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Pauls blog - 2005

THE WALK - a brief synopsis
On Saturday 28th May 2005, Paul Searle started celebrating his fast approaching 50th birthday fulfilling a dream, by undertaking a fourteen day trek along the South West Coast Path to Cornwall. A variety of friends and relatives kept him company for one or two days. Walking with him for the whole two weeks were his wife Judy and Ray Hall, with Bill Barnes driving the support truck, as is now evident from all the dents and scratches! So, this is Paul's diary, which he tried to keep up-to-date on a daily basis during that time, even though he was often tired, sometimes wet and frequently merry!

 

DAY 1   -  Saturday 28th May 2005


South Haven Point to St. Aldhelms Head
Walking: Paul, Judy, Ray, Sami, Andy.
Lunch:
Swanage
Overnight:
Stoborough Farm B&B
Arriving:
No one.
Who's Who?
Paul = Paul Searle; Judy = Judy Searle; Ray = Ray Hall; Sami, Sammie, Sam = Sami Searle;
Andy = Sami's boyfriend; Bill = Bill Barnes.

The day had arrived and we set off in cloudy conditions, rather different than the 82°F forecast. The wind, however, has been fierce all day, force 7 – 8, and in our faces all day. We set off from Studland Bay at 10.20am and took the first photos with the signpost saying Minehead 630 miles. We had 18 miles in front of us today, the first two on the sand of Studland Bay. Bill had his work cut out to find us some accommodation after Mrs. Modley, the old bag from Corfe, had let us down. We all felt like Lawrence of Arabia with the sand shot-blasting our faces and legs, but at least the sun had come out. Bill had ’phoned and worked wonders and found us some superb accommodation in Stoborough. Many thanks to Sharron, who is loads nicer than the old bag anyway. The morning went well with Judy bearing her arse with the nudists on Studland, just to join in. We were soon at Old Harry Rocks and stopped for a quick snack and by 12.10pm we were walking along the prom at Swanage with Sam, who had been pooing herself about what was in store, in fine fettle. Lunch was an all day breakfast in the cafe by the pier and by 1.00pm we were back on our way.

The afternoon was about ten miles of the most stunning coastline, with the wind crashing the sea against the granite cliffs. An ice cream at Durlston Head and then some serious walking. The coast is scattered with old quarry workings, some of which we explored, most of them were around the Dancing Ledge area. Sammie hill racing with Andy was not on the agenda. Not long after this we were on a quiet bit of path when the Kiwi pilot who plays for the Vets came the other way, we don't know who was more surprised, or his name, as you may have noticed.

All day we had to keep on checking our steps or else the bloody wind would have you over. However, when we got to St. Aldhelms Head it was amazingly strong and actually stopped you on the odd occasion. This was then matched with the biggest descent, followed by ascent, you have seen, Sam's face was a picture! With that behind us, the end was in sight. We were soon approaching Bill at checkpoint Charlie who couldn't see us as he was looking through his binoculars completely in the wrong direction!

We were soon at the Scotts Arms at Kingston for a well earned couple of pints and a good meal. Off to our superb accommodation for a hot bath and Bill to return Sam and Andy to the Sandbanks ferry. Off to the Kings Arms for a night cap where Sharron informs us that there is a real ale festival, could be nasty.

Highlight of the day, Sammie finishing the walk. Madness of the day, Andy contemplating walking with us tomorrow and the wind.

 

DAY 2  -  Sunday, 29th May 2005

St. Aldhelms Head to West Lulworth
Walking: Paul, Judy, Ray.
Lunch:
Kimmeridge Bay
Overnight:
Lulworth Cove B&B (01929 400333)
Arriving tonight:
Nic, Lastov.
Who's Who? Nic = Nikki Dutton; Lastov = Ian Collis, RABS = Real Ale Bottom Syndrome.

Firstly the Vets name we met on the walk yesterday is Julian, we still do not know the name of his bitch. Secondly the real ale festival, it was nasty, at 12.00am when the bar shut and we had just finished a pint of the latest ale, Summer Lightning, the locals (including Sharron and Jim, our hosts) enquired as to why these lads had not got a beer. All I will say is if anybody asks you if you want a pint of Caledonian Black decline. We eventually got to bed at 1.15am, but luckily breakfast was not until 9.00am. Judy thought she was Marianne Faithful and stayed in our little bungalow with a Mars bar.

At 10.20am we were on our way (Andy did'nt turn up, sensible lad, as he has been rubbing after-sun into Sam all day whose sunburn hurts more than her legs) and yesterday was a walk round Asda compared with today. My two fellow walkers seemed to struggle at the beginning even though Ray was being powered by RABS! It took half an hour to do the first mile and two hours ten minutes to do the five miles to Kimmeridge.

The scenery was again fantastic and with no wind and high cloud cover, perfect walking weather. The first hill of 400m at about a 65° slope was nothing for what was to come. We met a lecturer and her husband from Totton College and a Scotsman of about 60 who lives in Australia. He was on his penultimate day having started from Minehead 45 days ago, averaging 14 miles a day. (For the clever bastards with maths knowledge he had one day off with a pulled leg muscle and a day off for Lundy Island). He finishes tomorrow and flies back to Australia Tuesday). I chat with all these walkers whilst waiting for my party to catch up of course!

Bill had worked wonders again and arranged for a superb lunch at the old Kimmeridge Post Office, smoked haddock and spring onion fishcakes. After an hour and half break we still had the majority of the walk to do, 8 miles of the toughest part of the whole walk and it certainly lived up to its name. The inclines were incredible, you looked up and thought wow! — well I did, whatever is beyond lactic we found it. I really enjoyed the challenge although I must tell you that Ray and Judy got burnt off up a big slope by a couple of 60 year olds who I had a good chat with at the top. In the end we were quite chuffed and did the second part in 3½ hours, half an hour quicker than expected. Again the scenery was spectacular and very dramatic with beautiful cliffs, stunning bays and dead tanks on the military ranges. The Purbeck and granite stone has changed to chalk half way through the afternoon. On retro, now it has been done, the other two enjoyed it too, but I don't think Ray will be on the piss till 1.15 this morning, though the Badger is very nice! Old Speckled Hen next?

Lastov and No Tits Bitch (Nikki) have now arrived and we are sat in the bar of our hotel looking over Lulworth Cove in the sunshine — heaven.

PS. You have not got this till mid morning on Monday because there are no cell phone signals in Lulworth.

Highlight of the day was sitting on top of the biggest hill having our mid-afternoon snack, looking over the coastline we had covered, Lulworth Castle inland and the dead tanks. Madness of the day was running up the steps of the first hill and shouting the numbers back to Ray and Judy.

 

DAY 3  -  Monday 30th May 2005

West Lulworth to Fleet, nr Weymouth
Walking: Paul, Judy, Ray, Lastov.
Lunch:
Weymouth
Overnight:
Florian Guest House (01305 773836)
Arriving tonight:
Dicky and Janet, Kay and Doozer, Brian and Christine.
Who's Who?
Dicky and Janet Marshall; Kay and Tony Doozer Randles; Brian and Christine Robinson;
Ken = Ken Johnston; Shirley = Shirley Johnston.

Last night we stayed in at the hotel and sampled a few pints of Badger. Dinner was excellent and we decided that we would attack the wine and see how that affects walkers. We will not be doing that again tonight! It was straight from the restaurant to bed at just gone 11pm — a lot more sensible.

This morning we left from straight out side the hotel at 9.50am. and for those of you who know it, it was straight onto the wide stone path leading to Durdle Dor another stretch of severe to start the day. Lastov wore his Brasher boots and we were only fifteen minutes in before he was on his arse, our first faller. It took us two hours to cover this severe stretch of four miles to Osmington Mills, where the path goes straight through the garden of “The Smugglers Inn”, where Ken and Bill were waiting for us. The barbeque was going, so it seemed rude not to stop and sample some fare, which was well worth it. An hour later we left with fourteen miles to do. At Osmington we left the chalk cliffs behind us and were on flatter and more rural terrain, walking through copses and fields. It was in one of these copses that Lastov never ducked low enough under a branch and nutted it. He now has a bump on his head and a sore neck.

We were soon into Weymouth entering through the garden of “The Spyglass”, which those of you who went to Warmwell for New Year a few years ago, had Sunday lunch in. We walked all the way down the promenade and met Bill just short of the clock tower for a quick cuppa at 4.00pm, still seven miles to go. It seemed really weird after walking for two and a half days on cliffs, threading our way through thousands of holiday makers. Nikki stayed with Bill having completed many more miles than she thought and we were off to Ferrybridge, where the road cuts across to Portland. We caught the row boat across the river in Weymouth and in less than an hour we were at the pub where Ken left us to rush back to Shirley for a rub down with The Sporting Life.

It was then the four of us to walk the next four miles along the landward side of Chesil Beach to East Fleet, where we were to end for the day. This again was very different countryside, as the Fleet Nature Reserve is very calm with herons and egrets, etc. gently feeding and not a sound to be heard. We eventually finished at 6.30pm totally knackered, but with Brian promising us a good Italian tonight. I think everybody felt this one, with Judy registering her first blister and Ibuprofen being popped by a number of people.

Highlight of the day was the two young girls in white tee shirts entering the pleasure park at the end of the prom. Madness of the day was walking eighteen miles after yesterday — the first four being a bitch. Still off to do my Crocodile Dundee bit now and wash my socks ready for tomorrows jaunt. A nightly ritual.

 

DAY 4  -  Tuesday 31st May 2005

Fleet, nr Weymouth to Seatown
Walking: Paul, Judy, Ray, Dicky, Brian, Kay.
Lunch:
Abbotsbury + Burton Bradstock Beach
Overnight:
Chideock House Hotel (01297 489242)
Arriving tonight:
Biddy, Gordie, Rob.
Who's Who?
Biddy = Chris Biddlecombe; Gordie = Gordon Boyes; Rob = Rob Angell; Geordie = Steve Anderson;
Paul = Paul Nott; Anita = Anita Searle.

We all knew that we would hit the wall at some stage and I think that when our new arrivals saw us walk into the restaurant last night they knew when it was. To bring you up to date, Judy sprained her ankle yesterday morning and also got her first blister on a toe. We iced the ankle and she sat with it in ice last night in the restaurant and we plied her with lots of Sangria. Bill, who only finished his radiotherapy last week, was also knackered as he missed his afternoon nap! The weather yesterday was fine and sunny and today we woke up to unbroken sunshine again. We have now all got squaddies’ tans.

However Janet (Brian the lying bastard tried to take the credit for it) came up trumps with a great little Italian Restaurant and the mood was set. The three of us felt better after a couple of beers and the food was superb although, as par for the course so far, it gave Ray wind yet again. We were all in bed by 11.00pm and although Doozer never snored all night Kay (Great Tits Bitch) never slept wondering about tomorrow. After a splendid night in another great little guest house we were off to rejoin the path. As you may have guessed the distances given previously do vary and when I checked the route last night I found we had twenty miles to do today.

The first part was finishing off Chesil Bank, in total thirteen miles long. We got a good pace on and were soon at Abbottsbury swan sanctuary seven and a half miles in. Bill came up trumps yet again and provided a great picnic and within half an hour we were off. By this stage it had become apparent that Brian liked leading the way, occasionally checking the route with me behind. This was great as he took the sting out of all the nettles before the rest of us passed, ha! ha! ha!

By 2.00 we were at West Bexington and going well,, even beating the cars with eleven and a quarter miles under our belt and every body going well. We were soon at Burton Bradstock for tea and muffins at 4.00. By this stage we had completed sixteen miles, West Bay was soon reached and then onto Lower Eype where we were contemplating finishing. No, we had to finish! So over the last severe section to Seatown which was well worth it as the views back to Portland were fantastic. All told we did nineteen and a half miles today or twenty one by Ray's pedometer. For a new treat we did a total of 34,223 steps, for all you budding walkers yet to join us.

Most of us enjoyed the changing scenery from the nature reserve and Chesil Bank behind to the rolling green hills of Dorset. Dicky has fantasised about fresh socks and a cup of tea and when we eventually reached “The Anchor” at Seatown even his hair was out of place. Again the views were outstanding as were the company and the Palmers.

Tomorrow we have Golden Cap, the highest point in southern England, to scale first thing in the morning with our first visiting guests, Geordie and Paul.

There is so much to tell for today I could go on and on but I have to choose dinner. We are over the hill in terms of fitness, well Ray and I are so watch out. Judy has done really well considering her injuries, however this has come at a cost. Anita, can you treat the poles as Judy's early birthday present and bring mine down on the 11th. We have been getting text messages welcoming us to France and can only pick up BBC Jersey on the radio, well wireless for Bill.

Highlight of the day was doing the twenty odd miles and the Palmers at the end, madness of the day was looking forward to doing Golden Cap tomorrow. Still, in total we should be walking only fourteen miles.

P.S. Still it's amazing what The Walk brings out, you should see the size of the love bite on Christine's neck!

Dicky's still whingeing and reckons he has got the biggest blister — he doesn't know the difference between gut and blister.

 

DAY 5  -  Wednesday 1st June 2005

Seatown to Seaton

Walking: Paul, Judy, Ray, Biddy, Gordie, Rob.
Lunch:
Lyme Regis
Overnight:
Mariners Hotel (01297 20560)
Arriving tonight:
Wayne and Michelle.
Who's Who? Wayne and Michelle Hausen. Ali = Alistair Ramus.

The hotel last night was great as we all had baths, this increasingly becoming a must for the night. The bath was followed by a few pints of Badger and a great meal. We have done very well on the meal fronts so far, all above the normal standard.

Paul and Geordie were waiting for us as we came down to breakfast and we all came to the conclusion that it was wet as we had the plumbers, Biddy and Gordie with us. The morning was a total change with low cloud and rain, we somehow knew the weather would not last. We started off in the wrong direction from “The Anchor” and in two minutes had to turn round and head back up the road past Brian and Co. and Bill as the path had been re-routed due to cliff falls. We were soon on our way up to Golden Cap — a three quarter of an hour trek uphill to over 100m high and we started from sea level. From the top you can see beyond Portland and back to Poole and Bournemouth. Today we struggled to see more than 26 feet and we have the photos to prove it! The other trouble was that it was really difficult to follow the path, as you could not see any definition or markers across fields. At one stage we got within 15 feet of the cliff edge before we noticed it, which was a bit scary as Ray was coming down backwards because his calves are still playing him up. I had assured Nikki that I would not let him near the cliff edge. I would of course like to explain the terrain, but all I can tell you is that it was grassy with a lot of fresh runny cow pats everywhere.

We eventually came down to Charmouth and saw the sea for the first time for two hours, which did assure our new walkers that we were still on the coast path. From here there is a big path diversion due to cliff falls which is all on the road until you reach Lyme Regis where we met Bill for lunch. Oh dear they sold Doom. After a couple and a bite the cloud had lifted and the rain stopped so we were back on it. The afternoon was weird, we walked for three and a half hours and for seven and a half miles, through what I can only describe as an English jungle with no views. Rocks, roots and mud underfoot were interspersed with log steps. You constantly had to watch your feet and people were involuntarily break dancing at regular intervals. On arrival into Seaton we went to the nearest tea house for a nice cuppa as there is nowhere to stop between Lyme and here. Overall not a great day, but very different and I feel a bit sorry for the lads who joined us, as they didn't get the views everyone else has.

Highlight of the day was seeing Gordie fall over on the concrete the rest of us had walked round, because it looked slippy, madness of the day was walking through Charmouth without stopping.   

Wayne and Michelle have decided to join us tonight so its off to “The Winston” for a few real ales and a bite to eat.

P.S. Judy's ankle is a bit better today, I strapped it up this morning and the bruise is coming out. She is still maintaining her 100% record, 91 miles to date. Too wet for the peds today.

 

DAY 6  -  Thursday 2nd June 2005

Seaton to Budleigh Salterton
Walking: Paul, Judy, Ray, Wayne, Michelle.
Lunch:
Sidmouth
Overnight:
Hansard House Hotel (01395 442773)
Arriving tonight:
Steve and Sharon, Barty and Di.
Who's Who? Steve and Sharon Hurst; Barty = Andy Bartram; Di = Di Bartram; Indiana = Ray Hall.

Firstly to fill you in on a few details I have omitted or not made clear. Firstly it was Ray's Nikki who walked with us on Monday, apparently the way I have written the report it looks like Lastov's Nikki. I have probably spelt the name wrong too. As you know I have invited various bitches on The Walk, this so I would not be judged as sexist. However they have all been turning up with their bitch tee shirts on with PAUL’S BITCHES on the back and their name on the front, so I have gone back through my reports and updated them to include their new names, which from now on is how you blokes should all address them!

Still, on with the walk — I am too knackered to get excited about tits. Saying that, it is incredible how erect walking makes their nipples, so us men, well Indiana, Bill and myself are running a book to see who comes out tops. Great Tits Bitch (Kay) is leading the way keeping it on for a full 21 miles so far although Huge Up Top Bitch (Michelle) gave her a run for her money today.

Last night Indiana was pissed off, he did not enjoy yesterdays walk at all, on arrival into Seaton we had a cup of tea and I bought him a caramel slice to cheer him up, which subsequently exploded in his hand all over his map case and new coat but things got worse. We went round the corner to “The Winston”, a grotty looking place from the outside but again fantastic food and a great pint of Otter. It was Karaoke Night and Bill encouraged a girl named Heather to try her luck. However her voice was no better than her figure although we all cheered like mad to cheer her up. A good night was had by all but when Indiana returned to his room his bed collapsed. We do not know where Heather was at this stage and I cannot tell you Indiana's reply when the landlady suggested he sleep on his mattress on the floor.

On to today. The boys from yesterday had left at 6.00am so we joined Wayne and Huge Up Top Bitch for breakfast, looking out over the bay and pointing out where we were all walking to today. They obviously did not believe me and I must admit as neither had done any practise we wondered how they would fare. Fortunately the weather had turned for the better, with high cloud and the sun trying to show its face, although every half an hour or so the mist would roll in for a short spell.

The first ten miles were rated as strenuous and severe, and they were. The scenery was fantastic again with rolling cliffs, differing from chalk to red sandstone, every corner you turned was different. The views both ways along the coast were also great (sorry, you boys from yesterday). We passed through Beer a really pretty fishing village and were soon at our first stop. Bill had come up trumps yet again and thatched us a brilliant cafe with home made cakes on the beach at Babbacombe Beach Cafe, well worth a visit if you are in the area. Wayne was thinking of lying to Glenn about the cliffs and how close to the edge you get, at one stage we were three hundred feet up right on the edge and now he doesn't have to lie. From here it took three hours to get to Sidmouth over some very steep gradients and descents, but beautiful rolling countryside. The wild flowers have been terrific, even wild orchids on this stretch. We met Bill on arrival coming out of the public toilets, which the girls were straight into. Another great lunch in a cafe on the front and in half an hour on our final seven mile jaunt to Budleigh Salterton. We don't know what Indiana had waiting for him at the hotel, but he was off like a long dog and was out in front all day. After a severe rise out of Sidmouth (seems par for the course now after we have stopped) the countryside was gentler and the Otter sandstone cliffs around Ladram Bay, where the heron gulls were nesting on the shelved pilasters out at sea, were great.

Along the estuary and back at Budliegh Salterton to get over the Otter and were across the car park and along the front (passing tomorrows walkers in the pick up) and the girls straight into the loos. Wayne and I could actually see the tide rise on this occasion. A 5.45pm finish today, fifteen minutes early after 17.6 fairly hard miles. Wayne reckons the only time he has walked further than this is when Christmas shopping with Huge Up Top Bitch.

We all really enjoyed today, great company and a great walk which both finished with ease although Wayne still cannot believe where he had come from. 110 miles to date the equivalent of Totton to Birmingham in six days.

Highlight of the day was the ambience and walk, madness of the day was putting my socks in the basin to soak, starting this report and flooding the bathroom (wack wack oops).

P.S. The pheasant is getting careless and got caught out in the open today.

Judy's ankle was getting better today before she kicked a rock and put it backwards. Her good knee is hurting and she has a knee support on it and before we set off it takes half an hour to bind her up. Ali, I know you have updated her dildo selection in the past, but I think she may enjoy some bondage gear for her birthday after this!

 

DAY 7  -  Friday 3rd June 2005

Budleigh Salterton to Maidencombe
Walking: Paul, Judy, Ray, Sharon, Steve, Barty, Di.
Lunch:
Smugglers Inn, Holcombe
Overnight:
Coppice Hotel (01803 297786)
Arriving tonight:
Keith, Anita, Robbie.
Who's Who? Keith, Anita and Robbie Searle. Chippy = Keith Searle; Mr. Wigley = Steve's Willy; The Goons = Hursts and Bartrams.

We had our first cream tea on arrival at Budleigh last night, which was great. Up to the best hotel of the walk so far and we were soon in a great restaurant down the road which Ed, our host, kindly ferried us to and from. The Goons party had arrived and the evening ended with all explaining their name for their private parts after Silly Cones Bitch (Sharon) let slip the other week that Steve's was called Mr. Wigley. We even found out that the waitress called hers Poppy and the assistant chef’s was Foo Foo and we don't even know their names!

It was time to leave and we assembled on the seafront donned in our wet weather gear as is was raining. We had to explain to Can't Get Even Bitch (Di) what an acorn is as this is the symbol you follow to follow the path. After the climb up out of the town, it brightened up and off came the gear for a nice easy walk round the path to Exmouth past a couple of large caravan parks and a military firing range. We were soon in Exmouth having a cuppa before we were to catch the ferry to Starcross. First mistake, we should have checked the ferry times, we had to wait 50 minutes for the next one as they only run on the hour. Oh well, into the pub for a pint of bitter.

We passed a grey seal lying on a sandbank of the River Exe on the crossing and as we disembarked the heavens opened. The delay had put us back and we had to get our heads down and march on, over quite a boring stretch of road with the rail track between us and the estuary. Into Dawlish Warren and on to Dawlish where we had to take shelter under a tree, the rain was so hard. On arrival into Dawlish we thought we had earned a cuppa and a bite so with the rain still lashing we took shelter in a cafe. Still no respite and back out into the rain, however it soon cleared after this and the afternoon turned out to be sunny.

The coastguard helicopter was on the front and the lifeboat launched looking for a missing toddler, blinking heck those ’copters are noisy. A hilly walk round to Teignmouth with the last part walking along a sea wall between the rail track and the sea was great. It had cleared enough to look back across the estuary and see where we had come from. Bill turned up after dropping the gear off at the hotel but no time to stop it, was onto the harbour and catch our second ferry to Shaldon, luckily they run every ten minutes.

From here the walk got strenuous and it was up and down all the way to Maidencombe with Ray and Judy struggling a bit and even The Goons feeling it by the end. Bugger! — The pub was shut, so off to another — a fine meal and a few sherbets. You could see right back across to Seaton when we had finished and again our visitors could not believe the ground we had covered in the last two days or they in the last day. Got to go — late for breakfast!

Ah! the next night, bit short of time last night as an 86 mile round trip to pick up the car and Chippy and family down for a few beers so a late one and no time for a report until Saturday.

Highlight of the day was seeing Silly Cones Bitch wearing my Galway tour shirt from lunchtime onwards as she was soaked through by lunch. Madness of the day was not going back to the hotel (which was ten minutes away) when we had finished the walk and going to the pub for dinner. Must check the maps more.

 

DAY 8  -  Saturday 4th June 2005

Maidencombe to Brixham
Walking: Paul, Judy, Ray, Keith, Anita, Robbie, Amber, Matt.
Lunch:
Paignton
Overnight:
Paul and Judy: Melville Hotel.
                All others: Westbury Guest House (01803 851684)

Arriving tonight:
Nic and Amy - just visiting!
Who's Who? Nic = Nikki Dutton; Amy = Amy Dutton (Nic's daughter).

The hotel last night was a throw back from the seventies with the proverbial pub singer and organ so we frequented the Kent Tavern just down the road. Barty and the girls arrived back in time for last orders, so back to the hotel for a night cap and bed by 12.30am. The sun was trying to shine through when we awoke and as breakfast was not being served until 8.30am and we had to drive back to Maidencombe we never got going until 10.10am. Still we pointed out where we had come from over the last two days and where we were going and Robbie's face was “No Way, Man”. It was a bit up and down but not as bad as the finish yesterday. The scenery was great with little coves nestled among the rocks and still the red cliffs falling into the very calm sea. We had soon passed Babbacombe, last night’s stop, and on round to Hopes Nose where the scenery was matched by the properties. From here you can look out over Shag Rock, Little Shag etc. We also had a piper pipe up us onto the hill. We don't know if he was just practising or what. From here we had to walk two thirds of a circle right round Torbay and you could see the finish point in Brixham across the bay. We were soon into Torquay but the path approach was great and we met Bill for lunch by the harbour. We were soon on our way round the bay walking right along the prom and past the Palm Beach Hotel — those of you who toured down here with us a few years ago might remember. Unfortunately is is now shut down and looking a bit derelict.

The weather had brightened and apart from a couple of heavy showers, where we took shelter under the trees, it was fine. Soon through Paignton where we met Bill for a cuppa and cake, then on to the final stretch. At Elderberry Cove Ray decided to go for a dip, but I tell you what he was not in for long. I will translate his Geordie for you and he said it was very cold. We also had a play with a twelve week old retriever. Robbie and I played skimmers rather than go for a dip, much more sensible!

The final three miles by Brixham Golf Club were soon under our belt and we arrived into the harbour at Brixham, quite a big fishing port. Straight into “The Bullers” for a Speckled Hen or two, where The Goons turned up having kindly dropped Keith's car off at Sunday night’s stop. Up to the hotels, quick change and a bit of a panic, as Chippy thinks Pool Champion Bitch (Anita) has lost his wallet and onto the restaurant. What a meal! The best we have all had in years — it was fantastic! Half way through they even let off a massive firework display from the middle of the harbour which Chippy assures me he arranged!

Another day completed by all, although today could be different as we have ten miles of strenuous followed by ten miles of moderate and it is raining, so think of us mad bastards.

Highlight of the day was the meal and the fantastic firework display, madness of the day was going to be Ray's swim but I have decided it is me for getting up early to type this report.

P.S. Judy's ankle is getting easier by the day but her feet are still sore so she had to buy a new pair on sandals so she can walk out at night. Ray's calf is a bit looser. 

27,205 steps today and thoroughly enjoyable. I am still saying this!!!!????

 

DAY 9  -  Sunday 5th June 2005

Brixham to Torcross
Walking: Paul, Judy, Ray, Nic, Keith, Anita, Robbie, Amber, Matt.
Lunch:
tbc
Overnight:
Leyburn BandB (01548 580446)
Arriving tonight:
Phil* and Murray.    (*no show)
Who's Who? — Shed = Murray = Murray Townsend; Phil = Phil Kimber.

Well what can you say, after a nigh perfect day yesterday today Devon got its own back. We got up and it was raining and we have just arrived at Torcross and it is still raining. At the beginning of the day it was still fairly clear and up on Berry Head the views along the cliffs were beautiful. However as the day went on, the cloud came down and the majority of the views disappeared. Those who were down last Wednesday will appreciate what I mean. The wet weather gear stayed on all day, so we are now trying to dry everything out for the morning. Shed has just arrived and tells me that he has arranged for better weather tomorrow. It took us five hours to do the first ten miles around rugged  hilly countryside, three quarters of an hour under the time suggested in the book. It was three by the time we arrived at Kingswear ready to catch the ferry across The Dart to Dartmouth. What a bit of luck, right outside the arch where we emerged to catch the ferry was a pub serving food all day and with Sunday roasts on!

Seven of these plus a few puddings were soon downed and by 4.00pm we were back on the path to between Strete and Torcross. Robbie, at this stage having been soaked through to his underpants, and wearing a fresh set of clothes, decided the heater in the pick-up looked more inviting and gave Bill some company for the afternoon, sensible lad. Along this section there is a fair bit of road and good track walking, so we made good time up until we reached the section where a new bit of the path has opened to take you closer to the sea. What a little monkey this bit was to finish on. At 6.40pm we met Bill, Robbie and Shed in the car park at the bottom of Strete and headed off to our B and B where Judy is having a good soak whilst I am writing this. Keith, Pool Champion Bitch and Robbie head back home. A bit of a bitch of a day, one could say.

Highlight of the day was walking off the footpath in Kingswear and finding a pub that did roasts all day. Madness of the day was not joining Robbie for the afternoon! Off to see Shed now down the pub for a bite to eat, Phil has been the first to let us down and is not turning up. I will have to think of a bitch name for his tee shirt now.

P.S. Biggest walk today — 35666 steps.

 

DAY 10  -  Monday 6th June 2005

Torcross to Salcombe
Walking: Paul, Judy, Ray, Murray.
Lunch:
Pig Nose Pub, East Prawle
Overnight:
Torre View Hotel (01548 842633)
Arriving tonight:
Rob Maidment, Glenn and Jo.
Who's Who? Glenn and Jo = Judy's brother and sister-in-law. Mr. Bendy = Glenn's Willy.

A few beers in the pub right on the front in Torcross last night and un-named bitch made us leave at 10.30pm (she didn't realise it was Sunday opening hours but it made her fell important) and off to bed. We awoke with Shed out on a pedalo towing all the black clouds out to sea as he promised us good weather for the day!

A good brekkie and back down the beach to Strete Gate where we finished the night before. There was a bit of light drizzle but no waterproofs needed. We were soon back up on the cliffs with a short hop over to Beesands and then onto North Hallsands where the village has got washed into the sea with only a few houses and walls remaining. It is weird to see part of the old road running down to the village on the cliff with the services running under it and the rest of the road and the railings down on the beach. Nice cafe, so stopped for a coffee. As we were sat there we could see the rain coming in across the sea, so on with the wet weather gear and off to Start Point. The low cloud came in and the fog horn started to sound from the lighthouse. Luckily this did not last long and as we rounded the point all the wet weather gear came off and the sun gradually broke through throughout the afternoon, to give us probably one of the best days we have had. At Start Point was a sign post 168 miles to Studland and 462 miles to Minehead.

As we were taking off our gear Judy noticed a grey seal resting on a rock below. A bit further along there were three large black seals. we met a walker coming the other way who spent the whole of yesterday in his tent and was 46 days in starting from Minehead. He had seen basking sharks, dolphins and seals so Shed told him we had seen snow leopards! A peregrine falcon was also seen after being informed about it by another walker. We were on our way to Prawle Point to link up with Bill for lunch, but somehow we missed him, so we had to make do with Mars bars and bananas, but with the views so great who cares. We eventually met up with him at the Gara Rock Hotel for a welcome pint and cuppa, with the sun blazing.

Only an hour from here and we were at the ferry across the Kingsbridge Estuary to Salcombe. The views and the houses along the estuary are beautiful. As we got off the ferry to walk up the steps to find Bill, there was a pub on the left called “The Ferry Inn”. We looked up and at the top of the steps were Glenn and Jo, our walkers for tomorrow, so into the pub we went for a few beers, looking over the estuary. The perfect end to a fantastic day!

I am writing this in my hotel room looking over the river on Tuesday and the view is fantastic. A short day today 14 miles but if the scenery is as good cannot wait.

Highlight of the day was the walk itself, madness of the day was missing Bill for lunch, we must of passed within 50 metres of each other.

Bushy, if you read this the wild flowers are at there prime and Judy will be asking you names, so wise up. Secondly we were walking down the path and came across five little insects about 10mm long and like mini armadillos, can you find out what they are. There were five and now there are only four as Shed strengthened his sole with one. Obviously the eye laser treatment was only partially successful.

26,835 steps today.

 

DAY 11  -  Tuesday 7th June 2005

Salcombe to Bigbury-on-Sea
Walking: Paul, Judy, Ray, Rob, Glenn, Jo.
Lunch:
Outer Hope
Overnight:
Journeys End Inn (01548 810205
Arriving tonight:
Andy and Amanda, Phil and Gwyn.(Staying at Ayrmer BandB across the road)
Who's Who? Bushy = Andy = Andy Roberts; Amanda = Amanda DeRetuerto; Phil and Gwyn Davies.

The Walk just gets better and better. Yesterday was fantastic with the countryside being the main factor. Last night Shed left and went back home, Billy Boy was tired and went straight to bed and the remaining five returned to The Ferry Inn for a few beers and a bite to eat. The only trouble with this was it was 212 steps down a very steep hill and then 212 steps back up.

Yesterday the weather was fantastic and so were the views. We walked down the other side of the Kingsbridge Estuary and round the head and along towards Hope Cove. Rob, who was walking with us yesterday, is mate of mine who I used to do loads of walking with 20 years ago. We played spots on all the walks and yesterday was no exception, he also has a great knowledge of birds. It was not far in when we rounded a headland and a bird with a classic buzzard formation was spotted, round the corner and a kestrel flew within 5 metres of us with a mouse in its claws, which you could hear still squeaking. We also saw peregrine falcons flying overhead, but the best spot was the peregrine sat on a rock between us and the cliff edge — the best view Rob and therefore the rest of us had ever seen. I will not elaborate who had this spot.

A cuppa in a hill top hotel and on our way. The landscape became softer with sand dunes around Outer Hope and Thurlstone Golf Club and the sandy bays either side. We were meant to stop here, but the ferry across the Avon stops at 4.00pm, so we decided to rest at the pub just beforehand, if we made enough time. Ah! a pint was managed in “The Sloop” and onto the ferry, perfect timing. The incoming tide has to be seen to be believed and in two trips accompanied by the ferryman’s spaniel, we were on the other side. Here we had two choices, walk the sand, or go up, what we found out later ,the locals call cardiac hill. The ferry man assured us we had time for the sand walk so Rob and I chose this and the others chose the hill, milky mothers.

Rob and I were soon across to “The Pilchard Inn” across on Burgh Island. It took the others another twenty minutes to arrive, by which time Burgh Island was an island again, so off with my socks and shoes to carry Ray and Judy across. It is at this point that I must tell you blokes that the bitches have mucked up again and left one of my bitches out and not issued her with a tee shirt. My own thoughts are this is pure jealousy as she has the best pair of tits on the walk and Glenn can back this up! For the purpose of this report she will be known as Too Big, named by Mr. Bendy following on from our night in Budleigh Salterton. Glenn carried Too Big across and we all enjoyed watching the foreign students trying to cross the tide over a pint. To return, Rob and I waded back across whilst the milky mothers waited for the sea tractor — bargain though, only 60p.

Onto our 13th Century pub, where the Real Ales are straight out the barrel behind the bar and good food yet again. Have I gone to heaven. I am writing this report sat in the conservatory of the pub on Wednesday morning with Nervous Around Paul Bitch (Gwyn) looking over my shoulder. Off to breakfast.

Highlight of the day was the peregrine, madness of the day was taking on cardiac hill.

Cannot wait for today, wading the River Earme.  25, 187 steps today. Fair play to Too Big for fighting through the pain and finishing the day and great to walk with Rob again — must not leave it so long this time.

 

DAY 12  -  Wednesday 8th June 2005

Bigbury-on-Sea to Wembury
Walking: Paul, Judy, Ray, Andy, Amanda, Phil, Gwyn.
Lunch:
Stoke Cross Caravan Park
Overnight:
Kitley House Hotel (01752 881555)
Arriving tonight:
Mikey, Bucky, Ali.
Who's Who? Mikey = Mike Searle; Bucky = Richard Buck; Ali = Alistair Ramus.

Bushy and Young Bitch (Amanda) arrived at our pub at 9.00am with Bushy having spent the last hour watching a buzzard feeding its young (three rabbits in 30 minutes) in a nest by his B and B. The mood was set for the day having seen the peregrine yesterday. We were on the lookout for basking sharks as some had been spotted in the area.

Bill and Mr. Bendy dropped us off at Bigbury and we were soon up on the red stone cliffs that we left yesterday. All you could hear was Bushy saying “spectacular!”. The kestrels, buzzards, peregrines, plus one we do not know, a harrier of some sort (Rob would know, Bushy’s losing his touch) were round every corner. We had to make the River Earme by 12.40pm as you can only wade it for three hours at low tide, however we encountered some of the steepest climbs for some days and the going was slow (and nobody for me to talk to at the top whilst waiting). We did make the river by 11.40am which was really wide, cold (according to Judy and Young Bitch) and about calf deep (lucky Barty didn't have this day). Bill had found us a tea house just up the road, run by a couple of old dears of his age, but by 12.45pm we were on our way to the River Yealm which we had to cross by 4.00pm.

Again the hills were steep and the going quite tough for some, especially Phil who was also wearing a hole in his heel. By 2.30pm we had only covered three miles of the eight we had to do to get to the ferry, that’s five miles in an hour and half. From five miles out the path widened to a grassy track with gentle slopes so the pace was upped. Luckily, with the radios we got hold of Bill, who got the ferryman to hang on till 4.15pm (although I made it by 3.59pm. Indiana was at the back doing his spacky bit and lost sight of us, yes you have guessed it, first time on his own and he gets lost). Luckily, Bushy and Nervous Around Paul Bitch back tracked and led him in. Top marks to these two — Bill and the ferryman. The river crossing was 2 minutess but the river valley absolutely beautiful, so we all wished it was 20 minutes, not only for the view but also for a rest. Only a mile and half left and we were soon with Bill for an ice cream. None of us have visited this part of Devon before but I know we will all come back, it really is something else.

If you do visit this area, I recommend the “Journeys End Inn”, fantastic pub, great beer (Devob Pride), landlord and landlady, although why he had to serve us till twelve I do not know.

Highlight of the day was the wade, madness of the day was Phil leaving his mark on the walk after a very steep climb — a true rambler.

Bucky, Mike and Ali have turned up, so down for a few beers in this very posh hotel. No chance of us being quiet though!

Absolutely  fantastic day with brilliant views and sunshine all day. Although we did 30,610 steps today, which over fourteen miles will tell you how steep the hills were.

 

DAY 13  -  Thursday 9th June 2005

Wembury to Cawsand
Walking: Paul, Judy, Ray, Mikey, Bucky, Ali.
Lunch:
Plymouth
Overnight:
Cawsand Bay Hotel (01752 822425)
Arriving tonight:
Dell and Sue.
Who's Who? Dell = Derrick Hobbs; Ryan = rugby ball.

We arrived at the hotel up a long driveway and the Tribute ran out after five pints. However, after I wrote most of the report last night, a few of us were having a beer on the terrace and were watching a barn owl hunt the hedges and a pair of herons feeding their young, what a sight (and Bushy knew what they both were).

Unfortunately dinner was nouvelle  cuisine, which in my language is Barty portions, so we had to have all five courses. Off to bed and Bushy and Young Bitch gave us a lift back to Wembury for the start. Due to the drive, we never got going until 10.20am, however the path was easy walking and we were soon at Jennycliff Cafe (via an MOD establishment which we soon got turfed out of), which was a definite wrinkley magnet — no wonder Bill was there for two hours before we got there!

Ryan came with us today and was able to use the most of every open space. After a good snack we were away but unfortunately we were entering Plymouth and a built up area, so as normal in the towns the signage was crap. We also had to catch two ferries which we did not know the times of, so managed a pint before the first one, which had to take us in two loads. Ryan was naughty and went swimming off the jetty in the Tamar when us adults had left, but luckily Ali pulled him out. The walk round Plymouth was fairly boring, but a Greek frigate sailed by us as we rounded The Hoe. Another wait for the Cremyll ferry for half an hour meant we never got to the “Edgecombe Arms” until 4.00pm. The good news was, that because it was easy walking we only had three miles to go, which is about an hour’s walk on the fairly easy terrain of Edgecombe Park.

What did Ryan do? He got stuck up a tree and Ali got stung pushing Mike up the tree to get him and back on track. The final three miles were more enjoyable and the walk through Kingsand and Cawsands great, through all the narrow streets ending up at the “Cross Keys”. We crossed into Cornwall today and broke the two hundred mile barrier yesterday. Judy is fully fit and striding out, Ray is still at the back, but tomorrow will limber up for tomorrow night, so all is well or will be well. Seventeen miles to go with the sun shining and a lot better coastline tomorrow. We have a load of people walking tomorrow and I will enter Looe with a huge smile on my face. You may be lucky to get the final report beforel Sunday, but I will see what I can do.

Highlight of the day was getting out of Plymouth, madness of the day was Ryan going up the tree.

P.S. Only 23,469 steps today for 17 miles. Just onto the third layer of face skin but the sun is still shining, beers good and most of you lot have only done one day.

 

DAY 14  -  Friday 10th June 2005

Cawsand to Looe
Walking: Paul, Judy, Ray, Mikey, Bucky, Ali, Dell.
Lunch:
Port Wrinkle
Arriving today:
Dicky Graham, Graham and Leslie, Simon.
Who's Who? Graham and Leslie Searle. Simon = Simon Cartwright. Holly and Amy Searle. Christine Robinson.

It was here! The final day. 222 miles under our belt and 18 to go. Bill found us a great pub last night and the “Young Ones” who had been energetic all day, slowly disappeared to bed. Bit of a shame really because Bill's in-car directions to Dell and Sue, of where the hotel was from the pub, was great.

At 9.30am the three musketeers, Simon, Dell, Graham, Dicky, Holly, Amy, Bucky, Mike, Ali and Leslie were on our way. It was a long jaunt to our first stop, but the ranges were open. Ryan was a bit quieter today and obviously over exerted himself yesterday. The walk was back out in the country and we were soon out into the typical Cornish coastline although along this stretch of coast the beach is only visible when the tide is out. We were also walking about 50 – 100 metres inland and fairly high up, however the path was easy and Graham was leading the way.

As the walk progressed, we found ourselves weaving our way in and around the cliff cabins and Ray found himself leading the way, leading led us up the garden path again, making us retrace our steps. We had a late lunch in the hotel and golf club at Portwrinkle, 9 miles into the walk and from here you could easily see Looe and Looe Island. The second part of the walk became a bit more strenuous, with quite a few more ups and downs, so the pace slowed as normal. By 4.00pm we had reached Seaton where Barty, Can't Get Even Bitch, Lastov, Nicky, Brian, Christine and Bill were waiting for us. The first four joined the party for the final push into Looe, which again was fairly hilly. At the bridge where The Walk finished for us, we were met by quite a few of the crowd down for the weekend, which was a great way to finish. The pint in “The Globe” was extremely welcome.

On this, our last day, we covered 33,602 steps and Ray and Judy had made it every step of the way through all their aches and pains. Bloody well done to both of them.

Highlight of the day was seeing everyone meet us at the bridge, madness of the day was contemplating carrying on.

Thanks to all those who took part — I trust you all enjoyed it as much as I did. Thanks also to the South West Coast Path Association together with all those who maintain it, whose work to make this walk available to all is fantastic. Thanks to Billy Boy whose patience and hard work, sorting our every needs and wishes, made things so much easier for the walkers. And finally to wifey for all the logistical work and support she has given me, for the best two weeks I have had in years.