Today we head back to Ohio. Early morning bus to train station in St Austell for our 8:05. Susanne comes with us to station to see us off.
As we can’t easily get to the last two hikes on the south coast, we bus to Newquay on the north coast and walk Mawgan Porth to Newquay. Sea very wild up here! Windy and chilly as we walk mostly across the headlands, only a few ups and downs. This is our final walk of 2022; we have completed 65 miles of the path!
We decide to skip walking today and go back to Fowey. When we hiked here a few days ago there was an art fair going on and it was crowded and we were tired and there were too many damn cars in the tiny lanes not made for damn cars. This time we love it. Old, old buildings, little lanes twisting around themselves, and lots of good food. Bob decides it's a day for eating and drinking and that's exactly what we do. We have to roll ourselves up the hill to catch the bus after our cream tea.
Gorran Haven is a picturesque 13th century coastal village. A tiny cafe and even tinier shop sit at the bottom, at the edge of the shore, surrounded by a cluster of fishermen’s cottages, the oldest of which date back to at least the 1400s. Traces of an Iron Age fort can be found on Dodman Point, though we didn't see it. The secluded cove is way off the beaten path and I like it even more because of that!
Today's 6.5 miles seems much more strenuous than yesterday's 11.5. One headland alone has 90 steps down and 164 up. Then came three more headlands. Our original plan was to go to Mevagissey—just two miles away—but we bail at Pentewan because (1.) we are tired, and (2.) we need to make a 2:30 reservation for our only Sunday Roast. This meal is a priority; to hell with our walking plans.
A perfect day. Weather spectacular, walk not as grueling as expected, and Fowey is a charming charming little village—still a working port—with historic buildings and tiny lanes winding up and down next to the quay. Not many pics along the way as it is fairly redundant as far as photography goes.
Yesterday at breakfast we decide to spend the morning in Truro. We'll meet Susanne at the new cottage this afternoon. We know we need to do some grocery shopping and there's a M&S in Truro, plus the city is famous for its "ancient, cobbled and narrow streets with a range of stunning architecture featuring Gothic and Georgian styles", plus there are lots of little shops. What more could you want from a day trip? We learn from our server at the inn that in the UK a "city" means it has a cathedral. Never knew.
After a four-hour train ride we putz around Charlestown, a beautifully preserved Georgian port. It started out as a small fishing harbor and was eventually built up to export copper from nearby mines and import coal. When the coal mining industry fell, the port was used to transport china clay. The long basin, which enabled larger sailing ships to safely moor and unload cargo, was cut from solid bedrock. As the china clay industry grew, merchants started setting up workshops for curing pilchard, burning lime, making rope and bricks, and shipbuilding.
What a day, what a day. In the middle of the night I woke and thought no way can I walk again tomorrow. Every part of my legs hurt. In the morning though, we decide to go for it even though it's raining and promising to continue all day. After a huge breakfast, we take an early bus to Lynton thinking we can pick up sandwiches for lunch somewhere but nothing is open except a tiny grocery store. We find bread and peanut butter and consider ourselves lucky.
We have two sections to left to connect Minehead (the very start of the South West Coast Path) to Hartland Quay, which would give us a 108-mile continuous stretch. Because of our habit of walking sections of the 630-mile path based mostly on whim, a 108-mile section is an accomplishment! Today we decide to do the section that is the easiest to get to as well as the shortest.
We had a choice this morning about which way to do today's hike. There’s a bus to Combe Martin but not to Holdstone Down. At first we thought we’d take the bus to Combe Martin and call Andy the private taxi guy to take us to Holdstone Down, then walk back to Combe Martin and take the bus back to Barnstaple. On the bus we decide to just walk out the bus and start the walk at Combe Martin then bum a ride back from Holdstone Down. Hitchhiking worked yesterday, right?
Breakfast at our B&B in Barnstable. We eat every single bite of this gigundo meal. We are hikers after all!
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:
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