What a week!
As I am writing this I am currently back at home in West Wales with my ankle elevated on the sofa with an ice pack watching this week’s episode of Jane the Virgin. My ankle is pretty swollen and is quite difficult to walk on – I bruised it about a week before I began walking, dancing at a Ceilidh during Tredegar House Folk Festival – and clearly walking roughly 65 miles has made it worse.
Anyway! My week has been great otherwise. The day before I started walking, we went to Devauden festival with some friends which was fantastic. My musical highlights were definitely the talented violin/rapper Mike Dennis and the ever eccentric Tankus the Henge.
Unfortunately I didn’t get a good sleep that night (first night in a new bed effect – I am a massive insomniac!) so didn’t start the day out too fresh. However, my Nan and Grandad filled my belly with overnight, almond milk soaked oats with fresh berries and a tour of their newly revamped veggie garden 🙂 I was joined by my Mum and Dad on Sunday as we started out from Chepstow – the beginning and end point for my Wales perimeter walk – and the weather was much better than was forecasted earlier in the week. Obligatory photos were taken at the starting point. I really loved this mosaic dedicated to the Wales Coast Path…
And we were off! Chepstow took a lot longer to exit than I thought it would, I didn’t think the residential areas were as large as they were. My ankle was a little sore to begin with, after bruising it at the Ceilidh, but once into the rhythm the pain subsided. As we were exiting Chepstow however, there was a massive downpour of rain that lasted about half an hour. At this point, I realised my old ‘waterproof’ walking shoes were no longer waterproof, even after spraying them the other day with waterproofer. So I was squelching in my shoes the rest of the day. Yay!
We passed by the old Severn Bridge and walked along the estuary. In a place called Sudbrook, we stopped to eat our sandwiches – it was a tiny little place, but they had a small museum set up by the Sudbrook Historical Society with tea making facilities and free-to-use toilets. Taking advantage of this, we made some tea and popped a donation in the box whilst we dried off a bit. What a lovely little gem to come across! After this, we walked under the new Severn Bridge, which I think has been recently named the Prince of Wales Bridge.
Walking along the sea wall and a footpath next to the M4, I was surprised at the amount of insects. It just goes to show, that without human interference, nature can thrive anywhere. There were more butterflies and bees along the wild banks of the M4 than in most agricultural land I’ve ever seen. It made me realise that although agricultural land looks green, it really is barren and an almost desert like environment in which next to no wildlife exists, especially when the grass is cut before the end of the summer to create Silage.
My mum started developing some nasty blisters about 10 miles in, so we made more regular stops then whilst we walked on the sea walk towards Magor. Lots of skylarks and lapwings! To end the day, we walked into Magor and stopped at the Golden Lion for a pack of Salt and Vinegar Crisps and a Ginger beer. My Nan then came to pick us up, and we had left our car in Chepstow in the morning. It took about 15 minutes to drive back to Chepstow to pick the car up, which was super disheartening as it took us all day to walk that far, haha! But we ended up walking around 15 miles. Went back to my grandparents house and had a bath in Epsom salts. My ankle tendons were really hurting and my toes looked like raisins from being wet all day.
Had a good sleep, which is always a good start. Felt rather stiff in my hamstrings and front ankle tendons this morning. Ate my oats, then we made our way back to Magor (just me and my Mum this time). We went via Spytty so that we could pick us blister plasters and so I could pick up waterproof socks, but when I went into Trespass the boots were on sale, so I picked up a pair of boots to replace my walking shoes. My Nan dropped us off by the sea wall where we ended the previous day’s walk, and off we went. We had gorgeous weather, and we spent the day looking out over the estuary and the mudflats, which were very beautiful. Barely saw anyone else, we had the path pretty much all to ourselves. Weirdly the path was littered with dozens of crab skulls, I guess the birds must not like eating crab skulls and deposit them there. Got to Goldcliff and ate our sandwiches with our feet dangling over the sea wall with a pleasant sea breeze.
After this, the path went inland for a while through lots of fields and my left ankle (not the bruised one) began to really hurt so we had to stop a few times. We were both in quite a lot of pain, so we decided to end the day when we reached the Newport Wetland Centre, after walking along the coast through the wetlands.
My nan picked us up then drove us home, we walked just over 10 miles. I spent the evening icing my sore tendons whilst watching the Game of Thrones series finale (which I actually enjoyed, contrary to popular opinion). The season as a whole was way too rushed and could have done with being twice the length, but I wasn’t disappointed with how they decided to end it, even if there were a few loose ends.
Started from where we left off yesterday after my grandad drove us in. I was nervous about my left ankle tendon this morning but when I started walking with my new boots and blister socks, my feet felt fine! Going through the industry of Newport was pretty gross, but again weird how some of the abandoned, old docks had been reclaimed by nature and insects were thriving! Passed the Transporter Bridge but it was closed (it was Tuesday and it opens Wednesday to Sunday) – I would definitely recommend trying to plan your trip to include walking over the transporter bridge, as the alternative route was ugly and next to a main road.
When we got to the otherside of the Usk River, we stopped in the Waterloo for some tea – what a beautiful bar! Apparently it used to be a local gathering point for all the old sailors, including my great Grandfather and his brothers. It did used to be an old brothel so they must have gotten up to lots of mischief there 😉 After some tea, we walked through Duffryn and saw looooads of swans. There was one group of 18 swans, the most I’ve ever seen in a group, but altogether we must have seen nearly 40. One lad on a bike saw us looking at the swans and shouted ‘I’ll shoot one for a fiver!’. Charming! And very illegal. Oh Newport.
We walked through some fields, then finally back onto the sea wall. Again, saw loads of skylarks (they really thrive along the banks of the Severn into the Bristol Channel!) and only one other person along the coast path. We got to the Lighthouse Inn at St. Brides, and the lovely bartender Cheryl donated some money to my chosen charity, the Bumblebee Conservation Trust. Had a half of Guiness each and a bag of salt and vinegar crisps (can you tell they are my favourite yet?). One thing surprising me so far on this trip is how little I am feeling hungry. I thought I’d be ravenous but my appetite doesn’t seem to be any more than usual. Maybe I’ve just got a lot of fat reserves I didn’t know about.
Today was pretty ugly. We had a nice first hour on the sea wall, but as soon as we exited Gwent into Glamorgan things weren’t great. For one, the signposting had been perfect all throughout the first few days in Gwent, but they really don’t keep up with it very well in Glamorgan and there are lots of ambiguous directions. Most of today was spent along the edge of roads and walking on joint impacting concrete, as we made our way into Cardiff. The signs completely ran out in one of the parks in Splott during a ‘diversion’, but luckily we bumped into a lovely lady called Sheila and her dog Comet who showed us a different way we could go. So we went through Cardiff docks toward the bay, but probably not following the official path. So relieved when we made it to the Wales Millenium Centre and had a cup of tea.
Not a stretch of the coast path I would ever care to repeat, you’d have to pay me! My Mum’s feet were extremely sore from the first day blisters, so I dropped her off at Cardiff Bay station so she could go home, and I made tracks to my cousin’s apartment. My cousin Joe made us a lovely Halloumi, chickpea and beetroot salad… it was so good! We watched a movie then I crashed on his sofa.
Didn’t sleep very well (first night effect, again). But we had some Avo on toast and made tracks! Joe walked with me today which was really gezellig (Dutch untranslatable word, look it up). We stopped by the polling station en route so Joe could cast his vote in the EU elections, I’m voting by proxy, my Dad is doing it for me in Ceredigion. My bruised ankle massively hurt to begin with, I was basically limping, but I got into it and we walked nearly 15 miles. We walked through the bay and out onto the Barage and up the hill to a lovely view point at Penarth where you can see the Severn Estuary go into the Bristol Channel. Really hit home just how far I’ve walked, and I felt proud of myself.
Walked down Penarth Pier and we stopped and ate Welshcakes and drank some tea. We then walked through a beautiful stretch of coastal path, on cliff tops and looking down on pebbled beaches. I’d been looking towards the islands of Flatholm and Steepholm all week, and it felt strange to finally be putting them behind me. I love seeing how all the dots are joined as you walk, places you’ve been to but never knew how they connected before. We walked past Lavernock point, and when we reached Sully island we stopped and ate our sandwiches.
Still so surprised at the lack of people using this section of the coastal path. Again, we were pretty much the only ones. The section was lovely, right up until the approach into Barry, where we then had a few miles of concrete and roadsides, going in to Docks. At this point, my ankle reaaaaalllly began hurting. I was limping badly and had to stop every 10 minutes to take the pressure off. Trudging through urban areas are really hardgoing, and it doesn’t help that nearly all the footpaths are slightly angled with the right foot slightly higher than the left. I never noticed this before, but it definitely makes a difference in the impact the right ankle receives – it’s like it’s always being crunched a bit more than the left one, and always at a slight angle. We reached Barry Island and took the train back to Cardiff. My ankle was SWOLLEN. eek. Ate some dinner and watched ‘Adrift’. Then crashed on Joe’s sofa.
Yeaaaaah… my ankle was not okay! I was planning to walk from Barry to Llantwit Major today, but that could not happen. Could barely walk to the toilet, let along 12 miles. So I made the wise decision to extend my rest day tomorrow into 2 days. Also, it’s my Mum’s birthday today! So it’s also a good reason to go home for the day, rather than drag her out on her birthday to come walking with me again. Thanks Mam, you’re basically superwoman. So I bid farewell to Joe and hobbled to Cardiff Central, then got on a train to Carmarthen. Rested up. Went to the pub in the evening and showed my affectionately named blister ‘Versuvius’ to some friends, and was met with hilarious disgust. To be fair, it looks like I’m growing another toe.
And back to today. Ankle is still swollen, hoping it goes so I can get back to walking tomorrow. Pretty gutted, but I know I have to be patient. It’s better to take the time now to make sure I don’t properly injure myself and can’t walk at all, than push myself too far and not be able to complete this walk. At least it’s given me some time to write this up! Also just want to say a couple of thank yous for this week. Firstly to my parents, who are always the most supportive and for also joining me walking – literally could not be doing this without your help! Also my grandparents, Nanny Pat and Nanny and Poppy for feeding me, giving me lifts places and for letting me sleep in comfy beds. To my cousin Joe, also for feeding me and letting me crash on his sofa, and providing me great company. And my love, Arthur, for being so loving and supportive over videochat – and giving me the pep talks I need whilst cautioning me not to overdo it.
Well, that’s all for this week folks! Hope you enjoyed reading my rather detailed account, I can’t promise they will always be this detailed. Hope you’ve all been enjoying the great weather we’ve had this week. Let me know if you have any tips for injured ankles!
Lots of love,