Leaving snowy Wales for Ireland. Week 3 (28 Jan – 3 Feb 2019)

Monday 28th January

A rest day. But as with all rest days much to do including a 6 mile walk to meet a lovely lady Sally who has a website which promotes a positive lifestyle and is jam packed with interesting articles.  We whiled away a few hours chatting and then it was time time to clean my kit – a never-ending job but it does have to last me a long time.

Tuesday 29th January 2019

Mark went home today after supporting me over the weekend …. always a heavy heart when he goes, but I will see him again before Ireland.  The path was very undulating today and my coat leaks like a colander, but on the positive side –  my fitness is improving and it’s easier to go up than down! Walked so well today that I passed St David’s my destination for the night and had to cut through past St Nons Chapel and Well a very tranquil spot.

I wasn’t expecting to be invited to such a wonderful  hotel at the Twr y Felin Hotel. Do look it up – its a very luxurious hotel and Ewan and Luke welcomed a wet, muddy and smelly guest just as they would any other. I wore my socks and no boots to dinner and no-one batted an eyelid! I slept in a tower with the most amazing view and felt like a princess – the stuff of dreams.

Wednesday 30th January 2019

Cosy fireThis morning l left the Twr y Felin Hotel in St David’s having been incredibly spoilt, complete with a packed lunch I headed to the Coast Path via the Cathedral. The Pembrokeshire Coast Path is truly spectacular and a pleasure to walk along. The wind was biting cold today and it was lovely to meet Francesca, Ian and John at Celtic Camping and Bunk House Accommodation.  Francesca came to meet me in the cold and told me how they had also looked after Christian Lewis who is walking the UK for SSAFA, The Armed Forces Charity, and is currently in Scotland.  I slept the night in the bunkhouse beautifully warm with a lovely fire. This is a great place to spend time – the views are stunning and there is much going on at the farm.

Thursday 31st January

Snow!I left Celtic Camping after a great night’s sleep and was relieved I had not had to put my tent up. It had been bitterly cold outside. My walk was to Abermawr a day of undulating coastal walking in the sleet. At Porthgain the scenery looked like a lunar landscape with the old lime kilns. I grabbed breakfast/lunch in The Sloop, a pub steeped in history.

Ruth BestThis walk is so much about the people you meet on the paths and the homes you are invited into, tea, cake and a towel with Gerald and Jenny at Abercastle and then at Abermawr, I was whisked off to the home of Ruth Best (simply that) where my clothes were dried, I ate like a king and I overslept in the morning! I was spoilt by her hospitality, amazing local knowledge and tales of the Brownies …. thank you Ruth x

Friday 1st February 2019

This morning I was dropped off at Abermawr, The Cable Hut by Ruth at the exact spot from where she had picked me up the night before. A cold morning but fortunately no snow.  I headed across the stony beach at Aberthaw only to find a river in full flow preventing me from crossing. Had it been the summer I would have waded across but in the cold opted to walk 3km inland and back again. Having dried out the night before, I didn’t fancy my chances of taking a tumble on the rocks.

Goodbye Party
The goodbye party!

I headed along the Wales Coast Path until Goodwick where I met Mark and friends from home, and went to The Cabin which had kindly been lent to us for the weekend. My clothes were immediately ordered to be put on a boil wash. Clean clothes –  just wonderful!

In the evening we met the owner of Pebbles who showed us some amazing sketches drawn by Simon Marsh who had walked around England and Wales 20 years ago. His collection ended up in the V&A. Maybe I should get my sketch pad out!

Saturday 2nd February 2019

Sorting kitToday was a rest day – much kit sorting, cleaning and trying out the new Kelly Kettle for cooking in remote areas. The kettle definitely needs a lot of practice. But when it gets going you can heat water in 3 minutes using leaves, twigs and Pete…or was that peat!  I also ended up walking a few more miles along the Welsh Coastal Path – not sure how that happened?! Great to spend time in The Cabin Fishguard with friends before the big departure to Ireland.

Sunday 3rd February 2019

Stena Ferry to Rosslare, Ireland from Fishguard, Wales.  This day has always been so far in the distance that I gave it no real thought until it arrived. I  knew it would be an emotional day as the next 8 months are an unknown quantity and my family and friends are so much further away, so it was with very mixed emotions that I sailed off on the 1.10pm Stena ferry.

SKA band.jpgGood friends had put me up for the night in Fishguard and after a last breakfast together at “The Diner” in Fishguard and a photo with a two-tone ska band “Sorted” (best in Pembrokrshire!) we rushed to the Port.

The Fishguard Welcome Bay had arranged for free passage for me out of the country and a return too (result) with an opportunity for a great seat in the Stena Plus Lounge all courtesy of Stena and all for Alzheimer’s Research UK.

The boat sailed sooner than I expected and as I rushed to the top deck to wave goodbye my husband and son were running along the jetty to catch a last glimpse, while friends waved goodbye from the terminal. I shed a few tears, I will miss them enormously.

So now begins the next chapter of my walk….a journey around The Emerald Isle – keeping the sea on my left.

Follow my journey: TwitterInstagram  Facebook

DONATE HERE and help me reach my fundraising target for Alzheimer’s Research UK

Settling in! Week Two (21-28 Jan 2019)

14 days into my walk and I am just starting to settle in! My feet are becoming used to the wet conditions “Trench Foot” I think they call it, my shoulders are getting accustomed to the 35 pound backpack which despite a cull this week is getting heavier daily! This is due to swapping old inadequate kit with some proper kit and a season 4 sleeping bag which has been to Mount Kilimanjaro! (Thank you Buffy x) Still working on the jacket which leaks like a colander but that will be sorted by Ireland! Won’t it Mark lol?  So what has been ditched? A second compass, a pair of trousers for going out in the evening! Thermal layers for night time as I now have a season 4 sleeping bag, 1 excess battery out of a packet of four and a collapsible cup! Every gram makes a difference especially when you are stuck in a bog!

glenthorne guests house newspaper article

 

The week started with a rest day in Tenby.  I had the pleasure of bumping into Mr Trevor Hallett quite by chance who gave me a wonderful guided tour of Tenby and a coffee, all with my rucksack on my back. A lovely man who is very proud of Tenby and so he should be, its an amazing place to go!  Do check out St Mary’s Church steeped with history and beautifully restored. Having spent a night out on the seafront in the tent I was delighted to be welcomed by Jeff and Lisa at the Glenthorne Guesthouse which I mentioned in last week’s update.

 

 

 

beau at tenby

Tuesday 22nd January 2019 was an 18 mile walk along the Welsh Coastal Path from Tenby to Stackpole  –  by far the toughest day yet although I am sure that will change! A fabulous walk with old friends meeting new friends on route. Yvonne, Ann and Beau were good enough to travel from Newport and Swansea to join me. The route was decidedly up and down and I lagged behind all day with my rucksack, I think I should have insisted on holding onto Beau he could have helped me up the hills! Beau loves to eat tissues and hoovered up the rubbish as we walked along. He can be hired out for beach cleaning!

 

The army turned us back at the rifle ranges outside Manorbier despite pleas, we headed inland. On route we heard that the fundraising had doubled with a very generous donation which certainly put a spring in my step! After all that’s what this walk is all about! It’s the wrong time of year for tea stops as it is out of season but Lesley Smith opened the doors of her beautiful home to the four of us and gave us cake! A new friend inspired by this walk, thankyou!

 

stackpoleAnn and Beau left us at Freshwater but Yvonne and I battled on in the dark to Stackpole with headtorches and walked the longest mile ever from Stackpole Village to the National Trust Stackpole Estate who kindly put us up for the night! Every calorie lost during the day was replaced threefold! Such an amazing centre there was a school party there for the week and the place was buzzing!

 

Wednesday 19th January 2019 – Stackpole to Freshwater West:

Yvonne and I parted company in the morning and I headed west.  Sadly not along the coast as the area is an army range at Castlemartin and there was much activity going on, I had missed the firing in the night as I was out for the count but today was all about tanks and manouvres “not in the dark”.  The roads were closed too and I headed further inland arriving at Freshwater West where part of Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows was filmed. The National Trust once again bent over backwards to help and let me stay at Lower Gupton Farm  a truly beautiful site offering camping and accommodation just stone’s throw from Freshwater West.

 

Thursday 20th January – Freshwater to Pembroke:

50644926_2229781990628619_8671411882541711360_nWell it started raining at 7.00 am and I don’t think it stopped! The day was spent heading to the Pembroke Oil Refinery which occupies a prominent position on the south bank of the Milford Haven Waterway and can be seen for many miles. It was mostly shrouded in mist!

 

 

50557943_485219815337467_5294737018520076288_nI had to walk on A roads  for a time today, which was nerve wracking to say the least! I spent a lot of time jumping on and off the verges and the army tanks were still coming thick and fast! In the evening I walked into Windmill Hill Caravan Park expecting a patch of grass to pitch my tent, but was greeted with a caravan and cooked meal! After a 16 mile walk in the rain to be greeted with such kindness was just wonderful. Thank you Jane

 

industrial milfordOn Friday this Penny slid into Milford Haven. Heavy persistent rain had made the ground very wet! I walked with Christine Johnson who I had met in Pembroke and quite literally we slid along the paths, Christine accompanied me to the Cleddaau Bridge and from there I walked to Milford Haven. They say that company eats up the miles and that is so true! The scenery was stunning, industrial and beautiful!

 

milford haven

Milford Haven Port Authority greeted me at 5pm and I made it just in time! Karen Lewis kindly handed me a cheque for £200 and the Authority paid for a wonderful B&B in a traditional pub The Heart of Oak steeped in character, locals and full of kindness.

Saturday was frantic, a quick blast to Haverfordwest to catch the Parkrun. As usual as with all Parkruns I had an extremely warm welcome and accompanied the tailwalker. For those who have not had the pleasure of attending a Parkrun you are missing out. You don’t even have to run its a social event for every ability more often than not combined with tea and cake! What’s not to love! I have life long friends from Parkrun! A quick dash to Pure West Radio and an interview with Frank, and back to Milford to start my walk for the day! The winds had picked up and the rain stung my face all day! In the evening Team Davies kindly gave us the gave me the use of their cottage as a base for the weekend. Team Davies you are the best! Mark has been able to come down and sort out kit and today in the 75 mph gust of wind I have been able to use a smaller back giving my feet some relief!

robin

Once again I had great company today and was more than happy to share my  lunch with this little robin ….

Tomorrow is a rest day but I will need to walk a few miles as I need to get to St Davids Tuesday.

190 miles into my journey around Britain and Ireland thank you all so much for your continued support.

This time next week I will be in Ireland!

Karen x

 

Follow my journey: TwitterInstagram  Facebook

DONATE HERE and help me reach my fundraising target for Alzheimer’s Research UK

 

Week One 14-21 Jan 2019

It’s been a week since I left the beautiful Gower Peninsula where I live in Wales to walk the Coast of Britain and Ireland. To say it’s been a fabulous week is an understatement.

As I write this, I am now 100 miles into my Walk and today reached Tenby where I will rest up tomorrow before restarting Tuesday and heading to Stackpole. I have tried to build in a rest day every 7-10 days to preserve my feet, recharge my batteries and above all else have a wash 👀

50751103_1515003785297110_2831957330239684608_o.jpgI have had the pleasure of starting my walk with this lovely fellow who fresh from his Christmas duties accompanied me for several days. Carl Elliott. Safe travels to The States to see your family it’s been a ball x

On route the National Trust Gower not only helped with siting our tents and looking after us but Kathryn Thomas fed us too for which we are so grateful.

50305659_1515004425297046_5678153623821877248_oMy family treated us to a fantastic meal in the Ship Inn Port Eynon. They were extremely generous in donating a cheque for £200 for Alzheimer’s Research UK. Coming up with the wonderful suggestion of donating a penny a mile. And donating now rather than waiting to the end of my Walk. Thank you so much

Day 3 we left the Gower to walk the beautiful Millennium Coastal Path to Burry Port and Carl said Goodbye.  Called in to the WWT Llanelli Wetlands Centre where I had a lovely welcome and a nice warm bowl of soup ….. just as well as the temperatures started to drop. This meant I became quicker at putting up and taking down my tent in the dark!

50847865_1515002885297200_6044623379095355392_oDay 4 together with Jason Phelps from BBC Radio Wales we were invited for a coffee at the new lifeboat station Burry Port where lifeboats Operations Manager Roger Bowen updated me with crucial lo cal knowledge of the Coast path and facilitated calls to Ferryside Lifeboat who kindly took me over the River Towy and saved a full days walking inland.

Jason Phelps also made a fantastic film of my journey so far. Click here to view

50929551_1515002938630528_2592518585729417216_o.jpg

On day 5 following a damp night in Llanstefan I set off to walk to Laugharne. When you talk about learning curves I am right at the bottom! As beautiful as the Coast Path is, at this time of year it is very tricky to cross in places and I ended up in the marshes, knee deep in mud and frozen. I slipped on a wooden boardwalk and literally my 35 pound rucksack took the full weight of the fall as I landed flat on my back.  The rain chucked it down Friday and as you can see from my picture in Laugharne the only part of me which was truly waterproof was my skin.

50231583_1515003075297181_4771048413418487808_oHaving braved the elements all week I was so delighted to be invited to the wonderful home of Sian Lima and her family. She not only collected me but dried everything and I mean everything by hanging it above the fire at her farm, preparing a superb meal and quite frankly bringing me back to my normal self.   Click here to see a lovely little video which Sian made of my time with them. What a wonderful family.

Being a regular parkrunner (and hoping to visit as many Parkruns as I can on my journey) Sian kindly drove me to Colby Parkrun the following morning, where I was welcomed by such a friendly group of Parkrunners and was able to walk the Parkrun and achieve the fastest p.b yet with my rucksack on. Before returning to Laugharne to recommence my walk.

Last night I found a pitch in Saundersfoot.It was freezing so tomorrow will be spent sourcing a season 4 sleeping bag and thermal clothing. I think we are in for a cold snap.

50439932_1515003235297165_837731988105330688_o.jpg

Today I arrived in Tenby. I love it here ….family holidays…days supporting friends who compete in ironman. I met a man called Trevor today and had a guided tour of the town.. In Tenby he says you should leave nothing but foot prints and he is right. It’s a gem.

Tonight I have Wi-Fi, charge and a warm bed, thanks to the wonderful generosity of The Glenthorne Guesthouse Tenby who have warmly welcomed me here washed my clothes and looked after me in order to send me on my way on Tuesday. I did not expect the amazing help I have been given and its support like this which will keep me going for the next few years.

One day at a time.

Karen

Follow my journey: Twitter, Instagram  Facebook

DONATE HERE and help me reach my fundraising target for Alzheimer’s Research UK

 

Day One : 14 January 2019

day 1 interviews at the startThanks so much for all your good wishes and offers of help. I couldn’t get back to everyone yesterday as simply ran out of time as overwhelmed by your very kind responses. It’s a huge day for me today. I have another interview on BBC Radio Wales live at 7.20 and then head to Pennard Primary School to see Year 4 to say “Goodbye” and give them a map to plot my route on as they follow me for the next 4 years.

Then onto The Southgate Club to see friends and family, and more interviews and photographs, setting off at 11.00 am.

 

My route for Day One will follow the Wales Coast Path from Southgate to Rhossilli passing through Oxwich and following the South Gower coast.  It will be a long day hopefully getting to Rhossilli by 7.00pm. I will try and post to my facebook group often and thank you again for your support, and thank you to everyone who has donated to my Just Giving page helping me towards my target of £100,000 for Alzheimer’s Research UK.

Photo by Adrian White Photography
Photo by Adrian White Photography

Follow my journey: Twitter, Instagram  Facebook

DONATE HERE and help me reach my fundraising target for Alzheimer’s Research UK

Preparation

feet2At the moment life is very hectic getting organised for this walk, there is much kit buying, route mapping, fund-raising, grappling with social media and of course training going on.

I am indebted to my friends who have helped fundraise by manning stalls and donating items to raise money (Team Davies xx ) and to my friends who are helping with the logistics and technical issues…..and most of all to Mark who puts up with me and who is so supportive…..he is hoping to join me on this trek as much as he can….

Over the next few weeks I will be finalising my twitter, instagram, justgiving and facebook group and I would love you not only to follow me but join me if you can on my walk around Britain. And if any of you know anyone who is able to let me put me up in my tent in a safe area of their garden or put the kettle on as I go past I would be so grateful.

Mr Andrew James, Consultant PodiatristEarly December, I hit a major milestone in my walk preparation. Over the previous few months Mr Andrew James, a Consultant Podiatrist from Spire Hospital Cardiff had been creating a set of orthotics to help me complete my challenge.  I suffer from Equinus which means that I walk on the balls of my feet which causes pain. This manifests itself in plantar and Achilles pain.  Andrew has remedied this with specialist orthotics and amazingly has kindly given not only his time but his expertise and the orthotics for free. I am so incredibly grateful. I am self- funding my walk and this helps so much. Thank you Andrew.

Following the Sky News and  Wales Online articles I did not expect the amount of publicity they raised nor the new followers on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook … but I just want to assure my family and friends who thought I had left without saying goodbye that I am still here, 😃

radio2Its been a whirlwind of interviews on both radio and television.  Jason Mohammed and the Rev Kate Bottley were so lovely and welcoming on Radio 2, and I never thought we’d get a chance to sit on the red sofa with Louise Minchin and Roger Johnson on Breakfast TV (even though the tv appearance was touch and go as Mark dropped a ladder on his face whilst getting something out the loft the previous night, and they needed to see his photo first! Luckily he got through vetting process – thank heavens for the hair and make up department!) Click here to see the interview –  It was an unbelievable morning!

red sofa

I set out on the 14th January 2019 leaving home here in Pennard with Carl Elliott equipped with our rucksacks and tents to walk to Tenby which will take 7 days before Carl flies to America. From there I walk to Fishguard before catching the ferry to Rosslare where I begin the 2nd leg of my journey clockwise around the coast of Ireland on the 3rd February. I anticipate that it will take 6-7 months to walk around Ireland before coming back to the mainland at Fishguard in September 2019. From there I will head north along the Welsh Coast again travelling around Britain in a clockwise direction walking as many of the Islands as I can. I anticipate it will take 3 1/2 to 4 years to complete.

cropped itinerary

My route is plotted until Fishguard and I’ll post future routes as soon as they’re planned. If anyone would like to join me along the route, I’d love to see you!

Karen

 

Follow my journey: Twitter, Instagram  Facebook

DONATE HERE and help me reach my fundraising target for Alzheimer’s Research UK