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  • Writer's pictureJane Smith

Day 8 Port Isaac to Tintagel

A shorter walk in miles, but lots of incline today. So I decided to take it slow to protect my knees and because I had time. When training, I would generally walk at 17’ 30” per mile. My average today will be a lot slower than that, but that’s fine. I called in at a pasty shop to get supplies for lunch, as there’ll be few opportunities on the walk today. No pasties. But a very fine range of Doc Martin memorabilia.

My phone has a mindfulness app which reminds me to take a minute out of my day to just breathe and think of nothing but that. There is nothing more mindful than climbing the steep sections of the coastal path. With the weight of the rucksack, the unbalancing effect means I need total concentration in order to negotiate each step. Often the path involves steps or inclines that are marginally too high for my legs. This then requires both physical and psychological strength to trust my body, and my poles, to make the leap of faith to put all the weight on the ascending foot. I hear myself, at a distance, saying ‘come on then’ as I go for the next incline.

Although the inclines with steps are very tough, the most frightening are the loose shale paths. I plan every step twice, checking with my poles that the ground is secure before moving forward. One section, at Barrett’s Zawn, was so steep and perilous that I resorted to hands and knees. I had to consciously put out of my mind the implications of what would happen if I took a wrong step, or my poles didn’t hold. For added piquancy, the path is lined with overgrown gorse, so any inadvertent havering to the side causes further irritation to my skin. Should have worn my long trousers today!

Today’s walk is essentially hill after hill, some easier going on grass, some much more challenging. I knew one was called the Mountain, and as I saw it rear up towards me I could see why. It’s daunting seeing the descent immediately ahead, which is tough on the knees, and then in the distance the climb, which is tough on the cardio vascular. I felt a bit scared. But I had no option but to continue, and because I’m a massive nerd, I made up a motivating song which I sang to myself all the way down and all the way up again. It was well constructed, with a particularly catchy middle 8. It did the job for me.

But I won’t be sharing it.

I was so relieved to get to the end that I had a bit of a chat with a herd of young cows (safely behind a fence). They were really impressed with how well I’d done.

When I got to the top, I looked at the map to discover that actually I had climbed up Jackets Point, and The Mountain was still to come. That was a bit of a low point, but meeting Mariann, Jim, Chuck & Cheri, cheery Americans walking a longish section of the coastal path, helped a lot. I think I might have convinced them to do the Coast to Coast next time they travel to the UK. They were going to sponsor me, too. Thanks!

The paths are much less well maintained on this section, with many parts very overgrown. There were also a lot of stiles which seemed like rubbing salt in the wound after doing so much climbing. But a special mention to the farmer who had added a sturdy hand hold to aid getting over it. Made such a difference.

After having seen no one in the first hour or so, there were then a number of encounters as the day progressed. One young man was speeding up the hills as part of running the whole of the coastal path. Fair play. I also met another young man who told me that a few months ago he’d met a girl walking the whole of the coastline. Fair play to her too.

I took a number of breaks today, giving myself the chance to take it all in, as well as recovering from the climbs. Although tired, I felt very lucky as I lay on the grass looking at the view with my cup of thermos tea, and getting to know a beetle getting on with life next to me.

As I was finishing my sad sandwich-instead-of-a-pasty lunch, I met Chris, Rick, Marie Pascal and Eric. They were most supportive and interested and it was good to have their company.

Then shortly afterwards I met Christine and Norman, who gave me cash for the charity and also had lots of interesting stories ranging from the use of sheep’s wool in New Zealand to deter blisters, to hot walks in Australia and extraordinary tales about their son’s charity rowing around the UK. So many people are up to these sorts of challenges.

It was interesting on the final stretch before Tintagel to see the effects of the slate quarrying industry that started in the 15th century. Some of the cliffs are scarred and distorted, and there is a spectacular tower of inferior slate that’s been left behind.

Although only 10 miles, today has felt much longer. In case anyone wants context, the total ascent of 2464 feet was the same as climbing Mount Scott in Oklahoma. And as expected, it was slow going, averaging 26’ 30” a mile. On top of having very tired and achy legs, repeated vertical motion meant that I sadly got my first blister. Hopefully a rest day in Tintagel will give everything a chance to heal a bit before the next walk starts on Wednesday.

I had booked myself into Tintagel’s vegan restaurant for dinner tonight. When I arrived they had no record of my booking. But the owner was very obliging, and suggested that I team up with the other solo woman in the restaurant. As part of trying to say yes to whatever this trip gives me, I was very happy to do so. What a lovely hour or so we spent together. Nicole is German, but spoke English beautifully. Her story is extraordinary, 4 years ago she left her job, sold her furniture and started to travel, going wherever her heart directed her all over the world. She started a podcast to share her experiences with others. Although there are lots of ways that we are very different, in others I felt that we were so similar. If you are a German speaker, her podcast is Reise meines Herzen mit Nicole.


Distance - 10 miles

Total ascent - 2464 feet

Calories burned - 1844

Local tipple - vegan ginger beer

Dinner at Vega in Tintagel - very good and very cheap!

Coconut dhal and chickpea curry with rice

New song of the day

Mark Owen - You only want me

Chirpy, and catchy, but he’s better off when he’s singing with the Take That boys…

Video of the day:

Number of miles walked so far: 101 Wowzers!

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