Day 5

on May 11, 2010 | 9 comments

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Fraddon to St. Mabyn

Even though I was absolutely exhausted last night I struggled to get off to sleep before midnight. I suspect the length of today’s route was playing on my mind a bit seeing as it was over 18 miles without having to make up the extra bit from yesterday.

After my customary five or so hours sleep I lied in bed until 6:30am when I decided to make a start for the day, considering the miles that I had to cover. I dragged myself out of bed and both calf muscles screamed at me to just sit the hell down…immediately! They clearly weren’t happy with all the hills over the past few days. Still, I ignored them and started to potter round the room sorting myself out.

The morning routine seems to be becoming an art form for me. I’m now managing to get myself moving, my feet bandaged and taped up, washed and clothes on and the bag packed all in about 30 minutes. Not bad.

I got down to breakfast just after 7am, thinking I’d be the only one there, to find that there were already a dozen or so people waiting for their breakfasts. I was a bit worried about how long it would take to get my full English but I shouldn’t have been as it turned up quick enough. Again, it wasn’t the best breakfast I’ve had so far – bit like the dinner last night – but it was most welcome. Hopefully it was going to be enough to keep me going for the first part of the day, and that at the end of the day was all that mattered.

While I was sat there eating breakfast my phone started to ring. The number looked familiar but I couldn’t quite place it, it was early so I still wasn’t quite with it at that point. As it turns out, it was the Old Chapel House in St. Mabyn, my intended destination for the day. I’d sent them an email last night enquiring about a room for the night, and after seeing it this morning they immediately rang me back to let me know that they did indeed have a room for the night – excellent! Starting a day’s walk with somewhere to stay? Really? How very strange! Now all that was left to do was for me to cover the almost 20 miles to get there!

Shortly after that I was leaving the Premier Inn with a nice “good luck” from the lady at reception and I was on my way. We’d got chatting last night after I trudged in with my bug pack on my back – and laughed about the fact that I didn’t have a car for the paperwork; it’s the small things – so she knew what I was attempting to do.

The hill up to Indian Queens – my original destination from yesterday – wasn’t too bad. Kind of glad I did it on fresh[ish] legs though that’s for sure. I got a few strange looks from all the kids waiting for the school buses but it did a really good job of easing out all the aches and pains.

Walking through Indian Queens I noticed the fact that they seemed to be quite proud of their local band, established in 1856 don’t you know? So much so, they’ve given the band their own building in the village. Serious stuff obviously?

A little further on down the road, just outside Indian Queens, I went passed a campsite that was home to none other than “Gnome World”! I have no idea, nor have I any inclination to ever find out, what exactly “Gnome World” was all about or how completely thrilling it must be to visit!?!

After the hill at the start of the day the roads turned out to be quite sympathetic to my pain of the previous few days. This was a welcome relief and change from all the hills of the past few days. So much so that I managed – so my GPS told me – to get up to the dizzying heights of 3.8 mph!

When I did eventually come to another rather large hill – a tumulus that used to be a fort – I was so thrilled to be up and over it, I completely forgot to take a photo of the sweeping landscape from the top! To put it mildly, I’d be buggered if I was going to walk back up to the top again just for a photo opportunity!!

The miles seemed to go by quite quickly today. Maybe that was down to the earlier start, I don’t know? All was going well and the roads were great until about half way through today’s route. I’m fast learning that what goes down, must come up – very painfully!

I stopped for my lunch perched on a big stone (cold it was) while I took my boots off and aired my feet for a bit, the second time for the day so far. My feet were doing pretty good so far, and with only 7 miles to go I was hopeful of reaching my destination a little earlier than previous days. Time would tell whether or not that was going to be that case.

A little further up the road in Tregawne, a nice old chap got chatting to me as I walk along the road, asking how far I was walking. When I told him John O’Groats he was full of well wishes and said that he wished he could have done such a thing. I’ve met some lovely people so far over the last five days and I can only hope that that continues throughout the rest of my walk over the coming weeks.

It was much longer before the Cornish countryside decided to show me who was boss; clearly I’d had it too easy so far today and was making far too good a time? From then on in it decided to throw hill after hill at me, and there was me thinking I was going to walk this route in record time today?!

For the second day running I have realised exactly how painful such short distances can be. Take the hill today for example. It was only 200 yards long but in that 200 yards it went up 100ft! Maps are great and contour lines on the maps tell you quite a lot. My GPS however tells me everything, in a language I can fully understand. Yes, the lines on a map tell you there’s a hill but unless you follow the lines to find all the little numbers you’re never really sure whether the hill goes up or down, or how steep it really is. Yes, close lines are bad on a map and are best avoided – yeah right – but my GPS tells me all in plain English. Sometimes I hate that bloody thing!

The final few miles of today’s route were agony. The hills were constant and the soles of my feet were really beginning to feel the miles. I’m pleased to say that, other than a bit of off-road, cross-country walking earlier which, I think, managed to burst one of my blisters – haven’t checked yet – the actual blisters themselves have behaved quite well today.

The last couple of fields I had to cross, with the church in St. Mabyn clearly visible, were not much fun at all, in any way, shape or form. Still, I managed to grit my teeth and managed to get to the St. Mabyn Inn at around 3:20pm this afternoon. That, I think you’ll agree, is a damn good time for covering such a distance, carrying the weight of a four year old on your back?!

I had a lovely couple of pints in the pub, caught up on some salty snacks to replace some of the salt I’d sweated out during the day, and hopped on to their wifi connection to check email, update Facebook etc.

Before long I thought it was time to go and find my bed for the night, so I booked myself in for dinner and trudged up the road. Fortunately, Old Chapel House isn’t too far from the pub (planned?) and I was soon dropping my bag on the floor for the last time today.

Old Chapel House is a lovely building and the room is great. I’m hoping for a really good night’s sleep but I can never tell these days.

Today was a big ask of myself, to cover that distance after already having walked for the last four days. I’m tired, I can feel it, but it still amazes me how I can get up in the morning, put my boots on and walk for another complete day.

Tomorrow I’m supposed to be doing 26 miles, but to be honest, I think that’s too much. Yes, I might well make it but at what cost? I’m worried about the soles of my feet after today so what would they be like after tomorrow?

I’ll be checking tomorrow’s route later to see if there is anywhere closer to stay at. I was supposed to be taking a day’s rest after the marathon but I think I’ll err on the side of caution and do two shorter days just to make sure I don’t push myself too hard. I may still take a rest day after that, who knows?

I’d like to thank everyone for your texts and Facebook updates/comments today, especially when I hit the wall a few miles from St. Mabyn. They really did help me get through it all today. You’re all great!

Random facts for the day:

  1. I have now completed 7% of the entire route to John O’Groats.
  2. My pedometer reckons I’ve taken 167648 steps over the last five days!

Photos and Route Details

If you want to find out more about this day you can see the photos I took or view the route details.


  1. Ann-P

    May 11, 2010

    I have *always* wanted to go to gnome world but no one would ever take me!
    7% is very nearly 10% 🙂

    • Darren

      May 12, 2010

      I’ll just have to take you back to enjoy the splendour of Gnome World another time ;0)

  2. Matt

    May 11, 2010

    Bruv I am mightly impressed with what you have achieved today,not only the distance you have covered but the time in which you did it in, well done!!! I hope this achievement just spurs you on even more and keeps you in good spirits! keep it going bruv! oh and 7% will soon be 10% and then 15% and so on and so on!!

  3. Ian

    May 11, 2010

    And I thought I had a long day in front of the computer today, heres me sitting here thinking I’m exhausted and then I read this !!! Cuz, that was a mammoth effort today. Pat yourself on the back and have another pint. 7% really doesn’t seem possible does it but way to go. Its amazing how the human body adjusts to the demands placed on it – your legs and feet will be superhuman at the end of this ha ha . Cheers for now. Ian

    • Darren

      May 12, 2010

      It astounds me every day how much I can punnish my body just for it to bounce back the next morning! Ok, the blisters are still there but they’re not really getting any worse though so that’s a good sign I suppose?

  4. Russ

    May 11, 2010

    Just done a 12 hour shift, but its certainly not as hard as walking 18 miles in not much more than 6 hours!

    • Darren

      May 12, 2010

      I’m glad people have at least some understanding of how hard this is. Does it come through in my writing well enough?

  5. Treacle

    May 12, 2010

    I suspect the use of those “heelie” shoes with the wheels in them 🙂 …. ok just because that’s what I would do. Keep it up fella!

    • Darren

      May 12, 2010

      You cheeky bugger! 😉