I’m not sure how I was persuaded to spent a week camping in Cornwall, but I was. I admit I wasn’t thrilled at the thought of camping, but Cornwall had gotten under my skin and I was struggling to tear myself away. Anyway, I’m now the expert on choosing where to visit.
It was nice to have a week off walking, and blog writing (no wifi and little phone reception were the cause). I was also secretly pleased that I seemed to have taken the rainy week as a holiday – the only time I’ll be pleased about that.
I caught up on sleep, swam in the sea, visited friends, ate BBQs and relaxed. Bliss.
The weather was terrible when I woke up, very wet, and the rain was predicted to last all day. I thought this was lucky for the following 2 reasons: firstly, Kerry offered me the chance to stay a second night (which meant a proper bed) and, secondly, instead of walking past Plymouth I could take a bit of time to explore the city.
Kerry dropped me off near The Barbican, the old part of the city that dates back to the 16th Century. After just a short walk across the footbridge spanning one of the wharves I was soaked.
I stopped at Jacka Bakery for coffee and a truly excellent pain-au-chocolat. This bakery has been certified as the oldest commercial bakery in Great Britain, dating back to 1597, and it supplied The Mayflower with biscuits for its voyage across The Atlantic. Ancient ovens are still visible, but unfortunately unusable.
Just down the road is the Plymouth Gin Distillery, established 1793, the oldest one in England.
I took a tour around The Mayflower Museum, which overlooks The Mayflower Steps, the point where The Pilgrims set sail for New Plymouth. I met an American couple whose ancestor was on the ship.
Plymouth likes its plaques and memorials. There are a lot. There are plaques commemorating all the famous sea journeys that started from Plymouth, and memorials commemorating the famous men that set sail from here.
Most of the plaques at The Barbican Wharves were reminders of how the British colonised the New World; The Mayflower sailed for America in 1620, The Tory sailed for New Zealand in 1839 and plenty of ships sailed for Australia in the 18th Century.
Up the hill, past The Royal Citadel, built in 1655 for King Charles II, to protect the seaward approaches to Sutton Harbour, I reached The Hoe. More memorials. There are 23,000 names on Plymouth’s Naval War Memorial for the two World Wars, all sailors or marines based at Plymouth.
At the other end of The Hoe were 4 imprints in the grass, signifying the spots where The Beatles sat for an iconic photograph. All very strange.
I wandered through the Stonehouse area of the city and went to the Rocksalt cafe for lunch. Highly recommended. After that I caught the bus back to the Tamar Bridge and walked across it into Cornwall again. I really enjoyed my day in Plymouth.
Only three and a half days at home, but it was just what I wanted. I didn’t go anywhere (well I don’t have a car). I did manage to wash everything, including my rucksack, which I think was possibly more smelly than my t-shirt, and all footwear. Finally I can no longer smell my own feet, and that’s a really positive thing.
I took the opportunity to sort through my kit and I ditched my cooking equipment. I have only been using it as a last resort and have found the SW Coast Path to be well populated with cafes, pubs and shops. I decided to follow the example of all the European walkers I have met and not carry any cooking equipment.
My unexpected trip home was a wonderful pick-me-up tonic. It also enabled me to try and do a bit of gardening (hampered by very heavy downpours and a lack of desire). Most importantly, my EU Referendum postal vote is in.
When my ferry arrived in Penzance yesterday it started raining. It carried on raining all night. Despite not walking that much over the last 2 weeks I was starting to feel really tired (the cold didn’t help). I had just had a few days of holiday and yet still felt like I wanted a break. It had been 11 weeks since I was last at home.
Penzance is the end of the train line. I made a snap decision to get a train home for a few days. I would have a proper break, recharge, get rid of the cold and take the opportunity to properly clean and re-sort all my kit. (My sandals and feet were not smelling good.)
I caught the train and was home mid afternoon. Bliss. I might also have to fit in some gardening while I’m here.
I got caught speeding; I walk too fast. I really did get caught speeding back in March in a borrowed car (mine is off the road). After a lot of guesstimating where I would be when, I booked a speed awareness course today in Camborne. Fortunately I managed to work it so I could be in St Ives and get a bus to Camborne. It was a lot of faff but I saved myself 3 points and had a useful refresher on the Highway Code.
It was a lovely morning and I spent it relaxing outside the cafe on the campsite. I took the opportunity to do some planning (thinking ahead to visiting the Isles of Scilly).
I caught the bus to Camborne, did the course, paid my penance and got the bus back to St Ives in the evening.
After missing lunch I was in need of a hearty dinner. I wasn’t in the mood to fight the queues in the sea front so picked a pub a few streets back.
It was a beautiful, sunny day with a clear blue sky; however, it was very windy.
I had always intended to take a day off at Gwithian because I needed to be around St Ives on Thursday. Jill very kindly offered to host me for a second night (at least I think she did and hopefully it wasn’t that I just didn’t leave!).
I spent a lovely morning chatting over tea and coffee, and checking out the CCTV that Jill has in her bird box. We were watching 6 very noisy Great Tit chicks being fed and getting ready to fledge.
Jill had some things to do and my friends Gareth and Helen were in the area so I walked down to Godrevy Head to meet them. I spent the afternoon on the headland, in the beach cafe and on the beach. I rather enjoyed digging a police boat, robber’s boat and police car for Matthew and Louise. I’m not convinced any of them were as good as the ones that were dug for me all those years ago!
I returned to Jill’s late afternoon and we had supper and a good chinwag. She has a fascinating family. It had been a lovely, relaxing day.
After 3 tough days my legs could do with a rest and it seemed like Bude was a good place to spend a day. (Really I just wanted an excuse to stop so I could swim in the sea pool.)
I spent the day sitting in cafes and on the headland, reading the Sunday newspaper and catching up on my blog (which was made difficult by the lack of access to plug points and wifi in Bude establishments). It was very relaxing on a sunny, but slightly chilly, day.
Bude seemed nice. There were lots of surfers in the sea and some big waves. At 4 pm I went for a swim in the sea pool, a fantastic facility maintained by a local group that relies on donations. The kids seemed to love it.
I also managed to launder my clothes ready for the week ahead.
How nice to have a personal delivery of my next set of maps and an excuse to stop for the weekend, particularly as the weather was so good. Sally collected me from Pete’s house in Ilfracombe and we drove to Woolacombe for a relaxing weekend at the seaside.
I don’t know why I was surprised by the large number of people on the wonderful, long, sandy beach and in the sea. There were lots of surfers, even though it was really quite calm. I didn’t see anyone in the water without a wetsuit though – everyone’s soft these days!
Sunday was a bit of a busman’s holiday for me as we ended up walking along the 2 mile length of the beautiful Woolacombe Beach, over the hill to Croyde Bay (even more surfers here) and then around Baggy Point headland on the way back. I walked in my sandals today and it felt like a holiday.
After such a long walk it was bliss to go for a late afternoon swim at Barricane Beach, next to Woolacombe, and then eat a curry on the beach. The beach cafe is run by a Sri Lanken man who makes curries on nice summer evenings and they are very popular. What a great end to a lovely, relaxing weekend.
An opportunity to spend the Bank Holiday weekend with Oli and Laura was not to be missed. Besides, it rained pretty much non-stop from Saturday evening onwards.
Lots of eating, some drinking and plenty of relaxing. I took the time to go shopping in Cardiff for new boots (the same ones as my previous two pairs). The pair I got in August were cracking around the toe joint (a recurring issue) so I managed to get them replaced, despite the obvious wear. I had my feet measured again in Cotswold Outdoor and this time I left with a size bigger as the assistant was convinced mine were too small. So now I have size 8 boots (or boats!), and I wear size 6.5 shoes. I also replaced my inner and outer socks and my superfeet insoles; the only thing I didn’t replace was my feet!