The last blog I wrote explained just the start of my first day on the South West Coast Path. I stopped my story just as I was taking my very first steps on my 630-mile journey. I would like to share with you that I am writing a book about my three-month journey, and thus would like to save most of my stories for the book. Therefore, here is part of my ninth day on the SWCP from June 12, 2017, from Woolacombe to Croyde Bay to Saunton Sands and back to Croyde Bay.
Today’s walk on the South West Coast Path started along the sand dunes just above Woolacombe Sand Beach. According to an article in The Telegraph from 2015, this beach was named one of the top five beaches in Europe, and in 2016 it was named “the best UK beach.” On a good warm day, the entire three miles of this beach can be packed with people. Today it was quite empty even though it was a warm day. Of course, it was early in the morning, and it was a Monday.
As I walked the three miles through the sand dunes just above the beach, it was quite quiet. Other than the sounds of a few chirping birds greeting the day and the gentle crashing of the white frothy waves on the beach. I was in such a quiet state of mind that when a barefoot jogger talked to me from behind, she startled me. When she said, “Hello,” I jumped. Politely as she jogged by me, she said, “I didn’t want to startle you.” Too late, I thought, and smiled at her as she jogged by.
Walking through the sand dunes is good for the calf muscles. Instead of my usual uphill morning climbs, this will do to waken the legs and the body for the day’s walk. The sand dunes are of course sandy to walk on, surrounded by foliage of ferns and other green plants. I had views over the dunes of the sandy beach, the white frothy waves, and the inviting blue waters. This was the first long beach that I would walk near or on during my South West Coast Path walk. In fact, some of my favorite sections of the South West Coast Path would be beaches such as this, and being so close to the water. The constant sound of the waves on the beach and the fresh air of the water supplied me with an ample supply of my negative ions for the day.
After the three miles, the flat walking on the sand dunes turned into flat walking on a gravel road. I had a great view from above at the far end of the long beach of the green hillsides and headlands ahead of me that I would soon be walking on. In view was also a car park filled with some caravans, and the beach below, where I would go down to get some food. It is quite warm out. I was loving the warmth. What a beautiful day!
I climbed a bit to get up from the end of the beach to get to the top of the green hillsides. The views from here looked straight down the long three-mile beach perpendicular to where I was standing. Stunning. The beauty of the view made me see why this beach was named “the best.” I took a photo of a bench from which one could sit and watch this view. To the right was a green hillside above the sandy beach that paralleled the beach, which paralleled the white frothy waves rolling their way onto the beach. This paralleled the inviting blue waters. In the distance, I could see Woolacombe, where I started my walk. What a beautiful day!
As I made my way out to Baggy Point along the path on the top of the green grassy hillside lined with green foliage, I appreciated the warmth along with a gentle breeze instead of the relentless winds of yesterday. I passed by a flock of white sheep. I passed by a herd of cows over on the other side of an old stone wall on my left side. To my right, as normal, were the blue seas. The skies were quite blue today as well, with thin white clouds.
When I arrived at Baggy Point I was enthralled with the herd of sheep around this area. Not just any sheep, they were all black! What a site to see! I took a few photos trying not to disturb them. Some had horns, so perhaps those were the male rams. There were baby lambs too, and I even saw one lamb feeding on its mama. Now the “Baa Baa Black Sheep” song makes sense.
I took a picture of my purple shoes near the tip of Baggy Point, just as I did yesterday at the tip of Morte Point. This point was actually windy at the moment, about the only wind I had all day, but yesterday’s Morte Point was certainly much windier.
I passed by a National Trust sign telling me, “Bird nesting season 15 March to 30 June. Please do not climb on the cliffs between white marker posts.” Soon another National Trust sign told me, “This pond has been restored to recreate a valuable wildlife habitat.” I love nature.
I walked a bit down the path towards Croyde Bay, and stopped at a bench to eat, and to listen to my favorite sound of the white frothy waves crashing on the rocks on the shore in the distance. The blue seas, the blue and white skies, and then just nothingness as far as the eye could see was beyond as I sat still. What a beautiful day! Today’s walking has basically been all flat walking, especially compared to the ascents and descents of yesterday.
As I made my way into Croyde Bay walking near some exposed rocks at low tide, my original six-and-a-half mile planned destination for the day, I got a bit confused. To make a long story short, as I arrived at Croyde Bay, including before and during walking on its beach, I got a bit lost trying to find my bed-and-breakfast. This added a half mile extra to my walking for the day. Turns out if I knew better, it would have only been a few yards extra. I arrived at my bed-and-breakfast four hours after leaving Woolacombe, including the planned walking, plus the extra half mile. Seven miles total walking at the moment. Remember, things don’t always go according to plan. But, that can be a good thing!
I knocked on the door of the B&B, and was greeted by a very warm woman, Jenny, who walked 200 miles of the SWCP herself back in February, as she told me she was going to do when we communicated via email months ago. I asked her if it was cold in February, and she said it was not really that cold. I was surprised. Jenny showed me to my room which had a view of Baggy Point where I was earlier today. I love looking back and seeing where I had walked!
During my day, I decided that because it was beautifully warm out, and the terrain was flat, that I wanted to walk an extra two or three miles today, so that tomorrow’s walk of nine miles could be shorter. I asked Jenny about where would be a good place to walk to of that distance. She recommended to Saunton Sands, to the hotel there which is two miles, and I can take a bus back from there. Great! In the mid-afternoon, I started my new additional planned two-mile walk. It was easy and flat, starting next to the end of Croyde Beach where I should have walked on earlier to get to the B&B, and I figured out the small footpath that would have taken me right to the B&B.
Soon I had views of another long beach, Saunton Sands. I approached the beach, with views perpendicular from above of its rows and rows of rolling white waves. Stunning. There were a few surfers and beach goers on the beach. Some of the path towards Saunton Sands was overgrown with prickly bushes, and I decided that from now on I probably should wear long pants every day, even if it was warm or hot out. I do not want to get my lower legs all scratched up.
It took me about 45 minutes to get to the hotel. I walked into the pish posh hotel of Saunton Sands looking a bit scruffy to double check about the bus back. A well dressed gentleman said, “You must be walking the Coast Path.” “Of course, can you tell by how I look?” “Yes, indeed. How much of it are you walking?” “All of it,” I responded. He said that he was impressed. I explained that I needed the bus back to Croyde Bay, he double checked the time, and I had 10 minutes to wait. He showed me where to sit by the flower beds, and I should flag down the bus as it went by. I thanked him. At this moment, I had walked my original six-and-a-half miles, plus the half mile extra trying to find by B&B, plus two more miles to Saunton Sands. Nine miles.
I sat by the flower beds and I waited. Ten minutes passed by. Then 20. Then 25. I was getting a bit unsure. Where was the bus I wondered? Finally, after 30 minutes I thought to myself, geez if I walked back the two miles, I could have been mostly back by now. I decided to walk back. Adding two extra miles to today. It was still warm out, and the walk back was flat and easy, and it was such a beautiful day after all! As I walked back through the area of prickly bushes, I was still glad I had on my long pants. I walked back faster than I walked there, making it back to near the B&B in 40 minutes.
That is how my planned six-and-a-half mile day, plus the extra half mile, plus these four miles to and from Saunton Sands, turned into an 11 mile day. But wait, there’s more.
The last extra mile of the day would be walking a half mile to dinner from the B&B, and a half mile back from dinner to the B&B. By that time I was refreshed and even wore my favorite cushy flip flops. Dinner turned out to be great. I had a “Super Serious Salad” – “a mega healthy salad of baby leaves, quinoa, broccoli, spinach, sugar snap peas, soya beans, courgette (zucchini) spaghetti, pumpkin and sunflower seeds finished with a citrus and pomegranate dressing.” Very vegan. A wonderful way to end my 12 mile day. But wait, there’s more.
I did it again though. I had to. I deserved it for all the extra miles I did today. For dessert, I ate a delicious homemade warm chocolate brownie.