Coastal Path

Coastal Path

Sunday, 15 April 2007

Now it is Over

Pat & I travelled back to Herefordshire on the Friday afternoon. Pats' foot is still not brilliant but she has been told that she will need to see her GP on Monday to see if they can say what exactly is wrong with it. She has been a real inspiration to me and I know she was very disappointed that she could not walk the remainder of the path after having walked so far. To do over 100 miles day after day is a real achievement and I hope she is still proud of what she has done. I wouldn't have even attempted the walk without her as many people said they would like to do it but no one apart from Pat said that they would actually do it with me, though I know that for many it was the time pressures of work and family commitments that prevented them.
Once back home everyone has commented how well I look and to be quite honest I feel really well. I feel that the walk has helped me not only to get stronger and fitter these last 3 weeks but it has enabled me to walk away from my illness and come home, as the person I was, before I was diagnosed with cancer. Everyone has been so welcoming, especially at church today and the readings for this Sunday in Easter matched perfectly how I feel at the moment - (Acts5 vs12-16 and then the response Psalm 117 Give thanks to the Lord for he is good, for his love has no end). Pat and I feel that we were truly blessed in so many ways on our "incredible journey" and it has strengthened our faith and taught us to trust in God even more, especially when we had to confront our fear of heights!
Now, Pat & I have to gather in our sponsorship money and work out how much we have collected. People have been incredibly generous but I know that it is not just our walk but the cause which so many people wish to support. I will update the blog once Pat and I know exactly how much we have raised and I will try and post a few of our own photos once my teenager has shown me how to do it!

Thursday, 12 April 2007

Day 19; Ceibwr to St Dogmaels - 7.1 miles

Made it!
Well, finally Liz has walked the last stage of the 186 mile path.
Liz is having a well deserved rest and will update the blog on her return home.

That posting was kindly made by my husband as Pat & I returned to Glenshane on St Annes Head on the Thursday and so had no access to a computer that evening. Hence I am currently writing up the last days walk. Marc Mordey , who we were staying with in Newport, kindly offered to walk with me the last day, as it was a stretch of the coast that he has not yet walked. The day was hazy but warm and Marc and I started our walk about 9.30am. Marc is a very talented photographer and with the incredible folds in the cliffs there was plenty of material for him. As we only had 7miles to do we were in no hurry. In fact I was almost sorry that I was finishing the walk as it had been a focus for such a long time now. The sun tried to break out but with little success. The first few miles were steep in places but whether I was becoming used to the cliff edges the heights were not bothering me as much as they had earlier in the walk. Just as we were finishing most of the cliff edge section of this walk Marc and I stopped for a lady coming the other way. We were both surprised when the lady in question took off her sunglasses when she saw us and said"hello Liz" in tones that I recognised as belonging to Marge Hayes. Marge has been a very great friend to my late parents and helped nurse me when I first came home from hospital 18months ago. The emotions welled up as it was Marge who had been there near the beginning of my illness and was now there to join me as I hoped to put my illness behind me. Introductions followed as she didn't know Marc and then the 3 of us walked the remainder of the path to Poppit sands. The plaque which marks the end of the walk is at Poppit Sands but the real finish is at St Dogmaels. We met up with Pat, Helen (Marcs' wife) and Rosemary and Mary at Poppit Sands for one lot of photos around the plaque and then the 3 walkers in the party carried onto St Dogmaels and the Ferry Inn for the real finish. It was very strange the last couple of miles because it is all road walking and not much like the other 180+ miles. We all met up again for more photos at the Ferry Inn and then had a light lunch. It was then time to say our goodbyes and for Pat and I to head off to Glenshane to collect the remainder of our kit and have a bit of a wind down. Marge had to travel all the way back to Hereford (2.5hours of driving which she had already done that morning - very much appreciated by Pat & I). Pat & I got to the house about 5.45pm where we washed before going to the pub for our supper. The first time in 3 weeks we had fish and chips as the whole time we were walking it didn't appeal to us at all despite our location on the coast! It seemed very surreal to be sitting in a pub and not to be thinking of the next days march or having to get on and make our sandwiches for our packed lunch!

Wednesday, 11 April 2007

Day 18 Ceibwr to Newport 8 miles

Up a bit later but still managed to get out in the car before 9am and off to Ceibwr. I decided to do the path in reverse today as Marc & Helen had had to go and visit her sick Aunt in Oxford. I thought that by going to Ceibwr first I only had to be met down in Newport. I hoped that this would be a bit easier for Helens' family who were covering the lifts in their absence. Ceibwr was deserted when I got there despite the bright sunshine and warm air which made it feel like a summer morning rather than early April. I parked the car and started the walk up the road which is part of the coast path. Once out on the cliff edge it was a pretty thin path to begin with much to my concern. However the views were fantastic and in the morning shadow the cliffs looked even bigger. I dropped down to the Witch's cauldron which was very still in the calm morning air. 2 people were swimming in the stream that flows by there and their little terrier sat shivering on the steps down. By concentrating on the little dog I managed to keep my eyes off the drop on either side of the natural rock bridge that creates one side of the cauldron. It was then a steep climb up the other side. Most of the path ran close to the cliff edge. Before I climbed over the stile that warns how difficult and strenuous the walk is for the next few miles with no exit points I rang my husband!! He as usual gave me encouragement to carry on as he did through all the days of my chemo when I felt I couldn't do it any more. This was something that I thought of as I walked this stretch, as I really suffer vertigo, and I made myself put one foot in front of the other. I thought of friends & family who are having to undergo chemo, and the times when you feel you can't do it anymore, you sometimes have to dig deep and push yourself that bit extra and find that you can do it. This might sound not the most attractive walk but once again I was blest with brilliant weather and I felt that I was not alone on this walk, I just had to learn to trust God as I had done throughout the last 18 months. I felt that today I was meant to do this part on my own so that I could finish this walk physically and mentally stronger than I had started it. That I would face my fear of heights and still come through and with a smile (or was it a grimace?) on my face! The going was tough physically especially as my legs are now quite tired after the last few days. There were some ascents where you had to keep going to maintain the momentum on the loose stones even though your legs and lungs were asking for a break. Once again when I thought I was over the worst and the end not far the cliff doubled back in again and I was confronted by a very narrow path above a very sheer drop. A very kind lady walking with her dog to raise funds for an eczema charity kindly told me to be careful of the path ahead of me as it was quite dangerous in places. This really reassured me!! A couple of deep breaths and my eyes only looking at the path I managed to walk the next bit without falling to my hands and knees and just crawling along in tears, an option that did cross my mind! As I came down the hill to Newport Sands I felt very relieved and quite chuffed that I had done the walk. It was just 1pm as I came to the cafe by the sands and ordered my much needed and very welcome cup of tea. Pat came to meet me with Marianne and Rosemary and they kindly gave me alift back to my car. Pat and I then had a recce to check exactly where the end of the coast path really is. We evetually found the plaque at Poppit sands but from the National path literature we have to walk a further 1.3miles to the Ferry Inn at St Dogmaels to reach the real finish line. I can live with this end point, despite the long trawl along the road, because the pub looks very good as a final destination and place for a celebration.

Tuesday, 10 April 2007

Day 17 Goodwick to Newport Iron Bridge 13.7 miles

Pat still not up to walking on the coast path so Marc kindly came along for part of this mornings' walk. Just before we set off I heard that my cousin Kim was also coming along to walk with me for the day as well. We all met up in the car park at Goodwick and once again started off in bright sunlight. As usual in the towns, the trail is not always clear to see, whether because signposts have come down or markings have been vandalised. Marc came with us to Fishguard and then had to turn back. Kim and I continued in the excellent weather and spent the walk catching up with all the family news. No doubt my blog tonight will be shorter than yesterdays as my jaw got as much exercise as my legs today walking with someone! Sorry Kim if your ears are worn thin after so many hours with me! Once around the old fort at Fishguard we were out into open countryside and again doing quite a few ups and downs from the cliff tops down to the little coves. We made it to Pwll-Gwaelod by lunchtime where the support team had persuaded the landlord of the pub there to look after food and water for Kim and I. For this reason I felt obliged to have half a bitter shandy rather than my usual cup of tea, which I have with Pat. It couldn't be helped though and slipped down very well after a long hot mornings walk. From Pwll-Gwaelod it was onto Cwm-yr-Eglwys which is another beautiful little bay where people were sea canoeing around the headlands in the glorious sunshine. From there it was a steep climb up out onto fields again. We then called into a number of very quiet but beautiful little coves, both with streams flowing through them that this time could be crossed by bridge. No risk of wet feet today! Just before Newport there were very high cliffs and not much between you and the edge. Thank God I had Kim with me and by chatting away not thinking about them I got past them without any fear. A good practise for the high cliffs I have to walk along tomorrow and Thursday. Once at Newport we walked along the beach before we hit the flat path that took us through trees to the iron bridge. Bluebells were just coming out in a few places along here. However, there has been no thrift in the last few days colouring the path pink as we had around St Davids. On arrival at the ironbridge about 4pm I gave Kim a lift back to his car and then it was back to the house for me for a cup of tea and a hot bath.

Monday, 9 April 2007

16th day Aber Mawr to Goodwick 12.8 miles

Up early today as I knew I had a long day ahead of me, with quite a few ascents and descents. The amount you walk up and down doesn't count only the mileage latitudinally so you can have a very hard day without seeming to have got very far! Mark showed me where to park the car in Goodwick and then he gave Pat and I a lift to Aber Mawr. Pat is still in some pain from her foot and so she must rest it still to see if it will improve for the finishing part of this walk. So Mark waked with me for the first part of the way today. It was another glorious morning of bright sunshine and the views were again spectacular. The start at 9.30am was not promising as at Aber Mawr quite a strong stream flows through the beach and there is no obvious way of crossing this stream without getting your feet wet right at the start of the day. With my poor balance from not feeling my feet much it was quite a challenge to balance on some rocks to get across. I have the advantage of reasonably long legs so could stretch more from one rock to another. As it was I still had to dip my boots in the stream to get across. Then it was up the hill and around a headland. We then came across some wild ponies grazing on the headland. I am a bit nervous around horses so I was pleased that Marc was still with me at this point, especially as they had grazed into the corner right by the stile! They soon moved and I crossed the stile to view a quite spectacular drop down and then back up again and it wasn't even 10 o'clock! Marc turned back at this point as he had a busy day ahead of him and needed to get back home. I was just grateful he had walked as far as he had with me. After that dip down it was then quite a scramble sometimes over large boulders. Alot of the scrub here had been burnt recently so the heavy scent of the gorse was interspersed with the smell of ash and smoke. It was a long climb up the ridge to get above Pwll Deri but the views were incredible, all the more so because I don't like heights and was very proud of what I had already achieved! I then had to press on to meet Pat at Strumble head car park. Once you have cleared Pwll Deri you think it can't be too far to this lighthouse as you can see it for quite a while but once again the path will cut back on itself into another small cove. I was also surprised that when you weren't on rocks you were sometimes picking your way through boggy patches. I must admit at this point I really missed Pat going "Oh, not Mud!!" By 12.20 I had finally made it to the car park to meet with the new support team. I was very impressed with Marianne who was the driver, Rosemary (our hosts elderly mother) and Pat. Marianne got to the right point at the right time. Rosemary fortuately had brought water (I had already got through a litre it was so hot) and then there was Pat!! Bless Pat, she really enjoyed my biscuits that I had carried for 6 miles in my rucksack! Why hadn't she brought her own? ( I am joking, Pat has been a brilliant sandwich maker and makes sure every morning that we are supplied for the day ahead). After enjoying my sarnies it was back to the long walk around to Goodwick. This was much quieter with fewer walkers about. I don't blame them it was a long afternoon of again with alot of ascents and descents. I met a very nice family whose son had walked the entire path at the age of 16 for some of his local charities. They happily told me it was going to get a lot harder before I finished! This really made me feel good! For the first time in days the sun clouded over in the afternoon, which was a blessing as I had only 1 water bottle with me (I couldn't find my 2nd bottle in the move to Newport). Into Goodwick the path was once again not very clearly marked but it wasn't too difficult to find the car. It was 4.30pm and I really fancied a refreshing cup of tea only to find that they had finished serving tea by the time I had tidied myself up. However, I did find the missing water bottle in the back of the car so was able to get some refreshment after all. I then drove back to Marc and Helens beautiful house where Pat made me a cup of tea. We enjoyed the sun in the garden before a relaxing bath and tea. Pat told me what an exhausting day she had had going out for lunch with Rosemary and Marianne,but she had spent the afternoon scouting out my route for tomorrow.
Joking apart Pat and I feel truly blessed with the wonderful people who have supported us and provided us with accomodation. Without their help we wouldn't be able to do what we are doing. These are the last few days of our "incredible journey" and Pat thinks I'm wonder woman! But I must point out I am not wearing sparkly knickers during this walk!!

Sunday, 8 April 2007

Day 15 Trevine to Aber Mawr 6.1 miles

Easter Sunday welcomed us with guess what? Bright sunshine in a cloudless sky! We all got up and had a light bite for breakfast before we went to the Easter Sunday service down in Dale village. The vicar is a lovely man and was in excellent voice for "Rolled the Stone away". Back to the house for an egg hunt, followed by a Polish Easter breakfast of cold meats, hard boiled eggs and cold salad dishes. We then packed ready for our next move to Newport. Once packed we all went to Trevine where I left the car at about 2pm and started the afternoon walk. Andy and the boys started the walk with me for about 1/4 of the way before they turned back. I then continued on my own whilst Andy took Pat and the boys onto Aber Mawr. Once again the views were beautiful and it was great to see so many people out and enjoying the countryside at its best. There was one beautiful point where the headland fields were just covered in bright little daisies amongst the fresh cropped grass which young lambs were playing in. Ahead of me the rising coastline kept reminding me that I had got some harder walking yet to do over the remaining days. I tried to put this to the back of my mind and just enjoy such another lovely day. It didn't take long before I arrived in Aber Mawr where I met Pat, Andy and the boys and shared a flask of coffee and some easter chocs. We then collected my car so that Pat and I could drive onto Newport. It was hard saying goodbye to the boys as they have come so far with us and we have all enjoyed each others company. Pat and I arrived at Newport at just after 6pm and were given a very warm and friendly welcome by Marc & Helen. They live in a fantastic spot called Penrallt Farm where they have a new working art studio which they have just opened to the public. ( The views here are incredible and I am sure are quite inspirational to them both. They made us a lovely meal which I enjoyed but I seemed to be the only one eating plenty of seconds. They said I needed to keep my energy up but I think I just enjoy my food! Well I had better sign off as I have an early start tomorrow as I plan to try and walk the 13 miles from Aber Mawr to Goodwick, all being well. Marc has kindly offered to help with transport which is very kind of him and a huge help especially with such a long day scheduled. Goodnight and happy Easter to all our family and friends from Liz & Pat

Saturday, 7 April 2007

Day 14: Whitesands to Trefin, 11.3 miles

With Pat's foot no better Daniel agreed to walk for her with me. He wanted an early start so that we would finish earlier. For this reason we were all up at just after 7am and out of the house before 8.30am. This meant that by the time we got to Whitesands Bay just outside of St Davids, and got ready and said our farewells it was 9.45am. Once again we set out in brilliant sunshine and not a cloud in the sky, with a fresh breeze blowing from the north east. Daniel had fresh legs from yesterday and so set a cracking pace which he maintained nearly all day. It was quite different walking from the earlier parts of the Pembs Path as the path was rockier rather than loose shale or trampled mud. In a few places, and especially up Carn Penberry, you had to clamber over rocks to climb up and down the path. This would have made Pats foot alot worse so I was glad that she was resting it as I didn't want her to do anything that could result in long term damage, which this stretch of walk might well have done. I was hoping to enjoy the highest point of the path on Carn Penberry but Daniel wanted to push on and meet the others for lunch at Abereiddy.
We managed to arrive there just after 1pm and had our lunch sitting by the Blue Lagoon (a flooded quarry). We were able to sit and watch people jumping I suppose about 40foot down into the lagoon while the tide was still deep enough for them to do it. Dan and Nathan both thought this was "cool" but I can't say I could watch with much enjoyment! After lunch Dan and I set off at his refreshed quick pace and got to the old harbour at Porthgain before the "support team" got there! It was all to do with a lady having dropped her bikini down the toilets at Abereiddy, which sounded some sort of tall story for them lounging around enjoying the brilliant sunshine and fantastic views. (Actually Andy and Nathan had walked some of the way from Abereiddy with us and I think it was so lovely that they must have walked nearly half way towards Porthgain with us). After a quick ice cream and drink, Dan and I once again waved goodbye and set off for Trefin where this time we were greeted by Nathan and Andy walking along the cliff path to meet us. From there it was back to the house where Andy miraculously conjured up yet another great meal for two tired walkers desite having done so much himself today to support us.
Another tale from the "support team" was that whilst Daniel and I were labouring away up over Carn Penberry, Pat and Nathan were left sitting enjoying the sun in St Davids in charge of the dog whilst Andy did some shopping. Next thing Pat and Nathan are looking at an empty collar and no dog to be seen! Andy comes back to find them frantically looking for the dog without success. He joins the search and down a nearby side street sees a dog tied up outside a cafe, the dog they are all looking for. The sensible dog had found an establishment that sold food and so had wandered in. The owner had then tied it up but could see it was our dog the way she was wagging her tail when Andy arrived! Dog must need feeding up or we have to get a new collar.