to maneuver without. As we sip wine in the bar of our Bed and Breakfast, we have one more trek for the day…just a short walk to dinner before curling up in bed. We’ve had enough fun for one day!

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South West Coast Path: Ups and Downs

A quick pose before we hit the trail.

Day 1 dawned sunny and warm…an ideal start for our South West Coast Path trek. We had a bit of climbing ahead of us, 1,200 feet to be exact, along the shore, up a forested hillside and across green rolling cliff tops where sheep and cattle grazed.

And then we plunged back down to sea level, absolutely straight down. It was a knee-busting descent that left us both wobbly at the bottom. The path has numerous days with climbing far more challenging than today, so this was a bit of a wake up call, and a good reminder for us to pace ourselves. We have many more miles to go.

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The South West Coast Path: Nearly on our way

A day of travel yesterday, this time by train and bus, deposited us in the resort town of Minehead, England.

At breakfast this morning our host tipped us off to what turned out to be the perfect outing for our last day of leisure. A short two-mile walk found us in the medieval village of Dunster, nestled in the shadow of Dunster Castle.

While parts of Dunster Castle date to the 13th century, most of what we saw today was renovated between 1868-1872. Now run by the National Trust, the castle and gardens are open to the public for self-guided tours.

I promise you we really are here to walk the South West Coast Path. Tomorrow our work begins when we pack our bags, hoist them on our shoulders and take our first steps along England’s longest national trail…rain or shine.

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The Southwest Coast Path: Nearly There

An uneventful plane flight delivered us right on schedule to London’s Heathrow Airport this afternoon. We’ll spend one night in the city before making our way to Minehead where the South West Coast Path officially begins. But first, we had just enough energy for a little sightseeing. We discovered Kensington Gardens just one block from our hotel and decided to explore.

Kensington Palace provides a backdrop for the magnificent Sunken Gardens.
An early pub meal of fish and chips (and a side of mushy peas) signaled the end of a long day.

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In the Shadow of Peak Lenin, Day 1: Welcome to the Big Leagues!

Take A Hike Photography transported us to heights we can only dream about in their post titled In the Shadow Of Peak Lenin, Day 1: Welcome to the Big Leagues! This was just too amazing not to share. Enjoy!

Take A Hike Photography

We have been trekking in Kyrgyzstan for 23 days now. We have only four days left, and we have saved the biggest challenge and hopefully the best scenery for last. For our final trek, we will be hiking around Peak Lenin, Kyrzygstan’s highest peak at 23,405 feet. They say that Peak Lenin is one of the easiest 7000+ meter peaks to summit, but we have no interest in going that high.

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South West Coast Path: Endless Anticipation

It has been six months since we sat down with guidebooks, maps and iPads to book the lodgings for our South West Coast Path trek.  At the time, the trip was well in the future so we were fairly relaxed about the plans.  Now that our September start date is just around the corner, the pre-trek jitters are beginning to surface…everything from “Will our backpacks arrive when we do?” to “Can we conquer the endless, daily ups and downs the path demands?”  Mostly, I think, we are simply ready to just get going; to take that first step and announce, “We’re off!”

To get in the spirit and to offer support, we joined the South West Coast Path Association. As a part of our membership, we received a copy of their guide (pictured above) which includes, in addition to the above trail map, details of every aspect of walking England’s longest way-marked footpath.

The entire path is 630 miles, beginning in Minehead, Somerset and following the coastline down and around to Poole Harbour, Dorset. As you might imagine, that is a far too ambitious goal for carryoncouple. If all goes well, we will complete our trek at the most westerly point of mainland England, Land’s End, West Cornwall, 260 miles (give or take) from our Minehead starting point.

We’ll see you soon…on the trail!

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