Overseas Walk: South West Coast Path Walk
In April and May 2014 I walked the South West Coast Path in Britain from Minehead to Poole, taking in such sights as Lands End, Durdle Door and Saint Michaels Mount.
To get an idea of the countryside watch the videos Shout by Tears for Fears and The Living Years by Mike and the Mechanics as well as the television programme Doc Martin and the Broadchurch series.
I averaged twenty three kilometres a day, a total of 1014 kilometres or 630 miles and it took me 44 days.
The walking is different to our idea of New Zealand tramping, here we were in the open 90% of the time, never far from the coast naturally.
The tough part was starting. At Minehead I had jetlag, a headache and I got a blister wandering around the town. My feet hardened up after a few days and it was really all about getting in the rhythm of walking, eating and sleeping.
Walking is a great way of getting rid of jetlag. I tried to practice mindfulness by being in the moment and each day I enjoyed, not thinking too far ahead, just the next town, the next hill or the next step.
Mindfulness is also about being nonjudgemental and this extended to my camera – I only took one photograph at the halfway point. I didn’t feel I had earned the right to take a picture of the start point and at the end just wanted to enjoy the moment.
I picked this walk because I originally was looking at the Camino de Santiago but was put off by the heat, crowds and tales of 80% of the trail being along roads as well as people getting up at 4.30am to rush to the next bed. Blame the movie The Way for this increased tourism.
As it was on my walk some days I only saw two or three people, although some days were crowded on the two Bank Holiday weekends, Easter and some normal weekends when the weather was good and the locals flocked to the beach.
Still I travelled in relative isolation in between small and bigger towns. The most enjoyable parts were walking through small villages with narrow cobbled roads, hours of isolated walking on cliff tops, walking a few days with people I met going the same way at my pace and meeting people in the hostels I stayed in.
It was a challenging walk as it is in the open and I was exposed to weather conditions. I had five very hot days in a row and was exhausted at the end of each of these days after walking in the wind and heat all day.
Accommodation was generally plentiful with a mixture of youth hostels, private hostels, pubs as well as bed and breakfasts.
The best time to travel is after Easter as a number of ferries do not start until then. March would be too cold and June too hot and crowded moving in to the school holidays.
My guide book I bought through Amazon, The South West Coast Path written by Paddy Dillon. It gave a good daily map guide to the path that was easy to follow. There was no need to book accommodation ahead, in fact it gave me the freedom to travel as much or as little as I felt each day to a degree.
One of my friends simply asked “why?” when she heard of my plans to do the trip. I wanted to say something deep and meaningful but all I could come
up with was “if you have to ask, whatever answer I give you will not satisfy you.”
Check out the website www.southwestcoastpath.com for further up to date information on track detours and accommodation
“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.’
Above left: At the South West Coast Path shop in Ivybridge on completion to collect souvenirs as a nod to tourism. Photo taken by the office staff who kindly emailed it to my home address. Above right: Colourfull flower dominate the coastal walkway at...