Breakfast at our B&B. We eat every single bite of this gigundo meal. We are hikers after all.
We take the 9 am bus to Hartland, a one-hour trip. We had already decided to find a ride from Hartland to the quay because it's about 3 miles and we don't want that on top of the 11. Plus it's downhill which wreaks havoc on my knees. The first person we flag down offers us a ride. Spencer is a local chap who runs a huge farm right on the coast. We talk about how lucky he feels to live in Hartland and have such fantastic views every day of his life. He drops us at the bottom.
Turn the volume OFF for the bus ride through the village, and ON for the coastal clip.
Walking through sheep patties and Bob chips one in the water.
The path goes up and down the headlands, over the top, through the woods, and up and down again.
Bluebells all through the woods! There is one part where I can't walk another step. Bob lies about the distance left so I am motivated to keep going. I forgive him because it works. In Clovelly, we walk down to the New Inn and drink two lemon gin & tonic doubles each, then slog our way up to the bus stop. This time it's Bob who can't walk another step.
We catch the 2pm bus to Ilfracombe, knowing that we won't have a lot of time to walk today. We've already walked Ilfracombe west; today we need to finish up the first of three gaps going east toward Minehead (the start of the trail). Once again we're following the guidebook backward which is more confusing than it seems like it should be.
Turns out the B&B we stayed at last night doesn't do breakfast unless you book in advance. So we wait until 10:00 when the grocery opens and snag some breakfast to eat on a bench outside the church. It was hard to choose from M&S's amazing yogurts! We buy a loaf of seeded bread, butter, fresh fruit, bakewell tarts and a couple small packets of cheese. I pick the Wensleydale solely because of Wallace & Gromit. After that we walk back to our B (not a B&B) to pack up and move our gear to the Old Vicarage (a real B&B). At this point we still have no idea what we're doing today. Buses are limited on Sundays.
The Old Vicarage B&B
Our flight was rebooked to fly out of Denver which is crazy to go two hours west and then two hours back east before heading over the Atlantic but what do I know?
At about 10 pm we reach our B&B in Barnstaple. Our day includes quite a variety of transportation modes:
Last week they changed our flight and we rebooked. Two days ago they cancelled our flight and we rebooked.
In May 2022 we will round the corner in Devon and connect a cluster of smaller walks into a continuous 108 miles. There are lots of gaps scattered across our map and it's nice to have a long ribbon of completed sections. We set out to hike Hartland Quay a few years ago but ended up just plum turning around. It was the end of 12 days of walking the cliffs and we were done.
According to the guidebook this section of the South West Coast Path is "among the wildest, most remote and most spectacular of the entire SWCP" and "...the toughest and amongst the most awe-inspiring on the entire path." (See book.) We will start from this same place next week.
I've been studying for this test for months. It's the first step to UK citizenship and you can't do any other step until you pass. I've read the book three times, made charts, drawn pictures, taken copious notes, read additional books, and taken a hundred or so mock tests. And there are still things I get wrong on the mock tests. I take the test the day we land; it's a taxi ride away from Heathrow. (It was the ONLY available day our first week in England.) If you don't pass, you have to wait seven days to retake the test so I've booked another test our second week but am obviously planning/hoping to pass the first time!
Two hiking pants (wear one.)
Raincoat and rain pants.
Hiking boots and hiking sandals (wear boots).
Three pair hiking socks (wear one).
Socks for plane and cottage (like slippers).
Two quarter-zip long sleeves (wear one).
Three short sleeve tees (wear one).
Two magic underwear (wear one).
Backpack for plane & trails includes: water bottle, first aid, toiletries, guide books.
Bob will pack phone chargers and passports, etc.
Feels like I've forgotten something. Hmmm. Swimsuit?
We land Saturday, May 7 at Heathrow. First thing after we clear customs is to head off to take my citizenship test. After that, we have no plans yet for the night. Or for dinner even. Guess we better get a move on.
Sections of the path in Barnstaple area that we'd like to do:
Lynmouth to Porlock Weir: 12 miles
Clovelly to Hartland Quay: 10 miles
Ilfracombe to Holdstone Downs: 8.8 miles
Path sections in the Charlestown area that we'd like to do:
Charlestown to Portscatho: 26.8 miles
Charlestown to Fowey: 10 miles