Posts Tagged With: backpacking

South West Coast Path: How Was It?

Sue and I packed British sun and optimism when we began our trek in Minehead on the South West Coast Path on September 8. More than three weeks and 200 miles later, fierce winds and horizontal rain could not keep us from our finish at Land’s End.

Back home in Ashland, Oregon, still packing jet lag, it is time to reflect.

Best parts: Astonishingly rugged coastal scenery, remoteness, walking cliffside, the weather, few other trekkers, Hartland Quay-to-Bude section, unyielding climbs and descents, thousands of stairs.

Worst parts: The weather, remoteness, Hartland Quay-to-Bude section, unyielding climbs and descents, thousands of stairs.

How can that be? The weather was mostly great the first two weeks; just two days of rain, not bad for England. Then it turned on us and only let up for brief spells the rest of the way. Fierce winds nearly blew us (and our packs) over on precarious cliffs. One day, we had to turn back. On a couple of days, the winds made it too dangerous to walk at all. That is when the remoteness became a negative; if anything happened, we could be stranded far from help.

The Hartland Quay-to-Bude section tested us like no other trail ever; 9,000 feet of mostly steep elevation change, 15 miles, 10-plus hours. But over our pub dinner that evening, we were exhilarated because we had done it. That is what keeps us trekking. It tests us, extends us, and sometimes slows life to a crawl. We thrive on its simplicity and routine.

Backpack life: We lived out of several Ziploc bags that contained our rolled up, super lightweight moisture-wicking clothes. We sat on each one, zipped them shut, and stuffed the compressed bags into our packs in just a few minutes each morning. Our packs weighed about 20 pounds each, although Sue’s was a couple of pounds heavier. Plus the weight of water in our bladders.

Accommodations: We stayed in B&Bs, hotels, a hostel, and several apartments. Most included breakfast. Lunch was a picnic on the trail, sometimes wet. Dinner was usually in pubs, unless we had a kitchen…then we enjoyed dinner at home.

Thru hikers: We were surprised that there were not more people on the trail. Most were day walkers; some told us they were walking a section, then catching a bus back to their starting village. Some were walking for several days, but we did not meet anyone who planned to walk more than that. Sue talked to an English couple who had walked the entire 630 miles of the trail, but had done it in sections over years.

Jam or cream first? How one dresses scones is a hotly debated topic in Devon and Cornwall. But, why does a country with clotted and double cream put low-fat milk in their tea and coffee?

Animals: Sheep, goats, pheasants, and cattle (and their poo) were abundant. We often walked among them; once, a cow refused to budge off the trail, forcing us to detour.

Shipwrecks: Monuments and plaques mark the demise of many ships off the rugged coast over the centuries.

Gates: We climbed, squeezed through, and passed through more gates than I could count. Kissing gates, stiles, latching gates. Even some kinds I had never seen before.

Health: Sue and I each got hit by a bug that, thankfully, lasted only about a day. Sue wore a knee brace for a few days as a precaution and her careful foot care prevented any major blister problems. We battled soreness, especially in the morning. Once again, Sue was the stronger walker, especially on the relentless climbs. Neither of us is fast, but you can trust your bets on Sue conquering just about any trail.

Fitting end: As we sat in the restaurant at the Land’s End Hotel, the setting sun was our dessert. Like the trail, it made us appreciate the moment. We put on our boots and packs each morning and plunged into the unknown, knowing that no matter what was ahead, we had to do it. Each day was unique, but most were cause for celebration.

Categories: South West Coast Path | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 23 Comments

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?

Categories: Scottish Highlands and beyond, South West Coast Path | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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.

Categories: South West Coast Path | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

A Cure for Post-Super Bowl Blues


Looking for a path away from the post-Super Bowl blues? Check out our short slide show from the Tour du Mont Blanc.

Categories: Tour du Mont Blanc | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 16 Comments

Walk Scotland’s Highlands With Us

The year after we walked the Camino de Santiago, we journeyed to our former home, Scotland, to walk the West Highland Way. It was magnificent! Sue has a slide show for you.

Categories: Scottish Highlands and beyond | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

Our Camino in Pictures

Walk with Reg and Sue in Spain as you watch our short slide show with brief excerpts from Camino Sunrise: Walking With My Shadows

Click here to see Sue’s pictorial journey.


Click here to travel to Amazon, where you can buy the ebook or Paperback. Your review, even if it is very brief, will help Reg as a new author trying to stand out among an avalanche of writers on Amazon.

Categories: Camino de Santiago | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Camino Sunrise: Readers React

When I took my first steps on the Camino de Santiago, I never could have imagined where the famed pilgrimage would lead me.

When I sat at my MacBook Air a year and a half ago to chronicle my journey in Spain, my words had an unknown destination.

Little did I know that the trek would take me back to my troubled childhood and lead to real dangers on the path, as my wife Sue’s illustrations show, above. Her ink-and-watercolor works grace each chapter.

Less than two weeks after publication of Camino Sunrise: Walking With My Shadows, my first book, readers have kindly shared where my words have taken them.

“Reading this book reinforced my own interest in “minimalism” and renewed my desire for peace in my own life,” one wrote. “As Reg bares his soul, you can’t help but reflect on what is important in life…just read it.”

Another shared his thoughts: “What an adventure! I was traveling every step of the way with you and feeling every bit of it.”

A third reader shared this: “So well described that I feel like I was there and that the connections you made along the way are my friends too.”

My story features humor, tragedy, triumphs, and hardships through a cast of characters that I call my Camino family. I describe real events and how the Camino stripped away the unimportant and exposed the best in life.

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Click here to go to Amazon. I would love to hear from you after you read my book and ask that you consider reviewing Camino Sunrise on Amazon.

Thank you,

Reg

Categories: Camino de Santiago, Inspiration, Reflections, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Now on Amazon: Camino Sunrise

Greetings!

I am excited to announce that Camino Sunrise: Walking With My Shadows is now available on Amazon.

I hope you will read my book. I have been told that reviews—even brief ones–can place a book on the radar of more potential readers. If you choose the paperback edition, Sue’s illustrations will be in black and white. They are in color on the Kindle app if you have a color device.

If you are inclined to share this note with enough other people, Oprah is ready to add Camino Sunrise to her book club list. I should attach a “Ha!” to that, I suppose.

Camino Sunrise: Walking With My Shadows

By Reginald Spittle

Cover and illustrations by Susan Spittle

Click this link to go to Amazon.com. You may not be able to use this link if you live outside the United States.

“Loved this inspiring and bravely honest book by a fellow pilgrim. The story of Reg’s journey inward while walking with his wife, Sue, on the Camino de Santiago, was a joy to read. Highly recommend!”     –Judy

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Categories: Camino de Santiago, Inspiration, Reflections | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

The Way of St. Francis: The End is Near

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Reg blazed another trail through the tall grass and thistle today, our last day of walking through the countryside.  Tomorrow we’ll aim our boots towards Saint Peter’s Square, Vatican City, a ten mile walk that will officially complete our journey.

Categories: The Way of Saint Francis, The Way of St Francis | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

The Way of St. Francis: Over The Hump

Yesterday afternoon we arrived at our hotel in Trevi so incredibly soaking wet that the owner simply handed us our key. No passports, no check-in, no formalities. Plenty of time for that after showers and hot tea!

We awoke to more rain this morning and grudgingly donned our rain gear as we set out to cross the invisible halfway point on our trail to Rome. By days end, our feet will have taken us 141 miles with 43,742 feet of elevation change throughout our twelve days on the trail.

As the skies cleared, our waterproofs instantly morphed into personal saunas. While Reg changed his clothes trailside, I fashioned my rain pants into a pair capris and we again set off toward our destination – the ancient city of Spoleto.

We’d walked a few hundred yards when Reg suddenly stopped and said, “Oh no! My glasses!”

Sure enough, they were not on his nose where they belonged. A quick about face and we retraced our steps.

How lucky he was that we chose the bike trail route, and that we had it mostly to ourselves…and that his glasses didn’t go flying into the tall grass or we might still be looking for them!

Categories: The Way of Saint Francis, The Way of St Francis, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

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