My journey has begun! The first day could have ended badly however... the coast path was really hard work. Drenched by heavy rain, I arrived in darkness at the hostel to find it closed down. I was prepared to sleep in the church porch but was rescued by bell ringers Caroline & Tony who took me home, dried & fed me & saw me off the next morning. They were brilliant. Now in St Ives, rain still pouring down.
Rain all the way to St Ives but cleared to my destination Gwithian. Fellow bell-ringers Colin & Betty put me up for the night - wonderful people.
So much better, Colin delivered my pack to Perranporth and my walk was easy and dry.
I've been 'adopted' by the Newquay Lions charitable organisation. President Phil Bunt walked with me the 11 miles to Newquay whilst his wife Jill transported my bag ahead. Lions groups are all over the country & Phil is trying to arrange bag transportation on further legs. Made great new friends this week.
Weather good & pleasant walking. Padstow nice but much smaller than I'd imagined. Staying in Wadebridge tonight. Walked the last few miles with fellow LEJOG, Adam Dawson, who is also walking to John O'Groats for underprivileged scouts.
Long & tough day to Boscastle via Port Isaac. Had an entertaining evening with Tim from Dorset then with the Pink Ladies - four ramblers (sadly not the naked variety) participating in the local walking festival. Great fun.
Best day for weather & scenic views. Ended the day in Bude backpackers hostel where I met Warren Stone from Southampton who is also walking LEJOG for Macmillan Cancer Support. Good luck to him!
Decided to stay in Bude for the day, mainly because of a bad weather forecast but it gave me chance to catch up with my diary and rest a stiff knee. Warren (Woz) set off on his next leg, I enjoyed his company.
Rained all day. 18-mile slog with backpack to Clovelly. Only thing of note was straddling the stream that was the river Tamar - one foot in Cornwall & the other in Devon!
Much nicer day with no backpack & with fine weather. Covered 24 miles to Barnstaple in 7.5 hrs, just in time for my photo being taken by North Devon Gazette. Luxury B&B with pub meal & beer - all on the house! Thank you Andy (of the Lions), Ross & Jerry.
Called into Barnstaple. Bought boot sealant (immediately applied to leaking boots), reproofer (applied to leaking jacket that evening) and ibuprofen gel for swollen ankle. 19-mile climb from sea level over the top of Exmoor... Early rain then intermittent drizzle with thick mist over the top. At the Sloley Stone, had one foot in Devon and one in Somerset. B&B at the luxuriant Simonsbath Hotel
Common sense told me I should rest my ankle but I didn't want to be in a place with no network and very weak Wi-Fi so I set off. The strong side wind howled through the high hedgerows which gave me a lot of shelter from the intermittent rain. Did the 19 miles in 8.25 hours, slowed by my ankle. Spent the night at a cosy olde worlde pub, the Valiant Solider in Roadwater.
Ankle not fit for walking so an enforced rest day. At least there's Wi-Fi here. I'm thrilled that donations keep coming in, with some from people I've met only briefly on my journey. Thank you all so much : )
Best day yet. Set off from Roadwater at 9am. Breezy but often sheltered from it, and the sun shone most of the day. Have been keeping to the road as paths can be difficult after all the rain there's been. The roads go through beautiful villages and offer greater chance of a chat with the locals.The stretch over the Quantock hills was super,with long views of Somerset Levels ahead. Arrived in Bridgwater at 5.45. Found a comfy B&B then had tea with Lions Les & Margaret Westlake who had shipped my backpack over from Roadwater. Thanks so much!
Fine and breezy but the 17 miles to Cheddar were unpleasant having a sore foot and carrying a heavy backpack. Also, the distant Mendip Hills were my destination but they didn't seem to get any nearer.
Fine and pleasant walking (especially without backpack). Covered more off road stretches to the benefit of my foot. Got to Easton, just one more stretch and I'll be in Wales!
Started the day at the post office sending my tent and sleeping bag home. Their weight makes the backpack too heavy to enjoy walking. Nor have I used them yet (I'm getting soft with the comforts of B&B). I've reached Wales - an encouraging milestone. Enjoyed a chat with Roger from Malton as I crossed the Severn Bridge to Chepstow. Sunny & warm.
Don't get a street-side B&B room without double glazing near a town centre at the weekend..I did in Chepstow and was woken twice by noisy drunks, sounds of a TV coming from next door at 5am, large wagon passing, and then the 6am chimes from a nearby church. Lovely walk to Monmouth via Offa's Dyke Path. Beautiful high woodland and low riverside walking in the Wye Valley.
Yesterday I walked with Rob who was in remission from non-Hodgkin Lymphoma and today breakfasted with Phil who's brother died from lymphoma. It brings home how important the work that L&LR is doing. Sunny warm day. One of the nicest walks I've ever done... Rolling countryside with long views. Started late from Monmouth so was a push to get to Pandy by 8pm. Very tired but faggots and mushy peas at the bunkhouse should remedy that by the morning.
A ridge walk today. All the climbing was at the start and all the descending at the end, leaving 11 miles of gentle undulations in between. Much easier walking. It gave superb panoramic views... It was there I came across Lizzie, a cute little lizard that was quite happy to be picked up and photographed. Tonight I'm staying at the aptly named B&B 'Rest for the Tired' in Hay on Wye.
Leaving Hay-on-Wye, I came upon a BBC radio journalist who had been interviewing a couple and then interviewed myself. It might go out on Herefordshire & Worcestershire radio on Saturday morning. Sunny and warm day. Kept to a lower level route to conserve energy as the last 3 days have been quite demanding. Whilst searching for a B&B at my destination, Presteigne, got chatting with Alex (partner Helena), and enjoyed their company that night. Many thanks for your hospitality.
Kept to the minor roads on this section to Craven Arms rather than the higher route by Offa's Dyke path. Even so, the surroundings were beautiful. Met up with my school pal Eddie for the last few miles into CA. Crossed into Shropshire from Herefordshire along the way and took a photo especially for Zanny.
From Craven Arms there was a steep climb up onto Wenlock Edge, a gently undulating limestone ridge about 14 miles long, It should have been an easy walk but my ankle got more and more painful and getting to the end of it was quite an ordeal. This section should have been 23 miles finishing at Ironbridge (just over the Shropshire border into Staffordshire) but I had to stop 5 miles short at Much Wenlock. My landlady for the night, Rosalyn, drove over to pick me up, gave me her best room and donated it to the cause. It was easy to see why she had been voted in the top 25 for Friendliest Guest House 2013-14.
Reluctantly returned to York to rest my ankle. Probably a good time to do so as I'd not pre-booked B&Bs and it would be more difficult to find vacancies over the Easter weekend. An x-ray showed no bone damage so all that was needed was rest and ibuprofen. Hopefully no more than a week. My LEJOG pal Warren has texted me to say he's reached Warrington and I'd like to catch him up at some point. Once again, thank you, everyone, for your donations. Thank you, too, you who have shown me all kinds of hospitality along the way - from a handful of sweets to being fed and given a bed for the night. This support for the cause and for me personally creates such a powerful drive that I cannot fail to reach my goal.
I'm still at home in York resting my ankle. The swelling is down and is no longer painful but still rather stiff. I really want to be walking again but don't want to be premature. At least it's given me the chance to meet up with family and friends and to plan for Scotland which will be the most difficult part of the walk.
Sat 26th April
I'm back on the trail again! I returned to Much Wenlock and did the 6 miles to Ironbridge Coalport YHA. Youth hostels are now top rate accommodation for the economically minded and you don't have to be young! Ankle feeling ok.
The 19 mile stretch to Penkridge was the first real test for my ankle & it passed. It was an easy walk being fairly level going. The skies were often threatening with heavy dark clouds but only a few short showers emerged and there were plenty of sunny periods.
Bright day & an early start along the Shropshire Union canal & then through pleasant fields along the Staffordshire Way.Brilliant walking along excellent tracks across the Cannock Chase heathland. Bought too much food in Rugeley which weighed me down for the final 6 miles. Only 15 miles today. I've been moving more sideways the last 2 days but from tomorrow I'll be heading more to the north (at last).
Another dry and very warm day. Clouds darkened by mid afternoon but the rain held off. I'd started the day with a superb walk through Bagot Forest. Then made the mistake of ignoring the guide book & getting onto the Staffordshire Way into Uttoxeter which was a muddy scramble between narrow overgrown hedges. Beyond Uttoxeter it was much better across riverside pastures. I couldn't find anyone to interest in my walk today but a huge herd of bullocks took a liking to me and followed me (intimately close) across 2 long fields - see photo. Ended the day in Ashbourne in Derbyshire.