Updated: May 24
I grew up with the Malvern Hills on my doorstep. People from Malvern are either obsessed with the Hills and that’s all they talk about, or they just moan about them because everywhere is so hilly! I guess I fall into the former category.
Other than childhood holidays in the 70’s and 80’s, my first encounter of the South West Coastal Path (SWCP) was back in the summer of 1999. I’d just returned from a NATO exercise in Greece and was desperate to get away from the dust and the beige featureless landscape that had been our home for six weeks.
Just like the caller on the phone-in, I just needed to see and feel the sea air and of course to have a decent pint of ale, pasties for lunch and fish and chips for tea. That’s what it’s all about…right?
I had a fortnight off. I packed a rucksack with one change of clothing, a tent, a roll mat, a sleeping bag and got one of the lads to drop me at Salisbury train station.
The train journey felt like part of the adventure, beautiful countryside, stopping at stations that I didn’t know existed and then when the track finally ran out at St Ives, I knew my real journey had begun!
That night, from the comfort of my one man tent, I sat looking out over the Atlantic Ocean filled with anticipation eating my fish and chips as I watched the warm summer sun disappear on the horizon.
The next 10 days I slowly made my way north up the Cornish coast along the SWCP. In between the deceptively steep slopes, I was rewarded time and time again with yet another glorious hidden cove. I bet they could tell some pirate stories.
Some days I walked all day and others just a few hours. Either way, I’d make camp each night and head off to explore the local village, fill up with some well deserved scran and get my head down for the best night’s sleep ever, every night.
Of course it wasn’t all plain sailing and I got drenched several times (it’s Cornwall after all), had to pop a few blisters, got sunburnt, but hey, this was my awesome mini adventure and nothing was going to get in my way.
I was hooked.
Fast forward twenty-two years and I now live in Barnstaple, Devon. I left the Army in 2012 after a full and rewarding career and since then I’ve been running my own fitness training company. However, the outdoors and the hills has always been my passion.
I’d completed my Mountain Leader qualification in 2004 and gained plenty of experience leading groups around the Brecon Beacons, the Mourne Mountains, Snowdonia, the Lake District, Exmoor, Dartmoor and of course, the Malvern Hills.
Somehow though, the SWCP had eluded me. Maybe it was because my perception of it was just for couples or individuals and I’d avoided taking groups there. Either way, it was time to get back on it and exploit where I was living, just a few miles from it!
Enter ‘Peaks and Trails’. A one stop shop for walking enthusiasts looking for their next adventure. Guided and Self Guided walking holidays around this magnificent country of ours.
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