Day 060: Boscastle to Bude

Distance: 16.70 miles

Ascent: 6094 feet

Weather: Overcast, Brief Snow Flurry, Cold Wind

Accommodation: Brendon Arms


It was clear when I sat down for breakfast and looked out the window, that there had been a moderate amount of snow overnight. The weather itself was overcast, moderate winds but dry. I had been informed that the seven-mile section from Boscastle to Crackington Haven was not right on the cliff edge so I set off and would revaluate when I got there.

The first bit out of Boscastle I went very tentatively as the roads and pavements within the village could be very slippery, and indeed were but as long as I walked on the snowy patches this was no big issue. I was soon climbing up the hill and out of the village. It was not long till I reached my first snow drift and there were many of these throughout the day. This one was only just above knee, but the worst ones went above my waist. Through these you just had to trudge and lift your legs high, and for the couple of really deep ones it was actually easier to go on all fours, as you didn’t sink and crawl across these stretches which normally weren’t more than 10 meters or so.

The scenery dusted in snow was stunning, and fortunately the wind though not light was not too strong either. The parts of the path covered in snow were actually fine for walking, even if they slowed progress, it was the points where the snow had either not settled or blown of the path that it got really slippy as the path was icy in these parts. For these I was normally able to walk alongside the path in the snowy grippy sections. It soon became apparent that wood was the worst thing for slippiness, so stiles were a nightmare, you had to grip firmly with your hands and just accept your feet wouldn’t get purchase. I also had a couple of short wood bridges across little streams at the bottom of valleys, and most of these had a little handrail so they were OK to cross. But one in particular (probably only 5m across) didn’t and was incredibly slippery, I set of tentatively shuffling and was making good progress, until a small gust of wind started to make me slide sideways towards the edge (would of only been a short drop but didn’t want to get wet) and I had to drop onto my hands and knees to stop myself going of edge and just crawl across.

Despite all the above I made it to Crackington Haven, slower than normal, where the roads were impassable but I was very happy to see some smoke coming out of the chimney of a pub. I popped in, hoping for some food but was not confident. Unsurprisingly the chef, and supplies had not made it into the pub and the only thing they could offer was chips. I looked at the menu to see if anything was simple and could just be microwaved and puddings were the only thing I could see, and after asking they were also able to make me a sticky toffee pudding. So a lunch of chips, sticky toffee pudding, coke and some snacks from my bag refuelled me right up.

Before reaching Crackington Haven I had considered shortening the day, but the people in the pub had given me confidence to carry on to Bude (though they hadn’t seen conditions on the coast path). The next section continued in the same vane, though there were some very steep stepped sections, sometimes covered in small drifts (which actually made the down parts easier.) I am not sure if the snow affected my perception but I am pretty sure this section to Millook was the steepest I have had on the walk so far.

At Millook I had my first road, and this was by far the worst part of the whole day. I have never encountered ice like it, all I had to try and do was get to the other side where there was some snow so I could safely walk down the road to continue. But each time I tried I ended up sliding back to the side I started from. Eventually the only way to go was on knees and gently pull myself across, it would have been a hilarious sight if anyone had seen it. But I was then soon in Widemouth Bay where I stopped for a hot chocolate before the last push.

This last section went really quickly as the first part was on a gritted road, halleluiah, and then simple path for short final stretch to Bude.

Unfortunately the person I was meant to be staying with in Bude couldn’t get down due to snow, so at lunchtime quickly had to book somewhere else up, for which I used the Warner fund. I was very happy to finally arrive at my room!

So a very different day, and despite all the challenges a very enjoyable, satisfying day though I am completely exhausted after it. This is a day I will never forget.

charles compton