Two men on a path: A record of the trial~ and tribulations of Bill and Chris Andrews walking the Southwest Way between 1981 and 2000

Although we started at Hartland Point and finished at Torquay this book is arranged traditionally, though we had started at Minehead and finished at Poole. The book continues with the link from Minehead to Poole and then moves through Wales along the Offa’s Dyke.

Holiday 9 Minehead 26th September 1996
Porlock Weir 27th September 1996
Lynmouth 28th September 1996
Ilfracombe 29th September 1996
Woolacombe 30th September 1996
Holiday 10 Braunton 29th September 2000
Westward Ho 30th September 2000
Clovelly Ist October 2000
Hartland Point
Holiday 1 Morwenstow 5th May 1981
Bude 26th May 1981
Boscastle 7th May 1981
Tintagel 8th May 1981
Holiday 2 Port Isaac 3rd October 1982
Padstow 4th October 1982
Mawgan Porth 5th October 1982
Newquay 6th October 1982
Porthowan 7th October 1982
Hells Mouth 8th October 1982
Holiday 3 St Ives 20th June 1983
Pendeen. 21St June 1983
Sennen Cove 22nd June 1983
Holiday 4 Penzance 16th September 1984
Porthleven 17th Septemebr 1984
The Lizard 18th September 1984
St Keverne 19th September 1984
Helford Passage 20th September 1984
Holiday 5 Portloe 2nd June 1986
Mevagissey 3rd June 1986
Pentewan 4th June 1986
Holiday 8 Polperro 24th September 1994
Downderry 25th September 1994
Plymouth 26th September 1994
Thurlestone 27th September 1994
Salcombe 28th September 1994
Holiday 10 East Portlemouth 2nd October 2000
Stoke Fleming 3rd October 2000
Brixham 4th October 2000
Holiday 7 Torquay 29th September 1993
Dawlish 30th September 1993
Sidmouth Ist October 1993
Lyme Regis 2nd October 1993
Holiday 6 Lyme Regis 2nd October 1991
Burton Bradstock 2nd October 1991
Weymouth 3rd October 1991
41h October 1991
Swanage 5th October 1991

 

26th September 1996 MINEHEAD – rendezvous

We were off again and for Bill who drove down from Betley leaving his new woman Sue for the first time it was a very different time.  Bill had tracked down and booked us into a suitable pub the Old Ship Aground, and we met in the bar. Chris had driven from Plymouth.

The Old Ship Aground

THE OLD SHIP AGROUND
Tony and Suewelcome you to The Old Ship Aground believed to be not only one of the few Public Houses in the United Kingdom to bear this name but perhaps the only one to have a church within its boundaries.  The presentbuilding started life inSeptember 1984 when Mr Philip Martin to Dunster Magistrates Court for the transfer of licence from the Queens Head Inn, The Quay, Minehead, to a new building to be known as the Pier Hotel.  Thename of the Pub was changed to 1977. by the then Landlord Jack Waterhouse who wished to rename the Pub using the name of an old inn situated on the Quay during previous times. Today the Present Pub caters for a wider clientel than some of its previous landlords could have imagined instead of the Dock Worksmen which plied their trade up and down the Bristol Channel, Gas Works Employees from the now destroyed Gas Works and local fishermen.  Our customers come from Minehead and surroundings areas, from all over the United Kingdom, Europe, the American Continent and Australia. All are brought to this wonderful part of England for different reasons, some, to look up .me fur the extremely good fishing experienced in the Bristol Channel, others for the magnificent scenerythey find on Exmoor. All in all every visitor travels to Somerset for enjoyment.
Quaky Street, Minehead, W. Somerset TA24 51A. Telephone. (01643) 702087

27thSeptember 1996

MINEHEAD to PORLOCK WEIR 8 1/4 Miles

 

We had been looking forward very much to this stretch. The Official path starts in Minehead and yet somehow we were now actually on our final stretch. We had come separately leaving us with the usual problems of two cars, the most pressing being that you really have to make an estimate of how far you will get in four days. Anyway, decision made and we drove separately hell for leather to Woolacombe where we left my car, then back to Minehead together in Bills Discovery, leaving it at the Old Ship Aground.

From Minehead we climbed slowly up to Selworthy Beacon at 900feet before tea at Bossington a lovely little village. Then on to a rather expensive evening at Porlock Weir, staying at the Ship Inn.

Portlock Weir

28th September 1996

PORLOCK WEIR to LYNMOUTH 11 1/2Miles

From Porlock we continued westwards towards Lynton staying in Lynmouth at the Bath Hotel. At some point during the day Bill remembered with a flash of genius (or was it Chris) that the key required at Woolacombe was safely hidden in Minehead. Oh what a disaster (Chris’s fault) but fortunately we realised in time and after a short wait just near the Bath Hotel, we caught the Exmoor Coastlink back to Minehead and returned in no time to Lynmouth with the Discovery finding a suitable non tariff slot and repaired to the hotel to clean up.

Exmoor Coastlink

The Bath Hotel was not one of our more memorable evenings but Lynmouth is a strange place. Very easy to see how it was so ravaged in 1954 by the East and West Lyn rivers and perhaps we were exhausted by our car manoeuvres.

29th September 1996    –  30th September 1996

LYNMOUTH to ILFRACOMBE 17 Miles

The Royal Britania Hotel

A long hard and very wet day, terminating in a stay in a real dive of a hotel despite the grand name. It seemed to go on forever We had an old fibreglass shower cabinet within the bedroom. We wandered around a bit but were very tired after this hard 3rd day.

Our bill – the cheapest B & B ever

30th September 1996

ILFRACOMBE to WOOLACOMBE 7 ½ Miles

Always a sad day the final stretch of our holiday. Woolacombe is a small Victorian resort facing west and there on the coast road was Chris’s Montego.

29th September 2000

WOOLACOMBE to BRAUNTON 13 Miles

Another frantic start to our holiday with Bills car deposited at Hartland Point and then back to Woolacombe to leave Chris’s Vauxhall Vectra on the same coast road we had last visited exactly four years before.

Hartland Point car park ticket and B & B Woolacomb bill

We had only just started when we walked on to the beach at Croyde to discover the National Surfing Championships. After watching small figures out to sea and wondering how the judges made their decisions we pressed on. We passed the wonderful Saunton Sands Hotel and staying on the beach we walked on and on before turning into Braunton Burrows, an area of huge sand dunes. Now this was very difficult terrain to navigate, the path was not clear and we knew we were eventually turning back inland to Braunton. Bill was going rather better than Chris but eventually after a never ending concrete track across fields we arrived. Now we had a problem, nowhere to stay as everywhere was booked up with surfers. Eventually we found a B&B and after a brief walkabout settled on a curry house for our meal. Another pint and off to bed.

30th September 2000

BRAUNTON to WESTWARD HO! 15 miles

Lunch stop

Today has been a real flog particularly for Chris. We walked around looking for a suitable pub but there were none with accommodation. We settled on Eversleigh, a B&B establishment but in such pristine condition wearing boots within its portals seemed desecration. A fruitless wander around after baths and a meal in the pub. A couple of beers and off to bed.

Bill outside the Eversley

Eversley bill

 

1st October 2000

WESTWARD HO to CLOVELLY 11 1/4 miles

Good day to Clovelly. Stayed in New Inn. Came on to rain in the afternoon but the only rain of the holiday.

The New Inn, High Street Clovelly                   £22.50 each

Ate at the New Inn                                               £40 + wine £ 19.90

The New Inn

The New Inn Bill

2nd October 2000

CLOVELLY to HARTLAND POINT 7 3/4 miles

(GARA ROCK to SALCOMBE (and back) 3 1/2 miles)

Near Clovelly

We had to cross the road for breakfast but this was not a problem in Clovelly! Conscious of our planned day ahead we pressed on periodically seeing another lone walker who took this picture for us. A few combes and then 3 miles along a level course above the cliffs before arriving at the 325 feet Hartland Point.

Hartland Point

5th May 1981

HARTLAND POINT to MORWENSTOW 8 1/2 miles

This was the momentous beginning of our circumnavigation. Chris was living in Plymouth at the end of his year as a senior registrar and Bill in Betley with Pauline. Vicky drove us to Hartland Point from Plymouth on a wet grey day and waved good bye as we set off. The gear was still somewhat untried, old and certainly untested, and Chris had very doubtful waterproofs, bright yellow in colour, plastic and from Bill’s oceanography days. The going was very hard, high cliffs, very isolated and 5 major combs to cross between the start and Morwenstow. Lunch eventually arrived at Hartland Quay where we found a welcome pub and could let the rain drain off us a bit. No chance of properly drying out before we were off again. This part of the coast is very inhospitable with many old shipwrecks recorded on its jagged rocks.

It was clear immediately that Chris had wildly overestimated how far we could travel. He had thought about 3 to 4 miles an hour but in reality we never managed more than 2 miles an hour except on the flat.

Hartland Point south

 

6th May 1981

MORWENSTOW to BUDE 7 ‘/4 miles

Leaving Morwenstow the next morning we soon passed the hut built of driftwood by Hawker and now owned by the National Trust and were back to serious climbing. Passed Stanbury Mouth and a huge satellite tracking station we reached Duckpool Beach and then Sandy Mouth before finally walking along the beach into Bude.We were seriously tired and although arriving in Bude at 3pm we decided to stop, checked in a rather fancy hotel (3*** but of unknown name)and fell asleep. Later that day we explored Bude noting it’s canal, built in 1825 to take sand to Launceston.

7th May 1981

BUDE to BOSCASTLE 14miles

This was one of our best ever days. Rather boring start particularly the bungalows of Widemouth Bay but then wonderful scenery and not so wonderful climbs. We just about made Crackington Haven for lunch, arriving about 14.30 in time to find everything shutting but found a sandwich and a very welcome pint at the Combe Barton. Seven more miles to Boscastle along a wild coast but with Bill’s determination and Chris hanging on, we made it!

Bude

The walk into Boscastle is undoubtably one of the highlights of the walk. I couldn’t believe how beautiful the village appeared as we rounded the headland and the harbour came into view. Night in the Wellington pub where by chance the local ladies were having their weekly night out!

3rd October 1982

TINTAGEL to PORT ISAAC  – 8 1/4 miles

Bill drove down from Stoke on Saturday night (2nd) and we set off at the crack of dawn in his Rover 2600. We left the car in the castle car park at Tintagel and set off.

Good days walking though it was getting dark by the time we reached Port Gaverne. Rather stroppy pub there so we walked on and stayed the night in Port Isaac.

4th October 1982

PORT ISAAC to PADSTOW 11 1/4 MILES

Weather rather patchy but interesting walk after Port Quin. Detour inland for some 2 miles because of path ownership problems.

Weather cleared a bit as we strode around Pentire Point and into New Polzeath. No pub ! So pressed on and lunched in a cafe at old Polzeath.

Just after lunch and about to make that splendid walk along Greenaway. Passed St Enodoc’s Church of John Betjeman’s fame.

We caught the ferry from Rock to Padstow and after a wander around found the Wellington Hotel. This was a seedy hostelry in a little square not far from the harbour but at the very good price of £8 each for the night.

5th October 1982

PADSTOW to MAWGAN PORTH 15 1/2 miles

We were off to a bit of a late start. Everyone was served at breakfast before us despite trying to be there first. It was a wet and drizzly morning as we walked due north along the south bank of the Camel before turning due west towards Harbour Cove then passing the infamous Doom Bar finally heading due north towards Stepper Point. Finally we left Padstow Bay and headed west again.

This was turning out to be quite a hard day but the weather had improved a bit. A long slow descent from Trevose Head led to Booby’s Bay and then Constantine Bay.

Lunch looming at last at Treyarnon Beach.

After lunch we pressed on through Porthcothan to Park Head passing Bedruthan Steps where Bill was later to stay with the family and ended the day at Trenance and Mawgan Porth.  And this was our view for the next morning after a night at the Tredragon Hotel.

6th October 1982

MAWGAN PORTH to NEWQUAY 7 miles

7th October 1982

NEWQUAY to PORTHOWAN 14 miles

 After a bit of a night out in Newquay we pressed on to Pentire Point West and Kelsey Head. Pentire is a name that keeps cropping up, we passed it three days ago but don’t know what it means and it is not in the Oxford English Dictionary  Pen means head in Welsh.  It was a day of beaches and sand dunes and at the north end of Perran Beach we saw Beach Landing Craft practicing coming in. Penhale camp is on the cliffs above the beach here.

We rather struggled to find anywhere to stay in Porthowan but found Torvean Farmhouse which was most welcome but a bit isolated for us.  They were into chain letters, the first time we’d come across them.

8th October 1982

PORTHOWAN to HELLS MOUTH 7 miles

Sadly this was our last morning and we had a target at Hells Mouth where we had left the car. Leaving Porthtowan we climbed up onto the coast path again and soon entered the very strange world of Nancekuke, the just discontinued British Chemical Weapons Factory.