I've decided to take an unpaid year's leave from work and I want to ultimately complete the South West Coast Path with my dog.
I intend training the rest of this year by completing the Wold's Way (79 miles) and other local walks in my area, including hill walks and then April 2021 starting the South West Coast Path. I have done parts in Cornwall twice and will be visiting Dorset in July this year to undertake parts around this area. I found it extremely challenging but I really want to complete this as something worthy to have behind me.
I am looking to stay in B&B's or YHA's (the cheaper the better!) and I see the general advice is to book a few nights in advance but then book as I go along the Trail. I am a 49 year old woman walking alone with my 9 year old dog who is fit and healthy for his age.
Does anything think this idea is just a dream or downright crazy?! All advice and/or criticism welcome.
I'm not looking to wild camp as this is something I've never done and quite frankly I wouldn't feel safe. I'm willing to devote 3 months to completing the Trail.
I've not done it myself, but it does not sound at all daft as ideas go.
A couple of books worth reading (if you haven't already): The Salt Path - https://blackwells.co.uk/bookshop/product/9781405937184?gC=5a105e8b&gclid=EAIaIQobChMIgO2Umdma6gIViLTtCh1VqgYoEAQYASABEgIni_D_BwE
and 500 Mile Walkies - https://www.amazon.co.uk/Five-Hundred-Mile-Walkies-South-west/dp/0091641705/ref=pd_lpo_14_t_1/262-9791628-1679543?_encoding=UTF8&pd_rd_i=0091641705&pd_rd_r=e6706135-1eb9-4b45-bdc5-9a76f64b5bbd&pd_rd_w=Xo08u&pd_rd_wg=ViPJt&pf_rd_p=7b8e3b03-1439-4489-abd4-4a138cf4eca6&pf_rd_r=1T2NQ2R4JQ40PVT1YK3S&psc=1&refRID=1T2NQ2R4JQ40PVT1YK3S
Its worth considering when training/planning that there is a huge amount of ascent and descent on the SW coast path.
If your doing it with a dog then definitely read 500 Mile Walkies, it's quite old (1980's I think) so not much use a guide, he seems to pay around £5 for B&B but it's a great read.
Sounds a great idea to me!
The only issue I can foresee is the availability of b&b's or hostels that will take a dog....!
Its a great path....I've done bits of it in North Devon and its lovely dropping down in to small coves and beaches...nice pubs, plenty of shops for provisions etc...enjoy!
It's a great idea. It's also a serious challenge. There are plenty of stretches where you will be averaging 100m+ of climbs per km walked of over the day. So get you and your dog good and fit then be realistic about your targets.
I can't help much with where to stay as we live in Cornwall and have been walking it in little chunks for 3 years now. We are late 50's and we were enjoying it immensely until Covd19 struck. Will get back there soon I hope.
Here is a great site for planning stages on. You may well have found it already.
I think that it sounds like an excellent adventure and the best of luck to you.
The official SWCP website has lots of great information.
Keep us posted as to how you get on
We have walked the section from Minehead to Padstow over two weeks in summer holidays. Never had too much of a problem getting accommodation but you will need to pre book at that time of year - probably a bit more choice at other times of the year. The section between Bideford and Bude is quite sparsely populated so the choice round there is less unless you want to divert inland. The YHA just south of Hartland Point is good though. For guides we used the Paddy Dillon book but his days are quite long. We had our two children with us so we used to spilt his days into something more manageable. Hope you enjoy it - its a great route
Sounds like a great idea, just be sure to get some hill training in. There are a tonne of significant elevation changes, one after another. Best of luck.
Not a mad idea but it will be a challenge - primarily logistical...
I walked it about 5 years ago with my 7 yr old mutt as part of a much longer walk staying in pubs, hotels and the occasional B&B.
Provided you and the dog are fit (9 yrs old is getting on for some dogs but fine for others...) I suspect the two biggest challenges will be;
1) Finding dog friendly accommodation - rules out youth hostels and many cheaper places to stay. You need to find somewhere where you can eat nearby or onsite - dog is not going to want another walk in the evening just because you need feeding! Judicious use of buses (and the occasional taxi) to link with day end/start and accommodation is highly likely to be needed.
2) Dog health - Highly recommend Mushers Paw Wax to help with keeping the pads from either getting too soft or too hard and then splitting. If you can get the dog used to wearing booties then fine but remember dogs paws help them cool down on hot days. Also recommend a Cooling Dog Coat (one that you can immerse in water, can be a lifesaver (literally) is the dog starts to overheat badly, but mainly coupled with very early starts allows you to continue on even the hottest of days. Always carry water for the dog, there can be long stretches without streams/puddles etc that are not always obvious. If dog paws get too sore the only option is rest - this can be several days at least - try to have a rough outline of what you would do if this happens rather than just abandon the walk.
You will need to carry a fair bit of doggy stuff (including dog food) don't underestimate how much extra weight this amounts to!
Enjoy the trip, it's a fantastic opportunity.
I would also recommend reading the Salt Path. Just finished it and it nothing short of inspirational. They did it on a shoestring budget (and that is being generous) wild camping (mostly) all the way. So it won't give you any information about where to stay, but its a great read nonetheless.
Another approach which I saw in Aviemore many years ago was the dog carrying its own stuff in dog panniers. Might not be an option for some breeds of course - this one was a Labrador.
I walk long distance paths on my own and the major problem I have found is that not many BnBs are willing to take a single person for a single night YHAs and independent hostels are useful if there are any around but you may have problems with a dog. I seem to have to take a tent with all the attendant paraphenalia which means I have quite a heavy load which is beginning to take a toll now I am in my 70s. Like you I have been looking at the SW coast path and found accommmodation gaps. I think you might have to research bus routes which can return you to a base - I did this on the Hebridean Way last year.
I have done the SWCP and mostly wild camped it with the odd BnB and YHA. It is a great walk. For safety sake on occasions I did keep away from the cliff edge, a slip with a backpack and there are some great falls into the ocean.
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