St. Mabyn to Launceston
I didn’t sleep very well again last night and not for want of trying either. Last night, after sorting myself out, I relaxed for a bit and phoned the girls, put my boots back on (ouch!) and hobbled back down to the St. Mabyn Inn for a couple of pints and some dinner. While there I sorted out yesterday’s blog update and by about 8:15pm I was almost asleep at the table; time to leave. I hobbled back to my room and went straight to bed, putting the TV on for a bit to try and really get my eyes tired.
After dozing off around 10:30pm – I know, not very early – I woke up more times than I care to mention during the night. Clearly today’s walk was playing on my mind quite a lot? I’ll admit that I was more than a little worried that the 26.7 miles that were planned for the day would be too much and, after the 19.7 miles yesterday, I was quite concerned about giving myself an injury attempting such a long distance when I was already worn out.
Around 6am I gave up trying to sleep, got my maps and GPS out and started to look at the route for the day ahead, and to see whether or not there were any alternatives I could take to pull the miles in, even by a little bit. Then a thought came to me: could my iPhone come up with a solution? I loaded up my Google maps, punched on the start and end points and set it to work to sort out a walking route for me.
Unlike the original route I intended on taking, which went across the top of Bodmin Moor, the route my phone came up with cut around the bottom of the moor and then up the A30, finally ending up on some nicer roads around Trecongdon, bringing the distance down to 23.1 miles. Ok, not a great difference but almost four miles would no doubt mean at least an hour and half’s walking taken off of the day’s walk. Looked good to me, although I wasn’t really looking forward to the A30 stretch.
With that done, and the new route punched in to my GPS, I went down for breakfast, another fine full English. Not sure what I’m going to do when I eventually get back home and I don’t have my breakfast cooked for me every day?!
Over breakfast I chatted with a guy who was also staying there. Alex Baxter, as I found out, was a school inspector and to be honest, he looked like one. A portly man in his 50s with glasses and a moustache. Nice chap tough who was about to spend the day inspecting a school in the area – not a job I’d like to be doing.
Once breakfast was done with, and on the way up to my room, Alex and I passed on the landing where he handed me a five pound note and told me to put it towards my sponsorship. What a top bloke!
I dragged my pack and boots downstairs to get ready and to settle up for the night, when Ginny (who runs the Old Chapel House) and I got chatting a little bit. Shock number two for the day: she also gave me some money towards my sponsorship, ten pounds! Not only was it a great place to stay, and the breakfast was wonderful, she is a very very nice lady indeed! If ever you find yourself in St. Mabyn and looking for somewhere to stay, you could do far worse than search out the Old Chapel House…you’ve been told!
Boots on, pack on my back I made my way out of St. Mabyn. Although chilly, the sun was out and the sky was blue so I was hopeful of good weather for the day ahead.
As per normal, or so it seems over the last five days, I ended up walking up hill – joy! After about half a mile the road flattened out and I got up to a good pace again, hoping for a good stab at some flat roads to get some miles under my belt without too much effort. That would be too simple now wouldn’t it, and definitely not part of any walk I’ve got planned through Cornwall obviously.
As I crossed the junction at Longstone the road ahead went up; not good. In fact it got worse. The road continued to go up for quite a few miles. Still, I must be getting a little bit better at this walking lark as my GPS told me that I was keeping up a constant 3 mph even when going up those long hills. That put a smile on my face, between the grimaces that is.
About three miles in to my day’s walk I passed a lady walking her dog. She asked me where I was walking to and when I replied “Launceston” she very matter-of-factly replied “Oh yes. Have a nice walk” as if walking to Launceston from where I currently was was a an every day occurrence!
The hill I was walking up went on and on, going through a little place called Blisland. As I was walking in to the village I got a charming “morning!” greeting from a lady, who then asked me where I was off to. Again I replied with my intended destination for the day and bless, after a small gasp followed by “gosh!”, she kindly offered to give me a lift as “she thought she was going that way”. You don’t know how tempting it was to catch a lift, even just part of the way, but I didn’t. I smiled, thanked her kindly and carried on walking…down the wrong road! A few yards later I’d realised my error, made my way up the next road and I was back on track again.
The hill continued out the other side of Blisland and after a good mile and half I was beginning to wonder if it would ever stop. The going was beginning to get very tough indeed and the sun wasn’t helping matters either. Finally, as I got close to Treswigga farm the road started to head down for a bit. Now, most people would have had a big sigh of relief at this point but it’s not the easiest thing to balance the pack weight down hill without throwing my knee out; I have to be very careful. Still, my calf muscles were happy about the change in gradient at least.
Passing Treswigga farm the farmer was stood at the gate with his dog. After exchanging a “Good morning” he said “You look lost”. Maybe I did look lost I don’t know. Maybe not many people walk down that little road? The fact was I knew exactly where I was headed so I smiled and said “No thanks, I know where I’m going” and carried on, shortly finding yet another bloody hill!
One thing I’ve learnt today is the fact that cattle grids are slightly awkward in my boots and the weight on my back. Having crossed half a dozen of them today I’ve learnt to take them slowly making sure my feet are well placed before taking a step. I couldn’t imagine how painful it would be to slip and twist my ankle in one of those, especially with the thirty odd pounds on my back to really make it worse…ouch!
Crossing Manor Common I saw some spectacular views, making all the hills somewhat worth while. One thing I was most definitely glad about was that I was heading in the opposite direction to some very large hills off in the distance.
Making my way down the road across the common I picked up a walking partner – a cow! The cows roam free over the common, hence the cattle grids, and this one was clearly quite interested upon seeing me. The cow followed me quite a way down the road before giving up the chase, which I was quite pleased about. I must admit, I wasn’t too comfortable being followed like that.
It wasn’t long before all the nice scenery and quiet roads ended and the long stint up the A30 – or as my good friend Stu put it earlier “the artery of Cornwall” – began. I wasn’t looking forward to this bit because that road is extremely busy, and I’d be walking less than a couple of feet away from the speeding traffic, including some very big lorries shooting by at 60 mph!
As you can imagine there isn’t a great deal to report on this ten mile stretch of the journey as I just kept my head down and prayed for the miles to disappear. I did stop for a break at the Jamaica Inn at Bolventor and also the Kings Head in Five Lanes. Before you ask, no, I didn’t have a pint in both pubs; I’d never have made the finish line if I had, but I did have a half of Tribute in the Jamaica Inn as I was certainly in need of it then.
The rest of the walk went by in a blur of pain and concentration – concentration to make sure I could actually make it to Launceston – so there’s not a lot to report I’m afraid. There aren’t many photos on my Flickr stream from today either as my phone was off for the majority of today’s walk due to the fact that there wasn’t a signal and I wanted to save the battery.
I knew today was going to be tough, even if I’d not had to cover the miles I did yesterday, and it certainly was. Fortunately, it’s not until I’m in Scotland that I have to cover such miles in so few days so I’d like to think that by then I’ll be a lot stronger and I’ll be able to take the miles in my stride. We’ll see if that’s the case next month won’t we?
So now I’ve got a bed sorted out for the next couple of nights in the Eagle House Hotel and a day of either sitting on my backside doing nothing or, if I’ve got the feet for it, a walk round Launceston to see what the place is about.
Every day I’m amazed at the punishment the human body, or more importantly my body, can take just to be ready for it all again the next day. Don’t get me wrong, I’m very much looking forward to having a day of not carrying that pack, but to break the 100 mile mark in 6 days – even though it is only by 0.73 miles – is quite amazing to think about and something I never thought I’d be able to do. Exhausted? Yes. Feet a bit of a mess? Yes. Proud of what I’ve already managed to achieve? You better bloody believe it!
On that high note I’d better get this thing posted and, if I can, put my boots on and go and find something to have to eat to recoup some of those calories I’ve burnt off today!