Rugged Tales

Wherever my feet may take me…


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Tough nut

Today’s walk, from Hartland Quay to Bude, is reputed to be the toughest of the whole Coast Path, with 10 river valleys between the cliffs to navigate and a total ascent/descent of over 1,300m. Not content with that challenge I started proceedings a mile from the start in Stoke (the nearest campsite) and planned to end the day at the campsite in Lynstone, a mile further on than Bude.

Although rain was forecast it was another glorious start to the day and I enjoyed a picture postcard view of the church as I left Stoke.

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Once on the Path I had a good view of the cliffs I would have to climb over. From this distance, with the valleys between them obscured, they didn’t look too bad!

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But by the time I’d slithered down my third steep cliff to cross the footbridge over Marshland Water (crossing from Devon into Cornwall at the same time) it did cross my mind to wonder whether I would run out of energy before I ran out of cliffs to be climbed.

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I had a couple of things to distract me from the pain, however. First, the stunning scenery which was unremittingly spectacular. And second, the fact that I was proving unusually exciting for dogs. Two quite large specimens gave up a boisterous game of chasing each other round the beach to come and bark vigorously at me as I climbed down to Duckpool in the Combe Valley. As I made for the toilets there another dog gave voice, startling her owner into remarking “Goodness, I don’t think I’ve ever heard her bark before!”. Perhaps I’ll try a different outfit tomorrow…

On the up side it stayed dry, and it appears I must have got fitter since I started the walk. Where 8.5 miles with 650m of ascent/descent on day one had me almost on my knees, when Bude finally appeared today I had enough energy left to give, I think, a reasonable impression of a hardy hiker rather than an aged crone.

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My guidebook said that today’s route ‘can be tiring in wet and windy weather’. Having now done it I can confirm that it’s pretty tiring even in close to ideal conditions! But I’m pleased to have cracked the toughest nut, and optimistic now for my chances of staying the course.


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Four seasons in one day

This being the UK, hot weather of course cannot last. After a fine start, by 8am the clouds were rolling in and the breeze noticeably freshening. After walking in the heat for the last two days I was keener than usual to see some cooler weather arrive. As we rounded Windberry Point, looking back towards Blackchurch Rock, I was rather enjoying the clouds and cool wind – pleasantly soothing for the heat rash on my hands and the slight sunburn on my forearms.

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But when heavy rain set in it quickly became less fun, and we ate our lunch huddled beneath a ‘sun’ umbrella at the refreshment kiosk at Hartland Point – the only shelter for miles around. The weather was so filthy, potentially making the six steep ascents and descents ahead of us horribly slippery, that we seriously considered getting a taxi! But spurred on by a promising little patch of blue sky opening up, we decided to press on.

It turned out to be the right call. The clouds broke up, the sun started to filter through and the final cliffs were not as bad as I’d feared.

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By the time I said goodbye to Claire, full of delicious pub food at The Hartland Quay hotel, it had turned into a glorious evening.

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Bathed in the golden evening sunshine, the path ahead looks inviting, but tomorrow’s walk is reputed to be one of the toughest days of the whole walk. Fingers crossed…