3 February 2009


we have (3/4 of) our tickets! we just have to pay the remainder in the next 2 weeks. can i just say that once again we received stellar service from the carlton branch of flight centre. seriously, every time we've been there over the last year or so, they have been friendly, happy to help and clearly doing their job well (for instance, getting us a flight with etihad for less than i could find online, and only slightly more than thai airways - nothing against thai airways, but it will be fun to try out a newish airline).

we'll be in the uk for just over a month, which (as i mentioned earlier) will include the wedding on the 13th of september and the birthday on the 11th of october. AND it will include 2 weeks of walking on the southwest coast path! yay!

this walk will be different in a number of ways from the ones we've done before, not least in that it is approximately 3 times as long!

  • the thames path was very gentle, and followed the river from the source to oxford, through landscapes that changed over the walk mainly through the size of the river. however, the increasing size of the waterway, the different locks and townships, and the floodwaters that joined it as we got further downstream, definitely gave the walk a strong sense of progression. it was idyllic and a very good first walk.

  • the ridgeway involved more hills and valleys, longer days, and a bit more planning. the landscape was varied, from the first half a day along the thames, to wheat fields and farms, through woodland and parkland, along ridges (of course) and past various ancient earthworks. although there was less of a sense of a slow evolution of landscape, the various viewing points (bledlow ridge, wendover, ivinghoe beacon) gave us a lot of satisfaction, as we looked back on how far we'd come. it was also enjoyable to walk with friends - something we hope to repeat a bit with the southwest coast path.

    we expect the coast path to be tougher, with a lot of upping and downing, possibly more severe weather (especially wind blowing off the sea), and some longer days. it will also be a test of our endurance, although we will make sure to have a couple of resting days and shorter (10km-ish) days in order to break up the harder stuff! this will also be the first time we will need to really coordinate with other modes of transport - namely ferries to cross a number of rivers. there is also one creek that needs to be waded, and that can only be done an hour each side of low tide. barring that, there is a 1 hour detour around the creek, which isn't exactly ideal for us on a 22km day!

    on the plus side, the coast of cornwall is generally well supplied with villages, refreshments, accommodation and public transport. we will be there in mid-late september, when most of the school holiday crowds have gone but summer timetables are still in action (also summer prices for b&bs, but never mind). because the path often follows the tops of cliffs, we expect that the views will be lovely, and even if there is not a real sense of changing scenery, we will have a sense of purpose and achievement when looking forward or back over the bays and headlands. the map nerd in me also enjoys the fact that we will start at the westernmost point of mainland england (land's end), and also take in the southernmost point (the lizard).

    anyway, i'm sure you'll hear more as the trip draws closer. until then, we have a lot of training to do! we've already booked in lots of sundays with SJ, who walked the ridgeway with us, to do walks around melbourne. fun times!
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