Day 5 continued: Thursday 21st February 2019
It was really horrible leaving my family on the beach at Perran Sands, but all I could do was set my sights northwards to Newquay. The path from Perranporth was good – a few steep descents and climbs combined with flat beaches and cliff tops.
I had full sunshine all the way and luckily the tide was out, so I could cross on the bridge from Crantock to Newquay instead of a 2 mile detour around the estuary. It felt a very long 2 miles through Newquay itself, but some bottles of lucozade and chocolate bars helped to ease things!
I found a spot to camp at Watergate Bay, looking down on the hotel. I felt very lonely suddenly, as my family had been camping and walking with me for the past five days. Well, I did until a man and a woman suddenly appeared where I’d camped. They looked very disappointed to see me camped behind a wall and walked back to separate cars. I wonder what their intentions had been?!
Note to self: I need to change the colour of my rubbish bag. It’s orange, exactly the same colour as my cooking bag. I’ve got a sinking feeling that I might bin my cooking stuff by mistake. That would be BAD…
Day 6: Friday 22nd February 2019
I had a restless night at Newquay but at least it was warm (about 8 degrees). There was very little condensation in my tent due to the steady breeze I’ve had on my back since I set off.
I had woken at 4.30am, made coffee and a breakfast meal, and had packed up by 6am. I set off with my head torch and a full moon for about half an hour, then was treated to a lovely red sunrise.
The path took me over rough cliffs again, and there were a few stiff climbs with Newquay staying in view behind me for a long time this morning. It must have been a very high tide, as when I reached Mawgan Porth the waves were crashing on to the road bridge and washing up the river.
This high tide made for a lively walk across rocks and over sand dunes, as the coast path uses the top of the beach for 100 metres or so. The stretch from Mawgan Porth to Padstow was nostalgic for me, as I used to come here as a child – Bedruthan Steps, Porthcothan Bay and Treyarnon Bay. They were all just as idyllic as I remembered.
The tide was out by the time I arrived in Padstow, meaning no ferry and a 5 mile walk on the Camel Trail to Wadebridge, then a similar distance the other side of the estuary to get back to the coast path. I had to have fish and chips to keep me going.
From Wadebridge I headed dead north along farm tracks and paths to camp in a field before I had to re-join the road. It was rehydrated minced beef for dinner tonight, which comes in two bags. I think I put the wrong amounts of water in the wrong bags though, as it doesn’t look quite like I was expecting. The packet says 768 calories, though, and that’s all that matters!
Day 7: Saturday 23rd February 2019
I slept well but woke to a tent full of condensation. Lesson learned: do not camp in a valley bottom in a wet field with no wind!
I was up and away by 4.30am and joined the road immediately. The moon lit my way to Port Isaac, and what a stunning setting when I reached the village. I can imagine this is a tourist mecca, so I felt lucky to have it all to myself this early in the morning. It was time for breakfast, so I stopped on a bench looking out to sea and waited for the sun to come up.
Once the sun had risen, it was another day of blue skies. I had a plan to take it easy today as my joints and muscles were aching – but then I had the same plan yesterday and didn’t. There hasn’t been any flat walking for a while, but the going finally levelled out at Tregardock Cliff.
I met a chap walking part of the South West Coast Path in stages. He was using B&Bs and had been watching TV while I was in my damp tent…We had a good chat about gear and he was the first person I’ve told on the trail that I’m heading to John O’Groats. He shook my hand, which was a nice feeling.
By lunchtime I had reached Port William and stopped in the great pub. I just had a pint, as I have a strict budget for this adventure and it won’t stretch to eating in pubs all the time! I left the pub and sat on the hill eating Ryvitas, which wasn’t quite the same. I am still living on the dehydrated meals and snacks I’ve carried from Perranporth – although this seems a long time ago now.
After a short stretch of level path it was back to either up or down. the mist came in at about 4pm and stayed all evening. I just made it past Boscastle and camped near the cliff top with a great view north along the coast.
A few people have asked me where I’m going today, which has got me thinking. Up to now I have followed my usual rule of long walks, which is just to think about the next target a day or so ahead. However, now the enormity of this walk is starting to sink in. I’ve had a great coastal walk in perfect weather so far and I feel good – I wonder what will happen when I’ve had a few nights in a row like last night? The importance of drying my gear can’t be overstated.
Day 8: Sunday 24th February 2019
I woke to no wind and sea mist, so my tent was dripping with condensation again. I got up at 4.30am to stop myself getting any wetter, made coffee and left.
The mist cleared as it got light, and the sunshine emerged again. The undulating cliff paths continued, and I passed the highest point on the South West Coast Path at The Strangles.
I reached Crackington Haven at about 8.30am and the village was deserted. I found a clean disabled loo here and was able to strip off and wash myself and my clothes – a great feeling. So was lying in the February, sun drying everything!
I reached Bude and treated myself to a burger, chips and salad. However, I forgot to get water which meant a thirsty night and no water for coffee in the morning. Getting water hasn’t really been a problem at all on the trail so far. There have been plenty of clean streams and rivers that I can filter water from.
From Land’s End to Bude, the coast path has been rough going with some rocky sections early on. The cliffs have been dramatic, and from Bude onwards it looks like easier walking. I’m pretty glad about that, as last night I struggled to go to sleep with aching muscles, legs and hips.
Before I settled for the night I searched my bags again and again for my spare pair of Rohan pants. It looks like I don’t have them with me – will this end my walk? Or can one pair of pants last me the entire walk? I’m sure I’ll be able to wash these and walk in my leggings instead at some point. I may even find some washed up on the beach or something! (Wife horrified while typing this and adding spare pants to resupply bag).
The next stage of my adventure (Bude to Barnstaple) is here.
I’ve also written some reflections on my gear choices and habits two weeks in to the walk here.