Walking Day 1 – Clevedon to Portishead (6.9 miles)
What Have I Started?
‘Do you want to have a day to yourself? I’ll take Baggy Pants to the zoo if you do,’ Daddy Pants casually asked as he hoisted the wriggling child into leggings and a t-shirt. I hesitated for just a second before leaping on the endless possibilities of the question.
‘YES!’ I said with perhaps a little too much zest. ‘I really, really do!’ But after the initial head-spinning euphoria had worn off I started to think about all the things that I needed to do. There were the obviously boring things like The Laundry (endless), The Garden (ceaseless growing and lawn mowing) and The Cleaning (I’m-sure-I-wasn’t-put-on-this-earth-to-scrape-spaghetti-off-the-underside-of-the-table). My face clearly fell a fraction.
‘I think you should go out,’ Daddy Pants put in.
‘Oh but…’ I started.
‘No, no, you should leave the house. It’s going to be a nice day,’ he insisted. My brain was already onto the next List Of Things To Do. There was some work to be getting on with. I love working so that’s not normally onerous but it didn’t at this precise minute fill me with delight.
No, not work then.
And then I thought about playing the piano or sewing something pretty, but I didn’t have any current plans and nothing prepped, thought or sorted. I hesitated as I realised – with some degree of shock – that I didn’t want to sew or play the piano. I didn’t want to do ANYTHING that I could think of immediately. I was booked in to go to Body Max in 38 minutes and not even that filled me with delight.
‘Why don’t you go for a walk?’ he suggested.
‘I’ll drop you in Clevedon and you can walk home.’ It took me 3.3 seconds to decide that YES! This was what I wanted to do more than anything else in the world. A walk. With Dog. On my own. Perfect.
A quick packing of various bags, lunches and a thermos filled with coffee and I was on my way. Daddy Pants dropped me at St Andrew’s Church in Clevedon and I set off along the Poet’s Walk and towards the coastal route to take me home.
The St Andrew’s Cemetary is mammoth and beautifully kept. The church (although I’ve never been in it and couldn’t go that day as No Dogs Allowed) is ancient, beautiful and silent. Dog and I wandered past and felt a splendid lightness of foot as I marched along the path. I felt smug and suitably excited about my healthy, solitary outing.
Dog lightened himself further by crapping spectacularly next to a bench whilst I enjoyed my coffee. He neither cared, nor apologised for the befoulment that he wrecked on the otherwise pristine adventure. He is, after all, just a dog. And dogs do what dogs do – which frequently involves ill thought out pooing places. Which in this case happened to be some unhelpfully long grass that sliced through the poo like a knife through the proverbial butter. I scraped the hot dog shit out of the grass and (slightly less smugly) marched on.
The path divided left and right at the coast – as it is want to do – right taking us to Clevedon, Portishead and home. And left taking us to a Roman Fort. I dithered for a moment at the crossroads considering whether an impromptu trip to see some Roman ruins would be a fun start to the day. A quick check of Google maps supplied me with the information that this Roman fort was, like so many, a lovely grassy tussock. With not much to see there, I decided to go the way I had originally planned and headed down the path to Clevedon.
I love Clevedon.
It really is a delightful Victorian seaside town. A marine pool (not as cold as you might think), donkeys (the best kept and happiest looking donkeys I’ve ever seen), playgrounds (excellent ones), ice cream (delicious of course), chips (hot), gulls (Herring and Black Backed) and of course the absolutely marvellous Victorian pier. Dog and I didn’t go onto the pier as he hates walking over the water. He gets freaked out and walks as though he’s going to be strafed by a passing Spitfire at any given moment. We stood and watched the water trying it’s hardest to give a sparkle in the most overcast of days. Hot and muggy with no sign yet of the sun, heavy clouds hung threateningly ahead of us. Not black, but tired looking. We, however, were not tired.
Dog and I trotted on.
A little way out of Clevedon we joined the ‘Gordano Round’ path which runs along the sea wall, when Dog started to scamper faster and faster down the grass-lined path. He was getting seriously excited about something. I had to jog to catch him up (he usually hangs about close to me) and finally found him hurtling down the steps to Ladye Bay. He was looking for water to swim in. His favourite activity second only to eating sausages.
Sadly, the tide was way, way out that day and there was no water for Dog to play in. He did find some exciting sticks that needed chewing and I feared for the football that some kids were playing with on the other end of the beach. Happily, he was a good boy and I didn’t have to apologise for him destroying their toy like I have had to do so many times in the past.
We had lunch on Ladye Bay and it was at this point that I Made A Decision.
I looked at Dog and I said aloud, ‘I am going to walk the entire coast of the UK.’
He gave me one of those looks that only Dog can give. The look that says, ‘Unless this is about sausages I’m really not interested and oh look a fly to chase!’
He wasn’t sufficiently moved by my proclamation.
I, however, was. I said it again. And this time I got all O’Hara about it, ‘As God is my witness I am going to walk the whole UK coastline.’ I got a bit carried away with fistfuls of sand and gesticulations of walking prowess. But it felt good.
Quite clearly, at this point, I hadn’t really thought my proclamation through. I hadn’t thought the whole 2,800-ish miles through at all.
But as I walked past bay after beautiful bay on my tramp back from Clevedon to my hometown of Portishead, a fever took hold and I knew with every fibre of my being that I simply HAD to walk the whole coastline.
And so I’ve started. I’ve started on The Quest.
Now I’ve just got to sell it to The Family.