Day 11 Crackington Haven to Bude
I had a tricky night with anxiety about how difficult the next couple of days will be. However much the evidence suggests that I’ll be capable of doing it, I still fear I won’t, or that I’ll get stuck somewhere. So I made today easier for myself by travelling on the road for half the walk, and by having some of the pack carried. The worry about how hard it was going to be was spoiling my anticipation of the day. And this walk, although undoubtedly a challenge, has never been about making life unnecessarily hard for myself. Unless there’s a very good reason to take the harder path, if there’s an easier way of doing something, where possible I’ll do it. That way the chances are increased that I’ll finish.
So it was with a much lighter physical load that I set off, and the mental load eased after phone conversations with my psychological back up team too. Travelling solo has lots of advantages - I can do what I want when I want. If I feel like eating at 5.30 and going to bed at 8.30 then I can (and mostly have been!). I can go at my own pace with no worry about slowing anyone down or putting people under pressure. I am also able to have conversations with strangers with more freedom, and that has been a particular joy so far. But if things are feeling difficult then being on your own is hard. None of this has been a surprise to me, I went through it all last year doing the Coast to Coast. But even though I have expected it, when anxiety strikes it is hard work on your own. But a couple of very thoughtful and extremely well timed calls this morning meant that I could let out some of the anxiety and emotion and continue with a lot more equilibrium.
Although I took the road for the first few miles, it was certainly not a leisurely start. Pretty much consistently uphill. But at least it was steady, and being on road meant that it was quite shady too. The weather is getting warmer and I’m having to carry more water every day to replace the hilariously copious amounts I’m sweating on the inclines. Lovely to see an honesty shop on the route for those who haven’t got enough though. These were a particular feature of the Coast to Coast, but this was the first I’ve seen this year.
As I was thinking how I was missing the views of the coastal path, a lovely display of cultivated flowers came into view outside a farm. I exclaimed with pleasure, and then almost immediately exclaimed in a different way when a sheep dog ran at me barking ferociously. I explained myself, and he grudgingly let me take a photo.
I arrived at Black Rock beach on Widemouth Bay at coffee time. It was a great place to observe the British at the seaside. A pair of middle aged ladies sunbathing in their underwear. A large group of upper age primary school children learning to surf - lucky them having surfing as PE. A Year 1 class on an outing to the seaside - with a very assertive teacher using all the phrases I used to use. ‘Excellent listening, Jayden’. I suspect Jayden doesn’t always do that. And a bellow from a TA - ‘William and William, stop right now!’ Followed by a grudging ‘Please.’ Very cool surfer dudes and older surfer dudes who have a patented way of carrying their boards.
And a quartet of rather infirm people in their 70s bickering about whether their tea was strong enough and whether it was a bit windy for them or not. One of them saw my T shirt and asked if ‘this young lady is working for the ambulance service’. When I explained what I was doing, they laughed and turned their backs on me.
At the end of the beach I joined the path again, and climbed up onto the cliff. There I met Claire and her mum Jenny. Not only were they extremely generous to the charity, they were also lovely people to have a chat with. We talked about solo travelling as a woman, and also about writing blogs and how helpful they can be to process an experience. Claire’s blog is about her adventures in a camper van. If you’re interested, it’s camperlives.co.uk.
It was an easy walk to Bude from Widemouth Bay along the path. Bude is the first place I’ve been on this walk that I already know well. I’ve had a number of trips here with dear friends, and it felt odd to be here on my own. And also very sad to see it for the first time since the iconic tree in the centre of the town blew down in Storm Eunice.
I sat in the space called the triangle where the tree used to live, and ate an enormous but extremely disappointing pasty. Size is not everything. Ice cream followers of this blog will be relieved to know that I haven’t missed out today, it was rum and raisin.
My B and B is lovely, extremely comfortable with a bath (the pinnacle of achievement in any accommodation). But mainly the lady who runs it was wonderful at making me feel a bit better about tomorrow’s walk. She was very reassuring and said that although it was going to be a long tough day I would be fine. I remember a landlady being similarly encouraging in the Lakes last year. I could have hugged her. But I’m British, so I obviously didn’t.
I pottered about the town, enjoying walking along the canal by the nature reserve and trying out an excellent tapas restaurant. Then another early night before a super early start in the morning. And the big excitement to look forward to, which is that my lovely sister in law Magda will be there to meet me when I get to Hartland Quay.
Distance travelled: 10 miles, plus 2 miles to walk to the restaurant and back!
Total ascent: 1500 feet
Calories burned: 1400 (this is for the walk alone - not the whole day. Generally I burn between 3,000 and 3,500)
Local tipple: Bankbuster mocktail (sort of mock mojito). My ability to drink alcohol is sadly diminished…
Dinner at Bank at Bude - great tapas made with local ingredients
Scallops with lemon and butter
Cod and prawn stew
Roasted beetroot with goat’s cheese
Lots of bread
New song of the day
Chai - Donuts mind if I do
Japanese girl group synth pop, very chilled. I wasn’t sure on the first listen, but it is a grower. Still not sure quite what they’re singing about though.
Video of the day: