Well today can actually, quite frankly, fuck right off. I just want to get that out there from the start. It was an utter shitcunt of a day and if it could go tits up it absolutely did go tits up. Shall we recount the ways in which today can fuck off so that you may share in our abject misery?
Tarrant got caught with her pants round her ankles whilst having a cheeky morning piss by an older couple. Okay so actually I found it hilarious but I’m sure Tarrant would say it can fuck off. My womb is currently engaging in The Wringing so I was using the tent outer as a shelter to change my tampon whilst Tarrant had a piss outside and I heard a couple approach and make the appropriate embarrassed noises you tend to make when you catch a fellow human in the act. I guess that serves us right for pitching right by the trail but you do tend to think you have the world to yourself when you wake up at 5am.
The stretch between our camp spot and the Yealm ferry was actually a piece of piss. We must have gotten all the pre-ferry death hills out of the way yesterday which was nice and it should have been an easy five miles to the river. Except Tarrant’s ankles decided that enough was enough and she went over on one of them and went down like a sack of shit. The kind of fall where I have to actually make sure she was okay before asking where my postcard was. Y’know, from her trip.
She was fine, just a grazed knee and a bruise on her shin that appeared straight away, but she thankfully didn’t damage her ankle. It could have been a lot worse. We smashed out the last bit and arrived triumphantly at the slipway at 9am, a whole hour before the first ferry at 10am, except we were greeted by a sign swinging underneath the information board saying, “Sorry, no ferry today.”
Nooooooo!! What? Why? Was that sign from yesterday and no one had been around to remove it yet? There was a phone number for Billy, the ferryman, but we had no signal to call him. The board stated the alternatives were an 11.5 mile walk around, the details of which could be found on a website we couldn’t access because we had no signal, or bus, the details of which could be found on a website and yeah, you know the deal. Fuck. Shit fuck bollocks. Well we weren’t getting to Plymouth tonight then were we. Fine. We’ll stop for a pint later and charge our powerbanks. We’ll need a pint after this debacle.
We walked into Noss Mayo where we had signal and I called Billy to ask him if the ferry was running today. “Nah,” he replied, “s’broken.” Oh. Well. That’s that then. We checked the website given for the 11.5 mile walk around but couldn’t find anything about it, so we asked the mighty Google Maps to suggest a route for us and so it did. A 9.8 mile traipse along the roads. We had a look at the buses and we’d have to go aaaaall the way into Plymouth just to catch a second bus aaaaall the way back to Wembury and something in our brains absolutely wanted to avoid going into the city, just to get a bus back, just to walk back to the city. Fuck it. Fine. We’ll walk.
Yeah nah, do not attempt to walk. The roads are narrow and windy and the speed limit is 60mph. We had to press ourselves into the hedge every time a vehicle wanted to get by, it was exhausting and slightly terrifying. As a chap in a 4×4 squeezed by us he joked, “Watch out for the nettles!” Tarrant seized the moment and asked him if he was going to Wembury. Of course he wasn’t but bless him, he took us out of his way to deposit us at a bus stop in Yealmpton with strict instructions to catch a bus. Yeah, fair enough. A bus we would catch. But thanks so much for the lift, Chris! He also chuckled when I told him why the ferry wasn’t running and said, “Billy? He’ll be hungover!”
We didn’t have to go all the way into Plymouth from here though, we got off at a big Morrisons and took advantage of their toilets and their stock of Red Bull before heading back to Wembury and walking the half hour back to the river so we could pick up the trail. Four hours it took us to get around. Four fucking hours. We sat and had some lunch as we glared at the slipway on the other side.
What a fucking day. We were very much in need of a tasty, cold pint of fermented hop water. There was pub on the map in Heybrook Bay, a couple of blokes assured us that it existed and would be open. Open daily, they assured us. Excellent. This would do all the things we needed it to do including charge our shit up and fill our water bottles. Another couple we got chatting to laughed when we told them about the ferry. “Billy? Oh he’ll be in the pub!” Fuck’s sake, Billy.
We’d passed Wembury Beach when I started to get a feeling of doom. What if the pub wasn’t open? Was this just my paranoia kicking in? Would everything actually be fine? No, I can’t let it go. I checked Google and no, the fucking pub wouldn’t be open until Wednesday. To be honest I could have just sat down right there and then and cried until Wednesday but that wouldn’t get us any closer to Plymouth.
We ended up filling our bottles at Hey Brook which runs through the village then sitting down and talking about what we wanted to do. There was a perfectly good place to camp not far past Heybrook Bay but did we want to get closer to Plymouth? I don’t know. I didn’t trust any decisions we made today. Would there be anywhere closer to Plymouth to camp? I don’t knowwww! Sod it. We risked it for a biscuit and off we fucked.
Nowhere presented itself as an ideal camp spot and the city loomed closer. Tittywank shit fuck bollocks. Should have stayed where we were. We got as far as Bovisand and decided to call it a day, we didn’t want to end up in the suburbs huddled behind a pillar box or something. The beach it would be. A sandy beach. What a perfect end to a perfect fucking day.
We did, however, manage to get the tent up in the sand with zero freak outs on my part. I even got the sand on my knees and didn’t have a meltdown. Getting better, guys! Getting better. Obviously when it pisses rain all night and we wake up and everything is covered in sand I’ll have a cry but on a day like today, I’ll take the little wins.
Day on South West Coast Path: 17
Distance walked today: 13.99 miles
Total walked so far: 395.65 miles
Weather: Hazy, muggy, overcast, with odd spells of sunshine.
Coldest temp last night: 9.63°C inside / 9.17°C outside. Not sure how it was such similar temperatures.
Trigs bagged: 0
Trigs to date: 30
“Have you read ‘The Salt Path?'” (Running Total): 6
Jump to “Useful shit to know…”
Beacon Hill, Devon to Bovisand Beach, Devon, England
Stayed at: Wild camp on the beach at Bovisand
Useful shit to know…
- There are toilets at Wembury Beach, as well as a café and a stream.
- There’s the stream at Heybrook Bay too for filling your water if the Eddystone Inn is closed.
- There’s a stream at Bovisands too. The café was closed when we arrived but the toilets seemed to remain open all night.
- The ferry over the Yealm is seasonal and runs from April to October between 10am and 4pm. You might have to drop a board to signal the ferryman. It’s worth calling Billy on 07817132757 to check for times and disruptions. I don’t know how much it is as I didn’t catch it but I know it’s cash only.
- If the ferry isn’t running you can catch the 94 from the tennis courts in Noss Mayo. Google says you need to go into Plymouth but you might be able to get off at Morrisons and walk to Pomphlett Rd. Either way, the 48 will take you to Wembury and you can get off at Brownhill Lane then walk to rejoin the trail. I don’t think these buses run on a Sunday.
BUDGET for one person (based on two sharing)
Bus from Yealmpton to Pomphlett: £4.60
Bus from Pomphlett to Wembury: £2.85
Red Bull: £2.15
Grand Total: £9.60