I’m currently sat in the sunshine about to indulge in a classic Saturday morning breakfast, bacon. But yesterday things didn’t seem quite so rosy.
After a long hard day of pounding the tarmac with Amy in moderately warm weather I was ready for a day of coastal bliss. Which naturally the path did not deliver.
Friday was a big day, one I was attempting to make even longer to make it the lifeboat station in Morfa Nefyn. But more on that later.
I started my day with a 15km trudge on amazon road. Tarmac taunting me with every step. Never again will I complain about having to drive down a bumpy grassy lane. Now I live for a grass lane. I popped into a beautiful church in Clynnog Fawr and in true Penfold style I walked straight into the middle of a communion service. I’d intended to go and have a poke after seeing a building so beautiful. But instead settled on listening to part of the surface.
Then returning to the pounding of pavements I set off onwards towards Trefor. An old university haunt. Picnics were had here. I’d dived the pier. Here is where I was very much interested in an Ex. Here is also where I’d found at another partner had cheated on me. Something about this history and connection to Trefor both comforted and unsettled me. I felt my resolve dissolve around me. My little walking world didn’t seem to fit any more. It was lunch time. I hadn’t walked half way. My bag was the heaviest it’s ever been and I had a couple of mountains to climb and everything just slumped.
After a bit of a pep talk I carried on and climbed my mountains in the blistering heat.
I reached Nant Gwyrthen and refilled my water and enjoyed the most spectacular views. But every step felt like a difficulty. After chatting all day a phone call from Callum led to a good cry and a bit more positivity. As soon as we hung up I got a lovely message from a lady called Sue. She had a bed for me for the night and a BBQ! I cried again. This time happy tears. I was so thankful for the help in my hour of need. It was the boost I needed.
Not long later I met with a couple who were walking the entire coast of the uk in sections. They’d made their way anti-clockwise from Kent! We walked all the way to Nefyn and chatted about Outward Bound. He was an alumni from the 60’s desperate to know about OB today. I told a story about Amy meeting up with a skills for life student on our walk accidentally the day before and he decided my name was Amy.
Soon I reached Nefyn. All was to be well and night of luxury and prosecco followed!
Today’s blog comes from the luxury of a rest day. After yesterday’s success and milestone of completing Anglesey, and with it my 10th consecutive day of walking since my last rest day today’s rest is well earned and perhaps a little overdue.
At this point I have walked 341km. At some points I painstakingly trudge through willing my feet to take one step after the other. But largely for Anglesey I enjoyed fantastic scenery, interesting walking and at some points fantastic company. A stark distance from the “North Wales” section of the path. Although the path took a turn for the slow taking 10 days to circumnavigate Anglesey opposer to the 9 originally planned that extra day was definitely worth it. That extra day was the time to meet the fantastic lifeboat crews around the island, the time to see a wonderful podiatrist at Moelfre Podiatry (whom I couldn’t recommend more, I know have fully tape free almost pain free feet!) and the time to have a wonderful lazy morning in bed on Sunday. Lazy Sunday mornings come highly recommended in particular.
I have managed to stay in all manner of bizzare and unusual places: an artists caravan; a cliff top bivvy; and a rather smelly bird hide topping the list. I couldn’t be more grateful to the friends and strangers alike that have shown me great kindness with beds in so many homes and so much food to keep me going.
With 341km behind me it’s time too look forward to the Llŷn Peninsula. A 10 day section that will most likely be my most remote section of the path. Here I am least likely to be joined by my friends and it looks unlikely that I’ll be sleeping anywhere other than my tarp for my duration of this section. But I’m looking forward to the relative remoteness of the Llŷn and the new challenges that will bring.
So to finish a few life lessons from the path:
Do not hear powdered milk in a jetboil. It will explode. Repeating a second time will confirm this.
If the sun is shining it is wise to remove the wrist straps from your walking poles. Otherwise you will have ridiculous hand tan lines.
Don’t leave a compeed on your little toe for a week and a bit. It will make you toe start to die. This is less than ideal.
A mug shot is not a meal no matter how much you try to kid yourself it is.
If you wish to loose half a stone and gain a tan walk from Chester to Bangor and then round Anglesey.
Don’t kick the pole in your tarp. You will get a tarp in your face at 3am. It isn’t pleasant.
Don’t forget to check for ticks. Enough said. It was bloody humongous.
I’ve reached the end of the my second week on the path and my eighth day on Anglesey. This past fortnight has been a complete whirlwind of emotions. From having a completely miserable time during my first week, suffering with my feet in the pouring rain whilst pounding the never ending stretches of tarmac to laughing and smiling in the sun on the sand this week on Anglesey.
Throughout my first week there were so many points where I was ready to give up. To give in and skulk back home with my tail between my legs. I’m so glad I didn’t. This last week especially on Anglesey has been brilliant. My feet are much better things are starting to work themselves out and I’m finding covering 20km upwards in a day easier and easier. Definitely not easy yet but certainly more than manageable. I’ve seen some beautiful stretches of coastline wonderful and varied. I’ve seen masses of seabird and a few cheeky seals. And I’ve met so many wonderful kind people whilst walking the path. It’s astounding how many people have donated money as I’ve walked; fed me cake and biscuits and generally been interested in what I’m up to. The kindness of those near to me and complete strangers means I’ve only had one night alone in my bivvy though a few more in my sleeping bag and I’ve rarely been without food.
The people who’ve walked with me on the path have been the most valuable. Putting the world to rights with Paul, listening to incredible tales of climbing days gone by with Pete and laughing and smiling till I could laugh no more with Callum. These people have lifted my spirit and given me a fresh resolve to carry on. Knowing I soon have people to walk with makes getting up each day a little easier.
I’m still worried and nervous about what the future on the path may hold but everyday I get more and more offers of help and support. I’m anxious about lonely life on the isolated Llyn Peninsula but certain it will all work out ok in the end. But for now here’s to sunshine, sand dunes and South Stack.
Today it finally happened. I’d avoided it with great resolve. In fact I was rather pleased with my self. I’d been confronted by a mob of teenagers. Followed by strange men. Been rained on constantly. Been in constant pain. But today despite the sunshine and day rest I cried.
I didn’t want to cry. I’d been avoiding for this last week. Adamant that I was stronger than this. Adamant that for once I wasn’t going to be that person. Turns out I am that person.
If you know me well you’d know I hate confrontation, I can’t take criticism (I’m my own worst enemy on this one) and I cry all the time.
If you don’t know me well. Then I’ve been told I come across as rude, abrupt, stuck up, stand offish. The list goes on and I’m sure you get the idea. Something I’m working on though if you tell me this I’ll probably cry.
Today I was the person that cried. Walking along a beach. And then sitting on a beach. And then walking along a beach again. I had been so sure I wasn’t going to cry. Made sure I didn’t so many times. Stiff upper lip and get on with it stuff because crying doesn’t solve anything. Crying doesn’t help you walk that last 10km. You just get wet and snotty.
So I sat on my bag on the beach and I had a cry. And do you know what I didn’t feel any better. Not an ounce. I just looked ridiculous. My foot still really hurt and I still had 10km to walk. So I got up and I walked again. Every single step was agony. But here I am sat at Penmon point. I’ve made dinner and I’ve got a cup of tea. Now all I need is to walk a bit further to find somewhere to camp. Which I’m sure will also be agony.
The problem now is when is too much pain too much. I’m starting to get a bit concerned that A) my feet are more tape than feet and B) every step is excruciating pain. It’s pretty early on in the game to be in this much pain. I was told the first 5-10 days are the worst but I’m pretty sure they didn’t mean this bad. I guess I’ll just have to wait and see…
Nobody said it was easy. No one ever said it was this hard. – Coldplay
This is a lyric that has been floating around my head with great indignation for the past three days. The most tumultuous three days in which I have considered at least 784 different outcome of this crazy stupid adventure. Here is an update from day one.
Day one was harder than I ever could have imagined or expected. After the realisation I’d booked the wrong train to Chester and that I wouldn’t start walking till 11:30 I whizzes through the welsh countryside passing snow on the ground a most unwelcome sight. Once finally completing my maiden voyage I arrived to rain and tarmac. Tarmac from this point onwards has become my mortal enemy. Funnily enough after 26 km and rain all day I was an emotional wreck and my feet were broken. If you were wondering you, probably aren’t. Don’t bother with the first day of the costal path. Chester to Fflint is a post industrial graveyard populated by teenagers who will intimidatingly surround you and ask for directions to Everest. The river Dee is straight flat and uninteresting. The highlight of my day was the Dee tidal bore, which I saw before I’d even left England. Fortunately when I failed miserably to find a spot to camp whilst being followed by the local youths. A bed was arranged in Ffynnongroew and I was officially saved. Main success of the day? I didn’t cry. I have no idea how, I wanted to a lot.
At a point of almost sacking it all in and going home I realised I couldn’t afford to live if I returned to normal life and that if this was as bad as it got I could probably manage a little bit longer. A pep talk from a few important people and I set to bed with a 5:15 alarm and a plan.