(Photographs pre-digital era, scanned film prints)
A great alternative to the SWCP, if time is limited. An excellent introduction to the pleasures of coastal walking. Outside the holiday season the path is quiet and there are numerous remote cliffs, headlands and beaches to rival any in the British Isles. Rugged and rewarding. Pay attention to the tide tables at Dale and the military range closures at Castlemartin, as alternative routes involve road walking.
Completed in September 2004, my first National Trail, inspired by a journey I took when I was 15 and responsible for committing me to this life long adventure.
Time of year
Ideal times are late Spring or early Autumn, when the YHA hostels are quiet and the bird life is more pronounced. Seal Pups can be seen seen from September and wild flowers proliferate in the Spring. Continue reading →
“Hey mate! where’s the ski slope?” is one of the more polite comments I get using walking poles on the National Trails from unenlightened bystanders. So why do I love my Leki trekking poles? My conversion to the walkers equivalent of 4 wheel drive has been a gradual process over many years. Initially, I used a only one pole on my early heavy weight backpacking trips and now use two carbon Leki poles on all my adventures.
After a while, using the poles becomes second nature to the point where you forget you are using them, especially when they are light weight. I perhaps have 4 walking modes, depending on the terrain:
Level easy going – difficult to describe, but the pole placement is every 2 steps, about half my walking cadence. Emphasis is on stability. Placement is approximately level with the leading foot, driving the pole gently rearwards.
Uphill, easy terrain – pole placement is every step, right foot with left hand pole forward, driving purposefully up the hill with arm and leg. Placement is ahead of the leading foot.
Uphill, difficult terrain – pole placement is more random for optimum balance, but using my arms to pull up my weight, trying to imitate the uphill, easy terrain mode, as best I can.
Downhill – palms on the top of the pole, controlling my descent, usually with hands outside of the straps if the descent is very steep. Placement to give security and stability.
The expensive return ticket is worth every penny as I set out again from Padstow mid afternoon. The light is wonderful as I pass Mother Ivy Bay to Trevose Head lighthouse. My parents almost moved to this area when I was 15 and I suspect my life would have been very different as a result, this could have been home. Treyarnon Bay YHA is full of surfers, and I blag my way into a spare bunk having forgotten to book.
The surfers are living frugally as they take their life saver qualifications. They have come from as far as Scotland to take the course. They are a happy bunch Continue reading →
Taking the train to Taunton and then a bus to Bishops Lydeard, I caught a steam train, operated by the West Somerset Railway, to Minehead. What a way to arrive at your starting point. A buzzard flew alongside the train for ½ mile or so, as joyful as I was to be travelling through the countryside. The sense of arriving at a pre-war restored station was so real, I half expected a porter to take my rucksack for me.
West Somerset Railway
It is the beginning of April, so I am prepared for a bit of bad weather, but luckily for me, I was to enjoy 6 weeks of glorious sunshine, Continue reading →