“After ten days of walking I could really feel the impact of what I was doing. Apart from the daily ups and downs of emotions there was an undercurrent of deep happiness. I felt that this was a natural thing for me to be doing: walking all day, every day. In fact, it felt more natural than sitting at an easel, or driving, or shopping or anything. The walk had become my be-all-and-end-all. My fitness was still questionable, and my big toe was still numb, but my mind had never felt clearer.” – Artist and Author Sasha Harding
“A Brush With The Coast, An Artist’s Search for Inspiration along the South West Coast Path” is my inspiration. Sasha Harding, the artist and author of this 220-page book with over 300 delightful drawings, is a woman who walked the entire 630-mile South West Coast Path in about 7 weeks – solo. Well, with her dog, Jess, actually. And once in a while with a friend, a family member, or someone she met along the way. But by-and-large, walking the majority of the Path by herself, (just with Jess)!
Not only is Sasha’s story, as a woman walking solo on the entire Path inspiring to me as a woman, her journey and experiences are written with heart-felt personal emotions, honesty, and humor. She shares the challenges and the triumphs she faces. She introduces the people she meets. She expresses her deepening friendship with her dog, and her lifetime love of the ocean, and even fishing. Her adjective-filled descriptions of the landscape, including the land and the seas, take you along the Path with her. And mostly, it is her adorable, playful, child-like, simple yet elegant drawings and illustrations that all paint an inspiring picture to me of the South West Coast Path.
In preparation for the 100-mile walk that my husband I did on this Path back in May, I read three inspiring books about walking the entire 630-mile South West Coast Path. They are only three books I could find about walking the entire Path. While Sasha Harding’s was the most inspirational to me, two other books, written by men, were full of humor, great stories, and also painted a picture of what walking the entire Path is all about.
“The Man Who Hated Walking,” (yes that is the title of the book), is written by Overend Watts, a founding member of the English rock band of the 1070’s, Mott the Hoople. Overend has a sarcastic, humorous way of describing his journey, as someone who never walked before and was out of shape, and basically complained just about the entire time. But after this walk, he was transformed into someone who has since then completed many other long-distance walks including, but not necessarily limited to, The Pembrokeshire Coast Path (186 miles), Peddars Way and Norfolk Coast Path (93 miles), Hadrian’s Wall three times (73 miles each), Wainright’s Coast to Coast Path (190 miles), and the 1,250 mile walk from Land’s End to John O’Groats in 63 days which covers the entire length of Great Britain from its southwest to its northeast corners. Now that is inspiring! And while Overend Watts did not walk with his dog, his Tilley hat became a favorite, and apparently he continued to walk with it.
“500 Mile Walkies” is written by a man who also walked with his dog. Well it actually wasn’t his dog, but a borrowed one from a friend. Yes, a borrowed dog. Reading Mark Wallington’s book actually inspired Sasha Harding to go on her journey. Mark writes with much humor as well, and apparently he originally did the walk “to impress a girl [he] met at a party.” Well, after he completed the walk, he realized what his motives really were: “…To know the name of the gulls with the black backs and the flower whose first two syllables were poly…to teach myself how to put up a YHA tent…to try all the flavours of Heinz soup except for Lentil…to write a top-ten-best-selling-hit-pop-song” (maybe he should talk to Overend Watts)…to see how long a pair of socks has to be worn before they take root (ewwww!)…[concluding that]…the walk had been a complete personal success.” Inspiring!?! Yes, in its own way.
I actually wondered though why Mark Wallington walked only 500 miles, so my curiosity led me to ask the SWCP Association who told me that he really must have walked the entire 630 miles. It was just that back when he did the walk, sometime in the 1980’s, they didn’t have modern GPS to really know how long the Path was, so there was a sign at the beginning of the walk indicating that it was…500 miles. (Now aren’t you singing the song, “But I will walk 500 miles, and I will walk 500 more…”?) (Not sung by Mott the Hoople, but by The Proclaimers. And probably not written about the South West Coast Path.) (And if you weren’t singing it before, you probably are singing it now.)
Anyway, here are a few more adorable inspiring drawings and another quote from Sasha Harding after one of her walking days.
“This is what life is all about, and this is what makes this walk such an amazing experience. Here I am…having walked 10 miles. I am as chilled as I can be and feel incredibly lucky to be having this experience. I have no worries, no responsibilities, nothing but the now. This is food for the soul and I am a very, very lucky soul.” – Artist and Author Sasha Harding
(Disclaimer: While I do know Sasha Harding, having met her during our walk, this blog is completely my own, including the opinions, and my choice of links to her website. I originally purchased her book, and I will not receive any compensation for the sale of her book from this blog.)