Jane on the OPen Road - Week 1

Posted by James Webster
Digital Marketing Officer, on Thursday 3 July 2014

Jane Hornsby has recently finished at 1200-mile trek across the country to raise money for OP's outreach work in the community. Read about her adventures here, in her diary of the first week!

Sat 3 May
Finally got under way with this ridiculous trip on Saturday 3rd 'May just before 10.00 am.

It seems Land's End is not the most exciting place - basically a shopping experience for tourists.  But the walking weather was good - cloudy and not too hot.

Richard and I set off through the rugged and very primal scenery around the Cornish peninsular. 16 miles the first day (20-a-day soon) and the hedges and fields were coated with wild garlic, campion and bluebells. There were also an amazing variety of stone styles to clamber through (I fear I may get sick of styles quite quickly).

Highlights include not getting lost (good start) and meeting a lovely young potter who gave us one of his charming little pots when he heard what I was doing.

I did get a bit sunburnt and have been having some terrifying doubts, but felt better when we got to the Trewey Farm b&b and the owner Nora was delighted to see us.

Sun 4 May
We began with a walk across the fields from Zennor, past the church and into the most amazing pasture fields.

We had a lovely coffee on the beach in St Ives, then up another hill for a late lunch in a churchyard, then across the most amazing beach to Gwithian. The beach is about 3 miles in length, full of surfers, and we had a little paddle in the sea.

After that charming little trip, I'm going to be on my own for the next couple of weeks.  Don't want to think about it. At least all this walking makes one sleep well.

Mon 5 May
Bank holiday Monday and Richard went home this morning. Saying goodbye was horrible.

Sea pinks, wild garlic and bluebells all along the path that winds along the cliffs, which had some real upper and downers today with steps cut into the steep slopes. Went past many old tin mines and shafts and warnings not to fall off the cliffs or fall in the shafts - all rather alarming.

Then the weather turned and I began to suffer for the first time, managing to lose the map in the bargain - fortunately with only about three miles to go - and then I tripped over.  My first fall!

The wind was totally wild, which caused great waves so I saw shoals and shoals of surfers on the surfing beaches with RNLI lifeguards keeping watch.

Managed to buy a new map, but have lost the notes for going across the Somerset Levels.

Tue 6 May
Things turned a bit tough today; the tide was in, so I couldn't go over the Perrenporth sands & had to head inland over the dunes. Turns out: I hate dunes.  They are very disorientating and nasty, sandy things to walk on.

A very kind local man told me the way across them, but alas failed to tell me that the MOD have fenced off a huge stretch of the dunes, so I ended up going back on myself and adding about 2 miles to the already long day. Lesson one - don't always take local advice!

Thank goodness I bought a replacement map yesterday or I would never have got to Newquay (today was bad enough with a slew of wrong turns).  After finally arriving, I promptly got lost again in the back streets.

The coastal path is very exposed and there is a lot of evidence of the damage caused this winter and I don't feel safe on blustery days like today.  The off-shore wind kept the deluge off the coast, except for a terrific squall where I tried out the new poncho and got soaking wet boots.

Finally got to Portcothan after 9 hours walking and, of course, couldn’t find the b&b!  Got to it in the end; it’s called Penlan and it’s nice and comfortable and you get a jug of fresh milk in the room!

Wed 7 May
Woke to hear rain pattering on the windows.  Not a particularly great thing to hear when walking.

A proper breakfast this morning and joy of joys - unexpectedly dry boots to put on AND the rain had cleared!

I decided to try and avoid the coast as the wind is very strong and it's very nerve wracking walking in such conditions - you feel very exposed.

I made good pace on back roads to Harlyn and met up with a lovely couple, Rosemary and Colin, also walking to Padstow.  They are retired teachers and we chatted about walking, children, life and the road to Padstow became very short!

Saw a couple of beautiful sights (St Enodoc's church - a favourite of John Betjamin's), but begun to feel quite weary by the end at Port Isaac.

Yesterday was a long day and the road walking had made things ache and I miss everyone and can't help thinking what a stupid idea this was. The weather forecast is horrible and these blasted paths are steep and hidden … So I rang Richard and he had been stuck on the A34 this morning getting to work, but my route to work was through paths lined with wild garlic and bluebells.

Thu 8 May
Woke at 6.30 to hear rain battering against the window.  Not the best sound to wake to when you have 20 odd miles to walk. Chris and Bob, old ailing friends of Mum and Dad, rang and we arranged to meet in Tintagel.

Tough going.  Strong gales, fog and rain turned a difficult coastal path into horrid, treacherous going. Saw 2 other idiots like me the whole morning.

I finally got inland onto roads for the last two miles before Tintagel, and Chris and Bob passed me - what a coincidence! Chris leaped out of the car and gave me a lovely hug, then she and Bob drove into the village and found somewhere for lunch as I did the final walk into Tintagel.

Not only did Chris and Bob treat me to a great rest and lunch, but they had also got some much-needed ibuprofen gel for my feet. I set off again into the wind and fog.

A farmer warned me the track between Boscastle and Crackington Haven was the most difficult. I did the bit to Boscastle, which was grim - really steep valleys, slippery mud, deafening wind and big waves just rubbish in general.  I resorted to shouting to the wind "give it a rest". I managed to find a route on the back roads that took me, after what seemed hours, to Crackington Haven.

One of the things that I find very difficult is eating - I had to force some supper down as I had had nothing since 1.00pm and are using up a huge number of calories each day.  How odd - normally I can't stop eating!

Fri 9 May
Once today is over I will have done 1/9th of the trip and I’m not out of Cornwall yet. 

Because of the wind and how quiet the little rural roads are I decided to try and stay off the coastal path. At least the weather is not so rough today (I can't check ahead as I can't get any internet access in these valleys).

The walk to Bude (which was lovely) was much easier and very pleasant and the afternoon was similar - easy walking along the coast.  There is a huge radio station on the cliffs above Bude - I spent the morning seeing it get closer and closer and kept thinking Big Brother was watching me.

I got to Morwenstow and found my b&b with Carol & Don, who were so welcoming.  The pub in Morwenstow is called The Bush Inn, dates from the 11th century and is absolutely amazing - everyone should visit it. Low panelled rooms flag-stoned floors, beams, nooks and crannies.

Slight concern: I’m beginning to get a problem with the big toe on my right foot.

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