A group of us are completing the South West Coastal Path Trail in a series of section hikes, wild camping as we go. This is part two of our journey which was during late November / early December 2021. Yep, it was rather cold and extremely windy!
The one with two poles, the long horned cow chase and camping in the woods.
WEATHER: Freezing cold at times but dry most of the day. No wind (thank god!)
DISTANCE: Total: 11.9 miles
HEALTH: Apart from smelling like garbage and suffering from the cold (chilblains) I feel great!
Appledore to Buck Mills (Nr Clovelly)
Today was the most challenging of terrains so far. These frigging hills are giving my knees a workout! Davina was chased by two long-horned cows, we had a wonderful breakfast in Westward Ho and bumped into Rebecca’s neighbour (who weird is that?). We found a perfect camping spot in the woods, overlooking the sea.
HIGHLIGHTS OF THE DAY:
☕️ 5.30 – The blog is written and I’m wide awake. I had broken sleep but my little tent is now starting to feel like a cosy little home. Time for coffee!
🌞 7 am – As we pack up, the most glorious sunrise is popping up over the hill. I rush to the top of the amphitheatre to take a photo. This is quite a cool camp spot.
🚽 7.30 am – A young man came along the footpath carrying a roll of carpet over his shoulders. A thick woollen hat was covering his dreadlocks and the sight of his little pale legs dangling from his shorts made me shiver. He stopped to say hello and enquire what we were up to. Keith was the manager of the activity centre of the Skern group. (We camped on his land… oops!). He was absolutely lovely and let us fill up with water and use his toilet. Our first trail angel today.
👋 9.07 – The start of the walk into Westward Ho was nice and easy. A good section of it was along the beach. We bumped into a guy who was walking his little cocker spaniel. Eric was excited as he has spotted a few snow buntings (very pretty birds) which apparently are extremely rare. He showed us photos of them on this phone.
🚶🏻♂️ 9.30 am – Eric is still walking with us. By now we know he has been married several times, and that he purchased an apartment in Westward Ho for £250 (reduce from (£500k as the developer went bust). Isn’t it weird the things strangers share? “Look at that”! He exclaimed. Wow! There was a fabulous snowman and a dog picture made out of stones. (See photos). Eric explains that a young Latvian lady created a different picture each day, somewhere along the beach. It’s good fun for the kids to try and find them.
🧊 Talking to Eric took my mind off the cold. I still had no feeling in my fingers and my toes were like blocks of ice.
😳 10 am – 3.5 miles done and we are now in Westward Ho! We are walking into the village when Rebecca’s spots a familiar face and starts getting all excited. It’s her next-door neighbour! Yep, standing outside Tesco express is Rebecca’s neighbour. We couldn’t believe it! The grandparents live in Westward Ho and she was down for a visit and was leaving later that day. We took selfies and waved goodbye in search of a cafe that served a hot breakfast!
🍳 We stop at the Waterfront Cafe and indulge in hot coffee and a fry-up! We linger there a bit too long enjoying the charging points and the warm loo!
🥶 10.55 am – Gear on! And we are off again. There are no more amenities today until we reach Clovelly so we are in for a long day. Everyone we spoke to explains how tough this next section is, so I’m prepared for the worse and have both poles out. It’s freezing and I now have painful chilblains in my fingers.
🏊♀️ 11 am – As we leave Westward Ho there was a mad lady taking a dip in the outdoor pool. We chatted to her for a while and she was swimming every day in November for charity. Now that looked freezing!
💀 11.07 – As we trundled but an old derelict house that was taped off to the public, Davina told us that this was haunted. The house certainly had an eery feel to it and there were even skeletons hanging in the top window!
🐦 11.27 – I spot my Robin for today and say hello.
🏔 11.30 – and the roller coaster begins!! Omg!! PUDS (Pointless ups and downs!). The views are stunning and the weather is good but these ups and downs are hard work. We climb steps, navigate rocks that are covered in leaves, weave through woods and the sound of the sea is a constant companion to our right.
🪑 2 pm – I need to sit down! We grab our little chairs from our backpacks and rest our weary feet. We nibble on a few snacks but none of us is that hungry after the big breakfast a few hours ago. It’s 2 pm now and Clovelly is still another 6.4 miles away. In this terrain, there is no way we will make it by dusk. We unanimously agree that we will stop around 3.30 pm and look for somewhere to camp. I would not want to walk on these cliff edges in the dark.
🐮 2.15 – Davina is way ahead of me, so I was surprised to see her standing on the side of the path looking a bit scared. “Are you ok?” I shout. “I don’t like cows, and look at their horns” she replied. Davina walks off the path and up into the field to try and avoid the pair of big, white, long-horned cows! They start to follow her and now she is panicking. I start shouting “here cow” “away, away”. This works as they now stop in their tracks and turn around to look at me. Davina makes a run for it and heads back to the path, but they start to follow her again. “What do I do?” She yells? “Put your hands out with your sticks and make lots of noise”. She follows my instructions and the cows turn around and head away from her up into the field. It’s now safe for me to cross. I caught all of this on video which was quite amusing. Rebecca appeared and we stand on the little wooden platform watching the video when Rebecca screamed! The two cows were now behind us! We will watch the video later, let’s get out of here!
🎶 3,30pm – Rebecca now has her stride on and is soon a blip on the horizon. I plug in a podcast and continue into the woods. I can hear Davina singing in front of me and I’m enjoying this little section.
🏕 3.50 pm – We reach a dinky little hamlet called Bucks Mills. There is an outside tap so we fill up and then decide that the next place that is suitable for three tents is where we will pitch for the night. It didn’t take us long to find the perfect place. We are sheltered by the wind, have stunning views out to sea and we can hear the owls hooting in the woods.
All pitched and now it’s raining! I cook pasta bolognese and hot chocolate before retiring to bed and watching a film.
🎥 Tonight’s film is 2012 – it’s a long one! I end up falling asleep before the end, so I can watch the rest tomorrow.
Night night. See you tomorrow.
Until next time…. Thank you for reading the blog.