Saturday, 16 July 2011

It turns out that the road doesn't go ever on and on.

Not in this case anyway. It's been a fair while since I updated and I know people are eager to see how the walk turned out.

Well when I left you, I'd just returned home after the foretaste of hell that was Bideford. And I wanted to write a little more about the place - indeed, I've just deleted rather a large chunk of writing slating the town for all I'm worth (Tuppence) but I've already said my piece and Bideford council have said theirs too. Unsurprisingly they think that I'm wrong, so I suppose that I'll just have to let you make your own minds up. If you ever go there. Which you shouldn't. Because it's shit.

My break at home was about as stressful as breaks come, which was only to be expected under the circumstances. I had a couple of visits to the doctor who told me that if I tried walking again, I could end up doing myself a lasting injury, which would seriously hamper my future in hiking. I hit a bit of a quandary there - hiking (and camping) fall a close second to writing in my list of things that I couldn't live without doing, but nor am I a quitter. What I am is stubborn, like a bad tempered child who doesn't want to stop farting the tune to 'Doctor Who' with his armpits. A week or so after I'd been sent home, Jess was coming down to go hiking with me so I decided to strap my knee up and go for broke. Broke is what I got.

I'll sum up the following days in quick succesion.

We spent a lovely evening, with a lovely dinner, in Bude. We walked on in torrential weather, many miles across sometimes beautiful and sometimes dishearteningly built up coastline, until we reached Tintagel, at one point with the aid of a bus and a life saving cup of tea. Trouble started when we rocked up into Tintagel - where once a ligament used to sit and play with all of it's ligament buddies, now it was weeping and hiding behind my knee cap. An acorn sized lump had formed around the afflicted area and walking was starting to prove immensely painful. We wondered (Jess wondered, I hobbled) down to the youth hostel and were informed that they were full (something which has never happened to be before) and by this time I was convinced that maybe there was a God after all, and he was punishing me for all those years of Atheism.

We struck lucky in the end, staying in a slightly unorthodox B&B just outside of the centre, which was no frills, but with a price to match and an incredibly friendly owner who had a penchant for owls and collecting obscure foreign artefacts. We rested up there for the night and watched Barcelona win some more football, then spent the next day resting in a campsite down the road. One thing I'll say about Tintagel, it was probably lovely fifty years ago, but these days the tourist is very much King. Some of the shops were well worth visiting, as were the castle and old Post Office, but old ladies getting off of coaches were very much the order of the day.

We met up with my family shortly after and did a little more walking, but in a strange order. Mum was feeling alright, so we skipped on down to Port Isaac and me and Jess walked on from there, meeting them later in Padstow after getting the ferry in Rock. Padstow (or Padstein as I've heard it called) was once a sleepy fishing harbour, now taken over by a veritable tsunami of tourism. Rick Stein opened several shops and restaurants there and now you can't move for people wolfing down fish & chips and batting away seagulls with copies of the Sun.

We spent the night in Newquay (where my family was staying) in a surprisingly enjoyable holiday park which did a good pizza before Jess headed home the following morning.

Having had my knee inspected once more, we came to the conclusion that to keep pushing on it wasn't a bright idea. It had come to the point that after a couple of miles, particularly with my backpack, I was finding it hard to put any weight on the knee what so ever. We did complete one more section of the path, taking advantage of the train - walk into St. Ives and that section was particularly lovely. Other than that I'm afraid that for this year at least, my adventure on the South West Coast Path is over. I'll update once more with some final thoughts, hints and advice, as well as a round up of some pictures not yet included. Thanks to everyone who's been keeping up with the blog and helped me raise a sensational amount of money - there's still another hundred or so quid to go yet, so keep fundraising!

I'm feeling a little bitter about the way in which my body let me down this time around, so please refrain from taking the piss for a good week or so yet. Then I'm fair game,



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