8th July – Clovelly to Bideford

20180708 Clovelly Harbour
Clovelly Harbour

Sunday

After an excellent breakfast at the Durante House Hotel my taxi dropped me back at the visitor’s centre at Clovelly at 9.00.

It was already very hot so I enjoyed the fact that to Bucks Mill, and beyond, the path was mainly in woods. After Bucks Mill the path follows the cliff edge descending to Peppercombe and then going up and down via Rowden Gut and Babbercombe Mouth before descending to the sea at Westcliffe and finally going over Greencliff before joining the old railway to Westward Ho!

20180708 Peppercombe and the route to Westward Ho
Peppercombe and the route to Westward Ho!

I took a recommended shortcut to Bideford just before Westward Ho! and was delighted to come out about 1 km from my hotel at 3.45pm.

20180708 Turning off the coastal trail near Westward Ho
Turning off the coastal trail near Westward Ho!

The hotel has laundry facilities so I now have clean kit.

Tomorrow I go to Barnstaple along the Tarka Trail and will then leave the Coastal Path behind to go across Exmoor, the Quantocks and the Mendips before crossing the Severn Bridge and entering Wales.

On a practical note I have to replace a vital piece of clothing which is somewhere on the trail I walked yesterday.  I was drying socks etc hanging from my pack and it obviously dropped off.  Luckily Barnstaple has an M&S!

7th July – Elmscott to Clovelly

20180707 Approaching Hartland Point
Approaching Hartland Point

I left the hostel at 6.30 as I was anticipating possibly having to walk as far as Bideford to find somewhere to stay.  The route to Hartland Point continued with steep river valleys that had to be crossed and I was delighted when I turned east at Hartland Point.

20180707 Hartland Point Lighthouse
Hartland Point Lighthouse

Psychologically I knew that the most difficult sections of the path were now behind me.  That was a mistake as the trail was still very steep, just relatively easier.

20180707 rock formation near Hartland Point
Near Hartland Point

I reached Clovelly around 2.00 pm on a blisteringly hot day and could not face continuing.  Luckily there was a bus to Bideford, where I will stay for two nights.  Tomorrow I will get a taxi to Clovelly and then walk back to my hotel.

This evening I have sorted out places to stay for the next 5 nights.

The last 4 days are the hardest on the trail, until Scotland, each with well over 1000m of climbing, and I am glad they are behind me.

20180707 Lundy Island
Misty Lundy Island

6th July – Bude to Elmscott

20180706 Beautiful coastal scenery
Beautiful coastal scenery

Friday

The extreme weather conditions have forced me to take some extreme action. I had a late start as I needed to shop but I also boxed up my tent and some other gear and sent it home.  Altogether it came to 4.4kg about a third of the weight of the rucksack. The weight problem is exacerbated by having to carry 3 litres of water ie 3 kilos.  In the heat the weight was just too much.  As I get fitter hopefully things will ease.

I left Bude around 10.30 and there was a noticeable difference. The path takes you over 8 big ascents and descents.  I stopped at Duckpool and Morwenstow for food and to replenish my water.

20180706 Duckpool
Duckpool

At Morwenstow a poorly signed diversion meant that I wasted 30 minutes walking down the valley, only to find the path was closed and I had to retrace my steps.

Carrying on I decided that I had to divert to the Youth Hostel at Elmscott as I was running out of water.  I had tried to book but the hostel was full.  I was therefore pleasantly surprised to find it was actually almost empty and I had a room to myself.  They also had a small shop so I could buy dinner.

5th July – Boscastle to Bude

018 Chevron Fold Millook
One for the geologists!  Folded sedimentary rocks at Millook. Interesting but no teashop!

Thursday

My guidebook tells me not to underestimate the difficulty of this section and the next to Hartland Point. The author is not kidding. The scenery is lovely, but a constant switchback of very steep ascents and descents make it brutal if, like me, you are carrying a big load.

The rucksack is manageable on the flat and easier angled ascents but steps and very steep loose scree are very difficult. The Steps were obviously put in for Cornish giants!!

I guess therefore the good news is that 26km and 1440 metres of ascent were completed today even if it took nearly 12 hours

The Northshore bunkhouse has one resident tonight; me, which is a luxury. The weather is no good for surfers so they are staying away.

I have to shop tomorrow and will then see how I feel. I may need to take 2 days over the next section so I am pleased that I have a day in hand.

The Problem with Farmers

I should state initially that I quite like farmers and think that they mainly do a good job managing the countryside.  However some are not so good.  Today I was trying to use footpaths, ie public rights of way, to get to Port Isaac only to find huge cereal fields crossed by a public right of way which the farmer had totally ignored.  I was left with a choice of extending my walk or ploughing through his wheat.  I am a country boy so I walked round.  The next field was the same except that the headland was head height in weeds, which incidentally covered a lot of his crop.  I had no chance of finding the stile and footbridge.  Eventually I fought my way through and decided it was too much of an effort so I walked up the roads.  This is obviously what the farmer wants. “Don’t want no people on Moy Land!”

On another farm the path was perfect.

017 That's the way to do it
That’s the way to do it!

Later, coming along the Coastal Path, one of the most popular walking routes in the country, I and all the other walkers were faced with cows and calves accompanied by two bulls.  The farmer may know that old Billy is a real softy but personally I would prefer him not to be standing on my path.  Surely we could at least be told “Bull in Field”. Several walkers had dogs and were quite concerned.

Farmers have rights but so do we the public.

4th July – Wadebridge to Boscastle

Wednesday

The biggest day so far.  Over 32k or 20 miles with 1200 metres of ascent.  In all honesty it felt like it.

I left Wadebridge at 6.00am after a late night watching England.  Luke my Canadian grandson now believes that England always win penalty shootouts.

Making my way across country to Port Isaac I had the normal problems in Cornwall; that farmers apparently ignore footpaths and rights of way.

014 Port Isaac
Port Isaac

I walked north via Chapel Amble and St Endellion to reach the coast at 9.00.  I had lunch at around 1.30 at Trebarwith Strand having survived the switchbacks of Barrett’s Zawn and Jacket’s Point and arrived at Tintagel, which I tried to ignore.

015 Jacket's Point
Jacket’s Point

Less than 3 miles to Boscastle but they included the deep valleys of Willapark and Rocky Valley, which meant that I was delighted when Boscastle, which had mysteriously been moving away from me, finally relented and I arrived at 5.30.

016 Rocky Valley
Rocky Valley

I have a family room at the Hostel and am hoping not to have to share. I want to make an early start again tomorrow but I now have a bed at Northshore Hostel in Bude.  Tomorrow is shorter but has 1400m of ascent and will be another tough day.

IMG_0067
Port Isaac and the crew putting away the gig after a training session

3rd July – Treyarnon to Wadebridge

20180703 Padstow Harbour
Padstow Harbour

Tuesday

As today was going to be another fairly short day I treated myself to a cooked breakfast at the hostel and did not leave until 8.00.

The day got off to a bad start, as a suggested shortcut led across dunes with lots of brambles, prickly rose-like plants and thorny bushes. My legs got badly scratched before I binned that route and took an alternative.  The rest of the day passed pleasantly crossing farmland with good paths to Padstow and then taking the Camel Trail along the estuary to Wadebridge.

The Travelodge is on the top of a hill on the outskirts but once there has all the amenities one could wish for; a large Tesco’s, a Lidl and a Bargain Store all within 200m, not to mention the pub next door which provided a fine steak.  I hope however that England can win the football as this evening will cost about the same as the previous five.

Having looked at the weather forecast and tried unsuccessfully to book accommodation after tomorrow night, I have decided not to worry and if I cannot get into a campsite I will just stop on the cliffs.  I am also planning to bin the rest days and keep going, to take full advantage of the fine weather.  The next few days are some of the hardest before Scotland, and having the flexibility to go slower in the heat will be an advantage.  Tomorrow is a big day to reach Boscastle, where I am staying in the Youth Hostel, so I plan to leave at 6.00 to take full advantage of the cooler mornings.