Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Unfinished business

A little belated this one.  On Sunday I was on the path at Lulworth Cove just after 7 to walk the missing link that was shut by the army last week.  The walk to Kimmeridge Cove was tough and not helped by the fact I had forgotten my Ibuprofen and music.  It took me just under 2.5 hours to walk the 5.5 miles using the beach short cut at Lulworth as I'd done this hill before!  The most suprising thing to me was how hard it was mentally as I had already completed the walk in my mind I didn't have the determined attitude that kept me going before.  At one stage, going back down Warbarrow, I had to sit down and rest as my knee was playing up.  As a footnote, you will be pleased to hear my knees seem to be getting better and it's no longer painful to ride my bike which is a great relief.  It's nice to be home and not have to start walking each morning, and I've had so many messages from friends and family - thank you! 

People are already asking me what I might do next.  Well, I have an idea but it will be on the bike rather than walking.  And not for a while ;-)

Friday, 6 May 2011

Trudge Top Ten - No 1 - Beer

I tried as many varieties on my walk round the coast as I could and if I had to make a choice of my favorite it would be a close thing between Timmy Taylor's Landlord or St Austell's Proper Job.  As it's brewed in Cornwall, I'm going to give it to Proper Job which is a strongly hopped, 5.5% IPA that goes very well with any food or on it's own - Cheers!

Trudge Top Ten - No 2 - The weather

Finishing in the sun
With it being the driest April on record I couldn't have picked a better time to do this walk.  I only walked in the rain for about 5 of the 270 hours and had 2 nights of rain when I was bivvying.

Trudge Top Ten - No 3 - My Boots

Salomon Quest 4D GTX
630 miles and only one blister, which was probably the result of me not drying and removing all the sand after wading across the Erme, my boots were great.  Thanks go to the guys at Salomon in France for the design and the Chinese who made them.  A mention should also go to Paul @ Snow & Rock who made sure they were the right choice.

Trudge Top Ten - No 4 - Helen

I know the plan was to 'bivvy-out most nights' but what with the 2 long bank holiday weekends and Helen wanting to look after me, I only ended up rough camping for 1/3 of the nights.  The rest of the time Helen was on hand in our camper at lunch stops and then with dinner at the end of the long days.  I slept much better in the camper and have BIG respect for anyone doing the SWCP unsupported and camping.

Helen also kept the camper well stocked with my favorite treats, found internet connections to post the blog each day and encouraged me all the way.

Trudge Top Ten - No 5 - Sponsors and Supporters

John pouring the Champagne at finish
To all you people who have sponsored me or sent me messages via the blog or facebook, a big thank you.  Also to all the people I met on the path who not only gave me money towards my charities but raised my spirits with their words of encouragement.   A special mention also goes to those of you who came to walk with me or welcomed me at the finish.

It looks like I will have raised over £1100 for AMR and Dorothy House plus around £200 for the village hall - THANK YOU

Trudge Top Ten - No 7 - Pasties and Ice Cream

Best Icecream @ Cadgwith
Where would a walk be without some treats?  My best pasty of the whole trip was not in Cornwall but just over the border at the NT cafe in Wembury (the coffee here was also one of the best).  As for the ice cream, which has to have a dollop of clotted cream, I think it goes to the cafe in Cadgwith with the one in Sidmouth coming a very close second.

Trudge Top Ten - No 6 - Drugs

Around 4 Ibuprofen a day kept the knee pain to bearable levels.  The real revelation was the Lanacane which cured my chafing 'issue' straight away and certainly did what it said on the box.

Trudge Top Ten - No 8 - Knee Stuff

My Elastoplast knee supports combined with my walking poles got my dodgy knees around the coast.  I knew it was going to hurt when I started the first descent, Bossington Hill, about 7 miles in.  From then on it was slow going on the downs but thankfully it never got much worse during the walk.

Trudge Top Ten - No 9 - Tunes

From Farming Today at 05:45 to music to help me sleep from my i-pod when bivvying out.  I found I walked with something in my ears most of the time from around the halfway point, as it helped distract me from the pain.  If the reception was good I preferred the radio and got quite into the Archers during the walk.

Tudge Top Ten - No 10 - The Path

Path near Bolt Head
Britain's longest walking trail, the South West Coast Path is a beauty.  Thanks to all the councils and volunteers who have cut and maintained the many flights of steps that make it a little easier going up or down.  How they get the materials, let alone do all the work in these remote places is a marvel.  These trail pixies also do a great job of keeping the undergrowth at bay.  My favourite section is from Cape Cornwall to Sennen Cove which has beauty, interest from the tin mines, variety of smooth path, rocks and beach and good food/beer at the end.

Reflections ...

Yesterday's short 16 mile walk from the Square and Compass to the finish was very easy.  Setting off at 7 I arrived in Swanage for breakfast and met up with Helen and the first of my visitors, Paul and Hannah.  Then on via Old Harry Rocks to The Bankes Arms at Studland where I had to stop and have a pint of IPA for each remaining mile (3) then off along the beach for the last time.  At the finish point  at 2pm I had a small welcoming committee with John Osborne providing the champagne, Hannah some white chocolate and Helen the Leffe.  Paul, Joe & Ruth were also there to congratulate me.  I sat here for half an hour before being driven home listening to some of the tunes that had kept me going during the walk.  For some reason (probably beer), I didn't want to take my boots off and finally undid the laces at home much later.  So, thank you for the all the support and I'll be putting my Top 10 up today (Friday).

Thursday, 5 May 2011

630 miles done...

Enjoying a Leffe at the finish
Tired but very happy (could that be something to do with the beer?)  Off to bed now but will do a full report and top ten tomorrow.

Last day today!

A frustrating day yesterday when I'm so nearly finished, as a chunk of the path after Lulworth Cove was closed to the public for firing practice.  It was open the day before ... grr.  Anyway, I had to leapfrog it missing 5 1/2 miles, which I'll now have to do on Saturday when it's open.  Apart from that, a very scenic day albeit really hard with a record number of steps in one valley; 198 down and 220 up!  I had to have a pint at the end of the day at the famous cider pub the Square and Compass at Worth Matravers.  It's just like Tucker's Grave but they make their own cider. And no, I didn't drink the cider.

I can't believe it's my last day.  Only 16 miles to go and I hope to finish between 2 and 3pm at South Haven Point.  I'm going to publish my Timmy's Trudge Top 10 in a special edition of this blog tomorrow (Friday).  Today will be a fuzz of beer and elation and going home after 30 days on this path.  A sunny, warm, calm, beautiful morning.

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Dorset's toughest ahead

Chris and Dave at Portland
Started early yesterday (7am) and saw the oyster farmers cleaning oysters at Ferry Bridge.  Dave, Chris and Peter joined me by Weymouth's Olympic sailing venue and we set off to find a cafe. We walked all around Portland where there are many quarries and random leftover chunks of rock as big as a Mini.  We rounded Portland Bill after a quick lunch into very strong wind making us lean into it.  A very pleasant walk, though. 

Then, it was back across the causeway and the long trudge into Weymouth.  I insisted on a half hour coffee stop as it was 4pm by now.  Getting up from the table made everyone realise how stiff they were and the pace was slower from here.  I was pleased to get onto cliff paths again after a lot of tarmac and we reach Osmington Mills at 6pm.  Big respect to my walking chums - they'd walked 19 miles.  Peter leading from the front and Dave and Chris doing brilliantly for 2 pensioners!  Sue and Lynn met us at the Smugglers Inn and we enjoyed a well-deserved meal.  I did 27 miles altogether at a faster pace than normal and for the first time my shins hurt and my feet ached from all the tarmac.  Phew!

After a good night's rest I'm facing the 2nd hardest day of the whole path.  19 miles altogether, of which the last 11 are classed as 'severe', and include Durdle Door, Lulworth Cove and the brutal stretch past Kimmeridge.  Never mind, I'm still slightly ahead of schedule and my last day tomorrow should be a little shorter.  I'm hoping to finish around 3 at South Haven Point opposite Sandbanks.  Got to get today out of the way first though. 

I'm planning a small celebration tomorrow by the finish sign, so if any of you fancy a trip to Poole (see above) tomorrow afternoon just ring/text me or leave a comment on this blog (which I do get), then I can give you clearer timing.