Tuesday, June 14, 2022

Even more current!

 I must apologise to all you lovely people who have left comments on my blog.
You see, I am not very computer-savvy and I have only just found them!  I only had to delete one, which was an advert for a casino(!) because everyone else has made such lovely comments. 
Thank you one and all.
Now I know where they are, I will look on a regular basis and publish them in the appropriate places -- if I can find out how to do this!
(Put it all down to old age!  I will, in future, ask my grandchildren for advice!)

Saturday, September 25, 2021


Hello to all my regular readers! I know there are a number of you out there.
Thank you for your interest. 
We have recently returned from Pembrokeshire where we intended continuing this epic trek from Freshwater East.  But it was not to be.  We both found it hard going, and I was near to collapse at the end of our first Walk to Manorbier.  Regrettably we have decided to throw in the towel!  We are bitterly disappointed that old age has won, but we can no longer manage the challenging walking the coast path demands.  It's the steep downhills that are the killer, and we walk a lot more slowly than we used to.
We have a lot to be proud of.  Since we started in 1998 we have walked nearly four thousand miles along the coast.  During that time I have had five operations on my legs and Colin has had three on his bladder.  We have had to contend with Foot & Mouth restrictions, financial problems when a mortgage got out of hand, bereavement and Covid restrictions.  Still we carried on when we could, but all the time we were getting older.
But we haven't given in entirely.  We are going to continue visiting all the access points along the coast in the right order until we get back to Bognor Regis.  At each point we shall do a little walking if the terrain and weather conditions allow.  I shall continue to write them up in my blog.
To all my readers, thank you for your interest in our venture.
PS  Go to   www.bognorregisbeach.co.uk  to see what is happening NOW just left of Bognor Pier! (On the website, click on  'Live Webcam')

Friday, September 10, 2021

Walk 398 -- Tenby to Saundersfoot (no.3 of the new setup)

Ages: Colin was 79 years and 125 days. Rosemary was 76 years and 267days. 
Weather: A little drizzle. Mostly just cloudy. 
Location: Tenby to Saundersfoot. 
Tide: Out. 
Rivers: None. 
Ferries: None. 
Piers: None. 
Pubs: None. 
‘Cadw’ properties: None. 
Ferris wheels: None. 
How we got there and back: We were staying in our caravan at Freshwater East. We drove to Waterwynch Bay, Monkstone Point and Saundersfoot from there. 
About a mile north of Tenby lies
Waterwynch Bay where we took our kids for a holiday in a static caravan way back in 1976. They were aged 3,4,6 and 8, and we all had a wonderful time on that little sandy beach. We tried to drive down there today despite the fact a notice told us the lane was closed “except for access”, but it just got more and more narrow until it turned into a footpath. We turned round with great difficulty and retreated to the main road. We'll just have to continue to live on our memories.
About a mile further on is
Monkstone Point. Back in 1976 we came here several times and accessed the beach by sliding down a huge rock set at a 45º angle. The children thought it was thrilling! Today we drove down the lane towards it and found it to be slightly wider and less potholey than the lane to Waterwynch Bay. We came to a notice which read “No beach parking beyond this point”. So we parked in the layby there and booted up. We continued to walk the last quarter of a mile.
The farm there is now a caravan site. We walked through the edge of it and across a field. Through a gate was a junction of paths — we were on the Coast Path. The path to the left led steeply downhill towards Saundersfoot. The path to the right led even more steeply downhill to the beach. So we took the middle path in the hopes of getting out on to the Point to see the view. But it got steeper and steeper until I called a halt and said I didn't want to go any further — I didn't want to have to climb back up that hill!
Colin said, “
There's a view just here on this path through the hedge!” And sure enough the path led to a hidden cliff top after only a few yards, and there was a lovely view of the cliff further on and a tiny beach below.
Then Colin said, “
There's a grave here, I think it's a dog!” The inscription said, “S.G. You'll always be our Everglow RTRT XXXX” We reckoned someone's pet dog ran through the gap in the hedge not realising the cliff was there and tumbled down it to it's death. There were some fresh-cut flowers on the grave too, very sad. As we returned up the path we met a group of people with several dogs, not all of them on leads. So we warned them about the cliff edge just through the hedge. They thanked us and pulled their dogs to.
Back at the junction we noticed a higher path going off to the right — it was behind a hedge so we hadn't noticed it coming down. It led upwards through a wood, and it was on the very cliff edge. It was quite steep and slippery in places, not a nice path. We followed it up to a gate which led into a field where it was flatter. It was, of course, the coast path coming from Tenby. There was now a thick high hedge between us and the sea view.
We walked to a corner hoping we would get a view there, but there was only a notice saying the path was closed due to landslides, and to follow a new route round the edge of the field. At that point it started to drizzle, so we put on our kags and returned to the car — across the field, not that steep and slippery path through the woods.
Quite a number of people were out walking the coast path today — and all of them were a lot younger than us!
I didn't want to go to Saundersfoot because the only other time I have ever been there, in 2015, we had a very unhappy experience. Suffice it to say it involved our grandchildren and our daughter-in-law. I remember sitting on the sea front crying my eyes out every time I saw a three-generation family enjoying themselves, or children happily playing with their grandparents. Colin was upset, but he didn't take it as badly as I did. I have never been so upset about anything in my life. But we went today, and despite those unhappy associations it wasn't so bad. 
The first car park we tried was full, and so was the second on the harbour. But then a car behind us left, so we hurriedly backed into its space — we were in! Saundersfoot was heaving! But the tide was right out, leaving the harbour quite dry, and down on the wide sandy beach it wasn't so bad.
 We started our walk by the harbour because that is where the coast path from Tenby comes down into Saundersfoot. We walked along the front and then down on the beach for a while where Colin found a little crab.
We rounded a big rock, and then went up to a car park and restaurant complex. We wished we'd parked there because that car park was only half full — and cheaper!
We'd seen the Coast Path disappear into a tunnel on its way to Amroth, so we just
had to follow it!
We walked through two tunnels neither of which was lighted.
The second tunnel was quite long and a bit spooky in the middle as we had no torches. We came out to a view towards Wiseman's Bridge and Amroth.
We turned round there and returned to Saundersfoot the way we had come. We bought ice creams and sat on a bench facing the sea to eat them in true grockle style!

Thursday, September 09, 2021

Walk 397 -- Lydstep Haven to Tenby (no.2 of the new setup)

Ages: Colin was 79 years and 124 days. Rosemary was 76 years and 266 days.
Weather: A lot of rain. Brighter pm.
Location: Lydstep Haven to Tenby.
Tide: Out.
Rivers: None.
Ferries: None.
Piers: None.
Pubs: The Hope & Anchor in Tenby where Colin drank Harbwr 'North Star', Harbwr 'MV Enterprise' and I had a shandy.
‘Cadw’ properties: None.
Ferris wheels: None.
How we got there and back: We were staying in our caravan at Freshwater East. We drove to Penally from there.
We didn't walk between Lydstep Haven and Penally, and there were no access points for the car on that stretch. So we drove to Penally and parked in the station car park. From there we walked across the dunes on a good path to the beach. The coast path had come from Lydstep Haven past Proud Giltar, Valleyfield Top and Giltar Point for about three miles to where we stood on 'The Burrows'. 
We walked just over a mile along a firm sandy beach into Tenby. We really enjoyed it despite the drizzle. In Tenby we got lost because we had forgotten to bring a street map. We had noted castle-type walls and walked through an impressive gateway — Tenby must have been a fortified town in times gone past.
We remembered coming to Tenby for the first time in 1976 with our four children. We were impressed with the lovely beach, but found it to be crowded even in those days.
It had been lightly raining ever since we started walking, and we began to get a bit fed up. Tenby was heaving! Foreign holidays have been a 'no-go' for most people this year because of the pandemic, so everyone has been rediscovering our own country. We began to despair of finding a café for lunch, there were queues outside most establishments because they still have to have the tables a certain distance apart by law, therefore they can only serve a reduced number of customers at any one time. (Like everyone else we are cheesed off with all these restrictions on our freedom which have been going on for eighteen months now. When will this wretched pandemic come to an end?) But we were lucky today because we did find a small café with no queue outside. It was thin and narrow inside and they were very busy, but we were able to go straight in and had a lovely lunch at a very reasonable price. 
It had stopped raining by the time we came out, that was good! With difficulty we found our way to the sea, but we were high up on a rock and couldn't see our way down. What we could see was what we thought was the coast of Devon on the horizon! The visibility suddenly improved and we could see what we thought were the cliffs between Minehead and Porlock with some clarity. But at a later date we looked more carefully at the map. Tenby faces east, not south, and the Devon coast is much too far away. What we could actually see were the cliffs behind Rhossili Beach on the Gower!
We got lost again in the town and discovered we had walked round in a complete circle! Colin got very grumpy. Eventually we found our way down to the harbour where we sat on a bench to overlook the scene.
No sooner were we settled than it started raining again quite hard. Feeling rather damp, we went to the real ale pub Colin was dying to get to. Fortunately the lunchtime rush was over and there was no longer a queue.
When we came out about an hour later, we managed to find our way down a load of steps to a beautiful sandy beach. From there we power-walked all the way back to Penally Station where our car was parked.
We were glad to leave Tenby behind — lovely beach but too many people. (I have a fear of crowds, ever since our “drone” experience at Gatwick in December 2018 where the departure lounge got so crowded people were even sitting on the floor in the toilets! After twelve hours we were all told to collect our luggage and go home.  It was chaos!)

Wednesday, September 08, 2021

Walk 396 -- Manorbier to Lydstep Haven (no.1 of the new setup)

Ages: Colin was 79 years and 123 days. Rosemary was 76 years and 265 days.
Weather: Cooler and dull. A little rain at times.
Location: Manorbier to Lydstep Haven.
Tide: Out.
Rivers: None.
Ferries: None.
Piers: None.
Pubs: None.
‘Cadw’ properties: None.
Ferris wheels: None.
How we got there and back: We were staying in our caravan at Freshwater East. We drove to Manorbier, Skrinkle Haven and Lydstep from there.
We “finished off” Manorbier by walking down to the beach from the bench overlooking the beach where we had finished the last Walk. I remembered coming here back in 1976 with our four children and finding loads of starfish all over the beach. I have never seen them before or since. So we started looking for them amongst the rocks. We didn't find any, but we did find lots of limpets and barnacles.
It was nice just to stand and watch the lapping waves on the sand. That is very calming. I was still very upset about having to give up the Coastal Trek. We noted the continuation of the coastal path working its way up towards a headland called Priest's Nose. I was wishing we could continue up there, but I knew it wouldn't be any good. I can't do it anymore!
I took a better picture of Manorbier Castle from the beach. It looked more imposing than the picture I took from the car park last time. The castle is privately owned so we didn't visit it.
We drove on to Skrinkle Haven past the Youth Hostel which Colin and I stayed in once. Beyond Priest's Nose the Coast Path turns inland to miss out Old Castle Head which is still an artillery range and therefore out of bounds. The path passes the main gate on the road we were driving along, and follows the road for a few yards. Then it cuts through a hedge and runs parallel to the road before undulating away towards Lydstep Haven.
We parked at Skrinkle Haven (love the name!) where we had spectacular views of the cliffs along that bit of coast. Also excellent views of Caldey Island and remembered a visit there with our children back in 1976. That year we 'discovered' Pembrokeshire and had one of the best holidays ever with our children, then aged 8, 6, 4 and 3. We were all awestruck!
We drove on to Lydstep Point car park which is down a narrow lane full of potholes. There we had sweeping views along the coast back towards Manorbier. We noted that the Coast Path plunged into a deep cleft before rising up to Lydstep Point. We watched some walkers struggling down and then up, and I must admit we both felt rather smug that we weren't amongst them!
The Wales Coast Path misses out Lydstep Point and once it has risen out of the cleft it goes straight down a road to Lydstep Haven. This is a great pity. We walked all round Lydstep Point looking at the fantastic views in all directions. It is high up, flat, and very much to our liking.

From the car park we walked down the road to Lydstep Haven Beach. We had to access the National Trust car park at the top along a narrow lane full of the most horrendous potholes. But this good road to the beach is privately owned and has a barrier at the bottom with a keypad, so we couldn't use it.
Lydstep Haven beach is a half mile crescent, sandy at the far end. Accommodation is mostly static caravans and chalets for summer lets. We spent a pleasant half hour sitting at a picnic table watching the sea, and looking out towards Caldey Island.
By the end of the day my body was telling me that I was doing the right thing, but in my mind I am still very disappointed that I can no longer do the actual walking. It's going to take a long time to come to terms with this.

Monday, September 06, 2021

Walk 395 -- Freshwater East to Manorbier

 Ages: Colin was 79 years and 121 days. Rosemary was 76 years and 263 days. 
Weather: Hot and muggy. A negligible breeze. 
Location: Freshwater East to Manorbier. 
Distance: 4 miles. 
Total distance: 3985 miles. 
Terrain: Some beach. Mostly clifftop paths. Very undulating. 
Tide: Out. 
Rivers: None. 
Ferries: None. 
Piers: None. 
Kissing gates: None. 
Pubs: None. 
‘Cadw’ properties: No.13, Lamphey Palace. 
Ferris wheels: None. 
Diversions: None. 
How we got there and back: Yesterday we towed our caravan from home to Freshwater East. The caravan site is a 5 minute walk from the beach, so that is where we started the Walk. 
At the end we came to Manorbier beach. We intended ringing for a taxi to take us back to the caravan site but I couldn't get a signal on my phone. I was all in at the end of the Walk, the terrain had been challenging, the weather was hot and I had been very slow. But after a rest and an ice cream I felt a lot better. So we decided to walk back along the local lanes which wouldn't be so challenging – after all it was only four miles. I got about halfway, and sank exhausted on to a roadside bank. Fortunately a couple of Good Samaritans caught us up, namely Richard and Margaret. Seeing the state I was in, they fetched their car and drove us the rest of the way. We were deeply grateful to them. 
We realised we are going to have to rethink the way we do the rest of our Round-Britain-Walk. We still have about a thousand miles to go and we are not up to it any more — especially me. Old age has caught us up. 
Lamphey Palace 
Lamphey Palace is a medieval ruin situated a couple of miles north of Freshwater East. It was mostly built in the the 14
th century by Henry de Gower, Bishop of St David's. It was used by high-ranking clergy until the dissolution of the monasteries in 1546. It was damaged in the English Civil War, and subsequently used as farm buildings until it fell into complete ruin. It is now owned and maintained by Cadw.
We started today's Walk at the bridge over the stream at Freshwater East beach. First we followed a tarmacked path up into the dunes until we reached a kind of platform with seats all round — an ideal place for disabled people to overlook the beach. There were lots of wild flowers blooming in the dunes. 
From there the path was loose and undulating across the dunes, so we decided that we would prefer the firm sand of the beach as the tide was out. We made our way down there and really enjoyed walking along by the lapping waves. We came to the end of the beach but we hadn't seen a way up to the path on the cliffs.
The rocks at that end of the beach looked interesting, but I'm afraid I've forgotten most of the geology I learned in the 1980s when I got my degree with the Open University. It's too long ago.
The two ways up we thought we had seen as we were walking along both involved a scramble up a vertical cliff — we are too old for that! So we had to backtrack, which is something we never like doing. I was making for the end of the dunes, but Colin noticed some steps before that. Sure enough, they led up to the Coast Path. The path up was quite steep, but by no means vertical. 
The Coast Path at that point was great! It was smooth, almost flat and had recently been strimmed for ease of access. But soon it started to undulate, quite steeply in places. There were lots of steps which my knees were not totally happy with.
We left Freshwater East behind and climbed West Moor Cliff. The views were fantastic, but the visibility was poor because of the mugginess. It got very hot and there was hardly a breath of wind. 
We rounded a corner and got a lovely view of Swanlake Bay. I was feeling hot and tired by then, so we sat on a bank and ate our cereal bars. That was the only food we had brought with us because we intended having lunch in a café in Manorbier — after all, we had reasoned, it is only four miles from Freshwater East. Little did we guess how difficult we would find it to get there. 
We could see how undulating the path was from that point on. The downhills were very steep with few steps — I found them particularly difficult despite using my poles. I had completely lost my confidence

The views and the wild flowers were a great compensation. We rounded Swanlake Bay, a lovely beach with few people on it because you can only get to it by walking.
We climbed East Moor Cliff the other side and got our first view of Manorbier in the distance
By then the sweat was pouring off me in a constant stream and dripping from the end of my nose! And I kept getting cramp in my calves. I mistakenly thought that once we had climbed East Moor Cliff it would only be a short hop to Manorbier where we planned to have lunch. But it was at least another mile of steep and difficult terrain and the heat from the sun was immense! There was hardly a breath of wind, especially where the path zigzagged inland to get up a hill.
At last we came out on to the lane where there was a small car park. Just past it was a bench that overlooked the beach which was about a hundred yards away. We sat on it and called it the end of the Walk.
That ended Walk 395. At that point we intended starting Walk 396 at that bench next time. It was quarter to three and we hadn't had any lunch. The Walk had taken us four hours, ten minutes and it was only four miles! We were both dog-tired and overheated. When we had rested a little we didn't go down to the beach. Instead we walked down the lane to the main car park because we wanted to use the toilets. I took a photo of Manorbier Castle which was over a hedge opposite, but it was a pretty poor photo.
Then we bought an ice cream each and I tried to ring for a taxi to take us back to the caravan. But I couldn't get a signal on my phone. What to do?
We didn't want to walk even further away into the village which was up a hill. We felt a fraction refreshed after a short rest and the ice creams, so we decided to walk back along the road. It should be far easier walking than the cliff path and they were back lanes so there shouldn't be much traffic to buzz us. And what's four miles of easy walking anyway? We've always been able to do that and more, no matter how tired we've been. 
Old Age — that's what stymied us! 
We managed up a steep hill at the beginning, after that it was more or less flat. It was deadly boring and I soon began to seriously tire in the oppressive heat. After about three miles I sank down on to a roadside bank because I felt I couldn't go on any further. A lady in a car stopped to ask if I was alright. She offered us a lift, but she was going the wrong way. Just then a couple (Richard and Margaret) walked up from behind us. They said they were staying at a cottage just two hundred yards further on, and if we could get there they would drive us all the way to the caravan site which they reckoned was two more miles distant. We accepted their offer — I really couldn't walk another two miles in that heat. Richard drove us to the entrance of the caravan site at Freshwater East. After a rest, a drink and a bite to eat I felt fine. 
:: – :: – :: – :: – :: – :: – :: – :: – :: – :: – :: – :: – :: – :: – :: – :: – ::
We really are going to have to rethink the rest of the Round Britain Walk. We still have about a thousand miles to go and I'm just not up to it anymore. We've had so many setbacks in recent years (my knees, financial worries, no car, no caravan, Covid and I've had a lot of back trouble). Colin is amazingly fit physically, but the isolation of the pandemic restrictions has taken a big toll on his mental health. 
I am bitterly disappointed. Colin is disappointed too, but not as much as me because it has always been very much my project. But we' re not giving up completely, I am making plans!
:: – :: – :: – :: – :: – :: – :: – :: – :: – :: – :: – :: – :: – :: – :: – :: – ::

Difficult Decisions

We are very disappointed. After 23 years and 3985 miles we are going to have to throw in the towel! This is a project I have wanted to do ever since I was a child, but old age has caught up with us before we have been able to finish. We have had a lot of bad luck. Since we started in 1998 I have had five operations on my legs and Colin has had three on his bladder. Right at the beginning our walking was curtailed for about six months because the countryside was 'closed' due to the foot and mouth crisis. The weather has often put the kibosh on our Walks, especially in Scotland, and we have come home earlier than we intended. We had to take two years out because of my arthritic knees. Then we had financial problems over a mortgage and had to take another two years out. During that time both the car and the caravan packed up and we couldn't afford to replace them until the mortgage was finally paid off. The Covid pandemic was the last straw, when we were unable to leave our homes for nigh on two years over a series of lockdowns.
I had seen the fact that I might have to give up coming for quite some time, but I was always in denial. With grim determination I wanted to finish and say, “We walked every inch of the way!” But I can no longer walk the distances I used to. I need to rest a lot more often. I am very slow. I cannot cope with big steps or steep downhills, and the coast path is full of these. It has become an impossibility. After the incident on the way back from this last Walk I have had to accept defeat.
But we have done much to be proud of. We have walked nearly four thousand miles of the British coastline. We have walked all round the Scottish coast. We have walked in every kind of weather it is possible to experience in the British Isles. We walked to Cape Wrath from the ferry and out via Sandwood Bay in one day!! I entered the story of that epic Walk into a competition and got it published in a book by Hilary Bradt called “To Oldly Go” — the only piece of writing I have ever had published!
And we are not giving up entirely. We plan to continue from Manorbier, visiting every access point on the coast and doing a bit of walking here and there where it is not too undulating. We will get back to Bognor one day, even though we don't live there anymore.