I decided to get a single days walking in on the East coast, which would be my seventh during August. I am now approaching the nearest point to the East coast from my home in Shropshire, which unfortunately does not make it any easier to get to!
I set off early from Shropshire to drive to just north of Skegness. I parked in a Council car park next to the large Butlin’s Holiday camp, at only £2 for the whole day I did not object to paying that. The £7 charged in Skegness – I did object to! I then caught the #59 bus to Mablethorpe. At Mablethorpe I caught the Call Connect minibus to Saltfleet. This is a bus service available only by booking, which I had done the day before.
I got dropped off next to the Haven at Saltfleet and continued my walk south. The sun was out by this time and very hot. The walk today would be predominantly along promenades, with excursions along sand dune footpaths and the beach itself. I set off through the Threddlethorpe Nature Reserve, close to the boundary with a MOD bombing range. The path had numerous shade coverings of trees, which was most welcome from the hot sun. The footpath was well-marked and deviated very little. I did not see the sea for the first 3 miles, as I was sandwiched between sand dunes and agricultural land.
At Sand Hills Farm the footpath turned inland and so I continued out onto the beach. High tide had been 2 hours before, so I was able to find some wet but firm sand to walk along. After two miles I neared the seaside town of Mablethorpe. The beach and sea front was very busy. The promenade contained all the usual features of a seaside holiday destination. It had a nice feel and I quite liked the place. I bought some additional water and a large ice-cream, which was lovely!
For the next 5 miles I continued along what was known as the Mablethorpe to Sutton-on-Sea Cycleway. This made for excellent progress as I continued past huge caravan and Leisure Parks. I passed through Trusthorpe, Sutton-on-Sea and finally to Sandilands where the cycleway finished. It was actually very difficult to see where one place finished and the other started as the caravans parks just seemed to morph into one another.
At Sandilands it was back onto the beach. I searched the beach for a good walking line, the sand close to the shore was hard going so I moved further out. A characteristic of this part of the beach was the slope, which was a steep bank with a large drop from the foreshore. I continued for some 5 miles along the bank, which although not great underfoot was much quicker than walking close to the shore. I continued on, passing Anderby Creek and then onto Chapel Point at Chapel St.Leonard’s.
For the remaining part of the walk I would stay on the promenade path all the way to Ingoldmells. The promenade footpath hid any views of Chapel St Leonards and I only got fleeting views of the town, which again was predominantly large caravan parks. At the outskirts of the Ingoldmells, the path became quite busy with a steady stream of holiday makers making their way to and from the sea front at Ingoldmells. I could now make out the large structures for thrill rides at the nearby Fantasy Island complex. I also picked up, across the sea, a land mass in the distance. This was Norfolk, the next county I would be walking through. By the time I had reached the large Butlin’s holiday camp the area was very busy and it was nice to see people enjoying themselves on this lovely sunny day.
Distance today = 22 miles
Total distance = 4,247 miles
I had sent the Ferryman a text on the previous evening asking if the ferry was running the following day and I gave him details where I would be to be picked up. Back in 2014 I did not use a ferry on this stretch as when I turned up there was no ferry to be seen.
I drove from my hotel some 10 miles away in the village of Wotton, on the southern flanks of Dartmoor to Brixton, a small village astride the busy A379 and parked up. I set off along a pavement out of Brixton along the A379. The pavement soon stopped but I knew a path alongside the road had been constructed. This was in fact the Coast-to-Coast Erme Plym Trail, which I would join again later in the day. I was very glad of the footpath as I could look down on the busy walled road and see that it would have been very dangerous to even attempt to walk along that road. After about a mile I crossed the busy road and set off up a minor towards Newton Ferrers. Although fairly quiet, there was still a flow of vehicles making their way to work. I crossed over one of the tributary feeders to the Yealm and turned down an even quieter lane, where only one vehicle passed me – the ubiquitous red postie-van.
I had told the ferryman I would be at Wide Slip in Noss Mayo at 10:00, which I would easily make. I slowed down my waking pace as I entered the village of Newton Ferrers. It was quiet a nice sunny morning now as I dropped down the hill and continued the walk around Newton Creek, a small arm of the River Yealm. The tide was well out and I worried that the may be an issue with the amount of water in the river channel. I crossed over a small indent of Newton Creek via an exposed path – only a trickle of water made its way through the small indent to the main channel.
I arrived at Wide Slip with about 30 minutes to wait. I flipped the ferry board to a white face, hoping that the ferryman would come early. It was lovely and peaceful in this sheltered river estuary. It was 10:00 when the ferryman showed up and I clambered down some rocks and onto the boat. The short journey took just 2 minutes which cost £3.50. Quite expensive as ferry journeys go!
I got off at Warren Point and headed up the hill towards the outskirts of Wembury. I skirted around Wembury via a footpath past Wembury House and then alongside some allotments. I then joined a very narrow lane for a mile which had traffic and had me leaning against the steep-sided walls. I joined up again with the Erme – Plym Trail which I would be on all the way into Brixton. At Hollacombe Hill the path crossed the road and dropped down into a lovely valley, which went over pastures and down a green lane. The hedgerows were abundant with ripe blackberries, of which some tasted lovely. I crossed over another small offshoot of the Yealm at Cofflete Creek and under an old railway bridge. The road into Brixton had ceased to have motor vehicles travelling along it many years before. I rejoined the busy A379 and walked the short distance into Brixton and back to the car.
Distance today = 11 miles
Total distance = 4,225 miles
I have had a serious re-think of my use of ferries to cross rivers and estauries on my walking route around the coast of Great Britain. When I was walking the South West Coast Path, the official path route advised on the use of ferries to cross over rivers and estauries. At the time I had no intention to walk around the whole of the coastline of Great Britain and thus made use of these ferries. Now that I have set myself the challenge of walking the entire coastline, I have had serious concerns about the ethos of using these ferries in my challenge. To this end I have decided that the sections of coastline in Dorset, Devon, Cornwall, Merseyside and Lancashire where I have taken ferries will become VOID. I will therefore walk around all rivers and estauries to their nearest bridging point to ensure I have walked a complete and full section of my walking record.
This will involve some additional 300+ additional miles which I will do as one-day walks over the next 12 month period.
The Ferries in question relate to :
Dorset: Sandbanks (Poole) to South Haven Point (25 miles approx)
Devon: Starcross – Exmouth (15 miles COMPLETED)
Devon: Teignmouth – Shaldon Beach (3 miles approx)
Devon: Kingswear to Dartmouth (25 miles approx)
Devon: East Portlemouth – Salcombe (13 miles approx)
Devon: Bantham – Bigbury-on-Sea (9 miles COMPLETED)
Devon: Wembury to Noss Mayo (11 miles COMPLETED)
Cornwall: Plymouth – Cremyll (24 miles COMPLETED)
Cornwall: Fowey – Polruan (16 miles COMPLETED)
Cornwall: St. Anthony – St. Mawrs – Falmouth (55 miles approx)
Cornwall: Helford Passage – Helford Village (8 miles approx)
Cornwall: Padstow – Rock (16 miles approx)
Merseyside: Birkenhead – Liverpool (48 miles COMPLETED)
Lancashire: Fleetwood to Knott End (15 miles COMPLETED)
I thought it about time I turned my attention to my “use of ferries” back-log, which I have neglected for some time now. Just to remind myself, the “use of ferries” is where I re-visit locations where I opted to use a ferry to cross over river estuaries when I first walked this section of coast. In re-visiting the estuaries where I did this, I would now walk to the first bridging point of the river or estuary and complete a circular route, linking up my walked route. I opted on this visit to complete two walks over two days and therefore booked into a hotel for the night.
My first walk would be around the Tamar Estuary, linking Plymouth (Devon) with Cremyll (Cornwall) . The walk would be quite long and involve quite a lot of road-walking, including some on the very busy A38. I was not looking forward to this ……one bit!.
I departed Shropshire very early and drove to the small Cornish village of Tideford, which sits astride the A38. I parked in the free car park there and set off down the A38, walking along a footpath. After 400m the footpath stopped , but fortunately I was able to turn off down a quiet lane which lead to the next settlement at Landrake. I crossed over the A38 and continued down another lane, which joined the A38 half a mile away. Unfortunately, there were no other options but to walk along the busy road for the next mile. It was certainly the busiest road I had walked along. With incessant traffic travelling at speed in both directions. The quality of the available roadside verge was poor and I had to cross over the road a couple of times, when a safe gap appeared. I was really glad when I was able to turn down a minor road towards the village of Trematon. I managed there to follow a footpath that cut across a number of fields to take me to the outskirts of Saltash. The walk into Saltash was thankfully along pavements all the way until the Tamar Bridge. The Tamar Bridge marks the historic boundary between Cornwall and Devon and sits alongside the iconic Royal Albert Railway Bridge built by Isambard Kingdom Brunel back in 1859.
The next 3 or 4 miles was through the suburbs of Plymouth. Most of this section was dominated by the large wall shielding the naval base dockyard at Devonport. I was pleased to arrive at the Admirals Yard and wait for the ferry to arrive. The ferry was quite full of people travelling across the estuary to visit Mount Edgcumbe park. The ferry only took 5 minutes and cost £1.50. As I stepped ashore in Cornwall the sun made a fleeting appearance and it became quite warm.
I headed out of Cremyll and shortly continued down a minor road alongside Millbrook Lake, basically an arm of the Tamar estuary and onto Anderton. The hamlet of Anderton merged into the large village of Millbrook, with a number of shops along its narrow streets. I popped into the Co-Op to get some food and a drink. I headed out of Millbrook along a quiet lane, that I hoped would be devoid of traffic.
I could have taken many routes back to Tideford, but opted for quiet lanes, avoiding the A & B roads and an off-road footpath. I arrived at Fort Tregantle which I had passed before back in 2014. I had great views then, but today the view was marred by some low cloud settling in; but I was still able to spot the Tamar Bridge in the far distance. I headed down more quiet roads to Sheviock and continued along lanes to the village of Polbathic. The last 3km of walking had been going down the infamous Cornish lanes with very steep sides, no verges and no means of letting vehicles pass other than leaning back against the steep-sided walls. Fortunately, all the drivers I encountered were aware of me. The last mile of walking was along a footpath across fields full of kale grown as a winter animal feed crop.
I arrived back at Tideford after 8.5 hrs of walking and was really glad to have got this section out of the way.
Distance today = 24 miles
Total distance = 4,214 miles
I thought it would be a good idea to have a visual representation of my progress to date in walking the coast of Great Britain. This is basically just a Google map of Great Britain with a red line indicating my progress, its rather crude, but does the job.
Just a few pieces of information:-
Besides my main line of progress, which is currently just completed Skye and back on the mainland on the West coast of Scotland, there are two outliers,the first is my “second front” on the east coast and second, the Norfolk Coastal Path which I walked some years ago.
For scaling reasons I cannot show the “Use of Ferries” sections in Devon/Cornwall/Dorset which I am currently walking when weather further north is not so good.
I awoke at 06:00 and immediately flexed my legs, they did not feel too bad after yesterdays exertions. Today was a Sunday and this would be my last walking section on Skye. I thought about how I should tackle this section and decided that I would drive to Portree and park my car. I would then catch a bus up to the Old Man of Storr Car park and walk back to Portree. I would then get a bus down to Sligachan and walk back to Portree, thus closing the loop around Skye. I decided to take the tent down and pack everything away and wait for the campsite gate to open at 07:00.
I drove into Portree and parked in the free car park. I had about 90 minutes to wait for the bus and thought “bugger-it” I’ll start walking now. So off I went pushing my bike along out of Portree. It happens sometimes with me, I make plans and then throw them out the window in the spur of a moment!
The road for an early Sunday morning was very quiet. Most of the road up to the Old Man is uphill, so I should get the benefits of riding my bike on the return back down to Portree. I was amazed how well my legs had recovered, ok I wouldn’t be sprinting much. I eventually reached the lochs of Loch Leathan, which were very still. It was only just short of 7 miles up to the car park and for most of the way, the sharp precipitous cliff edge of The Storr was on full view. I had climbed The Storr back in 1976 and remember a few details about it. By the time I reached the Car Park cars and tourist coaches had begun to arrive. For me this would be the best bit. I always love free-wheeling downhill at speed. On the ride back I passed the bus that I had originally planned to catch, which meant I would be about 2 hours ahead of schedule. After 40 minutes I arrived back at the car.
I changed into walking boots as the next section would involve over 3 miles of off-road walking. There appeared no immediate bus to get me down to Sligachan, other than the one I had originally planned to catch in about 2 hours. So I began cycling down the A87. It was not a very pleasant experience, as the traffic had suddenly increased and even though it was essentially downhill most of the way to Sligachan, it was tough cycling. I think I had a bit of a headwind. About half way down the road an Inter-city #915 bus passed me coming from Uig and going onto Glasgow. Grrrrrr!!! Forgot about checking for the 915. As I would be returning south later in the day I locked my bike to a fence at the Sligachan Hotel.
I set off from the hotel and crossed the main road into the Sligachan campsite. The site was very busy and most people seemed to be preparing to depart. I was looking to pick up a path which runs alongside Loch Sligachan around to the end of the public road at Peinachorrain. I eventually picked up the path and continued on along the lochside. The path was quite rough in places and had to walk along the beach at a couple of points. A few sections had bracken, which appeared finally to be dying back for this year. As I continued along the path I was accompanied by the incessant traffic noise coming across the loch from the A87.
I arrived at Peinachorrain and continued on along the B883, a very quiet road that would ultimately lead back onto the A87. I did not meet my first car until after 5 miles by which time the effects of yesterdays walk was beginning to take their toll. I passed through the small hamlets of Gedintailor, Ollach and Achnahanaid, where I met an elderly couple on bicycles and we spoke awhile. The views across the Sound of Raasay had been replaced by the looming mass of Ben Tianavaig (413m), a hill that dominates the view from Portree as well. I had thought, some time ago, about climbing this hill, but not today. As I approached the junction with the A87 I met a French lad who was backpacking around to Sligachan, I gave him a few tips and we departed. The last two miles into Portree along the verge of the A87 was no fun.
So that was it! My route around Skye was complete and I must now return to the mainland and continue my progress north. So what of Skye? Well the enduring memory is of how busy the place is and of the traffic. That aside I had two memorable walks. The first with Malkyc with the walk from Elgol over the Cuillin into Glen Brittle, stunning and dramatic scenery; the second being my overnight bothy stay at the isolated Ollisdal, a tranquil and beautiful part of Duirinish. To be fair it is not difficult on Skye to find peace, solitude and tranquility away from the masses and roads. I could have chosen better routes or taken more time to explore, but I have found that compromise while completing this challenge is a necessity sometimes. I did 15 days walking on Skye, racking up 299 miles. I hope to be back sometime.
NB: I also publish all my Scottish Blog entries on the excellent Scottish Hills website, I use the same narrative, but larger photos and a few extra ones. They can be found here:
This day was going to be the big one. I was aiming to get to Sligachan with just two more days of walking and to achieve that I needed to do a big mileage. In my planning I did not do an accurate mileage calculation, I was concentrating more on the logistics of the public transport. The good news was that Trotternish has two bus services, that run clockwise (#57C) and anticlockwise (#57A); the other good news was that I would not have to use my bike. I also had to take into account this would be a Saturday service which was slightly more restrictive.
I drove around to and parked at the Old Man of Storr Car Park, the car park was already filling up with coaches, cars and camper vans. I caught the #57A bus, which was quite full for the time of the morning. I sat close to a small group of Italians who appeared to be heading out to Rubha Hunish to begin the Skye Trail. As the bus rounded the northern tip of Skye, I started to have serious doubts about completing this walk, the journey time would be 1hr and 20 minutes and we had not even reached Uig yet! My misgivings grew!
I finally got off the bus at Hinnisdal Bridge and started my trek back the way I come up the A87. Mercifully the skies were slightly overcast and a cool breeze was at my back. The road also was still quiet at this time of the morning. My legs felt good and I was soon looking down at Uig. I passed the ruin of Uig Tower or Captain Fraser’s Folly,( a nineteenth century folly) which was basically a show of wealth and a place were local tenants had to go to pay their rent to the Factor.
I had been to Uig twice previously, both times to catch the ferry to Tarbert on the Isle of Harris, in 1976 on my walk around Skye and in 2012 when I headed out to The Western Isles to climb the Corbett – An Clisham. There were various signs up for a Gala or Fete in the village this day and I could see preparations taking place on the sports field. I called in at the local store to buy some sweets and savouries. I was now faced with a steep climb up and out of Uig along the A855, a road I would be on for the rest of the day.
As I climbed up the road, I met a marshall in a high vis jacket, he was directing runners who were emerging from the top of the hill. This was a road race that had begun at the bealach below The Quiraing and was finishing at the Gala sports field. I took a short cut missing out the various loops of the main road as it climbed up a steep bank out of Uig. As I headed north the road became single track, with passing places. I had excellent views out to the Western Isles. As the morning moved on the volume of traffic gradually increased. I thought I would do an impromptu count of the vehicles passing over a 30 minute period. I found that a vehicle would pass me, on average, in either direction every 20 to 30 seconds.
I entered a small settlement along the road called Kilvaxter, which had a recently discovered Souterrain in it. I vaguely remember reading about a Souterrain before, so I went to investigate. On the site of a small Iron Age farmstead some 2000 years ago, this Souterrain was a 17 metre long underground winding tunnel leading to a small chamber. It is believed the purpose of these underground chambers was to store diary foodstuffs over the winter period. The small iron grate was open, I stooped down and peered in. It’s entrance was very low, wet underfoot and pitch black inside. I do not have a head torch or fancy crawling through groundwater on my knees so I continued on.
I passed by the Museum of Island Life, close to the cemetery where Flora Macdonald and the fashion designer Alexander McQueen are buried. Shortly afterwards the road dropped down close to the sea at Score Bay. The tide was not quite out so I could not spot any dinosaur footprints, but I did get a good view of the ruins of Duntulm Castle. The castle was very busy and there were many people making their way out to the ruins of the former Macdonald stronghold. Close by was the Duntulm Castle Hotel, sold by auction 2014, but still sitting derelict and closed.
I now turned east and this marked far north the road goes at the end of the Trotternish peninsula. If I had more energy I would walk out to the northern tip of Skye at Rubha Hunish, but I was feeling a bit tired by then. At Kilmaluag I had a great view northeast up The Minch and could see the mainland stretching out into the distance. Using the Rubha Reidh Lighthouse as a reference point I could see the hills of Assynt including Quinag, Suilven and Canisp. Looking further to the north I can also pick out the hills of West Sutherland including Foinavon some 72 miles away, very faintly to the left of Foinavon I can pick up a lower hill which I suspect is Creag Riabhach (485m) and just 7 miles south of the Cape Wrath ( where I want to be by Christmas). But I was a long way north and must now head south to return to the Scottish mainland. I had a wee rest at Balmaqueen as a small herd of cattle was drove down the main road to transfer between fields.
The late afternoon was turning into early evening as the dramatic cliffs of the Meall na Suiramach and the Quiriang come into view. I entered the strung out township of Staffin, composed of many settlements. It seemed to go on forever. The light had become very dull now but I still managed to get good views to the north. I recognise the unmistakable shape of the hill Beinn Ghobhlach and Ben Mor Coigach, both hills standing astride Loch Broom and the ferry port of Ullapool and a milestone for me.
There were much fewer cars on the road as I dropped down into Lealt. I could see that the layby for the waterfalls were closed and a new wooden over-hanging structure had been built. The site was closed, but as no one was around I thought I would have a crafty peek. The next 3 or 4 miles were tough, but I kept a good pace up. My mind took to thinking about what to have for supper, there was no way I could cook that night. So I looked forward to a fish supper in Portree.
I arrived in a nearly deserted Car Park at Old Man of Storr. My legs and joints ached but I was more concerned with getting to the chippy before they closed. Getting out of the car in Portree was painful, as was the wait in the queue for my food. There were about 39 Chinese ahead of me all trying to order, asking questions etc…..40 minutes later I emerged with my fish supper. I got back to the tent and just lay on my mattress. I knew now that tomorrow was a much easier day and I could complete Skye. I rubbed my knees with some deep heat and tried to sleep.
NB: I also publish all my Scottish Blog entries on the excellent Scottish Hills website, I use the same narrative, but larger photos and a few extra ones. They can be found here: