A walk on the wild side – all 630 miles in 8 weeks!

John Hand recently completed the Coast Path for the second time but what made it different the second time around is that he completed it all in one go. Read his account of this once in a lifetime adventure ….

I completed the South West Coast Path on Monday July 24th after I set off from Minehead on Bank holiday Monday 29th May so it took me 8 weeks.

I had already done the walk a dozen years ago over a 4 year period in two-week stages but always wanted to attempt it in one go when retired ( I am 67 ) if still physically able. June was a challenging month with gale-force winds, which forced me to come off the coast path from Clovelly to Hartland Quay on 6th June as it was too wild. By contrast, I experienced rain and a heatwave in mid-June while I was in the St Ives area.

Apart from feet maintenance, most days my legs and knees felt strong throughout. I travelled as light as possible with a 40 litre rucksack hand washing at accommodation en route using B and B's, hotels , pubs and the odd Airbnb. Probably the longest pub crawl in history too, clocking up 150 pubs but still lost half a stone in weight !

Thoroughly enjoyed it though and now off to walk the Inca Trail in Peru with a fresh challenge of walking at altitude for the first time. Only downside is that there’s unlikely to be any pubs en route.

The whole of the South West Coast Path is extraordinary and that's why I wanted to do it again years later in one go if I could but as on all long-distance paths, of which I've done many over the years, weather plays a big part when reminiscing on favourite sections.

A particularly beautiful part can be spoilt by bad weather and having to trudge along in cloud and mist. I think Hope Cove to Salcombe takes some beating and the stretch around Land’s End. Hated the Par bit around the factory and the boulder hopping near Zenner (in the heatwave) but very few dull bits really for such a long walk.

Toughest stretch probably Hartland Quay to Bude but remembering how strenuous it was last time I made the

sensible decision to stay at Morwenstow halfway. Sidmouth to Seaton is not easy either and parts of Dorset but everything forgotten when you reach a decent pub at the end of the day and a pint of fine local ale.


Published on: Aug. 23, 2017