In keeping with the frankly phenomenal 😉 one man content creation explosion that has defined this blog over the years here I am spamming you* yet again with with words summing up my South West Coast Path (SWCP) experience.
This is my immediate reflections from Part 2, the summary of my walk, with GPS plots, pics and what not will follow, probably! Part 2 – for me was Minehead around to Plymouth. Part One was Poole to Plymouth, and it got jumbled like this because of Covid.
I’m sat on the Plymouth to Wakefield train and that gives me my first opportunity to have a think about how it went; what I made of it, and what comes next. So how did it go?
Well; I was surprised by some friends on the day I finished the SWCP (Plymouth back to Looe because of camp site Corona closures…) who happened to be on holidays in the area who took me out for some grub. They asked “what was the best bit?”. Easy question right?
Nope. I stumbled over my answer and struggled to say what I’d enjoyed. Like a child after a day at a theme park, pepped up on sugar, but tired from altogether too much fun I said “erm, everything” which seemed to be a boringly vague answer, unacceptably inconclusive after finishing something that was near the top of my bucket list.
And of course it’s wrong. I didn’t enjoy everything, this is a challenging walk with some tough bits to rise to, if not exactly relish. But they caught me off guard – maybe it was because that day I’d walked almost a marathon in distance and was a little bit tired and a lot bit focussed on the pint of ice cold Peroni they’d placed in front of me. But probably it was just that I had not yet had time to reflect on what I liked and what I loved. And I loved so much of it.
What I dig about multi day treks is that you’re always on the go. Packing up your tent / checking out of the hotel after a full English, then trudging slowly toward the next horizon, attacking the miles with the speed of a glacier forging a valley. Whilst I’ve a rucksack full of respect for the super-man who did the same route as me, but in less than 11 days, to set a new Fastest Known Time (#fkt) I know that even if I could (I definitely couldn’t!) I wouldn’t do this trail, or any trail that way. So let’s not pretend they are the same sort of challenge. My 51 walking days, some long and some short were amazing because they had time built in to stop and stare and breath it all in. And actually having lived this walk, that way, i.e. step by step for a couple of months I’ve struggled so far to condense it down to a few best bits.
Give it a month at home and I’ll have distilled the freshly malted walking-mash into high proof memories I can lock away in my vaults for later. Give it 20 years and I’ll have a nicely aged recollection of just the very best bits, matured to perfection and ready to tap. By then I’ll have forgotten about the right knee pain that manifested on downhill twisty bits, and the left knee pain that appeared only on up hill steps. I’ll just (mis) remember how I trotted like an Ibex up the steep bits before doing a few one armed push ups at the top.
I loaded the iPhone up with audio books and podcasts in case of boredom, but on most days didn’t even stick the headphones in. There was just so much to take in. I’m no wildlife buff, but watching birds of prey, seals basking, deer, wild horses, conservation cattle (note – you’re not supposed to feed, approach or talk to them…) and lots more kept my interest. I’m not a weather buff, but loved the changing patterns as fronts rolled in and out. I’m no boat fan*** but the variety of the passing vessels was fascinating. Watching a small lobster boat do intricate manoeuvres close to the cliffs, a lifeboat going full steam to some off-shore call out, cruise ships all parked up near Falmouth because of Corona. I think that should be berthed or docked, but definitely not parked. What a land lubber. The Tune hiding behind that link by the way. Absolute Banger.
So – sitting on this train I’m not going to try and list the best bits, or rank the Coves, Cliffs, or Cream Teas. I’m going to let it all mash together for now, and let the pictures remind me of the good times I had. I’m sure my fond memories of the South West Coast Path are going to last a lifetime.
*Whoever you are! I’m very bad at updating the blog but I’m pretty pleased that I managed to tweet my progress to my loyal army (pah, 220 followers isn’t even a party, never mind an army!) of Twitter followers each and every day as proof of life, and reassurance that I hadn’t fallen off the edge of a cliff**.
That said at least 50 of my followers are obscure, and probably now defunct stoner metal bands who’d followed me because they noticed I’ve a habit of buying low quality merch from experimental projects that never make it to a full album. They only ever wanted me to buy their new 2 track, 48 minute long self published head banger/scratcher EP. And they don’t care about my step count. So once again, if you’re reading this, welcome along!.
**it can happen so easily. On one day I was involved on the margins of a Coastguard call out to rescue a puppy who’d gone over the edge.
***I jest! Obviously I’m a boat fan. Who isn’t!? In fact I invented the game ‘My Boat. Your Boat’ on this walk, which I have being playing with my brother on WhatsApp. It’s a very simple game to learn, but takes a lifetime to master. Currently he is 4-2 down, and he has had an official warning from the sports governing body (me) for trying to use a child’s toy (not a vessel able to travel over water) on one of his turns. On that occasion he’d used a LifeBoat (almost unbeatable, in MBYB) as his ‘My Boat’ so it really was schoolboy stuff. He’ll get better with practice.