Monday, 3 September 2012

100 miles along the Cornish coast...

We recently sponsored 14-year-old Abbie Underhill, who set herself the challenge of completing a 100 mile walk along the South West Coast Path, from St Ives to Bude.

Abbie is trying to raise £3,500 to fund an educational expedition to Thailand and Cambodia next summer with the World Challenge Organisation where she hopes to work on various community projects. She has already raised £1,100 by climbing Snowdon.

She recently returned from her walk (in high spirits!) and sent us this diary of her journey...

We left Kidderminster on Friday 3rd August and set up camp in St Agnes. Our first hike was from St Ives to Gwithian Bridge (11.5 miles). It was a lovely hot day and the path mainly took us across sand dunes before reaching cliffs which were quite hard to walk on but we were rewarded by seeing some seals swimming in a cove. After my first day, I ached!

Our second day was walking from Gwithian Bridge to Porthtowan (11.5 miles). We woke up to heavy rain so dug out the waterproofs. When we started walking, we could see the cliffs just disappeared into a cove, but as we walked closer we were greeted by about 100 steps climbing down into the cove - which meant about another 100 to climb up the other side! It was hard going and we had to stop every couple of steps to catch our breath. All of a sudden, a model jet fighter flew overhead and we noticed there was a model aircraft show up ahead, so we stopped for lunch and watched the display for free! 

A couple passed us and pointed to my Dad's t-shirt and said “Helpful Holidays, we've booked with them!”. We stopped for a chat to tell them about the walk. The rain didn’t let up all day but when we reached Porthtowen, the sun came out a little and we saw a double rainbow!

Day three, a rest day, my legs needed it! So far I had walked 23 miles.

Day four, we walked from Porthtowen to Ligger Point, just past Perranporth (10.5 miles). This was one of my favourite parts of the walk. The hill side was littered with tin mine chimneys and the hillside was scattered with rocks containing tin. I it was really interesting and you could climb up around the ruins. The sea was really rough and grey so it gave it quite an eerie atmosphere! We walked through St Agnes and could see our tent – it was hard to carry on and not just nip back, but we did and arrived at Ligger Point just before 6pm. When we got back to the tent our dog Jasper was limping and we could see his feet were sore from walking through gorse. We decided it was unfair to take him any further.

Day five, we walked from Ligger Point to Trevelgue Head (11 miles). We were back in the sand dunes again, they were never ending! But we saw two Peregrines hovering above us and lots of Shetland ponies roaming the cliff tops. The sun came out and it was very hot; the beaches were full of people but there was not a sole on the coastal paths.

Day six, we walked from Travelgue Head to Treyarnon Bay (10.5 miles). This was a hard section to walk, the weather wasn’t kind and the wind picked up. There were so many steps to climb and it seemed like we weren’t getting anywhere fast but it kept my spirits up knowing that, so far, I had walked 44 miles. Looking forward to a rest day tomorrow!

Day seven and eight, rest days and we moved our tent to a campsite in Bude.

Day nine, we walked from Treyarnon Bay to Stepper Point just past Padstow (10.5 miles). This was a lovely part to walk. It was fairly flat and the scenery was amazing. We saw quite a lot of landslides and we had to make our own path through the gorse because the coast path was too close to the edge for our liking! We found lots of little coves which could only be accessed by boat and you could see where the sea had carved caves into the cliff side. I was hoping we would see more seals but the waters were quiet.

Day ten, we walked from Padstow to Port Isaac (11.5 miles). The sunshine had brought everyone out on the beaches which meant we only met a couple of people on the coast path. The heather here was an amazing colour - all different pinks and purples - but it was hard to walk through! We dropped down into Port Isaac and wandered around the little fishing harbour. I just had to have my photo taken outside Doc Martin's house from the TV series!

Day eleven, we walked from Port Isaac to Tintagel (9 miles). This was the muddiest section. It had rained heavily in the night and the paths were really steep. Our walking boots were caked in mud so you just couldn’t get a grip - me and my mum took it in turns to slip over! Luckily, we were wearing our waterproof trousers but we did look a sight. We washed ourselves down at every stream we came to, ready for the next scramble. The scenery around Tintagel was amazing. Even though we didn’t go on the island, you could still see the old ruins and it all looked pretty big. It would have been the perfect spot for King Arthur's castle!

Day twelve, rest day.

Day thirteen, we walked from Tintagel to Crackington Haven (10.5 miles). This was another of my favourite sections to walk. We saw so many ruins scattered around the cliffs and lots of hidden coves. It was very muddy again but we managed to stay upright this time! We came across waterfalls and so many different types of styles to climb across - and lots of people! Walking was quite slow because we had to stop and wait for our turn to climb the styles. Just before we reached Boscastle, everyone seemed to disappear and it was just us again and the sea! Boscastle was a lovely little harbour town and we stopped for a well-earned ice cream before carrying on to Crackington Haven.

Day fourteen, we walked from Crackington Haven to Bude (9.5 miles). LAST DAY! We woke up in the night to severe gales and my Dad had to secure the tent to the car as we thought we would lose it! The rain was heavy and not what we hoped for on our last day’s walking. We started off late that morning, hoping the wind would die down, but it didn’t. After walking about two miles, the coastal path was taking us right on the cliff edge and the winds were very strong, so we decided to find an alternative route away from the cliffs. We ended our 100 mile coastal challenge by walking back to Bude along the road, which wasn’t the plan but the winds were so strong it just wasn’t safe on the cliffs. But WE DID IT!!! Just over 100 miles walking from St Ives to Bude.

Congratulations to Abbie - what a very great effort in such a short space of time and despite some terrible weather. Well done and good luck with the expedition next year. 
If you'd like to explore this section of the coast path, here are our holiday cottages in north cornwall