Alone with the Atlantic – Pembrokeshire Coast Path, Wales

For five nights I slept beside the Pembrokeshire Coast Path. On the first, I woke before the night was up and walked with the stars over frosted grass and frozen puddles, and on the second I slept with the pounding drum of the rain upon my shelter. And so it went, from one peninsula to the next, weather on my face, beyond the whirling lighthouse of Strumble Head, the moorland ponies of Mynydd Morfa and the slatestone incisors of the Aberdinas Islands, not a another walker in sight for three days and three nights.

 

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Books in the ether – A Walk to the Water

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In recent months I have relied on the thoughts of my readers in the production and release of my first published book, A Walk to the Water. And what marvelous contributors you were. Now drifting about the ether, I thought it the right time to share some of the wonderful feedback the book has received. So here it is.

Holding a book launch in my home city, I was delighted to see many friendly faces.

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Trail Angels from the path were bountiful, and how fortunate we were for their help. After A Walk to the Water was released, I sent them all a copy.

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The Fondue family. We stayed with Mamie, Lea, Mauricette and Charlie for three days in France – their kindness was overwhelming. Here they are with A Walk to the Water in their hands.

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Hoeveterras de Vlienthoeve. Noor and Marte, along with the rest of the family, took us in for the night in Belgium. The trail was hard going that day and we were grateful for their hospitality.

Of all the reviews received, my favourite are those written by hand.

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A Walk to the water has been featured in a number of realms, including The Great Outdoors magazine and Hostelling International.

“For lovers of intrepid travel,” Hostelling International wrote, “this is the ultimate read for the road.”

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Some years ago I undertook a degree at Plymouth University on the south coast of England. My time there was invaluable. After hearing of A Walk to the Water, the university produced a case study.

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A Walk to the Water can be bought from all major online book stores as a paperback and an ebook. To get your hands on copy of A Walk to the Water, please follow the links below:

A Walk to the Water Paperback

A Walk to the Water Ebook

 

Wild camping on a multi-day hike

Wild camping on a multi-day hike

Wild camping on a multi-day hike

Wild camping can be a great way to enhance the adventure, solitude and self-sustainability of a multi-day hike. Yet, for many, it inflicts a bout of apprehension difficult to rid; an understandable sentiment, but one most certainly worth overcoming.

Here is a little guidance on how to feel the rewards of camping wild:

  • Permission to camp: Of course, if you can ask the land owner (if indeed there is one), then do so; it will make you feel better and is, in the eye of the law, the right thing to do. More often than not, the landowner will comply. In fact, in my experience they are often excited that you chose their land over their neighbours! Whilst in France, the owner of a vineyard was so delighted to have my brother and I stay, that he let us wash in the horses drinking trough, free of charge. How lovely.
  • Pitching: Soft, flat ground is favourable. However, if hard to come by, use spare clothes and gear to fill in holes and to counteract angled slopes.
  • Food: Without a nearby shop, be sure to have enough food to get you through the night and on to the next town. If foraging for berries, mushrooms and leaves, be sure to know your stuff. I once ate Lily of the Valley by accident and the repercussions were, by all means, disagreeable.
  • Water: Again, ensure that you have enough liquid for the night. If using river water, be sure that the flow is running with vigour and is above the livestock line. Consider using purification tablets.
  • Toileting: Dig and bury.
  • Fires: Only have fires if necessary (for cooking and for warmth). Yes, they may be paramount for the quintessential wild camping photo shoot, but they leave a mark. Extinguish thoroughly. Tip: campfire smoke can be a great way to add fragrance to a particularly odorous pair of socks!
  • Sleeping: The sounds of the forest can be blissful, but they can also have you thinking that a foraging mouse is an angry hunter with a gun. I often wear earplugs to get me to sleep and shed them at some point in the night, allowing me to wake with the dawn chorus.
  • Leaving camp: Aside from a flattening of leaves, twigs and shoots, you should leave a camping area as you found it.

But, most importantly, do not forget the essence of wild camping – your connection with the land, your freedom and your solitude – that makes the experience so special.

Camping in a farmer's field on the South West Coast Path, England

Wild camping in a farmer’s field on the South West Coast Path, England

Wild camping in the Jura Mountains, Switzerland

Wild camping in the Jura Mountains, Switzerland

Wild camping with wildflowers in the Mercantour National Park, France

My brother and I wild camping with wildflowers in the Mercantour National Park, France

You will never hike the same trail twice

You will never hike the same trail twice (inspired by Martha Kennedy)

You will never hike the same trail twice (inspired by Martha Kennedy)

Martha Kennedy – writer, painter and ‘intensive’ traveller –  wrote to me recently with a succinct, yet highly rewarding note:

I didn’t even know how to see at all until I hiked the same 3/4 mile uphill trail every day for a year in a landscape that people said, “there’s nothing there.” (Southern California chaparral) Fact is, everything was there and while in a certain sense I hiked the same trail every day, I never hiked the same trail twice.

I hiked in, through, around, over, into the same 5800 acre chaparral wilderness park nearly every day for over twenty years, but it started with one short, hard hike, nearly every day, for a year. I learned that even in the serest summer heat new flowers bloom in the chaparral and after just one good rain mushrooms spring up from ground that has gone from red to moss green. I learned that from the top of a mountain you can might look down on a rainbow and see it is a circle.