16/9/2014 to 23/9/2014 – Penzance to Falmouth (61.6mls)

Today was the start of our “walking holiday” in Cornwall arranged through Contours Walking Holidays who organised the B&Bs and Luggage Transfers Ltd to take our bags between B&Bs, plus supplied lots of useful information, much of which I have to admit duplicated that which we already had from the South West Coast Path Association.

Acting like a pair of excited saddo OAPs because we were going by train, we got a taxi to Yatton station where the excellent electronic information boards showed that our first train to Exeter was on time, but the gloss quickly disappeared when it started changing to 2mins late and then to 10mins late, at which point we were wondering whether we would miss our connection to Penzance. Eventually a tatty 2 coach train rattled into the station, which considering that it was the Cardiff to Plymouth train (a journey of just under 4hrs!) meant that we kept our fingers crossed and thankfully we arrived in Exeter on time. When I saw that our next train was the Cornish Riviera Express from Paddington I briefly had a dream that it would be pulled by a GWR “King” class steam locomotive …

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… but no, it was a diesel, but with reserved seats we travelled in comfort along the sea walls of Dawlish and Teignmouth that we had walked along only 2 weeks previously, to arrive in Penzance where a taxi took us the short distance to Penmorvah, our B&B for the night.

We went to The Dolphin Tavern near the harbour for our evening meal. It’s usually a good sign when at 19:00 the place is crowded and difficult to get a table. We ended up sharing the other end of a long table with a couple from Lancashire who had come to Penzance for a holiday every year for the last 30 years. Whilst we went to Penzance for a week a few years ago we’re not sure that there is that much to do in the town – most people seem to visit for an overnight stop before catching the Scillonian III rust bucket to The Scilly Isles. Even the helicopter flights have stopped and there is now a huge new Sainsburys on what was the heliport, next door to a huge Morrisons, next door to a huge Tesco! The result is that the town centre appears to be dying with lots of ‘Pound’ type shops and charity shops and it all looks a little run down – there are some lovely old buildings though, particularly the Lloyds Bank building in the centre of town.

The next day we set off on our walk and each days walk is commented on in the 6 submenus …

Penzance to Praa Sands

Praa Sands to Mullion

Mullion to Lizard

Lizard to Coverack

Coverack to Helford

Helford to Falmouth

The following Tuesday we left Falmouth to get 4 trains home. Firstly, we had to walk about 400m to Falmouth Town station to catch the local train to Truro. This was tricky as Fiona’s foot and knees were now a serious problem so she walked with both the walking poles whilst sherpa David carried 2 bags and 2 rucksacks!

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Fiona at Truro station was still smiling, but we were glad to get back, via Plymouth, Bristol Temple Meads and Yatton, where our kind friend and neighbour Sara was waiting to drive us home.

What a week though – we saw some amazing scenery, met some interesting and amusing people, probably wish we had started the challenge 10 years ago, but we made it. It is now 4 days since we got back and Fiona’s left foot is a bit better but her right knee is still very painful, probably with walking awkwardly in trying to protect the left foot. We will have to wait until she has fully recovered before planning our next step, but having done over 100 miles since May we have made a very satisfying start.

The final words are to do with some thoughts on what might be contributing to the foot and knee problems – those of you who are by now losing the will to live can skip over this now! …

… We have several theories as to what may be exacerbating the problem. Firstly, it might sound daft, but walking the coast path anti-clockwise means that the left foot is usually at an awkward angle and higher than the right foot causing pressure on the left side of the left foot. This may be causing the right side to compensate causing problems in the right hip and knee. Another theory could be to do with using a single walking pole. I remember that a woman and her ex-army husband that we met at the bus stop in Sidmouth pointed out that she thought my walking pole which I use in my right hand was too short and that I was using it like a walking stick. The pole is very useful when negotiating uneven surfaces both up and down but on the level it causes the left foot to be the dominant foot i.e. pushing off using the stick in the right hand followed by the left foot pushing off for the next step. I must admit that at times I was experiencing a pain in my right hip and left foot, which quickly went away when I stopped using the pole. I suppose as our pilates teacher says, it’s all about keeping the body in balance and maybe we should look at this more for the future. If anybody has any thoughts on this then we would be grateful.

2 thoughts on “16/9/2014 to 23/9/2014 – Penzance to Falmouth (61.6mls)

  1. You should always walk with 2 poles and the way to size them up is like ski poles. Put your arms out at a 90 degree angle and this is the correct height. I did training back in the day at Gelert about the correct way to use walking poles. So use 2 or none!

    • Thanks Red, that’s the conclusion I had come to. The problem with using 2 poles on the SWCP is that the paths are often very narrow and would be difficult to walk with 2 poles. What would be ideal are short poles that can be stored on the rucksack but that can be quickly expanded at the touch of a button to become poles of the correct length for the difficult bits without all the fiddling around of setting the correct length. I could probably manage without using a pole so we can experiment with Fiona using 2 poles where necessary and see if that makes a difference.

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