Combe Martin to Woolacombe. Day 4

Technical note: Slow wifi tonight so photos to follow. NOW UPDATED I know some people have had issues making comments because of the code system used to check the posts being submitted. It seems to work best when you copy and paste the code word. I’ll email Stuart who runs the site and see if there is anything he can do to help.

We left John & Penny’s around 9.00 with the promise of a full day and 13 miles to Woolacombe described as moderate to strenuous.  Having missed out on the Lynmouth to Lynton railway we had the chance of a short bus ride when we reached Watermouth Castle and Harbour to find both the path and the pavement closed with signs saying that a bus was compulsory for the mile or so that the roadworks were in place. 

We got off at Hele and then had 3 miles along the cost to get to Ilfracombe.  

We had excellent weather all day and a good path which had as much ascent as yesterday but over more undulating hills and great views of the coast and rocks.

We stopped in Ilfracombe for a look around the harbour and the Damien Hirst artwork on the harbour side before walking out of town via Torrs Park where you can see Lee and Bull point in the distance.  When we got to Lee Bay the path goes along the beach through some dramatic rocks at low tide and we went this way and then climbed the steps and made our way to Bull Point.


The path contued with short sharp ascents to Morte Point where we started to catch sight of Woolacombe although it was three bays and a good hour away. We made our way toward the town and our B&B on Beach Rd where we were greeted with pots of tea and coffee and help to get our bags to the rooms.  

We were all tired but the B&B owners, Wendy and Martin told us they had wet suits, surf and body boards available for guests to use.  Brian persuade Gareth, Fluff and Steve to go surfing so we got our suits on and spent an hour at the end of the day in the warm sea doing our best to look like the beach boys.

Best day so far and another 15 miles to Braunton tomorrow

Lynmouth to Combe Martin. Day 3

After a healthy breakfast we had hoped to use the Lynmouth Cliff Railway to get up to Lynton, sadly it didn’t open until 10 and as we had what was described as a strenuous 13 miles, we had to set off before 9.00

We climbed up to Lynton and then took the coastal path towards the Valley of The Rocks where we saw some mountain goats and spectacular views of where we were headed and the Welsh coast. A good path along this part of the route meant we made good progress to our first target of Lea Abbey. The Abbey has significant grounds and is now used as a Christian Retreat and youth activity centre.


The path continued to hug the coast and gave us a few hills to climb as we headed for Heddon’s Mouth. We passed a waterfall along the way and then turned inland along the inlet toward the bridge crossing. A busy path here as people were out for the day and lunch at the Hunters Inn which we saw from the signs was just a half mile detour (each way) but it seemed a shame to not take the chance to review our plans over excellent baguettes and refreshment!



After lunch we walked back to join the path and the strenuous part of the journey starting with a steep climb up the valley to Peter Rock and then down and up to East Cleave and on to round Holdstone Hill and then taking the Tarka Trail to Great Hangman Cairn for more views including a glimpse of our destination of Combe Martin.

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We followed the path to Little Hangman and the final descent to Combe Martin where we were lucky enough to find an open establishment serving refreshments and showing the United City derby. We left Tommy to drown his sorrows and Dave to celebrate along with Brian. The landlord of the B&B John is a United fan so I think Dave is sleeping in the shed tonight. We are eating in at John & Pennys tonight and then onto Woolacombe tomorrow.


Porlock to Lynmouth. Day 2

We started the day with a 1.5 mile warm up as we walked from Porlock to Porlock Weir to rejoin the pathway.  We set off by climbing through a valley with ancient where the path ran along the top of the vally through woods for most of the morning. When we got to Worthy Combe Toll Lodge we walked through some arched grottoes built by the original landowner before we continued to zig zag along the side of the valley.



We took a slight detour to descend to see Culbone Church which is the smallest complete parish church in England.


We continued through Culbone Woods with its ancient oak and holly trees before emerging on to cliff top paths.
We came to the National Trust site at Glenthome Cliffs and we split into two groups, one following the path along the cliffs to Lynmouth and the other taking a detour to see the lighthouse at Foreland Point and then a steep path up scree and rocks until it rejoined the path to Lynmouth.  We were hoping to see Lynmouth from the cliff tops but we went through some sea mist but did get the odd glimpse as we  slowly descended into the town to find our B&B and the rest of the group.
A total of 14 miles and a total climb of 3064 feet and no cream teas or planning meetings in a pub – talk about hard work!


Posted in SWC

Minehead to Porlock. Day 1


Dave and Mollie the dog picked us all up in the Scout minibus and we left Sidmouth at about 9.00 and arrived on Minehead seafront just before 11.00.


After posing for a couple of team photos at the start we set off for an easy less than 8 miles to Porlock for our first stop. Weather has been cloudy but warm and we made good progress along the wooded pathway up to Bossington Hill a total ascent of 2290 feet before a fairly step descent to Bossington where we found enough time to check out the local tea shop


After tea we only had about a mile and a half along Porlock Bay when we turned inland to the village for our stay at Myrtle Cottage overnight. Just a “planning”meeting at the Pub to get through tonight and then we are set for tomorrow

Posted in SWC

Here We Go Again!

Ever eager for a challenge we decided to do another long distance path.  This time it’s the South West Coastal Path (SWC).  As the whole path takes around six weeks we are doing the first phase – a two week walk from Minehead to Porthcothorn some 180 miles.

The team this time is missing Dave Hedges and Mollie the dog who have other committments, so it’s really  Six Men No Dog, but I’m sure they will be with us in spirit (or beer in Dave’s case!)

Posted in SWC

Final Thoughts


We wanted to put some final thoughts together that might be useful if anyone who reads this is planning on “doing” the Coast to Coast.


We are all men of a certain age with varying levels of fitness, but we did all do some preparation for the event. No particular workouts, mostly just regular walking to include some hills and some distance work. If you are in general good health you will be able to complete the walk.

We used Sherpa to book the accommodation and to take care of the luggage between stops, they provided us with excellent service throughout.

The Walk

Timing – we did it in two weeks and a common thought was that we should have tried to average out the mileage a bit more, we had at least two 20 mile+ days which were hard on the feet. A rest day In Richmond might be worth thinking about although some of our group were more than happy to go straight through – again better if the days were at 15 miles in length.

Packing – most of us took too much, concentrate on the walking gear and have the type you can wash as you go along. Change of footware for the nighttime – but comfortable trainers would be right – just to wear around the B&B and out to the pubs etc.

There wasn’t much in the way of drying rooms – we were lucky to have had good weather but lots of rain could present a problem in getting stuff dry for the next day.

Accommodation – try to use a variety of farms, B&B’s Pubs and Hostels it makes the whole thing more interesting. The YHA’s and Independent Hostels were good quality and we would have used them more to get the average mileage days if we’d known. You can’t guarantee wifi or baths so if you need them ring ahead when you are booking. The food is good and in big portions in most places – breakfasts don’t have to be the full english – we had a variety of fruits, cereals poached eggs, haddock, porridge etc. Same goes for a packed lunch – we found you didn’t need them everyday, yes you are exercising a lot but three big meals a day can be too much!

Navigation – we used the Harvey strip maps and the Henry Stedman guide which provides an excellent amount of information and sketch maps – there is a review here on the main Walking Places site. You do need a compass and we did take a GPS (but it was only used once in thick mist to check our position.)

Company – we met lots of people from around the world in particular a mixed group from America and Australia with their guide as well as Ross an Aussie who joined us for several days, and Aurora from Romania who walked with us for most of the route and became part of the team. Just say hello to people you meet and you’re soon making new friends along the way.

Thank You’s

This could be a huge list, especially if you included all the local people who were so helpful and friendly.

I must mention Di Swales at Sherpa who was instrumental in the planning and bookings, Tommy, Mary and Dave M for the organising, Mary (again) for her baps! (bacon ones she provided to get us off to a good start).

John and Julie Marsden who took us all up to St Bees and then brought us all back from Robin Hood’s Bay, plus Gill, Chris, baby Adam and Gaynor for the mid walk visit at Tan Hill. All the family and friends who turned up on the Friday night at High Hawsker and came with us to RHB as well as supporting us along the way with phone calls, texts, emails and comments.

Finally, for the blog, Gareth for the photography, and Stuart at Walking Places who set up the blog for us and sent us all the information we needed to get up and running, all in one email!. It made it easy for us non bloggers to blog – you should do it if you possibly can – the feedback from our friends and family was that they felt it kept them in touch and up to date – we had many more comments than we expected. As you can see I really enjoyed blogging!


Thanks for reading




Day 14 -There at Last!

Distance toady 5 miles
Total distance 192 miles

We can’t believe it’s been two weeks since this little adventure started and now we all gathered outside the hotel with friends and family to organise bags, travel and the final 5 mile walk into Robin Hood’s Bay. The weather today was glorious and we realised just how fortunate we have been to have had only one heavy storm in the whole period.


We made our way in two groups and met up at the top of RHB wearing our charity outfits and then walked down the hill to complete the formalities of wetting the boots, throwing the stones we had carried from St Bees and signing the book at the Wainwright Bar in the Bay Hotel, and taking photos!





We really just hung around with a drink in the sun chatting about the trip and saying our goodbyes, especially to Aurora who was leaving first to get to London and a new job she starts this weekend. She has been with us most of the way and had become part of the team, we were all sorry to see her leave.

Eventually, after another drink and getting some souvenirs, we made our way up the hill to the car park and sorted out the gear and said even more goodbyes before heading home!

There are a few more photos in the Rogues Gallery and there will be a final entry early next week with some “thank you’s” and reflections on the whole event.


Day 13 – 5 more miles!!

Distance today 14 miles
Total distance 187

Glaisdale to High Hawsker

We left our base for the night after the usual breakfast, the last one all together because Dave H and Mollie are staying at Robin Hood’s Bay tonight, and started our last full day. The walk took us through woodland past the village of Egton Bridge and on through Grosmont, the home of the North York Moors Railway.
The climb out of Grosmont was a long slow one on the road lasting a couple of miles but once onto Sleights Moor we began to get glimpses of Whitby and it’s famous Abbey ruins as we crossed to Littlebck.


We entered a deep wooded valley and climbed it’s edge until we stopped at a small hermitage and then on to Falling Foss waterfall with it’s unusual tea garden at Midge Hall where we paused for tea and for some, a cream tea.


After the break we made our way across more moorland to finally reach High Hawsker where we were meeting a welcoming group of families from Manchester and Devon.

A quick pot of tea, a clean up and then we all sat down for a meal and a few drinks.

Tomorrow some of the group will join in on the final 5 miles as we go to Robin Hood’s Bay and the big finish!

Day 12 – We can see the coast!

Distance Today 17 miles
Total distance 173 miles
Weather cool start with sunny intervals/light showers
Ascent 414

Clay Bank Top to Glaisdale

We had a lift from the landlady at 8.15 back to the route (about 4 miles) to start our walk at Clay Bank Top and up Carr Ridge to join the disused railway path at Bloworth Crossing which meant for the next few miles we could make a reasonable pace. We made it on to High Blakey Moor and left the rail track to head to the Lion Inn for refreshments before continuing along the road until we made a stop at Fat Betty.
20120913-193813.jpg Fat Betty is a cross on the roadway where travellers can leave an offering of food and take away food that has been left by others, we all left either sweets or money and after a few photos moved on.


We approached Great Fryup Dale and as we joined the path we had our first glimpse of the North Sea, we could see the ships through Brian’s binoculars, it was hard to believe we were approaching the end of our trek. We crossed Glaisdale Moor and made our way to the start of Glaisdale and then took a shortcut to the B&B where we were greeted with pots of tea and home made cake and biscuits. We were all glad to arrive after a long 17 miles.


It was great to see John & Julie arrive at the B&B in their motorhome and they are staying overnight and joining us for a meal. Tomorrow John will join us for the last full day, the 14 miles to High Hawsker where some of the families are meeting us to get ready for the big finish on Saturday morning.


Days 10 & 11 – two for the price of one!

Distance Richmond to Ingleby Arncliffe 24 miles
Distance Ingleby Arncliffe to Clay Bank Top 14 miles
Total distance 155 miles
Weather sunny intervals/ showers. Heavy Rain on walk to Clay Bank Top
Ascent to Ingleby 124 metres
Ascent to Clay Bank Top 889 metres

slow wifi so small photos today if I get a chance I’ll enlarge them tomorrow

We knew that the long walk to Ingleby Arncliffe would be a major challenge because of the distance but unfortunately the end of the 24 mile day saw just 4 of the original team finish this section. A combination of a sickness virus that has been working through the team, gifted to us by one of the walkers who joined us a few days earlier, plus ankle problems meant that despite valiant efforts 3 were forced to succumb to their ailments. None of us could have anticipated this and it has been a bitter blow for the whole team.
The walk itself was across the Vale of York which meant a lot of time going through fields and along roads which was possibly the most boring part of the route. The team made it into the village at the end of the day at about 7.00pm to a welcoming B&B and a pub in the middle of the village. Most of us just wanted to get showered and get some sleep so we could reform for the walk to Clay Bank the next day.

A fairly quiet breakfast as we assessed injuries and stomachs with Fluff expressing confidence to get rid of any wind without dire consequences, we started the walk out of the Vale and up towards the start of the North York Moors. Plenty of “ups and downs” as we climbed up to around 850 metres over the 14miles. The weather, which has been kind for the whole trip decided to give us a taste of the real Coast to Coast as the rain poured down for long enough to soak through shorts, socks and boots. We made it to the meeting point where we were picked up by our landlady who took the load of us to the hotel where we dried off and finally had the time for the first “planning meeting” for a couple of days with all spirits lifted.