We had some absolutely violent hills to start the day with. Six miles of the fuckers. I don’t know why I continue to be all confused and surprised when my legs are about to drop off only three hours into the day. I think it’s because every time we complete a particularly brutal section a local tells us, “Oh you’ve done the worst part, it’s a bit easier now.” And then the next day when it feels like someone has taken a sledgehammer to my poor, beleaguered calf muscles, as I half crawl, half walk up another set of uneven steps as tall as my knees, I wonder why I keep believing them. Stupid hope.
Cracking eyehole fodder though. Honestly, it makes up for the probably permanent damage you’re doing to your knees. We gasped our way into the gorgeous town of Kingswear to catch the ferry over to the even more gorgeous town of Dartmouth, both towns built into hills with colourful buildings. As a tourist these towns are a feast for the eyeholes. As a postie, just the thought of all those hills make my joints hurt. They better have nice letterboxes, that’s all I’m saying. None of these low things that are all the rage, or those ridiculous tiny things that barely fit a letter. “No bills today please, postie!” Well that’s all that’ll fit through your fucking door, mate, so you’re having them.
We resupplied at the Co-op in Dartmouth and filled our water bottles up at Rockfish, then made it about as far as the water where we plonked ourselves down on the floor because all the benches were taken by people who were a lot cleaner than us. We released our feet into the wild. Houses prices immediately dropped 10%. We also decided to use this beautiful harbour to vent the last, useless bits of gas in our old canisters so we could pierce them and safely dispose of them, so you can imagine the glares we got.
We’re getting a bit too into these long lunches, we spent ages in Dartmouth, soaking up the sun like reptiles. But it’s a meander, not a march, and fuck it, we’re on holiday. After the predictable climb out of Dartmouth it’s actually not too bad up until Blackpool Sands which is where we stopped to dry the tent out. It’s actually not sand either, it’s those little pebbles that I’m particularly fond of. If we hadn’t promised ourselves a few more miles today we might have been tempted to pitch up there. My parents live in Blackpool. Not this one though, the Northern one with the donkeys and the rain.
We had to pass some cows and I swear one of them was set to try and charge us. Head down, hoof scraping at the ground. Tarrant told it to fuck off though, I was cowering behind her and whimpering a bit, but off it did fuck. She’s so brave. I’d be fucked on this walk without her. I’d either be still stuck on that hill at Lulworth Ranges as the army shot at shit around me, or on a twenty mile detour to avoid a field of bovine because one of them looked at me funny.
A standard hideous down followed immediately by a hideous up, a bit more lumpy terrain, then we had a long, straight two mile stretch into Torcross which not a fibre of my being trusted to not turn into a vertical drop into a field of fucking cows. It had clouded over and the wind had picked up, it was biting. I risked taking a passer-by out with a nipple. We managed to get a bit of speed up into Torcross where we stopped for dinner so all we’d have to worry about would be where to pitch. This was our new technique now the days had gotten longer. Eat, rest, then walk until we find somewhere.
We tackled a big climb out of Torcross followed by a descent into Beesands that my knees didn’t approve of as we eyed up various spots. There were a lot of buildings around here. Maybe holiday lets, maybe permanent residences. It could prove challenging. Tarrant wanted to pitch up on the beach but I would have felt too exposed, until we left the Path to turn left into Beesand, past a row of houses and down onto the beach. We could easily tuck ourselves away in the corner by the slate cliffs.
Of course the beach was lovely and pebbly riiiiight up until we got to the tucked away part. Sand. It was fucking sand. But it was too perfect of a pitch to turn down otherwise. Well there’d be a direct correlation tomorrow between how much sand was stuck to the tent and how much I would cry.
Woodhuish, Devon to Beesands, Devon, England
Stayed at: Wild camp on the beach at Beesands
Useful shit to know…
- There are toilets by the ferry at Kingswear, by Dartmouth Castle, at Blackpool Sands, at both ends of the long, straight walk into Torcross, and at Beesands.
- We filled up our water at the tap outside Rockfish in Dartmouth. Other options include the stream at Scabbacombe Sands, or other businesses in Dartmouth.