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Lands End to Cape Wrath
Struggle, food, rhythm
LANDS END TO BUDE
Diary Entry 19 April.
The end of the world. About to leave it all behind. Well fed and ready, approaching the point of ejection.
Suddenly about to be alone after all the swirl of the last few days. People, this in relation to people; now just me; into the ring. Where have they all gone? Silent phone.
Immaculate Landís End crystal sharp spring morning. Blue sea and sky and white churning against rocks.
Boots on. Impossibly heavy pack. Hugs goodbye with my Father, poor guy having to just stand and watch me walk away; at the very foot of the very path; into the ring.
And that was that.
Looking back and waving until I was over a rise and round a corner. 500 yards? Sit down on an rock and oh shit, now Iíve done it!
Very frightened sick and scared. Melodrama I know but I was in a state, seriously disorientated and wondering; What on earth did I think I was doing?
Diary entry first night 20 April.
Wo. Nervous adrenalin like a big gig and all day disconnected from the landscape. Somehow consumed with the immediate, so struggling and preoccupied with the weight of it and growing discomfort. !(:o:)! Ouch now at maximum strength.
Very beautiful blue and white sea and cliffs etc, birds and spring flowers but having to work to notice it all. Bleak mining wasteland past Cape Cornwall more my mood.
Now perched, first perch high above churning waves. Certainly a good one as perches go, heather and rocks on the top of the cliff but first night blues; just mechanical and trying not the think about whatís ahead.
Pang of; Oh my god! As it creeps in from time to time the whole length and weight of the country sitting on my head . So it seems that I must stay with now now especially.
Moon Ĺ ish rising behind, with Jupiter in tow. Quite chilly, 53.5įcent.
Swinging beam of Pendeen Watch across Portheras Cove.
Wake up in the morning with the same song still there, going round in my head from the night before somehow harder to resist when Iím tired. Write it down to try and expunge.
Soundtrack un-invited (SUI) but Tom Waits and no surprise.
I woke up this morning with a cold water
With a cold water
I woke up this morning with a cold water
With a cold
And !(:o:)! ooch oh yes piles. Intermittent companion since I was 18. Making themselves known with immaculate timing over the past few months.- Iíd decided to ignore them, faith that they wouldnít want to come all that way with me, that they wouldnít be interested in this particular way of life. Now I was certain I would have to go under the knife, may as well just go home now.
But onwards, itch and burn on another perfect sun wind and sea day 2. Hard going rocky up and down along to Trevalgan. Windy preseason camp site with only me and one other lonely punter.
Ageing Thermarest mattress springing leaks and demanding I listen to Pirate FM piped loud in the camp site wash room while fill a sink with cold water and search for streams of bubbles.
Beginning to live in a manic text messaging world:
Hope all is well. Think of you as I walk to station and feel your sense of freedom inspiring me. Beware of strange men offering shelter brush hair every day.
Dear David. I wish you health and wonder on your journey. Expect the unexpected X
Day 2: Dear Diary today I went for a walk to ? I pitched my tent next to a ? I cooked myself ? for my dinner and went to bed at ? Having a ball ? XX
Wishing you a following wind and no blisters good luck love Sarah.
Hope all is going well. Kind of wish I was doing it all with you but kind of glad Iím not! X
Diary Entry second night 22 April
All a bit heavy at the moment. Black dog attacking as I leave the house. How to move through this? But at present what was I thinking of ?! 49.1į
Day 3, at last stormy wind and rain. A gift to offer some diversion.
Across wet fields down into St Ives for breakfast and trudging out on roads round to Hayle. Just having to get on with it. Cold rain dripping of my nose. Walk I could and just get on.
That morning it began to dawn on me; how I was being wrenched and turned over. Into the mincer.
I had walked out and shut the door on the normal safe life. Chosen this lonely wandering, adrift. Doing it to myself again.
It wasnít a new feeling; I knew it well from boarding school at 11 years old. Not sent but choosing to go, I had no one to blame it on, thinking it would be an adventure and where I wanted to be. Iíd made my bed (hospital corners), no going back. Here we go again.
Learning. Here I am and I have to learn about it. Tell myself the obvious: One step at a time. Into the present, Just look after myself and get on with it.
Donít do it all now. Just walk along, being the slog.
Marvellous moment mid
morning walking through Hayle on the way out to the dunes to the
east of St Ives Bay, passing a green grocer and apples. Buy yourself
an apple; Breaburn crunch enjoy and sweet. This new world could be a
sweet shop, wake up now, youíre on holiday.
The first human connection and glimpse of how delightful it would be connecting with people on this trip. There is human warmth out here. Open myself to this, on my own and self sufficient, money and food and everything but I need to connect with people, be vulnerable, accept help.
Mike Day Three in my mobile and all the way up weíve exchanged our progresses.
The next day, day number 4. St Agnes and my first 15 mile day and for the first time some real excitement at the landscape. St Agnes head in stormy rain and fog. Fantastic. Crashing waves and the earth just rock and weather.
A campsite that night triumphant at 15 miles and showers.
Off in the rain day 5. Along high cliffs and clearing as I got to Perranporth mid morning and finding how Cornwall has become just the trendiest place. John Hilaby in 68 was struck by the Beat Nicks hanging out on the beach in St Ives and causing no harm but winding up the locals, well now itís surf city; change in the car park, grab your surf board and run off down the beach to join the crew bobbing out in the bay and for me it means a cappuccino in every village, trendy cafes and pasties just the same as ever.
Porth just on from Newquay that night and falling asleep in my tent fully clothed too tired to un-pack and get into my sleeping bag.
Day 6 and out along high cliffs in the mist with the company most of the morning from Chinook Helicopters. Dub Dub Dub , looming monsters low along the cliff tops swooping in and out to sea. I was going to come across those fellers in a few months time pressed into semi active service a little way north.
Memories of really feeling the weight of the pack that afternoon. Cutting off Trevose Head on roads from Constantine Bay across to Padstow. Pack apparently certain that itís natural place was comfortable lying flat on the tarmac. Tarmac welcoming it down and leaving no room for me in between.
Those early days Just keep going. So hard, but almost as hard to stop. I wouldnít allow myself to really rest. Just too much to do, too far to go to think about rest but that night a sensational Cheesy Salmon and Apricot Noodle Campsite DeLux.
Walk, sleep, breath, eat.
So much excitement to be had, Itís going to play a big and surely central role in this adventure. Out all this time I couldnít be living off dehydrated camping meals and too expensive so getting into evolved 1 pot walking recipes and the chance to indulge eating habits and work on being healthy.
General food map is this.
Breakfasts: Muesli bought along the way, soaked in water overnight and heated up for porridge in the morning, or flapjack or cake and fruit with Cadburyís Instant hot chocolate sachets and instant coffee mix, fab.
Snacks: Dried fruit and nuts and chocolate and energy bars and a pint of milk or 2 a day whenever I come across a shop.
Lunch time: Iíll probably get into pubs and cafťs and fish and chips whenever I can which will be less and less as I get into the wild north lands. Pies and pasties and fruit to pick up as I pass shops during the morning. My usual lunchtime fare is oat cakes, sardines, fruit, nuts and raisins and chocolate. Iíll see how that goes and if I get too too bored of it.
Evenings: If thereís a pub near by Iíll probably get in for a good meal but mostly Iíll be into a big cook up using bulgar or polenta or noodles arriving in Post Office food parcels. If I need more carbohydrates I can get noodles along the way but bulgar and polenta are harder to find and they would only come in 500g packs which would be too heavy.
So in each food parcel there will be enough for 6 meals, the parcel points are roughly 10 days to 2 weeks apart, each parcel has 2 dehydrated meals also to use on evenings when the weather is too bad or Iím to tired to get into cooking.
Plan to be in a bed once a week or so; villages, towns where thereíll be pubs and cafes and Iíll be able to pick up extras. I should be carrying enough and picking up enough for evenings but it will be a major joyful preoccupation; planning all the food logistics.
Thereís a chorizo in each food parcel, enough for 2 meals, plan to buy tinned fish to carry and fresh meat for immediate consumption when I can, perhaps some fresh vegetables also.
Cooking and consuming out on a hill top, essential joyful.
And Iíve set off with the following in my larder:
These along with the stock cubes, the sun dried tomatoes and the apricots in the supplies parcels and garlic and ginger bought along the way; I can get into some tasty creating
Padstow and into the sunny town in the morning. Day 7 and things beginning to shift, Iíd been out for a week and making some progress on the map.
Breakfast and across the twinkly spring Camel estuary on the ferry. Bright and blue and warm. Tide falling leaving pristine acres of sand. A childhood holiday sailing here and 20 years ago Iíd walked this stretch, feeling I was on home territory.
Jump over on the road from Polzeath to knock off Pentire Point and boots off for lunch warm in the sun on sloping grass above beautiful twisting cliffs, Carnweather Point, Port Quin Bay. The blissful joy of boots and socks off Ė feet in the cool grass in the wind and sun.
Suddenly a shift, for the first time seeing where I was eyes wide open thinking:
I can start here. Iíve had a week going through the mincer and Iím Ok.
!(:o:)! Retreated too (:o:)
This could be fun. Re-birth now. Day 1.
Behind me the roads were full of car horns. Beeb Beep Beep ahead of bustling herds of sheep on their way up to spring pasture. This was the start of the season, the summer. I was out and in there at the start, all ahead of me. I was off into the hills with them.
Lovely twisty stretch of cliffs from there along to Port Isaac. Through a heavy rain storm and sun again walking into Cream Teas.
The Cornish coastal path is full of treats. You can graze continuously, village to bijous village, cafť to cafť. Pasties! A pasty every day for lunch; hot out of the oven and the best I think from Portreath. Itís the pepper and potatoes and gooky pastry, not too much meat, with a couple of tomatoes and a banana and a pint of milk. Fantastic cliff top lunchtime and snooze. Happy to have it easy and in fact gourmet with food at this early stage knowing that in the wild unknown country of the north lands I would be getting into a more rude (erer) thing.
A great high wild cliff camp spot that evening. Barrettís Zawn a couple of miles past Port Isaac but the next day exhausted. Hills too steep and not able to swing along and find a rhythm in my walking. Preoccupied in fact with the notion of rhythm.
Diary entry. Day 8. 27 April.
BnB Bewilderment. Finding out what I have taken on and searching for what a ď rhythmĒ means. In terms of what suits me and what I can physically manage. And emotionally, the strength of all kinds it takes to camp out.
So 8 days. I felt I was moving along Ok then Zonk. Arriving at Boscastle, 3.30 and exhaustion. Sore foot and overwhelmed / frightened by the prospect of leaving the coast and cross country over to Barnstaple but also fried by the relentless ≠ and Į of the cliff path. The pack driving me into the ground and peculiar guilt. Should I trim it down? What can I find to lose? What donít I need? Canít find anything. Too attached to all this stuff, Daft.
Goodness knows where this one came from but (SUI) courtesy of Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd-Webber and particularly persistent those days.
And as for fortune as a for fame I never invited them in
Though it seemed to you then they were all I desired.
Looking for this ideal of finding a rhythm. Iíll be Ok when I find a rhythm.
John Merrill, Turn right at Landís End. Very scary book with intimidating distances and strength and fitness; averaging 25 plus miles every day, no rest days I donít know. But on his way all the way round the coast (L.E to J-O-Gs twice just to warm up!) he reckoned it took him 2000 miles to reach his peak performance. What would it mean for me?
The rhythm would seem to be a collection of variables:
So all kinds of stuff joggling together to make up my rhythm. I had a pretty clear idea about all that, what I had done in the past, but it hadnít settled yet into anything comfortable on this rather different outing. Finding a new way of life that worked.
Boscastle knowing I had to stop. My first rest day. Iíd been planning to have rest days once a week or so. Stop in cool places I could explore a little or just feet up. Build in RnR stop me from rushing on. Stop and be in one place.
I was going to find that this was not so simple. If I wasnít walking what was I doing? If I wasnít walking who was I?
But Boscastle, putting itself back together after last summers deluge. Floods and everyone with a story to tell. A real buzz, rebuilding and opening up ready for this new season.
Very friendly BnB people. Food and drink and there is something very special about the cliffs at the mouth of Boscastle harbour. Sheer and twisting and then a miraculous little inlet. April and Blue Bells waving out across grassy slopes. In fact an over-riding memory of the Cornish path is in the wind Blue Bells all the time and exploding yellow Gorse. This of course with Fulmars always just flying to fly and get into the thermals on the cliffs.
Biggest ↑ and ↓ cliffs path along to almost Bude the next day then it was my birthday.
44 and I hitchhiked to Bideford, bus to Barnstaple and train to Bristol. A weekend with Vivienne and Hob. A break.
Mother and daughter who gave me a lift all the way to Bideford, delightful and 20 miles out of their way with the explanation of their family philosophy:
Someone does you a good dead you can pass it on to the next person. Give and take to keep life ticking over; keep the wheel spinning.
Diary entry. 30April
Barnstaple Station. 10 days on the North Cornish path. Discovering the physical-ness of it, the toil and sweat. Joy and plummet.
Dismay ←→acceptance inevitability of the ↑ and ↓
Sadness to say goodbye to the first stage. Merging land and sea, sea sky, earth and universe and the eternal rhythm of the in and out waves 10 days always there breathing with me.
I was going to have 3 more breaks with friends and family on the way up. Days away from the path, very lovely and essential breaks but strange.
When I stopped I was out of the walk. It disappeared. Going to think more about this, they were part of this trip but somehow outside it.
In Bristle I was nervous. I had completed the first stage. When I went back I was going inland east away from the cliff path. But oh my goodness I was worried that I would lose the strength Iíd been building. Wanting to get on again but afraid of restarting, into the mincer again?Itís nice to get up in the morning but itís nicer to stay in bed.
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