Finally an update (part 2)

So now to an update on the walk itself.

The first day of the walk started early with a trip to the BBC studios in Llandaff (just across the road from my old high school, Bishop of Llandaff) for a live interview on Good Morning Wales at 7.45 am. It was the first time I’d ever been in a radio studio – there seemed to be a lot of people about! One of them was Arry B-W, looking amazingly fresh after her marathon of marathons, with 1046 miles behind her and only one left ahead – the victory run into Cardiff Bay! We had a lovely chat while we waited to go on air and Arry shared a few last-minute blister management tips.

The interview went fine and I headed back to Caerphilly to pack the last of my things and pick up the collection buckets and t-shirts for the launch event. Mum gave us a lift into the Bay and we met Wendy Collie from Cancer Research Wales, who had brought a couple of helpers and a banner.

At this stage everything got very busy and to be honest, I have very little idea which things happened in which order. Here are some of them:

  • Sara & Ben, Adam, Nick & Kate, Richard & Angela, Sarah & Sam all turned up to help with the bucket collection – assisted by Nugget the labrador in a t-shirt!
  • I chatted to Steve Webb, Elliw Iwan, Zoe Wathen and lots of other walking types
  • I got interviewed by HTV Wales and the Outdoors Station
  • I chatted to Rhodri and Julie Morgan, John Griffiths, Frances Donovan and Benedict Southworth
  • I realised my pack was quite heavy
  • People took lots of photos of me
  • People took even more photos of Nugget in a t-shirt
  • Arry arrived, completing her run around Wales
  • John Griffiths opened the Wales Coast Path
  • I ended up on stage in front of a lot of people, wearing a strange assortment of hats and bags and tubes and sticks
  • Mum cried
  • £389.91 ended up in the buckets
  • I went on stage, got a hug and a goody bag from Arry along with the official Wales Coast Path baton, and had more photos taken
  • I set off with Tasha

Having walked all of about 10 yards I was then caught up with by my entire family and spent another 10 minutes having photos taken… then I really was off.

We made good progress around the Bay via the barrage, but when it came to climbing the steep hill out into Penarth, the pack started to feel as though it was trying to kill me – bear in mind that by this point I had been wearing it non-stop for about 4 hours during the whole morning of the launch event. I made it as far as the end of the Promenade before deciding that a rethink was needed!

Cue a serious unpacking exercise in a bus shelter, during which I removed about 8 kilos of stuff from the pack including spare clothes and the majority of my camping gear (on the basis that I wasn’t planning to camp at all during the first 2 weeks of the walk). This made the pack manageable for the first stretch whilst I got used to the weight.

Mum very kindly came to collect my excess gear and we made the rest of the day’s walk successfully, although we did arrive at Barry Island pretty late in the day. Along the way we encountered (twice – don’t ask) a big group of Ramblers enjoying the Big Welsh Walk – and I discovered that some kissing gates are not made for people wearing big packs!

Thanks to the generous folk at Sutton Mawr Farm just outside Barry, I spent a comfortable first night in their bed & breakfast, and had a great breakfast with delicious fresh rye bread. The B&B is very smart indeed and they even have a helipad, which unfortunately I didn’t get to use 🙁

Finally an update! (Part 1)

Location: Laugharne, Carmarthenshire
Days since departure: 14
Days walked: 12
Mileage (planned): 181
Mileage (actual): more than 181!
Counties visited: 6
Blisters: 5

Hello Blogosphere!

First to quash a few scurrilous rumours. Reports of my demise (swallowed by a basking shark / engulfed by a huge blister / buried by the Giant Bunny of Oxwich Burrows) are slightly exaggerated – much like O2’s coverage map which suggests there is a signal to be had between Swansea and Carmarthen.

So I am still Alice. Or even possibly ‘alive’ – for anyone who’s been following my Twitter updates and needs a translation. I’ve managed to send some corking garbled Tweets and texts thanks to bright sunlight, the slightly dodgy response of my phone’s touchscreen when inside its waterproof case, and a seriously over zealous autocorrect. Hope you’ve enjoyed them 🙂

Quite a bit has happened since I last updated this blog (in March!) – so I’ve set aside a couple of hours of my rest day in Laugharne to commit some of it to (electronic) paper before I run out of memory. This might turn out to be a long blog so please bear with me!

I’d hoped to write at least one more blog before setting out on my walk, but didn’t manage this due to circumstances of work (3 of my last 6 nights before leaving were spent in Preston!), a minor conflagration involving charity collection licences, and the fact that I have never achieved anything worthwhile without a last minute midnight panic.

In my pre-departure blog I wanted to thank a few people and organisations without whom this challenge would have been impossible. So here goes:

    • Cotswold Outdoor: and particularly Nick Megginson, Jon Heather and the rest of the team at the Talbot Green store have been simply awesome. Jon has managed to secure some excellent, top quality kit for my walk (for full details, see the Gear page). I spent hours in the store getting fitted up for boots, clothing and pack and I’m hugely grateful to everyone there for their patience and great advice.
      Sue Rice and the rest of the team at the Countryside Council for Wales, who knew Dad through work, have been really supportive of my challenge and have very kindly promoted the walk through their official communications – they even included me in the Wales Coast Path launch event at Cardiff Bay, and made sure I was prepared to face the cameras by squeezing me onto a media training course. Without the CCW team and all the other groups who have contributed to the creation of the path, I wouldn’t be 2 weeks into a life-changing adventure around our beautiful nation.
      My fellow ‘circumcymrists’ Arry Beresford-Webb and Steve Webb (no relation that I’m aware of!) have been great too. Arry finished her epic run around Wales (via pretty much the same route I’m following, but as 40 marathons in 42 days!) with an official baton handover at the Wales Coast Path launch on 5th May. You can read all about Arry’s adventure at her website – along the way she’s kept some vital tips and pace notes to help me on my journey, and she even brought along a goody bag of blister patches and Penguin bars to hand over along with the baton! Arry is a massive inspiration to me – there’s no way I can fail to complete my challenge after what she’s achieved. I’m looking forward to catching up with her en route, when she can enjoy a stretch of the path at a slightly more comfortable pace!
      Steve starts his own giant circular walk around Wales in July, and will be walking with Zoe Wathen who he met whilst tackling the South West Coast Path last year. Steve’s done a great job of promoting both mine and Arry’s challenges along with his own and has put me in touch with some really helpful contacts including the guys at Viewranger, Social Hiking and the Outdoors Station. You can check out Steve’s website here.
      Finally, another mention for my wonderful wife Tasha, who has worked so hard to make life a bit easier for me both before and during the walk, and also to my Mum who has picked up lots of loose ends, odd (but essential) jobs, quite a lot of equipment and, on numerous occasions, either me or Tasha or both!
  • I have a lot more thank yous to make over the next couple of months, to all the very generous and warm-spirited people who have helped out along the way. I’ve been bowled over by the kindness of both friends and strangers – more on that shortly.

    Here endeth Part 1 of this blog post – Part 2 coming very soon after I’ve given my neck a rest (typing on an iPad!)… Stay tuned!