This Christmas we won’t be stocking up on turkey, mince pies and all the trimmings. Instead we’ll be packing walking boots, blister plasters and sleeping bags and rustling up Christmas dinner in a campervan.
Earlier this year David turned 50 and to fully embrace his midlife crisis, he is walking the entire length of the South West Coast Path taking 25 days to do it when most people take 6-8 weeks over several years.. This is a challenge he has been considering for a few years and in a now-or-never moment, he decided that this winter would be the time to do it.
The walk starts in Minehead and follows the coastline through Somerset, Devon, and Cornwall before heading back into South Devon and Dorset and finishing in Poole. That’s 635 miles or 25 miles a day for 25 days. I’m not sure this would be such a big deal if it was all as flat as Slapton Line but the total ascent throughout the walk is the equivalent of climbing Everest 4 times with some particularly challenging hill climbs in the first few days.
That kind of energy is going to need some serious fuel. Consequently he’ll be starting the day with porridge and fruit, with snacks of nuts and more dried fruit to keep him going 'til lunchtime. The energy-sapping full festive lunch has been banned in favour of hot soups of beans and green veggies with sourdough bread and ham. Homemade fruit cake is maturing nicely and will make a good afternoon snack along the way before dinner of protein, carbohydrate and more green veggies. I’m thinking hot stews, curries, tagines, cottage pies and pasta with meat sauces. I’m definitely planning a turkey curry, even though we won’t have had a roast bird to provide the essential leftovers.
To keep up the daily mileage and aid recovery of his aching legs, David will need to eat around 5000 calories a day with not a selection box in sight. Food providing slow-release energy is the thing to keep him covering the miles so no sugar rush or sherry with Carols from Kings this year.
We already have a detailed plan of where he’ll be and when. Starting on the 16th December in Minehead, he’ll be heading west with Rex our rescue spaniel and will be passing Lands End on Boxing Day. The 3rd January will see him coming into Dartmouth meeting up with friends on the way from Torcross and heading to the Ship Inn in Kingswear for Heather’s famous rabbit stew and a night at home. Then on through his training ground of the Kingswear to Brixham stretch of the coast path and further east through Torbay and ending up in Poole on the 9th January.
The SWCP covers some truly beautiful scenery and we’ve fingers crossed for a dry, cold winter – but obviously preparing for some sideways rain. He’ll be taking photos and blogging and uploading to the Manna from Devon facebook page so you can follow their progress. We did consider a GPS tracker for Rex as he will do far more than the 630 miles in the mad way spaniels have of covering every patch of ground around them – just to see exactly how far he’ll run.
An additional challenge to the trek is to raise money for charity and David’s chosen charity is the Motor Neurone Disease Association. This is a really awful disease resulting in a gradual loss of movement until you can no longer move but still have an active mind. Sadly both of David’s parents died from the disease ending up unable to move after having had busy, active lives. As you can imagine, the work the charity does is very close to David’s heart and he is collecting sponsorship via a JustGiving page – www.JustGiving.com/SWCP25x25 If you’d like to add to the donations and can spare any cash, it will be much appreciated.
We went by mule to the bottom of the Grand Canyon once. A trying experience on the legs, thighs and bum but the cowboys gave us some priceless advice at the end of the day. “When you get back to the hotel and everyone asks how it went” they drawled, “just remember 2 things - smile and walk normal”. I think that’ll be the order of the day for David and Rex.
Happy Christmas everyone.•
First Published December 2012 By The Dart