Full English? Day 1, The Bluestones of Stonehenge

We can’t get a full English in the States, they just don’t have real bacon and sausages. So I arose early at the Youth Hostel and slapped together the real thing. Coffee is a whole different subject, I bring that with me!
Today’s plan was to hike the Presili, pop in to see my old mum, and then have a real crack at the Black Mountain. This is how it panned out. I had done so much research on today that although I had a map, or maps actually, if you add the road map for getting there, that I actually never looked at one all day.
I drove from Llanddeusant through Carmarthen, noting the “Open 24x7” sign on the Tescos, and drove on through Crymych to the parking spot I was aiming at. Now OS maps are the best, but please note that the parking spot shown on map here is wrong, it is actually ¼ mile South West, aligning with the next footpath down the road. But anyway, for this little jaunt of 5 miles I had allocated myself 2 hours. That was the plan…..
I walked from the parking spot (roadside parking for about 3 cars) and walked up the short lane, passed through a gate and followed the clear path up the steep hillside to the 3 cairns at the hilltop. From there the obvious thing to do (if you look at a map) is to backtrack down the hill and follow the path to Carn Menyn. [Photo: the wrong way to the path]
From the hilltop I could see Carn Menyn the source of the Stonehenge Blue Dolerite stone, and since that was my next target, I made a beeline for it. Well, let’s just say it was a mistake, after numerous backtracks, scrambling down and up and down again I ended up wading through the marsh to get to my destination. Now on the map Carn Menyn looks like it’s the name for a group of outcroppings, which in fact are there just as marked, but imagine my horror after having done so much research to finally reach my goal, and there it was, limestone! [Photo: Carn Menyn, close up limestone, behind that dolorite]
I looked around, scrambled up a hill or two, definitely limestone, my life was shattered.
I headed for my third and final target of the day, the stone circle, Beddarther. I followed the path round slopped through some mud and soon came upon it. Well time to regroup, sit down and eat a delicious Chocolate Digestive (well ok, a few chocolate digestives) Why can’t we get good biscuits in the States? I sat on a stone. (sorry Beddarthur) and pondered, and ate, and ate and pondered. You know the Dolerite has to be there. [Picture: From Beddarthur looking at Carn Menyn(right) and the Cairns on the hilltop (left)]
I really didn’t look at ALL the outcrops, I gotta go back that way, let’s take another look. So after my sitting and my pondering I approached Carn Menyn from a different angle, and this time, as if by magic it had transformed itself into Dolerite, the famous bluestones of Stonehenge, Dark blue, almost Grey/Black dense hard stone filled with bright white stars. Sometimes described as looking into the sky at night. No wonder this was a magical rock back when Stonehenge was built. I climbed to the top of the highest peak, and sat, and sat, just breathing in what I saw. My grey colored jacket blended into the rock, and people passed by without seeing me, and still I sat, somehow mesmerized.
OK Cleansing breath!
So my 5 miles in 2 hours took me 5 hours and I drove back the way I came.
On reaching Carmarthen, I discovered that in the UK, 24x7 means Tesco’s close at 4 on Sunday, but I got in the door at 3:50, just needed some fruit for me good old Mum, was gonna browse a bit, but there you are!
So long story short, I had to skip doing the 8 mile hike on the Black mountain for that day, but there’s always tomorrow……

New Desktop picture

This weeks new desktop is the harbour at Sennen Cove, just a mile North of Lands End, and a short stagger from the "Old Success Inn"

Day 0, getting to Wales

This was going to be a day a clock watching, Indeed the clock seem to run super slow on Friday at work while I waited at my desk for the appointed time for me to leave Washington DC and catch the bus to the airport. Bus, Airport, Plane, 2 hours sleep, Saturday Morning, Customs and Immigration, another bus and into a rental car.
I got to Heathrow at 6:30AM, and was on the road by 9:00AM. My schedule gave me 45 minutes to get to Sainsbury’s at exit 12 off the M4, 1 hour for shopping, and another hour and 45 minutes to get me to Tintern Abby and then 2 hours for my first glimpse of Offa’s Dyke.
A Glimpse of Offa’s Dyke (5 Mile Circuit hike)
From Tintern Abby I walked ¼ mile North and crossed over the river on the foot bridge. The path is clear, although it’s muddy and climbs uphill fast. Bearing left and then choosing the middle of 3 routes takes you rapidly to the top of the bluff where Offa’s dyke runs along the top of the cliff, parallel to the river.
I had heard that this is one of the best examples of the Dyke so I was a bit disappointed with my first impression; I guess the years have been hard on it. None the less, although the dyke has seen better days, this is a splendid hike with some great views across the Wye valley. And in fact the condition of the dyke improves as you continue Southwards along it. At the top of the hill I turned Right and walked along the dyke for a couple of miles stopping to admire the view at Devils Pulpit with its view over Tintern Abby in the valley below. Continue past Plumwier Cliffs to the old fort then scramble down the hill and at the bottom of the hill follow the river North back to the bridge to finish the loop.
Hike distance 5 miles
From Tintern Abby I drove the 2 hours to LLandovery to visit my old Mum, then on to the Youth Hostel at Llanddeusant to check in.
I checked into the hostel just after 5:00 PM, I was actually almost an hour ahead of my schedule, but 5:00 felt like Noon, what with the jet-lag, and with so much sitting in the plane and whilst driving I still had some chinks to iron out. The Hostel is just a couple of miles from bottom of Fan Foel (the Black Mountain) So I drive over there and hiked up to the ridge, but no further. The murky sky gave no clue of the location of the sun, but my watch told me it was setting. Turning tail after one hour I retraced my footprints. Two days later I hiked the full 8 miles, so more on that later.
Hike distance Almost 4 miles.
All in all a decent Saturday’s adventure.

My Old Mum

My old mum now lives in a care home in Wales on the edge of Brecon Beacons which is a long way from my home in Washington DC. She has full blown Alzheimer’s and gets tired if you spend a long time with her, so when I visited her in September 2009, I chose to spend a hour a day for 4 days rather than spending half a day with her.
What then to do with the remainder of 5 days in South Wales?
South Wales I discovered has a great deal to offer:
• Offa’s Dyke (a 10 day hike)
• The Brecon Way (a 5 day hike)
• The Presili Hills and Carn Menyn the acclaimed source of the Stonehenge Blue Dolerite stones
• The Dan Yr Ogof Show caves
• The Roman Ruins at Caerloen
Clearly there was enough to keep me busy during my down time, in fact, more than enough so I had to make some decisions. I had rented a car for this trip, so a series of one day hikes seemed the best solution given my constraints.
So here was my Challenge, 5 hikes in 5 days

View Day Hikes in Wales in a larger map
I identified 2 sections of Offa’s dyke, two circuit hikes in the Beacons, and a route through the Presili that took in a stone circle, a Hill top fort and Carn Menyn, the Dan Yr Ogof Caves and Caerloen Roman ruins
During the rest February and March I will try to chronicle my trip to South Wales

New desktop picture

OK, enough of the cold stuff, here is this week’s new desktop.

Looking North towards the Hardy Monument as Cows guard a tumulus at Portersham Farm.

BTW that’s Thomas Hardy the Sailor, as in kiss me Hardy, not Thomas Hardy the author, although a lot of people confuse these to Wessex gentlemen with each other.

Anyway, the horizon in this picture pretty much defines this Dorset section of the Southern coastal path, which is a bit strange since the sea was over a mile behind me when I took this one.

Well The Snow has stopped.... ...for now

So DC has an average snowfall of 15 inches, but this year we blew away the all time record with an amazing 55 inches, and we might get snow again Monday, and possible Friday a week from today.
The numbers above are the offical numbers for DC, which are measured in Virginia at Reagan airport, which of course is at sea level and so gets less than elsewhere, but they are the official numbers.
For me, the two back to back storms dumped 30 inches in less than a week, and we still have not seen a snowplow in our street.

Here are a couple of pictures taken around Sunset last night while I was out walking the dogs. Day 8 since it all started.

Final count was 21 inches, but it settled down to 20 inches, i have heard personal reports of over 30

Dogs 'swim' in the snow

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17 inches and still falling

Been snaowing for 24 hours, 16 inches on the deck

Out door table at midnight

Midnight friday and theres 8 inches on the deck

Before the big snow

Its been snowing for 3 hours now, and we have 1 inch of snow. The weather forecast call for 18-24 inches. I don't know if I should laugh or cry

Maps and Research

OK this Is the last thing I have to say about packing (I said that with my fingers crossed, but you couldn't see that, could you?)

Just needed to get some thoughts out the way, so here is the final part of this series, then I can get on to my Wales trip late in 2009

The Internet is great, it gives us access to a phenomenal amount of information, and most of time it is true. But on the path nothing beats the good old Ordinance Survey maps my dad used to use. The Internet of course makes it easy to get hold of them too. In fact even with postage it’s cheaper to buy them in advance and have them mailed to my home in the US, than to purchase them at full price at the destination.
I prefer the paper maps to the coated maps, it’s a fraction lighter, but more importantly you can write on them. I generally like to hike a route with a map one time, so I consider maps to be consumable items.
By the time I get to the start of the hike my map will be marked with:
• Location of YHA/Campground/potential camping sites, including phone numbers/Name/any other relevant information (red)
• Exact minute of sunset for the day I will be arriving at each destination (red)
• Every pub (PH) on or near the route is circled (Blue)
• Every grocery store close to my route (Tesco, Costcutter, Coop, Asda, Sainsburys, Spar, Morrisons, Waitrose, Sommerfields) has been Googled and precisely located - I love Google, I am a total Google maps freak...(Blue)
• Coffee shops (Blue) (Thanks again Google)
• Locations of Bus stops, ferrys, train stations complete with the bus number and anticipated times (Red)
In effect the map becomes a “Just-in-Time” repository for all the information on your route. Where you need it, when you need it.
The internet is the place to research the information; the Map is the place to store it.
Then at the end of each day, or in a coffee shop, or pub, I will carefully trace, in black ink, my route so far. Sometimes I get a couple of days behind, but defiantly do it while its fresh in my mind.
In addition to making the journey easier it saves me from carrying numerous other pieces of paper on my trip.

So thats it, Happy hiking

My Personal Burden

Everyone has their own needs when they pack, it’s a very personal thing, and really it takes a few times to get it right.
One thing you should do when you complete a hike is take a hint from Demming: Plan, Do, CHECK, Act, You planned your trip, you did your trip, and now is the time to CHECK; what did I carry with me that I didn’t use, emergency equipment aside. Act on that learning experience and do better next time.
For my packing I use lot of Ziplocks. For a recent 9 day hike I set up ziplocks with fresh clothing, each bag contained: 1 pr Socks, 1 pr underpants, 1 tee shirt. Suck out all the surplus air. I had 3 of these so whenever I got to an appropriate place to take a shower I took a clean bag and then reused the bag for my dirties (I don’t seal it, or I may as well have throw it away).
One zip-lock for morning stuff, Daily tablets and vitamins, toothbrush, toothpaste, Microfiber towel, coffee bags. Talking of toothpaste, I allow two inches per day, so a nine day hike needs 18 inches of toothpaste, I think that’s about 2 ounces. Whatever you do, don’t take a new toothpaste tube on a hike, buy a small tube a month before you go and when you think you are down to what you need bag it!.Take just what you need to get you to the end.
One zip-lock for critical papers, both passports (US and Euro), national health card, insurance card. Kept it all in one place, kept it safe, that was the only thing I could not afford to lose. If I ever have to abandon my bag in an emergency it’s the one thing I must take
One zip-lock for First aid kit, sharp knife, Corkscrew, flashlights, spare batteries, plastic raincoat, bivvy, padlock. Ok so now you are thinking is this man insane? A padlock. Just to add some perspective it took me a long time to find a suitable padlock, but when I found it, or them, they came in a pack of 3 at the dollar store. Most hostels have lockers, and I always believe that locks are designed to keep honest people off your stuff. Dishonest people will do whatever they want, and a big padlock is an advertisement. My padlock does not register on my kitchen scales, so it’s worth its weight.
I gave up the Swiss army knife a long time ago and replaced it with the components I really used. A real Knife, and a functional corkscrew
1 Pair of trousers to wear, 1 to carry, wrap the spare pair in an appropriately sized plastic bag
Two zip-locks for maps, one contains today’s map and notes, compass, magnifying glass, the second contains everything else.
So now I have everything in bags, but there’s a bit of a compromise, heaviest items at the bottom, or least used items at the bottom. Well I sucked the air out of your spare clothing, so now its quite dense, so all but 1 of those goes at the very bottom, then sleeping bag. Emergency bag goes in a side pocket, today’s food in the other side, important papers go in the roof of the bag, and tent gets tied to the bottom. Actually when you pack you might have room got both the tent and the sleeping bag inside the backpack sincelike me, you are packing light, but remember, if it’s raining when you pitch your tent you don’t want all your gear strewn about on the wet grass looking like a yard sale while you rummage through the bottom of your bag searching for your tent!
And with all those bags, it keeps my gear organized and DRY. Since I know what is in each bag, and where each bag is placed I can find things quickly and easily.

Dc gets another 5 inches

New Screen Saver for this week

Here are a couple of pix from the Brecon Beacons looking south from Cribyn (Pen y Fan) towards the Neuadd Reservour.
Came across some wild horses up on the hills.
Please feel free to use and distribute at your leasure

DC in the Snow

Todays view from my office window, Washington DC in the snow

Lake royal trial

Zen and fay watch ducks at lake royal during a 3 inch snowfall

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Trimming down the Burden

When I talk about trimming my burden I mean that more literally than you might expect:
Tent, my latest tent (well its my sons tent, but I borrow it freely) was a bargain from Ross our local fashion liquidator, it cost $10. Gone are the days when you had to pay more to get a smaller tent. This tent is CHEAP, there nothing to it, it’s missing all the bells and whistles. The tent is just 6 feet by 4 feet, I’m a few hairs over 6 feet, but I can sleep in it diagonally. It has two carbon rods in an “X” which stretch it into shape, so it really doesn’t need tent pegs. So in preparation for my trip, I pitch the tent in my living room and look to see what I don’t need. OK the carbon rods I need those, but they come in a separate bag. Throw away the bag. Inside the tent, an instruction label, I didn’t find the instructions until after I had put the tent up. Snip snip gone! Tent pegs in a neat little bag, history. Little pouch that hangs from the ceiling to store your bits in, you guessed in, there on the scrap pile. So there it is, I took an ultra cheap tent and threw 10% of it away. What’s left weighs about 3 pounds.
First aid kit, nice, comes in a handy Ziploc plastic bag, wrapped inside an orange nylon bag that says First Aid. I know what it is; I throw away the nylon bag.
Flashlight, actually I have 3 lights, a headband with a variety of bright LEDs, a red flashing rear bicycle LED lamp stripped down to the minimum, a small single AAA LED flashlight, it’s as big as your little finger. The headband is for hands free night hiking, the modified red bicycle lamp fits on the back of the headband for road hiking, and also as an emergency locator, and the third is handy to have in the tent at night.
I also have an old 2 megapixel camera, which will take 400 photos before these new high tech batteries run down, still leaving room for an additional 200 more pictures on the 0.5Gb card
Figure out the MINIMUM set of batteries to cover any single event, wrap them all together in a hair-band, and dispense with all other battery packaging
Emergency raincoat, good to have, it usually comes in a plastic bag with a cardboard insert. What do you do with the bag and the insert? Yes you’re getting the picture, it’s now on the pile. Actually, if you have anything whatsoever in your pack made of cardboard you are probably overpacking
A handy to tool to have while packing is a kitchen scale. You can see how much you are winning as your scrap pile grows, and you can do quick comparisons like which is lightest, my 1 titanium spork, or 1 plastic fork plus 1 plastic spoon. Hmmm, now there’s food for thought.

Its your burden

Everyone has something to say about packing, but I have to say I got to where I am today the hard way. Thirty something years ago I was an aspiring hitch hiker. I was heading to Europe to spend 3 months on the road without a car.
So I did a trial run; I hitchhiked from my home in Sussex to Edinburgh, Glasgow and Loch Long and back. It was a 7 day trip, and I was staying in Youth Hostels, so no tent, no sleeping bag, no cooking equipment. I would need all of those in Europe, but not for this trip.
So 7 days packing:
• 7 Shirts
• 7 pairs underpants
• 7 Pairs of socks
• 2 warm sweaters
• 4 pairs of trousers
• Bath towel
• Hand towel
• New tube of toothpaste
• New bottle of shampoo
• ½ pound bar of soap
• Etc.
You get the picture, 7 days with a 45 pound pack. Well it was a trial run and I learned that I carried a lot of stuff I didn’t need. The good news was that I already had everything I needed for my Europe trip, and more.
This time I packed for 3 months. I had a “Boy scout” 2 person tent, it was the lightest I could afford back then, a well used coffin shaped down bag, 3 pots, aluminum Knife fork and spoon, Camping gaz stove with a spare cylinder. And less clothing for 3 months than I previously packed for 1 week. I was down to 40 pounds.
Well long story short, I actually carried that burden for 5 months, through Amsterdam, Berlin (the wall was still up then), Czechoslovakia, Italy, Spain, Oktoberfest, and when I got home I was still carrying every pound, although I had lost a few pounds of body fat.
One year later, 1978, I walked the Pennine way, 272 miles, 16 days, 6 pound bag. Yes that’s not a typo, six pounds.
I can’t tell you what you need and what you don’t need, it’s your choice and your burden, but in the next couple of weeks I will give you my version of packing light.

Happy Hiking


Desktop Picture

New desktop for this week, looking East from Mt Snowdon, Wales. Sept 12 2009.
Please use and share at your leasure

Pins and needles

Yellow fever shot in one arm, Hep "A" and "B" in the other, Malaria tabs and Typhoid medications, mix it all together.....

Well it wasnt too bad, just a pain in the wallet.

The Inca Trail

Well today is the first step in hiking the Inca trail :) We go to get our Yellow fever shots and Malaria prescriptions


Todays Blog (I need your help)

The Southwest Coast path from Lands-End to Poole Dorset is pretty well defined, and the Southdowns way from Winchester to Easbourne is well defined too, and some of it is along the coast, but I need to find a path between the two!

How do I get from Poole to Winchester?

Is there a path from Poole to Christchurch?
Is there a path through the new forest from Poole or Christchurch to Winchester?
Is there a path through the new forest from Christchurch to the Lymington/Freshwater Isle of Wight ferry?
I have walked round the Isle of wight so I know that bit is good
Is there a path from the Fishbourne/Portmouth ferry to the South Downs way? and if so where is the best place to join it?

• 12-16 miles per day.
• Places of interest.
• Places to stay. (Hostels, B&Bs, Camp sites, legal places to camp out)
• Places to find provisions. Grocers, Shops, Pubs, Café’s
• Recommended coffee shops
• Historical interests (Roman ruins, Bronze Age forts, Stone Age circles, etc.)
Pick a mile, pick a day, It’s your Blog Too

Walking the Entire Coast of Britain

Just to make that clear, my definition of Britain is the mainland and Islands that comprise the two countries England and Scotland, together with the Principality of Wales.
That is a long way, about 6000 miles, and will take most of 2 years. About 2/3 if the English coast is publically accessible, of the rest, large portions are permissive paths, which means you can walk them, but restrictions and closures may apply, Other parts are private, or owned by the government. Scotland has less access than England
That means that portions can’t be walked. So when I say circumnavigating I am leaving myself some flexibility, seriously I plan to walk 80% of the way round along the coast, and the remainder using detours.
For example, I consider the Southern coast of the Isle of Wight a viable alternative to hiking the impassable Southampton and Portsmouth docklands. The West Sussex coast is largely built up and has many short inaccessible sections, but Sussex also has the South Downs Way from Winchester to Eastbourne, and I consider that a valid alternative, especially since some of it is along the coast, and much of it has views of the coast.
I plan to make “Best use” of the coast, exploring waterways, islands, steam engines, cable cars. So if you want a strict walk the coast, this is not it, I don’t believe it is even possible, but 80% coast and 20% inland is the goal.
So that’s my part, the walking, your part, with your team of bloggers is to find me a route. Help me find ways past the blocks, find me interesting sidetracks, recommend places to visit, and places to skip (with alternatives). And yes, it is fine for you to discuss it amoungst yourselvs, after all this is a blog.

In the meantime, explore my Blog which describes some the British paths I have already explored.

Cornwall Hike – 9 Days, 121 miles

The North Cornish coastal path is incredible, well spaced accommodation and clear paths and few walkers. Every third night a real town, what more does a hiker need

View North Cornwall 9 Day Hike in a larger map

Getting to the start (Day 0) Washington DC to Cornwall

View Getting to the start (Day 0) Washington to Lands En0 in a larger map
Friday Afternoon I left my office in Washington DC a little early, rode the Metrobus to the Airport, and soon made myself as comfortable as possible in back quarters of a United Airlines jet. Breezing through Heathrow customs early on Saturday morning with my 17 pounds of luggage was easy and I strolled to the bus stop to await my National Express chariot to convey me to Cornwall.
One bus, one seat, 3 different drivers and 8 hours later I was the last remaining passenger as the bus rolled down the A30 on the final leg to Penzance. Respectfully, I asked the driver if he could drop me at the bus stop at the Tesco’s 1 mile short of our posted destination. Instead he took me right up to the Tesco parking lot and dropped me at the crossing.

Tesco’s not only provides groceries, it also has a freephone to the local taxi service. My shopping list was short: Water, pork pie for supper, Sandwich for tomorrow dinner, Flake, Mars bar (Don’t you love the British Candy!) and a bottle of Chianti to wash it down. The Taxi arrived quickly and I was soon on my way to my starting point: Porthgwarra.
I know it was going to be tight, I missed sunset by 7 minutes, but I still had 20 minutes of dusk to find a spot and pitch my tent.

Perfect! The southernmost tip of the Porthgwarra cliffs, 30 feet from the edge, there was a small well drained flat spot. I pitched the tent, made up my bed in the dwindling light and opened the wine. Taking into account loosing 5 hours as I crossed timezones, I had travel from my desk in downtown Washington DC to the very end of the land in just 22 hours.
Distance hiked today 0.2 Miles (unless you count the hike from the airplane to immigration at Heathrow)
Well, that went exactly as planned, so far so good, but that was when things started to go downhill (metaphorically, not physically I’m glad to say)
The weather forecast had indicated the temperatures at night would drop just below 50, and that would be accompanied by some rain on the second night, these were the only nights that I would be camping, so my bed comprised a fleece blanket and a small inflatable airbed. Well the first night was very clear and the temperature dropped and dropped as the night went on. The heavy winds whipping up over the cliff edge and the temperature plummeted. Bit by bit during the night I put on every piece of clothing I possessed and finally around 2AM I was forced to break out my Adventure Medical Kits bivvy, a 3 ounce aluminum and polyolefin body bag.
Whew, as soon as I got in the bag I immediately felt the warmth. I slept like a log until the Sun came up at around 6AM
I woke up to traces of frost on the ground, so I’m guessing it got down to the 30’s – But Ooh that windchill!

Rounding the tip (Day 1) Porthgwarra and Lands End to Pendeen, via the Crowns

View Day 1 Pothgrawa to Pendeen in a larger map
Why Porthgwarra for the start, well lots of reasons, prominently: it’s not actually the commercial center of lands end, I could camp there with no hassle and I can be past with Land End by Breakfast time.
I got up at 6AM, let’s not think about Jetlag, and discovered to my great pleasure that I was already dressed for the day! Over dressed if anything. I broke camp and hit the trail. By 8:30 or 9:00 I had covered the 3.7 miles to Lands End, holding my breath as I passed the small cluster of buildings that passes for a petting zoo, and was first in line for a Coffee and a Cornish Pasty. I shed half my clothes before I got to Lands end, and once there changed into shorts and a Tee as the warmth of the day kicked in. The bathrooms (OK Toilets!) were closed at that early hour, and I was not unobserved doing a quick change.

Hey, you know, the Lands End Coffee shop does a decent Cornish pasty, one of the better ones I found on my trail. Although, having lived in the USA for the past 30 years, I will refrain from discussing their coffee; I did however get a second cup.
I thought there was a pub at the end, but it’s a tea shop, well times change (or my memory does) I walked on just over a mile to Sennen Cove, with its fishing harbour, and as the time was approaching noon I popped into the “Old Success Inn” for a traditional beverage, well two actually, and walked along the beach.

The next six miles took me past Aire Point, Cape Cornwall and on to Botallack where I saw what I think is one of the biggest highlights of today walk, The Crowns. The Crowns, as far as I can tell is the collective name for half a dozen or so abandoned tin mines, One out on a narrow ledge, the others around the rim of the cliff. What I find amazing, and hard to imagine on a beautiful sunny day like today, is the hostility of Living your life in this environment, a mine shaft only feet from the sea, accessible only from a long ledge halfway down the cliff, with the full force of North Atlantic Gales.

From the Crowns, the path continues over to Pendeen which has a magnificently restored steam “Beam” engine at the Levant mine.
My path for today continued through the mine slag piles and then turned abruptly right, away from the coast and into the village of Pendeen, wherein lies the North Inn, a small B&B with a large campsite.
Traditional English Pub Food, Campsite, Full English Breakfast, hot showers, what more can you ever need? Oh Yes, beer… It’s got that too.
Distance hiked today 15.1 Miles

Zen and fey enjoy a walk in yesterdays snow

After 10 days of sub zero temps, lake mercer is frozen

The Path Less Travelled (Day 2) Bosigran Cliff to Carbis bay via Zennor Head and Is Ives

View Day 2 Hike Pendeen to St Ives in a larger map
A relaxing Full English Breakfast in an old English pub more than made up for the rain during the night. English rain is usually lighter than some of the storms we get in the US, but it can go on for days. In this case the rain stopped early and I was able to dry my gear quickly and get on with the day.
I left my tent, fleece and inflatable mattress at the pub for a later drive-by pickup and grabbed the 507 Western Greyhound bus from Pendeen for a mile or so up to Rosmergy where the B3306 swings within 100 yards of the coastal path, where I headed for Bosigran Cliffs.
The 4.7 miles from Bosigran to Zennor are superlative. They are the remotest, the hilliest, the rockiest, the narrowest, and the quietest part of the North Cornwall costal path. I didn’t see a single person until I got to Zennor. It’s a shame really because this really is a very pretty part of the coastline, but I think the lack of access forces hikers to focus on the next 6 miles, from Zennor to St ives. Zennor offers B&B, a pub, parking and a bus service to St Ives and so is a popular starting or ending point for this segment towards St Ives.
The ups and downs continue, and rounding Carn Naun Point gives us the first views of the distant coastline of North Cornwall, past St Agnes and Newquay and most of the way to Padstow. Closer in you catch a glimpse of St Ives Head, otherwise known as the Island, which of course it is not, just beyond St Ives, the lighthouse at Godrevy Navax Point. All along this section the views continue to be spectacular, and the path is wider although muddy in places.
I found the last mile into St Ives a bit confusing. This close to the town there are dozens of interwoven tracks and no signs for the coast path. From the coast path as you traverse the muddy path past the final chine veer to the left and go down the hill. At the bottom of the hill bear right onto the long uphill path and you will be on track.
From here I continued past the beach and round the head which contains a small chapel on the top and on the far side a coast guard station, which is elegantly concealed by the hill. OK, I’m Dumb, So who is the chapel on St Ives Island (which isn’t an island) dedicated to? Of course it’s dedicated to St Nicholas. Beyond the Island I continued South to Carbis Bay and then backtracked to St Ives to find the St Ives Backpackers
The Backpackers was quite full with a school group, but I got a room to myself which was a nice treat. It is also centrally located; opposite a moderate Indian restaurant Rainpoot Tandoori which does a classic Anglo-Indian meal, close to a Coop for restocking provisions and opposite a taxi rank.
Distance hiked today 14 miles

An Easy Stroll (Day 3) Hayle Townes to Portreath via Gwithian Bridge, Godrevy Navax Point and Basset's Cove

View Day 3 from Hayle Towans to Portreath in a larger map
A real storm came in during the night and the morning was wet, windy and dark. It was 10AM by the time I was ready to leave, so I left Backpackers and walked 50 yards to the taxi rank.
The coast is long and I only have a limited time in the UK, and some places are simply not worth the time investment required to walk them. So with apologies to those who live in Lelant, I believe the mud flats known as Hayle Estuary, can be viewed quite adequately as you drive through them on the B3301 causeway (This road doubles as the official coastal path). As the crow files, Carbis Bay to the Towens is 1 mile, by costal path its 6.4 miles, and by taxi across the causeway through the mud flats it’s about 20 minutes.
The taxi was one of those minivans, like a Mums Taxi, so the driver (who must have thought me crazy) suggested I get ready in the back where there was room to stand, in a stoopy sort of way. Hat, Gloves, my ever faithful The North Front hooded coat, my backpack, and all wrapped up inside a $1 disposable rain jacket. I exited the van backwards, feeling like Neil Armstrong as he stepped backwards down the ladder onto the moon: One small step for man….. Ok so I look like an alien, but none-one else is ever likely to be out there on a day like today and see me anyway!
The driver had dropped in one of the many empty parking lots (Car Parks) next to Hayle Towans beach, so following my mantra, “Sea on the left, sea on the left….” I proceeded without looking at my map along the beach and through the dunes to Gwithian Bridge.
By the time I got to the bridge the rain had subsided to a light drizzle and once up on the cliff it was nothing more than a mist. The visibility rose to where I could make out the shadowy shape of Hayle Towans 3 miles behind me, I took out my camera and snapped a picture looking back, and then I saw it! Lighting struck the beach exactly where I had been walking just 30 minutes ago. Kind of gives you the willies. Didn’t catch it in the photo 
The path past the lighthouse at Navax is level and actually very well maintained so it was an easy walk and just beyond that I was pleasantly surprised to see about 20 seals in the next cove. The 5 miles from Navex lighthouse to Portreath follows the flat path along the cliff. A well maintained straight path runs between two wind braking hedges, with excellent disabled access from each of the parking lots. There are periodic views where the hedge has been cleared which are spectacular, and just one chine towards the end of the route.
After the chine the path reverts to the norm, but remains relatively flat until it drops down into Protreath.
Portreath has a small grocery store and the Youth Hostel is two miles inland, So I grabbed a few provisions before leaving the town.
The Youth Hostel only had three guests, a couple and me, so again I had a room to myself. I did take the opportunity to borrow some additional covers from the neighboring beds as the heat had been off for some time prior to my arrival. The YHA web site has good directions from the coastal path to this location. Check them in advance because there are no signs on the circuitous 2 mile path. The signs were apparently removed to deter local youths for tormenting the owners.
Distance hiked today 11.5 miles

High Seas in the Storms Aftermath (Day 4 )Portreath to Perranporth via St Agnes

View Day 4 Portreath to Perranporth in a larger mapThere were patches of blue in the sky as I retraced my steps back from the Portreath Youth Hostel to the coastal path, the wind was up and the clouds were racing. Today coast path starts with some serious ups and downs as you pass by an old airfield, before dropping down into Porthowan. Porthowan has a fine coffee shop on the beach which was busy even out of season. I joined a small group sitting in a bay window and we passed the time talking about the weather which is what the British do.
Trekking towards St Agnes, this well trodden area has a spider’s web of paths, but the one true path is clearly signposted (photo) and continues past the multiple abandoned tin mines at Chapel Porth including one on the path itself. Past this tin mine the path thins out a bit to a single trial and needs no signage (sea on the left…)
The winds continued to build up and the waves got bigger and bigger. Here at the coast the swell was about 30 feet, and the waves were crashing over 100 feet into the air. As I round St Agnes Head I can see the tonight’s Goal, the Youth Hostel sitting prominently at the top of the hill above Perranporth with waves crashing on the cliffs below.
For the final mile, the path runs along the side of the hill made of loose scree with a slope going up 30 degrees to my right, and down 30 degrees towards a cliff on my left. With wind speeds of 50MPH my progress was both slow and malicious.
Perranporth YHA is small and well managed. There were only 4 guests since it was out of season but great fun to be there.
Distance hiked today 14.2 miles

Changing Scenery - Changing Weather(Day 5) Perranporth to Newquay via Ligger Point and Holywell Bay

View Day 5 Perranporth to Newquay in a larger mapThe coast between Perranporth and Newquay, the first 2 miles (as the crow flies) is a straight as an arrow walk along the beach. The second 2 miles (ATCF) is an 8 mile hike with pocket beaches nestled between promontories.
You can hike the official path along the clifftop, or hike a full two miles up the beach, and scramble up a steep ramp at the far end to get up to the path, but be warned, if you are only there for a short stroll and you go just a quarter mile down the beach and the tide comes in, then you are going the long way home.
This day started as good as any, with a few blue patches in the sky. But a daunting grayness growing in the West. I came down from the hostel and into the town and stood on the beach, in fact I started to stroll a few steps up the beach. There with the sun on my back I saw the most gorgeous full double rainbow. The beach was blocked by the outgoing tide, I turned back.
The Beach has a café with a large awning, so I sat with a cup of coffee and watched the storm pass by.
The tide was going out and the path to the full beach was flirting with the tips of the waves as I finished my coffee. The rain was moderate, but had backed off from the downpour 10 minutes earlier. My $1 disposable rain jacket was re-designated as my reusable rain-jacket and I slipped it over my gear once again in preparation to leave. As I set forth once again on the sand I saw ahead of me a group of about 10 other hikers. Looking at them made me feel like a novice. They had two hiking poles apiece, their heavy duty rubberized rainwear was crisp and new and their brightly colored packs were bulging with every possible amenity a hiker could desire. My poor pack, sans tent and sleeping gear, weighing in at a mere 11 pounds looked sad and saggy, and my raincoat dowdy. Also their guide clearly knew the exact second the tide would recede to reveal the path and boldly led them through just as the final wave fell back
By the time I got to the path it was 30 feet wide and the hikers were spread out half a mile ahead of me
Two miles on, the group was gathering together in preparation for an organized accent to the path 30 feet above, so with a nod of the head and a “Mornin’” I passed them by and scrambled up. They must have mistaken me for their leader because they all immediately began to follow. At the top I turned left and continued the long assent towards the heads at Ligger point, where I was able to stow my rain jacket, and on to Holywell with its eclectic collection of radio antennas.
From there I went down into Holywell bay where I had a choice, either go down to the beach and loose all my altitude, or follow the path straight ahead onto a sand dune, so I did the latter, I ran down the last part of the hill to get some momentum to run up the soft dune on the other side. Then I realized that I was not done, ahead of me I saw the same challenge again, down and up, down and up. The dunes seemed endless. Finally I got to the last one only to find that I had to go all the way down to sea level and walk up some wood steps at the end.
To anyone else I would suggest: walk along the beach!
The next 5 miles were a true pleasure to walk; The journey did start with a sudden three minute hail storm with 3/8 inch hailstones, but then brilliant sunshine. Two massive promontories each jut out a mile into the sea with a small deep beach between them. Rounding the second land mass brings you to Crantock beach and the long walk past Pentire, which you see on top of a cliff on the other side of the fast river.
The coast path offers 3 legitimate ways to cross this river:
• ½ mile inland is the seasonal ferryboat
• 1 mile inland is the low tide bridge at Pentire
• 3 miles inland is the A3075 road bridge
By now the tide was well out, so while the ferry was not an option, thankfully the low tide bridge was open. The official path continues round the coast but skips the headland at Newquay. This headland offers a great view in both directions and is well worth the extra ½ mile to go out there. Passing the old fishing port in Newquay, I arrived at the St Christopher’s Hostel in Newquay, my destination for today.
Newquay is a lively little town offering surfing schools and a wide variety of evening entertainment. The New Maharajah on Cliff Road was recommended by a local I randomly met in the street and I pass that recommendation on. I went to bed at 9:00.
Distance Hiked today 13.6 miles.