Welcome to the blog of my walk around the coastline of Great Britain. My name is Alan Palin and I was born in Wellington, Shropshire where I currently live.
Over a number of years I intend to walk the whole coastline of Great Britain in a series of stages. I have been an avid walker for many years, but my quest for completing this challenge is quite new even though I began walking the coast some years ago, 2001 to be precise, this is when I completed my first walk on the Pembrokeshire Coastal Path (PCP). I had no intention, at the time, to undertake such a mammoth challenge even after I had completed the South West Coastal Path (SWCP) and the Norfolk Coastal path (NCP). It was only while walking the Wales Coast Path(WCP) that I thought I could go on and walk not only “this scepter’d isle” but the coastlines of both Cymru and fair Alba.
I have chosen to complete this task in a series of one, two or three day stints at a time. I can only admire those that have done this walk as a single stage and is a terrific achievement. My overall direction around the coastline is clockwise, although I will/have reversed direction for some stages depending on transport availability, tides, prevailing wind etc..
I have begun this blog with probably less than a seventh of the total distance completed. I have entered all of my old walks retrospectively, so as to proceed chronologically when this blog is first published publicly.* I have tried to fill as many details in as I can remember from my sparse notes made at the time. Some of the earlier reports have few photos as I did not have a digital camera at the time. My apologies if some of the descriptions are somewhat dull or mundane, hopefully my photos will be more interesting. I have restricted myself to publishing only four photos per walk, which will be very difficult as I normally take a fair few photos. I hope I can provide some useful information for you.
Please be patient with the sparsity of available material and the lay-out of the blog. I hope to add more material on an almost daily basis and the appearance of the blog will improve as I learn more about the features available in WordPress.
My start point is Cardigan, while my end point will be Poole in Dorset.
NB* I have decided to publish initially Walks 1, 88, 89 & 90. I will then subsequently fill in the missing Walks as soon as possible. As I write, Walk #90 is my latest Walk, any new Walk will be published in real-time, well almost real-time.
Up until a few years ago my primary walking territory was mountains and hills, particularly those in Scotland, North Wales, The Lakes and Ireland. Although interspersed with a number of National Trails, I became an avid ‘Bagger’ of mountains and completed the Munro’s in 2003, The English & Welsh Hewitts in 2005, the ‘Irish Munros’ in 2009, the Corbetts in 2012, the English & Welsh Marilyns and the Donalds & New Donalds in 2013. I have also walked the Shropshire Way, the Sandstone Trail, Offa’s Dyke, Cotswold Way, Glyndwyr’s Way, Yorkshire Three Peaks, Pembrokeshire Coastal Path, Norfolk Coastal Path, Peddars Way, South West Coastal Path and the Great Ridgeway which runs from Holme-next-Sea down to Lyme Regis (comprising Peddars way, Icknield Way, the Ridgeway and the Wessex Ridgeway).
Since retiring a few years ago I can now pick and choose which days on which I wish to walk, however, since taking on this task I suspect that this may have to change. My greatest love has been walking the mountains of Scotland and knowing its terrain and geography I am sure this is where the my greatest challenge will be. I hate photo’s of myself, so please do not expect too many ‘selfies’!
Almost all Coasters blogs seem to list and define a set of precepts by which they will attempt or have completed their challenge. My Guidelines are quite simple:-
- I will try to walk as close as possible to the coastline taking on board whether it is safe and/or legal to do so.
- I will not use ferries to cross rivers or estuaries as part of the walking route. .
- I will walk all sections of the coast even through industrial/city areas, again keeping as close as possible to the coast with due regard to safety and legality.
- I will not walk around offshore islands UNLESS they are connected by a permanent fixed link i.e. a bridge. Thus, this rule WILL REQUIRE ME TO WALK around both Anglesey and Skye
- Even though I may do parts of the walk as disconnected stages at some point, my overall direction of travel around Great Britain will be clockwise. Reversing a stage may be due to availability of transport, weather or just on a whim.
- I will ensure that any gaps which may exist will be duly completed by starting/finishing my walks at the same spot.
Will I do it?
I would like to think I can. As I write I am 64 years old, healthy and generally always try and finish anything I start.
Keeping free radicals at bay and staying this side of the grass has become my primary aim.
Am I doing this for Charity?
I thought long and hard about this and in the end I decided no. The cost of fuel, fares, accommodation and other costs incurred and borne by me would dwarf any sum raised and I would feel guilty about this. Remember the Harry Enfield / Paul Whitehouse sketch with Smashie and Nicey? “Yes mate, me and some friends flew in my helicopter for 3 hours over London, yes mate, we raised £50 for cherridy, but I don’t like to talk about it”.
I do support a number of Charities, which include Cancer Research UK and Lupus Research.I will make a special donation to each, whether I complete this walk or not.
Logistics and Planning the Walks
To all intents and purpose walking the coastline of Great Britain is a linear walk which means walking from A to B. The only problem when you are walking the coast is getting back to A, which is usually your car. Up until now I have used a number of solutions which include:-
- Using public transport either a bus, train, ferry or occasionally getting a taxi. Various methods include park at A -get bus to B-walk back to A OR Park A-walk to B-get bus back to A. I always prefer the former as you know you have transport available to get home. Another variation could when there is no transport link from A to B, but they both share a common destination Point C, with all the permutations that this involves.
- Taking two cars. A friend and I did this on a couple of sections of the PCP. Having a friend or spose o drop you off or pick up.
- My car can easy carry a bicycle, which could be dropped off at B or ridden to B. I did this a few times on the SWCP. I also utilised another solution on the same sort of theme. I bought a second hand Fiat Doblo which had been converted for wheelchair use i.e. it had the back seats removed and a ramp installed. I then purchased a 50cc moped, which was restricted to 30mph. I then employed the same tactics as using a bicycle, it was great fun riding the moped. I sold the Fiat Doblo in 2015 (tax & Insurance too expensive) but I still have the moped.
4. Of course you could re-trace your steps or do a circular walk, but it is going to take a seriously long time to complete 5000 – 8000 miles!
Living in Shropshire I am fortunate to have reasonable access to a large section of the English & Welsh coast. To date the majority of my walks have been single day – long day outings returning home each day. However, for I have done a number of one/two night stays in B&B and hotels. For Scotland, I may go for 3 or 5 day outings using bothies/B&B/Hotels or a small light one-man tent.