JOGLE Day 63 04/07/17 Zennor – Lands End 17 miles

Well I did it! The walk today was less important than the emotional battle going on inside my head as I really started to realise the impact this adventure has had on other people. 

Back at Zennor to start Cath and I met the breakfast chef at the Tinners Arms who revealed she had lost her husband to Prostate Cancer 3 years ago, so I set off already with a lump in my throat. The coastal path was wetter due to rain overnight but there was little wind so everything seemed very still. Time seemed to pass quite slowly at first as I climbed round a series of small headlands and coves, past the Gurnards Head and some wild poniesbefore reaching the rocky cove at Bosigran where some important filming was taking place. Several security staff, some cameramen, spotters and a couple of “action men” getting ready for the shoot. All I could obtain was that it was some sort of cliff and rock climbing safety video, so decided not to hang around – then as I left the helicopter arrived, presumably with the  reason for the security inside. Very exciting but I had to make tracks so it will remain a mystery.Sometime later as the day got warmer I made it to Pendeen Watch lighthouse and stopped for a short break.With no phone signal I decided to leave the coast path and head inland for a few miles through Pendeen to St Just where I managed to get my blog up to date. My phone then started to explode with texts, mails and FB messages wishing me luck on my last day – I began to wonder how tough it was going to be emotionally over the last few miles. I hit the coast path again near Cape Cornwall and almost immediately got my first sight of Lands End on the horizon. Significantly I reached the last of my printed OS route maps – another moment which brought home the scale of this adventure and the unavoidable fact that I was nearly there.

I got to Sennen Cove and stopped with about 1 mile to go to try and compose myself for what was to come. ​​I was fine for the next half mile until two unknown gentlemen stopped, congratulated me and presented me with a couple of Prostate Cancer UK balloons. I realised then that something had been planned for my arrival  and knew it would be very hard to manage my emotions from there on. As I crested the final brow I could see a group of people gathered by the signpost and as I got closer the applause and cheering started. There was even a klaxon going off. I began to recognise the people I knew (Cath, Shirley, Cazzy and Penny and Mick Howard all wearing PCUK t-shirts holding a banner with a montage of photos from this trek) and a crowd of tourists and visitors all cheering me home. Those last 100 yards were amongst the hardest of the entire trek – the tears welled up behind my sunglasses, I walked to Cath (my rock of support for the last 9 weeks) hugged her and just cried as the raw emotion took over. (I just re-lived all of that as I wrote it, by the way, and it took a while to get that down…). When I managed to compose myself it was time for photos and introductions to Mark and Joanne Travis who had come welcome me on behalf of Prostate Cancer UK and helped Cath organise the balloons, t-shirts etc. After a celebratory drink I took a moment before leaving LE to try and just savour this  last experience alone by the First and Last Inn. I’m sure I’ll re-live parts of this walk over and over and will carry with me memories for a lifetime. I’ve done 1211 miles End to End on foot in 63 days, my GPS tells me I’ve climbed over 200,000 feet but I don’t believe that. Anyway I’ve probably done at least 4 Mount Everests. I don’t have all the step data as I was phoneless for several days through the middle but it’s going to be about 2.5 million. What is most important though is that we (that’s everyone involved) have managed to raise in the end over £5000 for Prostate Cancer UK, and hopefully done our bit to help generate more awareness along the way. I have a massive list of people to thank (they will know who they are) and will deal with that separately. Time to celebrate!!!

JOGLE Day 62 03/07/17 Gwithian – Zennor 16 miles

It was drizzling when I set off and forecast was for fog around midday. I had already planned to miss out the dunes or towans between Gwithian and Hayle so made good time along a not busy road with plenty of footpaths. Hayle is not a particularly inspiring place and even the free wifi in Asda was not up to much so I filmed a quick video and continued towards St Ives. I passed the first marker I have seen since JOG with Lands End written on it. 17 miles by road – about 28 for me.

Walking past Carbis Bay I could see the fog across the water back to Gwithian but by the time I got to St Ives the sun was coming out and it was warming up nicely. St Ives was very busy but I stopped for a coffee and a bite to eat then headed onto the coastal path for the afternoon. Once more there was some good coastline but the walking was just difficult because of the terrain, not particularly steep but muddy, rocky and overgrown in places.After a relatively short day I got to Zennor in great time and a deserved beer at the Tinners Arms where Cath, Cazzy and Shirley had come to meet me.We drove back to Trevalgan camp site and then later back to Perranporth where we met up with Ally (remember him my fellow JOGLER?) for a good meal, some beer and loads of stories from the last 9 weeks. Then it was off to bed dreaming of the final day…

JOGLE Day 61 02/07/17 Perranporth – Gwithian 17 miles

The eerie fog of last night had gone by this morning and the blue skies looked perfect as I set off on Day 61, still not really believing I have walked almost 1200 miles in the last 2 months. I took lanes through St Agnes (quite hilly!) to shortcut the coastal path as far as Porthtowan where I got back up onto the cliffs with some fantastic views of the coastline ahead and behind.There were a couple of short steep ups and downs before I reached Portreath, but I have noticed now how the heather is starting to flower and change the colour of the landscape.More views of rugged coastline followed as I covered the next few miles towards Godrevy point, passing Hells Mouth and a small colony of seals along the way (can you spot them?)Feeling good and way ahead of time I decided not to miss out Godrevy point and took the longer route around the headland to get a closer look at the lighthouse.After a brief rest and some reflection on this trek (difficult to take it all in in one go) the last mile or so into Gwithian was easy and I arrived at the camp site before Cath and Betty. A quick check on social media revealed she had been down to Perranporth beach. When she arrived in Gwithian she brought with her the surprise of Cazzy and Shirley who have driven down from Staffordshire to join us for the last couple of days. If anyone is asking – Shirley is not walking with me and she has not brought rain with her – at least not yet!!!

JOGLE Day 60 01/07/17 Mawgan Porth – Perranporth 18 miles

The poor weather finally gave way to sunshine this morning so it felt good to set off in decent conditions. My first target was Newquay which I could see in the distancea nice walk along the coast path via the beach at Porth. Arriving in the town I realised that the British & Irish Lions test in New Zealand would just be finishing and purely by chance (honest!!) I spotted an Irish Bar across the street. I rushed in just in time to see the last 2 minutes of a famous victory – that raised my morale even higher. Due to the high tide I had to cross the Gannel via a footbridge and had planned my route accordingly, missing out a chunk of the SWCP and heading across farmland for the pretty village of Crantock where I had a short rest and watched as the clouds rolled in. From there I headed out towards the dunes and through Holywell Bay with a popular beach before climbing back onto the cliffs. A short while later I descended onto the beach at Perran Sands for a long walk to Perranporth which was very busy with tourists and locals getting ready for the Tunes in the Dunes festival. Feeling a little out of place in my walking boots I sped through and back onto the final cliff stretch scattered with remnants of tin and tungsten mining. The wind was still quite strong at times and about an hour later I arrived at Trevellas, our campsite for the night. The lovely views of the sea and StAgnes across the valley gradually disappeared into fog, as did most of the campsite – hopefully it will clear by the morning.

JOGLE Day 59 30/06/17 Wadebridge – Mawgan Porth 18 miles

The weather did not improve overnight so I set off in wet and windy conditions, expecting it to get gradually worse until lunchtime at least. I left Wadebridge and followed the Camel Trail, an old railway line along the river Camel for 5 miles towards Padstow. The walk was mostly sheltered from the wind but by the time I reached Padstow harbour I was once again saturated.After a quick route check I decided to take a B road short cut to Harlyn Bay but quickly realised my life was at risk so had to escape across fields before reaching the safety of quieter lanes. At Harlyn Bay I stopped in the Beach Store to dry off a little and was treated to a free coffee by Helen, who also gave me a detailed local OS map and discussed possible routes to Mawgan Porth. What a star!I chose country lanes to Porthcothan then reassessed and decided to brave the clifftop winds for the remaining 5 miles. It had stopped raining by then but I almost got blown off my feet a couple times. The reward was some fine views.I had made good time and crossed the beach at Mawgan Porth in good spirits before climbing the last mile or so up to Trevarrian where the campsite is quite exposed and still extremely windy.

JOGLE Day 58 29/06/17 Boscastle – Wadebridge 20 miles

Incessant overnight rain made for a soggy and late start as I mulled over possible routes and helped to make sure Betty wasn’t bogged down at the camp site. I took roads through Boscastle then decided to head for the coastal path at Tintagel – as much out of curiosity to see what it’s really like. As I climbed up onto the clifftop it became apparent how windy it was and only a few die hard tourists at the castle.I followed the SWCP along the cliff top until it dropped down a steep and often slippy path to Trebarwith Strand. There were some good views but at one point I had to stop and brace myself against the strong gusts.A hot coffee was in order at the Strand Cafe and I decided then to go for country lanes rather than back on the cliffs. I would anyway be leaving the coastal path at Port Isaac to get to Wadebridge. A combination of AA roadmap, my printed OS pages and some GPS planning plotted a route which took me along lanes through some little Cornish villages like St Teath, Pendoggett and Amble. The final mile or so was back to the Andy Robinson book route and resulted in some boggy overgrown fields with dilapidated stiles and dodgy footbridges – felt like being back in Staffordshire! Got to the camp site safely and found Cath had made a rallying call which meant loads of messages of support and encouragement – quite overwhelming, but much needed as the mental strain is tough to manage and the weather shows not sign of improvement.

JOGLE Day 57 28/06/17 Bude – Boscastle 18 miles

The rain is back with a vengeance – a drizzly start from just outside Bude along lanes at first and through the town centre before picking up the coastal path for an easy few miles to Widemouth Bay – where I took my only photo of the day.The path went through sand dunes – not really needed – and then a mixture of lane and cliff tops before a steep slippery descent into Millook. As I climbed up the lane back onto the cliffs the rain got heavier and the cloud descended. To be honest I am not the biggest fan of coastal paths, and right now my main objective is Lands End in one piece, done checked my route and decided to avoid some more “dangerous” ups and downs by following country lanes from Dizzard to Crackington Haven – these were pretty steep as well but nowhere near as slippery. I stopped for a coffee and wifi and decided to continue along lanes as the terrain got higher and into the clouds at High Cliff. After missing a couple of paths I ended up on a B road and after less than 5 minutes Cath came past in Betty on her way to the campsite. I took a slightly longer route but got there thoroughly soaked. The rain just continued all night so I am reassessing route options to get to Wadebridge and more concerned about whether Betty will manage to get out of this field which is now completely saturated!

JOGLE Day 56 27/06/17 Clovelly – Bude 21 miles

Today started comfortably as I followed my short cut route from Clovelly through farmland and lanes to pass through Hartland before rejoining the SWCP. Saw some real Clovelly long horns and met a lovely couple in Hartland, Lynda and Michael from Birmingham who gave me a donation for PCUK. The coastal path between Hartland and Bude is a seemingly endless rollercoaster of steep climbs and descents – even with my shortcut I still racked up over 4700 feet of ascent to day and never really got more than 400 feet above sea level. The views however were pretty dramatic in places.
At some point I left Devon and entered Cornwall – the final county on my trek and passed a large “radio” station before eventually some beaches came into view with the occasionally surfer visible 

A few more miles of clifftop fields before I left the coast path and headed for the campsite outside Bude – and the rain started. On the bright side another useless stile to add to my collection.Weather forecast not brilliant for the next few days…

JOGLE Day 55 26/06/17 Great Knightacott Farm – Clovelly 19m

The weather guess for today was cloudy so we were surprised to wake up to sunshine. It was pleasantly warm as I left the farm and headed west towards Instow and Bideford and got my first real views of the sea and coast ahead.I then picked up the Tarka trail and followed the old railway line with views across the Torridge to Appledore and the 2 bridges over the river to Bideford.I shortcutted the coastal path around the headland and headed west on minor roads to join it finally at Greencliff. I could see Lundy Island across the sea and the white splash of Clovelly tumbling down the distant cliffs.My first taste of the SWCP was pretty much what I expected – a few steep ups and downs to cover before arriving at Peppercombe where I decided to go along the shore rather than the cliffs. An hour later after a difficult walk over rocks, boulders, pebbles I had covered another 2 miles to Bucks Mills. Will stick to the cliff path in future!I climbed steeply back up to the cliff path and followed it through woods and fields before the last 2 miles along the Hobby Drive to meet Cath at Clovelly. We decided to wild camp on the visitor centre car park and eat tonight in the village.Tomorrow the toughest part of the SWCP down to Bude…..

JOGLE Day 54 25/06/17 Simonsbath – Great Knightacott Farm 24 miles 

The temptation to sink a few extra beers in the hotel was resisted with the prospect of a long day in store today. More rain overnight and still getting wetter this morning. Fearless I set off on the Two Moors Way to climb back up onto Exmoor, although an easier road option may have been wiser. I had a map misread blip after less than one mile and wasted about 15 minutes choosing the right route, disturbing 2 wild campers in the process! The moor was bleak, windy and wet (not quite Pennine Way but pretty tough). In the mist I managed to disturb a group of bullocks and had to dodge around them fairly briskly. Next I had to navigate with no paths to Exe Head where another group of cows were guarding the way. Almost by chance I stumbled back onto the right track and had to negotiate some slightly boggy terrain to reach Pinkery Pond before turning south to say goodbye to the moor.

By now I was soaked to the skin and needed to make up time and get dry so I chose minor roads and country lanes to get all the way to Barnstaple via Challacombe, Bratton Fleming (watched a bit of village cricket) and a nice viaduct at Chelfham.

By the time I got to Barnstaple the sun had come out and although getting tired I was feeling good about finally reaching the coast.

Another 3 miles to the chosen campsite at Great Knightacott Farm in the North Devon Hills to discover that Cath had got lost and had to negotiate some very narrow lanes – Betty had the scratches to prove it! She was aided by a 92 year old lady at a nearby farm and arrived some later, pretty stressed. Meanwhile I had a nice relaxing chat with the resident llamas!!

SW Coastal path beckons!