South West Coast Path: Making Memories

There are so many more memories to capture beyond the beautiful scenery of the South West Coast Path. Here are a few of our favorites.

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South West Coast Path: Porthcothan to Newquay

We expected rain, but today was a beautiful day for a walk.

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South West Coast Path: Rainy Days and Mondays

We tried to walk yesterday…we really did. We left our B&B at 9:00 in the morning under gray skies and threat of rain and strong winds. After a quick stop to pick up lunch at the local SPAR store, we left Padstow, wishing we could have spent more time poking around the upscale harbor town.

By 10:30, we were sipping tea at the Trevone Beach cafe, cold, wet and frustrated that Mother Nature had whisked away our beautiful weather. We had a nice chat with an older couple who were traveling in their camper van. As he told story after story of his exploits, swimming, hiking and mountain biking, she would continually remind him, “That was 40 years ago.”

The bus shelter provided a semi-dry spot for lunch.

We eventually decided our best option was to catch the bus back to Padstow where we could relax with a nice glass of wine while waiting for a later bus to drop us at our next lodging. As we watched to flag our bus down, our friends in their camper van drove past, tooting and waving.

To be allowed to sit in the restaurant with wine, the server told us we had to have food on the table, but it didn’t have to be a lot.

It was a long crazy day, but we eventually made it to Old McDonalds Farm, where our room awaited. Many thanks to the Atlantic Coaster – bus line A5

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South West Coast Path: Old Friends and New Friends

We enjoyed a spectacular afternoon today with our friend Ian, who just happened to be on holiday, visiting with longtime friend Julie and her family in the big white house pictured above. The photo on the right is the view from the front room. A gorgeous setting that is situated right along the South West Coast Path.

We took a short walk to Polzeath Beach, a popular surfing beach. Then, Julie treated us to a delicious home cooked mid-day meal, a wonderful treat after 2 weeks on the trail. We felt terribly spoiled as Ian later drove us (through the pouring rain) to our B&B in Padstow. A great big thank you to Ian, Julie and her family for sharing the afternoon with us!

The Padstow Harbor.
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South West Coast Path: For All You Doc Martin Fans

Perhaps this scene looks familiar to you.

Today we arrived in the fictional village of Port Wenn, home to everyone’s favorite television doctor, Doc Martin. It’s been awhile since we’ve watched the show, but we remembered enough to have a sense of having been here before.

Doc Martin’s small cottage draws crowds of people who pay for tours to see the television show locations.

In reality, we are settled for the night in Port Isaac, home to the many scenes and location shots of the long-running series. It’s given this little port village quite a tourism boost. Our B&B host told us that locals can donate a certain sum to charity for the opportunity to appear as an extra on the show.

We ate dinner at The Old School House Hotel and Restaurant.

For as bustling a village as Port Wenn is, Port Isaac rolls up the sidewalks when the sun goes down, returning to its quiet coastal village roots.

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South West Coast Path: Hillside Reunion

We had a bit of beach walking this morning.

Another beautiful day greeted us as we set off to our next stop – Crackington Haven. With a short 10 mile walk, we hoped for an early arrival, allowing us to do some much needed laundry. We zipped along at a pretty fair clip for most of the morning until the rolling green fields gave way to the all too familiar ups and downs.

Reg reaches the midway point on his climb up from the steep, rocky descent snaking down the opposite hillside.
There are times when it’s impossible to see where the trail goes.

What we did know about today’s trail was that, at the end of the day, it would lead us to a reunion with our dear friend Ian, whom we met several years ago while walking the Camino de Santiago. He’d booked a room in our Crackington Haven hotel, driven from his Oxford home and met us on the trail, lifting our spirits and escorting us down to where a cold drink and a hot shower awaited.

Our reunion with Ian took place when he intercepted us on a hillside not far from Crackington Haven.
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South West Coast Path: Cornwall Coast

Views from Wednesday’s walk from Hartland Quay to Bude on England’s South West Coast Path. The tough going has its rewards, indeed.

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South West Coast Path: A Ten-Hour Workout

Because we wanted an early start this morning, we ordered a breakfast tray that was delivered to our room last night.

We hit the trail at 7:30 this morning in anticipation of what our guidebook described as “one of the hardest days of the path.” We left Hartland Quay just as the sun was rising, and set our sights on Bude, 15 miles away.

This was one of our first descents.

We continued on, racking up a total of 10 major descents, crossing creeks that flowed into the ocean. For every drop in elevation, the path climbed right back up the other side of the ravine, leaving us huffing and puffing most of the day.

At the end of the day, according to our guidebook, we had conquered 4,500 feet of ascent… and as everyone knows, what goes up, must come down! The math makes my feet hurt. We have never, on any of our treks, experienced such elevation gain and loss in any one day. But we did it today, and now that this day is nearly behind us, we will sleep well, hoping that this was the hardest day for us.

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South West Coast Path: Time for a Checkup

We stumbled upon a bench and a view for our picnic lunch Tuesday.
GPS map shows our location with an arrow on the blue trail.
We looked north to Wales for the first week on England’s South West Coast Path, but have turned the corner and the sun is setting into the ocean as I write. I can no longer see Wales, nor any whales, which has been a homonym joke for us. Don’t you wish you were here to share in the fun? How’s the trail? As varied as any we have walked. Plenty of mud, slippery rocks, and more than 4,000 stairs–so far. Most of the time, it has been dry and steep. We have climbed more than 20,000 feet so far, which means we have descended 20,000 feet. Mont Blanc and Italy had steep parts, but not as consistently steep as this. If you are calculating averages, we had two quite flat days around Barnstaple. How’s the food? B&Bs offer breakfast menus now, with many choices. Even a continental breakfast tray, delivered to our room when we want an early start. Lunch is a picnic, usually a sandwich, crisps and fruit bought in the morning at a shop. However, we are in a stretch with no stores nearby, so we get box lunches from the hotel. We have learned to carry plenty of snacks. Our evening meals come in pubs and a couple of restaurants, or when there is nothing else near, our hotel. In Woolacombe, we found a place that satisfied our veggie craving. Lots of fish and chips, and last night I had a huge Yorkshire pudding with sausages, chips, and (what else?) peas. We both have tried (and liked) mushy peas. Surf’s up? Surf shops, surf lessons, and surfers, everywhere. The surf? Not so much. Americans? None on the trail, so far. Actually, not as many other trekkers as we expected. Mainly brits, others from the continent. Otherwise we go long stretches without having to share the trail. Long stretches are very remote, in fact. How far? We hope to make it from Minehead to Land’s End, 260 miles. Everyone else we have talked to is doing a day hike, or a few days. So far, no one going to Land’s End, nor the entire 630 miles. We have walked 109 miles so far, or about the length of the Tour du Mont Blanc.

The weather? Tuesday was brilliant, our third such day. Two days of rain, others were overcast, sometimes drippy.

Forest or pasture? We left the forest behind at midday Tuesday and had wide-open views of pastures, farms, cliffs, the ocean. Forest walking is not our cup of tea…climbing on a drippy forest trail is not much fun. The same climb out in the open seems so much easier.

Language? Everyone so far speaks English, making for fun conversations over breakfast, in the pubs, or on the trail. No sign language required.

Laundromats? Are you kidding? We wash, rinse, squeeze in a towel, and hang our moisture-wicking clothes. One B&B host offered to do our laundry, though! Perhaps she was hoping to get rid if the odor.

Speedy? As usual, Sue zips up the hills and I struggle to keep up. But we agree steep uphill is less worrisome than steep downhills, where one slip-up can be disastrous.

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A Most Unusual End to a Tough Day

2acd3171-3c83-4d13-924e-b1e0ee881068A most unusual day indeed!

After a grueling trekking day of steep, slippery ups and downs punctuated by more than 1,370 stairs, we found our accommodation in Clovelly after a walk down a cobblestone way too steep for vehicles.

How do they get supplies to the pub where we are about to have dinner? They slide them on sledges. And the bottles of Southern Comfort I am sipping? Same way.

Now, the question of the day: How will we make it back up in the morning with our backpacks?

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