from BARDO

The stars are in our belly; the Milky Way our umbilicus.

Is it a consolation that the stuff of which we’re made

is star-stuff too?

– That wherever you go you can never fully disappear –

dispersal only: carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen.

Tree, rain, coal, glow-worm, horse, gnat, rock.

Roselle Angwin

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

southwest coastpath walks & books: the world's best job take 2

Nearly a couple of years ago, I posted about my sister's job here

The fruits of it are coming out now.

Ruth has been walking the Southwest Coastpath; a marathon 630 miles along the stunning and dramatic coastline of Britain from near Poole in Dorset to Minehead in Somerset, taking in, of course, all of the Devon and Cornish coasts. If you know the coastpath, you'll know how stunning and unique the walk is. If you don't, there's a treat ahead of you. The project complete, the walks are just now coming out in sections. I have the first Cornwall (from Plymouth) four in my hands, and more are due out at the end of this month. (Ruth's already brought out the Dorset to Plymouth sections.)

Ruth's brief was to write up short circular walks, graded from easy to strenuous, since most people are not in a position to do long stretches (plus there's the issue of transport at the other end), so most of them are a morning's or afternoon's walk (between about 3.75 and 8 miles, on the whole).

The guides divide the coastline into sections of 16 or 17 walks per book. Each is surprisingly detailed, given that there isn't a lot of space, and Ruth's included aspects of interest, such as ancient and heritage sites, history and natural history, local legend, info on local characters (eg Daphne du Maurier), or activities (eg tin mining, smuggling) relevant to each area. I know she had to rein herself in with frustration, since each book is slender; but I hear there's a Collected Works coming in the future, with all the bits she couldn't include.

The books are also pretty, with a good clear layout, and decent photos. A particularly useful addition to her walks are the aerial photos – it makes such a difference to have both text and visual descriptions. (Had the books been a little longer, I'd have liked the addition of a local map to enable one to see how the sections 'bolt together', but it's not a problem as each is self-contained.)

TM and I do quite a lot of walking on the coastpath. I posted about a bit of it ten days or so ago, with photos: we walked a stretch on the Lizard, the most southerly point of Cornwall. It's here:

And I talk about a stretch in East Devon to Dorset here: (I was too exhausted at TM's walking pace to write up the succeeding days).

The four books I have so far are the sections from Plymouth to Falmouth, Falmouth to Penzance,  Penzance to St Ives, and St Ives to Padstow. I love them. They're slim enough to slip into a bag or a big pocket, and make you want to get out there and walk right now.

You can buy them here: (scroll down for the other books), and of course at the usual online outlet whose name we don't mention. Best of all might be to order them in to your local bookshop. They're £4.95 each. Look for Ruth Luckhurst. And if you buy them, like them, and walk, please do post her some reviews.

There are wonderful photos and details of the whole route here:

Happy walking!

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