If you want to go fast, go alone.
If you want to go far, go together.
– African Proverb
“Walking is the exercise that needs no gym. It is the prescription without medicine, the weight control without diet, the cosmetic that is sold in no drugstore. It is the tranquilizer without a pill, the therapy without a psychoanalyst, the fountain of youth that is no legend. A walk is the vacation that does not cost a cent.”
– Aaron Sussman & Ruth Goode, The Magic of Walking
(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
“In the morning a man walks with his whole body; in the evening, only with his legs.”
– Ralph Waldo Emerson
“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.
A Canadian skiing friend of mine Continue reading
“A pedestrian is a man in danger of his life. A walker is a man in possession of his soul.”
– David McCord
“When you have worn out your shoes, the strength of the sole leather has passed into the fibre of your body. I measure your health by the number of shoes and hats and clothes you have worn out. He is the richest man who pays the largest debt to his shoemaker”
~Ralph Waldo Emerson, 1851
Now shall I walk or shall I ride?
“Ride,” Pleasure said:
“Walk,” Joy replied.
– W.H. Davies
Looe to Poole
Three trains and a bus get me back to Looe after a few days break. Everyone seems dour on an overcast day in town and out towards to Seaton. Rain develops and after a few miles I settle into a B&B and start to plan the last section, trying to time my arrival into Lulworth Cove for the opening of the Army Ranges. That’s 10 days away, but I have a more immediate problem – a sequence of estuaries crossings where one missed ferry will result in major delay. First of all, I walk through Plymouth, a historic cityscape, with grand views across The Sound and The Breakwater and marks the entry back into Devon, to a cosy B&B in Wembury.
The following day I have to cross 3 successive river estuaries, The Yealm, Erme and Avon. The first is quickly dispatched, Continue reading