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?
It is a windy day that goes from long-sleeves to short-sleeves off all day. The countryside is spectacular.
Now the path heads through switchbacks down to the very bottom. If you look closely in the center of the pic you'll see the path from hell on the other side. At this point we don't know it's the path from hell and we go down blissfully unaware, looking forward to lunch at the bottom.
It starts out benignly enough but turns downright torturous, so steep that every step takes all you have and then some to hoist your other foot up to take the next step, going on and on and on and never ending because every time you think the top is just around the bend, it goes up some more. Here's what we discover: just because you find some cute little cans of 8% mojito and cosmo-flavored gin and tonic at M&S doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to down them at lunch while at the bottom of hell's own. We are forced to walk up not only with a full stomach but also a tad tipsy. Lesson learned. Hopefully.
We reach the end of our hike and start walking along a tiny lane with no traffic and assume that at some point it will join a bigger lane that does have traffic. When a dark VW rounds the corner I put out my thumb hopefully but the woman keeps going. We discuss this rejection and decide that a single woman is probably less likely to pick up hitchhikers. 5 minutes later the VW comes back toward us. Bob and I discuss this also and decide that A.) she was just going on a short trip and that’s why she didn’t offer us a ride, or B.) she is turning around to come pick us up. We have little hope for the latter.
Two minutes later she comes up behind us again and rolls down her window. “I’ve changed my mind” she calls out. Turns out she’s going to Ilfracombe, where there is more bus choice than in Combe Martin. At the end of the ride I ask her what made her change her mind and she said she remembers hitchhiking decades ago and after turning around and seeing us again decided we didn’t look scary. Not sure if this means we look scary from the back. Will have to check into this.