Launceston to Lydford
After the rather splendid, if not rather huge, cod and chips on my first evening in Launceston last night I decided that, as there wasn’t a great deal else food-wise going on in the place, I’d head back to Launceston Fryers and have another plate of fish and chips. This time I opted for the “medium” haddock but trust me, there was nothing medium about this piece of fish as it was the same size as the cod from the previous night!
Belly full, and feeling very tired, I made my way back to my room, put the telly on, prepared my kit for today’s walk and laid down to sleep.
Before I knew it I was wide awake…at 5:30am…again! Still, I was looking forward to the day’s walk and keen to get going. It was still too early to really get sorted as breakfast wouldn’t be served for a couple of hours so I tried to doze a little longer and then started to get myself ready.
It was raining so I got my waterproofs and gaiters out, ready to put on after I’d had my breakfast, and headed to the restaurant. Bizarrely, this morning’s full English was different to yesterdays. This morning I got one egg instead of two, two small sausages instead of one and a spoonful of mushrooms instead of a single button mushroom. Weird. You would have thought that the hotel would have had a standard breakfast that got made every time wouldn’t you?
Breakfast eaten I went back to my room to pick up my kit and then went to check out. As I was checking out I started to chat to the guy on reception and the LEJOG walk came up in conversation. Now, I knew there must be a reasonable number of people who attempt this journey each year but from what he said, they have at least two or three people every fortnight staying their who are either walking or cycling from Land’s End to John O’Groats, one of which the other week was a seventy year old gentleman! If you do the math then just their hotel alone sees eighty odd people a year trying to do what I’m attempting to do. How many other people try this but don’t stay in their hotel? That actually points to quite a number of people who try this each year, which surprised me I must say.
One thing I’ve not quite managed to get the hang of yet on this trip is the pronunciation of some of the places I’m walking through or going to. Take today’s for example: Bridestow. How would you think that was pronounced. Personally I would have gone with “Bride-stow” or even “Brid-stow” but no, the locals pronounce it “Brid-eh-stow”, something I would never have guessed in a million years. I try my best not to mention places to people when I talk to them in case I get them completely wrong and look like an idiot, well, more of an idiot than I already am I suppose?!
Once the checking out business had been concluded I headed out the door in to the rain and started the day’s walk. I was feeling pretty good after my day’s rest and was hopeful for a good day’s walk without too many problems.
About twenty minutes in to the walk, just outside Launceston, I heard the rumbling of a plane over head. Very quickly the rumblings got louder and louder and a harrier shot over head flying very low indeed! This instantly reminded me of my time back in college, writing a paper on the harrier for one of my classes, which got me 10/10 and a distinction. In fact, the lecturer thought it was that good he took a copy of it to use for the next year’s class! I should have charged him for that I suppose thinking about it now? Funny the things you remember isn’t it?
Coming up the hill to Lewdown I noticed somebody standing there, at the top, watching me as I walked up the road. After a few minutes they carried on walking but I must admit it did make me feel a little uneasy.
As it was time to take a break, I perched myself on a wall (didn’t take my boots off as it was still raining) and I ate my lunch. As I was sitting there a lady walked up and started to talk to me. It had been her at the top of the hill earlier and she’d thought I was one of her grandchildren coming to meet her. Aha! That’s ok then.
We got to chatting about what I was doing and the fact that she’s a member of the local rambling association, and also about the local traffic, the lorries to be specific. She wasn’t happy and I could see why. This little village was clearly a cut-through for the massive lorries and they made one hell of a noise going through. I think if it wasn’t for the fact that I wanted to head off she may well have talked to me all afternoon!
A little further down the road from Lewdown I came to Galford. Here, the Two Castles Trail went over Galford Down. Now trust me when I tell you this but there is no way on earth it should be called Galford “Down” as the track went up and up and up! It was a nightmare. Fortunately, about halfway up Craig (from work) text me a joke – I won’t repeat it here, it wasn’t the most politically correct joke in the world – and it put a big smile in my face and spurred me on to get to the top. Thanks Craig!
By now I’d almost covered the miles for the day. I was quite surprised really and seeing as it was still early, and the fact that Craig had complained about the lack of beer on my part, I thought I’d afford myself a stop at a pub in Lydford. With a choice of two pubs to go to, so my map said, I decided to take the pub on the right. Unfortunately this took me further away from where I was staying but I wasn’t too worried about that.
What a great choice it turned out to be. The Castle Inn was a great little pub with excellent beer and really friendly staff – I was told to mention the Australian bar man; yes you read that right, a pub in the middle of nowhere and it had a bar man from Australia! What is this place, London?! Great chap though who handed me some cash to sponsor me before I left – thanks mate if you’re reading this!
Picking the table nearest the door I dumped my pack, sorted myself out and ordered a lovely pint of Tribute. As I settled down to enjoy my pint the gentleman on the next table asked me where I was walking to. Again I mentioned the LEJOG walk and to my amazement he was the support crew for a bunch of guys cycling from Land’s End to John O’Groats – what are the odds on that?!
We had a really good chat about routes, kit and the like – they were using the sane GPS as me so clearly it’s the best!? The guys on the bikes were doing about 110 miles a day compared to my average of 16 miles. I know which I’d sooner be doing though that’s for sure! One of them had already had two punctures that day alone!
After he left to catch up with the cyclists, buying me a drink on the way out bless him, I was sat tapping away on my netbook writing today’s post, when another guy at the bar asked me what charity I was walking for. I told him and he swiftly handed me a five pound note. I tell you, the generosity of the people I’ve met on this trip so far has really begun to restore my faith in mankind and impress me.
I asked him what his name was, as I was keeping a record of everyone who sponsors me especially along the way, which got us talking. As it turns out this guy, Butch Urand his name was, told me that during the Falklands’ war he walked to Port Stanley carrying 135lbs on his back! Can you believe that? Certainly made my 35lbs seem completely trivial in comparrison that’s for sure. If that wasn’t enough, he was the person who raised the flag at Port Stanley, the one in all the photos, on 14th June 1982 after the Argentine surrender.
I remember following the war avidly as a young boy on the TV and in the papers, keeping a scrapbook at the time – god knows where that went to. This is something I will remember for the rest of my days, and something that would never have happened had I not decided to do this walk. I can only hope that I have many more experiences like this along the way.
I had a nice break in the Castle Inn but I thought it time to find my bed for the night. So, I packed my bag up, had a final chat with the bar staff and headed up the road to the Fox and Hounds, right on the edge of Dartmoor. It was a little further than I’d bargained on by about half a mile but I got there soon enough.
I got shown to my room, dumped my stuff and headed to the bar for another beer or two. Dinner was a lovely piece of pork belly, washed down with some fine ales: Jail Ale and Dartmoor Bitter. Unfortunately a bunch of well-to-do idiots turned up, staying the night too unfortunately, and promptly took over the place. The faces on the bar staff pretty much said it all for everyone else in the bar, so with dinner done, beer drunk, I decided to retire to my room and finish off today’s post with my iPod on to drown out the bloody golf stories from downstairs!
Today’s walk has been a really nice mix of small roads, bridle paths and the Two Castles Trail. It’s made a really nice change and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it.
One thing that did strike me was the difference in the countryside between Cornwall and Devon. I’ve really enjoyed walking through lush green woods and along country lanes where I could actually see something instead of the ridiculously high hedgerows. If the rest of Devon is like this then I think I might just enjoy this section of the walk…he says with fingers well and truly crossed!
Two milestones today: I made my way in to my second county of the walk and I have now completed 10.57% of the walk now!
Onwards and upwards!