SWCP Day 7 – Bloodied but Unbowed
At 6:30 this morning I stepped out of the van into roaring wind, rain and utter blackness. I felt ready for whatever the day might bring and strode confidently off along the path. After 5 minutes I realised that the path was going down instead of up so I turned around and walked 5 minutes back up the path, past the van and found the real thing. Not the best start to a day which really needed the best possible start if I was to make target.
Day three of big climbs, tired legs, painful feet and a weather forecast which could turn your bowels to water. But as I made the first very steep ascent I found myself reciting W E Henley’s Invictus (see end of post); and once you start reciting that you pretty much know that any obstacles lining up to block your path had better bring their A game.
The weather today was shocking, truly bloody awful. Big winds, lots of rain, poor visibility, paths turned into watercourses or calf deep puddles, streams turned into torrents. Two of the streams I had to cross early in the day had become impassable and I had to find alternatives crossings up river. To avoid completely swamping my boots I had to climb fences, scale walls, cross soft muddy fields and beat paths through gorse bushes. And still my feet got soaked and I had to walk miles with softening feet.
By the time I reached Rock, the crossing point for the Camel, I was feeling that things were not going well. Amazingly a resupply of fresh socks from the ace support team, a banana, hot chocolate and a few minutes rest undercover on the Padstow Ferry and things looked a lot better.
West of the Camel the terrain became much, much gentler and I got into a good rhythm covering a good few miles before darkness. At the end of it all I finished about 1 mile ahead of schedule … to my enormous relief.
Despite all of that the Coast Path can still provide fascinating sights whatever the weather …
Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.
In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.
It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll.
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.