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 the alpacas, the scary cliffs, and the really bad wind!
DISTANCE: Total: 12 miles
HEALTH: Sore muscles and an awful cold sore has appeared on my upper lip.
What a day! I felt quite scared today and exited off the route, twice! Ponchos and wind are not a good combination. We are staying the night in a pub, in a real bed with a hot shower. A tough day!
HIGHLIGHTS OF THE DAY:
👃 5 am – Usual routine. Wake up, write my blog (no service!) make coffee, pack up. As I changed into my walking clothes I realised this is the longest I’ve ever gone without a shower. I stink!
🙏 8.30 am – I drop the thermos flask back to the farmer and thank him for his kindness. The cowshed was perfect last night. Yes, it was noisy but it was so warm that I didn’t even need my puffy pants! We are a bit later in leaving today, but by 8.30 am we are heading out into the wind! We studied the map before leaving and decided that we didn’t need to see the Radar tower (although we did see it from the road). It’s raining so we are all in our wet weather gear. I love my poncho, but even though it has a belt, it still flaps around a bit!
👋 8.40 am – We continue along the little B-road until we reach a sign saying Hartland Point. Rebecca is naturally drawn to the sea and the cliffs, as is Davina, but I decided that I’d rather keep inland and away from the cliffs! This poncho is like a parachute and it’s just not worth the risk. I wave them goodbye and tell them I’ll catch them at Hartland Quay Hotel. I turn left and head off down a track in search of my own little mini-adventure.
🦙 8.51 am – The track soon turns into a meeting dry wet footpath. I open a gate and walk into a field where I am greeted by the most gorgeous little family of Alpacas. Mum, dad and three babies. They are so cute!! They let me get quite close which is surprising considering this big blue poncho is flapping around making a racket!
😟 9.20 am – I’m enjoying myself but my thoughts often wander back to the girls who are upon the cliffs. If it’s this windy down here then god knows how bad it is up there! The trail I’ve created is a mix of footpaths, track and broad. It took me through the hamlet of Berry and then over little stone bridges to the village of Stoke.
🚽 10.16 am – Stoke was quite a climb and I was puffing and panting by the time I reached the top. I smiled as soon as I saw the public loos! (A welcome sight). No wild wee’s for me this morning!
⛪️ Stoke has a massive church called “The Great Church”. It towers above the village and you can see it for miles. I take a peek inside and its inner is just as beautiful as the outside.
🎶 To exit Stoke you follow a hidden footpath. It goes behind the cottages and has lots of little stiles to hop over. It’s all enclosed due to the shrubbery and trees (like a very long tunnel). I found myself singing out loud in this section.
🤲 10.30 am – Stoke is only 10 mins from Hartland Quay, but it’s quite a trek, downhill, to the hotel. I’m being blown all over the place and again I’m thankful for the route I’ve taken today. I pray that R&D are safe and ok. I see a lady who is wearing a fleece bearing the Hartland Quay Hotels logo. I’m worried as there is a lot of building work going on. “Is the hotel open?” I ask her. “Not until 11 am”. “Is there somewhere I can sit out of the wind until it opens?” I enquired. “Of course. Head down to the end door on the right, and the lounge is on your left”. I thanked her and headed immediately in the direction that she was pointing. Ah….. it’s warm here!!
🚪 10.58 am – Yey! Rebecca walks through the door. Phew! “Where’s Davina?” I asked. “She’s taking photos” replied Rebecca.
🍺 We relish in the warmth of the cosy lounge with its big, soft sofas for a few minutes then make our way to the Hotel Bar. Davina is sitting in the bar with her hands cupped around a hot coffee.
🏨 The hotel does not serve hot food until 12 noon (oh no!), so we all order mini cheddars, crisps, nuts and flapjacks. Rebecca has a special treat of Cornish fudge! I’m gutted about the food. The thought of a big hot fry-up is what has kept me sane this last hour! I listen to stories from the girls. It seems like they have had a ball on those cliffs. Apparently, Hartland Point and the lighthouse is covered in scaffolding.
💦 12.10 pm – Hauling our packs and waterproofs on (well, a poncho for me) we start the steep incline out of Hartland Quay together. The three amigos! I’m being blown all over the place and the cliff drop to my right is freaking me out! I’m thankful that the wind is blowing inland but every down and then it suddenly drops and you stumble in the opposite direction! There is no denying that the scenery is absolutely stunning. I’m in awe watching the sea smashing against the rocks and the sun is trying its best to poke its way through the clouds. The scene is very moody and dramatic and I feel very insignificant to its beauty.
💨 12.35 pm – I can’t do this anymore. My poncho is flapping around me to the extent that it keep flying in my face so I couldn’t see properly. It was getting caught in brambles, and with the weight of my pack on my back, I was very unstable on my feet. Thank god I had my walking poles to help keep me upright! As we descended down more steep steps there was a magnificent waterfall. A real “wow” moment. The waterfall was flowing upwards! That’s how windy it was. When we reached the bottom I saw a footpath sign to the left or the SWCP straight in front of us. I took out my phone and figured out my exit point. I’d rather come back here and enjoy the beauty of this section of the trail in better weather. The other two are loopy la la and complete nut jobs! They decide to carry on. They promise to stay together and I said I’d see them at the pub later. Madwomen (see video below of how windy it was!)
🥾 1.15 pm – I’m now walking down a lovely muddy track. There is a rock face on either side of this track so there is no wind! Yey!! I start to feel safe again and my heartbeat has returned to normal. I stop for a few minutes to plan my route. Our goal today is a pub called The Old Smithy in Welcombe. It’s about 5 miles from where I am. With the route sorted, I march on with confidence in my step.
🥾 1.40 pm – I’m now walking through some very quaint villages (I’m not sure if I’m still in Devon or Cornwall?). I wander through Milford and enjoy the little river and stone bridges. The climb out of this village is steep but at least the wind is minimal. Looking at my map, there is a YHA in the next village in Ellmscott so that is my goal. I will grab a coffee there before the last push into Welcombe where I will meet up with the girls.
📕 1.50 pm – To my disappointment, the YHA does not open until 5 pm so I plug in my AirPods and set course for my final destination. I’m listening to the audiobook of “Wild”. Cheryl Strayed has just pulled off another toenail.
🥾 2.20 pm – Lots of ups and downs and my muscles are screaming at me. The Old Smithy signpost is swinging in the wind and I jump for joy when I see a light is on. I knock on the kitchen door and the young lad opened the door. He explained that he is the chef and he is not allowed to let anyone in until opening time (5 pm). I’ve got a good 2.5hrs before then! “Is there somewhere dry where I can shelter from the wind?” I ask. “Um… yep, the porch to the caravan is the best place,” he said, pointing to the other side of the car park. So that’s what I did. I camped out on my little chair, put on my puffy pants and down jacket and made myself a hot coffee. It’s not too bad and I’m out of the wind and rain.
☕️ 3.30 pm – The girls arrive! Now all three of us are on the little porch. We all make more coffee on our little stoves and chat for a few hours until opening time.
🍷 5 pm – The doors open, the fire is lit and we decide to take a room for the night. It’s our last night and we deserve it! We eat well, enjoy good wine and chat with the locals. Davina’s friends John & Ange turn up to collect her and take her back to Bude (they join us for a few drinks first).
🚿 OMG! The shower is amazing. I scrub my body from top to bottom, multiple times over! This is pure heaven! I’m no longer stinky!
🛌 I’m now all cosy in my bed. It’s a double bed and Rebecca is next to me! I have a pillow down the middle and we declare the rules… no farting, spooning or snoring! We have uncontrollable giggles but the tiredness of the day soon takes over. “Night night Rebecca”, “Night Ju”.
Night night. See you tomorrow.
Until next time…. Thank you for reading the blog.