The Saints’ Way – A Long Cornish Walk
Over the summer I walked the Saints’ Way with friends. Each leg was around 15 miles and we were walking to raise money for a friend’s charity. I was also walking to research a new walking guide and finally, we were all walking just for the sheer love of being together and being outside in a very tricky year.
Next year I hope to publish a walking guide on some of the long paths in Cornwall but for now Walks in the Fowey Area, has lots of walks that use part of the Saints’ Way
Along the way, I kept making mistakes which I thought I’d share here. I’m used to long walks but there was something about this set that seemed to be incident prone. That said, mistakes always make a thing memorable and watching cows jump is going to be with me for a long time!
WALK ONE – Saints’ Way – Padstow to Lanivet – 15 miles
Pack food and water
Water is obviously the best, but a flask of coffee can be a very welcome treat or even better, hot chocolate. A small bag of peanuts packs an instant boost of energy and lasts longer than sweets or chocolate.
Top tip. When you make your cheese and pickle sarnie and wrap it lovingly in tinfoil, don’t forget to place it in your actual backpack. I managed to leave my orange, sandwiches and nuts all on the kitchen table. The mortification as we all sat down in a field to eat our lunch and I realised all I had was water.
Don’t be me. Double check your backpack before you head out the door.
Listen to your body
Any small ache at the beginning of a walk can become a bigger problem later on if you ignore it. Change your gait, slow down, adjust your laces. Adjusting your laces can have a surprising effect on your feet and thereby the rest of your body. Also check that the weight in your back pack is properly distributed. Twinges in your neck or shoulders can quickly become a painful problem.
Top Tip. Don’t be proud, tell your walking companions that you want to slow down for a bit. Adjust your socks and re-tie your laces. At the end of fifteen miles walked, I got in the car and drove home. The discomfort I had felt at the beginning of the walk had subsided after the first few miles. I thought it had gone away, instead my body had just tried to re-adjust.
Driving home all was good until I stepped out of the car and my knee seized up. The knee above the sore ankle. I spent the rest of the evening with a swollen knee and spent the next few days hobbling around the house.
Don’t be me. Pay attention to early warning signs.
WALK TWO – Saints’ Way West – Fowey to Helman Tor – 13 miles
Don’t rely on technology
So, this was a solo walk. I had packed food and made sure my walking boots were properly tied. Once I was comfortable, I set off. As this was a one way route and walking on my own, I needed transportation. Cue Steve.
We had a plan. A plan that replied on technology.
Steve dropped me off at Fowey and I headed off. It is a really lovely walk and the weather was kind. Eventually, when I was a mile from Helman Tor, I gave Steve a call. Now, Steve isn’t great at navigation but I’d set the satnav up, and off he went. The sat nav directed him to the middle of nowhere.
I was also in the middle of nowhere but sadly they weren’t the same place.
Normally at this stage I can just check where Steve is on our app tracker and give directions over the phone but the phone signal was dying and there was no 3G coverage.
There then followed twenty tense minutes whilst I tried to direct him along tiny little lanes and if you know the lanes around Helman Tor you can imagine how that went. Eventually I saw our car driving towards me. Phew.
Top tip. Have a back up plan in the event of a technology failure.
Don’t be me. When you get in the car, try saying thank you, not how the hell can you not remember how to drive to Helman Tor?
WALK THREE – Saints’ Way East – Lanivet to Fowey – 14 miles
Walk in shoes you know are up for the job
I’ve gone out for a stroll before in flip flops and ended up doing five miles. Don’t do that.
Likewise, don’t go for a long walk in your running shoes just because the ground is dry and you think it will be fine. Walking boots offer more than just waterproofing. They offer support and they offer cushioning against sun baked paths. They also offer grip as you head up and down steep hills.
It wasn’t until the end of the day when I took my trainers off that I discovered a massive blister on the back of my heel. It’s so nasty that I haven’t ben able to run all week. (So some blessing 😀 )
Don’t be me. Wear the right footwear.
Walking amongst livestock
Always a tricky one especially if you have dogs. Basically, keep them on a lead. In Cornwall, you are as likely to walk through a field of sheep as you are a field of pheasants and most dogs find either irresistible.
That irresistibility works both ways through, and cows are curious beasts and love to come and have a look see. When walking through a field with cows in it, walk in a group. Move briskly and keep your voices down. Chances are they will ignore you but sometimes they will come over for a look.
Which is what happened to us. Now one of the party had a dog and the young cows were clearly curious and jogged over to have a look. Cows jogging towards you is not a pleasant sight. The dog’s owner, feeling threatened by the approaching cattle, followed the given advice and let her dog off the lead, who then bolted across the field. The cows ran in curious pursuit. All was going well as we ourselves started to move quickly towards the next exit. Why did it have to be so far away?
Despite our low level anxiety we were doing everything we should, until the dog changed his mind and decided to run straight back to its owner, with a herd of cows charging down on us.
I tell you what, that was a very unpleasant moment. As one, the group lunged forward, shouting and waving at the young cows who instantly came to a halt; one even jumped backwards. That was a sight I’ve never seen before.
The cows escorted us to the gate, constantly trying to get closer to the dog, with us waving them away. At no point were the cows aggressive, they were simply curious and huge and there were a lot of them.
Once over the stile we all stopped and smiled at each other and then smiled at the cows, who smiled back and them ambled away.
For lots of great advice about walking through cattle read the following guidance.
However you walk, whatever mistakes you make, you will never regret a walk. Even the ones when you forget to pack your lunch!
Liz Hurley as well as being the owner of this blog, runs a bookshop in Cornwall, right by the sea and writes books. You can buy them in her shop (of course), Waterstones and other outlets as well as Amazon.
When she’s not reading, she’s writing and when she’s not writing, she’s walking. And when she’s not doing any of that she’s binging on box sets and sleeping.
This website is for her Cornish titles. Her fiction can be found at www.lizhurleywrites.com