Rugged Tales

Wherever my feet may take me…


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On the road again

Or more precisely, on the train, then another train, then a third train followed by two different busses. I had thought my difficulty getting home from Combe Martin was due to the absence of a Sunday bus service and the rail engineering works round Basingstoke, but getting back again was a challenge even on a week day.

After all that there wasn’t much time for walking: I managed only a modest 4.5 miles to Hele, where it turned out I missed the Olympic torch by just a day.

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But there were plenty of other sights to see, including the beautiful harbour at Watermouth, with the Little Hangman and Great Hangman (that I climbed over on my last walking day) rising up to the left behind.

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I stopped for the night at Hele Valley Holiday Park – possibly the most expensive campsite of my life! Despite having a miniature tent and no car (let alone a requirement for hard standing or an electricity hookup) the smartly dressed receptionist quoted me £16 for one night, though discounted it to £12 as I was on my own. The contrast to my recent Asian trip – where you could usually get a double room with air con and an en suite bathroom for that money – was striking! But it was beautifully kept and I managed to get a nice quiet pitch by a little stream. Not quite as picturesque as the first one but as good a place as any to test out my new tent…

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On top of the world

Or at least, the highest point on the South West Coast Path – the summit of Great Hangman (318 m).

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The last ascent of a tiring day, there were times when I thought hanging might have been preferable! But fortunately the steepest, slipperiest sections were at the bottom where the path climbs out of a deep gully at Sherrycombe while the top was a gently rounded done and much easier on my weary legs. Although none of the hills on the Coast Path are particularly high in themselves it’s the number of them to be tackled each day that makes it challenging and I was certainly feeling the accumulated effects by the time I tottered into camp!

The signage also reached a new high today. The sign makers seemed to have given up on distances – probably for the best! – or indeed much other information at this junction near Woody Bay.

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It turned out there was some information on the other side, but it wasn’t much more helpful!

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But although it was tiring, it was absolutely worth it – on day 3 the path delivered everything I’d hoped for when I decided to walk it. Glorious sunshine lighting the spectacular views of rugged cliffs plunging to a sparkling turquoise sea – the view of Castle Rock as I headed out of Lynton was just one example.

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I finished the day in Combe Martin, and will be leaving the walk here for a while as I have a job interview on Monday. Wish me luck!

While I’m a little frustrated to take a break so soon it’ll be a good opportunity to refine my gear and let a worsening blister on my right heel get better. Having walked all the Exmoor coastline it’s a neat place to pause, and I plan to be back soon…