LEJOG06: Wadebridge to Boscastle

I awoke to find the outer sheet of the tent once again covered in moisture. At home this had been annoying but manageable-on the road I had the tricky issue of what was I meant to do when packing up. Should I just pack it sodden wet, and how could i make sure it didn’t get thebotet contents of my bag wet?

My solution was to chuck it in a tumble drier on cool for a couple of minutes, which seemed to do the trick. However, negotiating a soaked outer sheet on a small tent first thing in the morning, and trying to make sure none of my posessions got dripped on, wasn’t fun. The camping malarky increasingly seemed less romantic and more an extra clallenge that I didn’t need. The walk was hard enough!

Dealing with the outer, sorting myself out and packing in a campsite context took a bit longer than expected and I eventually left at 9am, 1 hour later than planned. Also I was back on an inland short cut and I managed almost instantly to get lost. In fact I didn’t get to Port Issac, the place where I rejoined the coast path, until gone 12 o’clock due to taking a wrong foot path and having to ask a builder for directions to get me back on track (when I asked him where I was he wittily replied ‘cornwall’ before deciding to actually be helpful and look at my map).

This was over an hour later than I’d hoped and bad for two reasons. One was my fragile state of mind, which this navigational hiccup served to wobble significantly towards the hysterical end of the scale. The second was the fact that the journey from port issac was predicted to take over seven hours, five hours of which were described as ‘severe’. I was currently on track to get to the youth hostel for 7:30 which wasn’t ideal as it didn’t give me much time to relax and recover from such an ordeal. So, not ideal.

However, I had to keep moving on if I was going to have a bed for the night. At Port Issac I handed over the heavier contents of my bag to a taxi driver to take to the hostel. I knew how hard it was going to be and wanted to reduce my weight as much as possible. Then I started on the stretch to Tintagel which had been billed as one of the hardest on the south west coast path.

It consisted of a series of intense sections where a valley met the sea and the path went really steeply down and then insanely steeply up. I could see them coming over the edge of each valley because the path on the other side would become so starkly vertical and thus strikingly visible. As i got nearer the full extent of the path slowly revealed itself and my heart would drop as I realized just how long and steep it was.

These were exhausting but never felt as dangerous or as much like rock climbing as Zennor to St Ives. However, at this point exhausting was bad enough. I was sweating profusely, my legs didn’t seem to have the power in them of the previous days, my big toes had developed a particularly intense pain, and a blister was growing on my left heel. My mum’s words about ‘over-doing it’ reverberated in my mine, even without the full weight of the bag on my back.

However, I soldiered through, got round Tintagel and the amazing King Arthur’s Castle, an outcrop of rock as big as a ocean liner sitting docked by the coast. I didn’t stop to explore but had to power on: another frustration with my current route.

I eventually got to Boscastle, the lovely little village nestled in a creek harbour that recently became infamous due to major flooding. Looking at how steep and small the valley was in which the village sat I was amazed it hadn’t happened before-it looked like a natural disaster waiting to happen.

The village itself was a bit unsettling. Everything in the traditional style of the other places I’d been though but looked shiny and new due to having recently been rebuilt. As a result it felt a bit Disneyland, a bit like a film set. Luckily the pub I went to, the Cob Web Inn, was above the flood line and felt very lived in. It had small windows, a low ceiling with wooden beams and was covered top to bottom in pub ephemera such as photos, paintings, newspaper cuttings, old bottles, fishing implements. It was dark, fusty and claustrophic; I loved it. It was so traditional it even had a group of local men at the bar still arguing about Thatcher. I would have stayed longer if I wasn’t so absolutely shattered. Instead, I hobbled back to the youth hostel and fell into a deep an well needed sleep.

6 Responses to “LEJOG06: Wadebridge to Boscastle”

  1. 1 Sam Williams April 19, 2009 at 11:43 am

    Sounds pretty damn tough! Hope you are enjoying your well earned day off. We are enjoying your daily blogs – keep them coming! Despite the challenges I’m really jealous… Sam and Sandy.

  2. 3 Dave April 19, 2009 at 12:40 pm

    For a while the route sounded too civilised to be taxing – all those quaint villages. Then you met those people STILL talking about THATCHER. You’re beyond the black stump now, Brendan. Best of Luck!

    • 4 brendanbolger April 19, 2009 at 8:34 pm

      The entire pub was a bit of a time warp back to the early eighties, including many if the fashions worn, and was actually quite cosy and comforting as a result.

      Believe me, the route is taxing enough, my feet are a collage of compeer plasters! I need St Christopher to be looking over me at the mo.

      • 5 brendanbolger April 19, 2009 at 8:37 pm

        I could try it but then I’d have to bet against myself, which is a sure route to madness!

        Not barnstaple yet, near Bude where nick’s place is. Arriving in Barnstaple on wednesay-hopefully!

  3. 6 Raj April 19, 2009 at 7:39 pm

    Alright Bilbo Baggins!

    Great read. Reminds me of when I’ve done sections of the path. Have you noticed that everybody you pass says hello? I walked the St. Agnes – Newquay stretch with my friend Jason a few years ago. So many people would say hi, or hello or comment on the weather that when we saw people up ahead we started whispering predictions to each other of what they’d say. On occasion they’d turn into wagers so these poor people would see us coming and wonder why we were looking shifty talking under our breath and then suddenly stop talking when we approached, then as we passed we’d be staring at them with baited breath, then depending on their response one of us would look slightly disappointed and the other happy. Made us laugh. You should try it on yor own at the risk of looking mental. BTW are you typing everything on an iphone? That must be so frustrating. I’m guessing by your location finding thingy you’re in Barnstaple. Lovely. Keep it up.. like there’s any other option?

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