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 🙁