Day 11: 03 Apr 2014; Elmscott to Westacott

Day 11: 03 Apr 2014; Elmscott to Westacott
Walk descriptor LEJOG2014 Day 11
Date Thu 03 Apr 2014 Start to end time 08h 31m
Start point Elmscott End point Westacott
Miles today 17.75 Cu miles 216.48
Ft today 3,264 Cu ft 39,645
Route miles left 1,254.35 Route ft left 152,697
Today’s weather Rain all day – lighter at first, heavy by afternoon. No sun. No wind. Mild, around 14 C
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Today’s location
(the red cross in a circle shows where I am at the moment)
GPX based track of today’s walk
(click here to access to access downloadable file)

“I’m trying to persuade myself that I don’t mind the rain – but I think rather I am just devising strategies for coping with it. After 9 wet days out of the last 11 – and today was one of the wettest – I’m certainly getting enough practice..

After a comfortable night under a proper roof at Elmscott Youth Hostel, I set out to walk Westacott, just west of Westward Ho! today. I basically had two options – either a very long route via the coast path over Hartland Point, or a short direct route via country lanes and avoiding the coast path altogether.

In the end I chose a compromise – road-walking to Bucks Mills then coast path from there to Westacott. The compromise worked well – I covered the 11 miles of road walking by noon. Though it did mean that I missed seeing Hartland Point – another landmark I shall have to return to at some point. Then it took me all afternoon to cover the remaining six miles to the campsite. I reckon that it takes three times as long, and three times as much effort, to cover a mile on the coast path, as it does on the road. Largely due to the precipitous ascents and descents that each mile entails. The six miles from Bucks Mills for example had 2,500 ft of ascent crammed in.

In terms of coping with the rain, I’ve discovered that the secret is to wear the minimum possible consistent with not getting hypothermia. Then wearing waterproof Goretex outer-layers from boots to socks to over-trousers to cagoule to over-gloves. That way, there is the minimum amount of wet clothing to dry at the end of the day. And as I walk, I am cocooned in a waterproof bubble, isolated from the outside world.

The walk itself was straightforward though the nature of the coast path had changed again – reddish sandstone cliffs, rather than granite, covered in scrubby forests of ancient sessile oaks. With the rain and swirling mist, and the island of Lundy seemingly floating mirage like in the gloom of the Bristol Channel,  it was quite atmospheric.   I half expected to see hobbits lurking behind the tree-stumps.

Overnight at the peaceful Westacott Farm campsite, where the owners have been kind enough to waive their normal pitch fee, in support of my charity walk.  A nice touch. Dinner at the very pleasant Thatched Inn in Abbotsham – just down the road from the campsite. Populated by families and couples – and the couple on the table next to me were kind enough to give me a £5 donation to my sponsored walk.   Another nice touch!

Today’s photos (click to enlarge)
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Deaparting Elmscott YH this morning. There were only six occupants last night – but I was delighted still to be considered “young” enough to stay at a Youth Hostel! Is this what happens to old Scout minibuses when they die??
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Wet weather gear – Goretex from head to foot, and orange nylon waterproof cover for rucksack Bucks Mills – an old fishing village, supposedly populated by descendants of Spanish survivors of a wrecked Armada vessel.
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Epiphytic fungi. All rather Hobbit-ish Strikingly bright red rock in the cliffs near Peppercombe castle
Sessile oaks on the cliffs above Bucks Mills. Covered in lichen which thrives in the sea-mist. And there was plenty of that today..
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