The Endless Coastline Tour 2017.
So it’s been a few weeks since my last blog a few days before I set off on my epic coastal walk and a couple of weeks since I reached the finish line on June 3rd. 134 Miles done! I raised just over £1,500.
But I wanted to to try and put down some words here fill in the gaps between the clips in the videos and share some photo’s and thoughts on my journey now I’ve had a chance to recover and digest exactly what I’ve done. So…here we go. Here’s Day one.
The journey begins.
May 20th 2017 The Gig the night before I set off. The Angel. Woodbridge with Falling From Trees.
I awake on the eve of day one with both feelings of excitement and trepidation in equal measures. Months of planning and training have led me to this day.
Equipment packed, repacked, unpacked and repacked and checked again happened over the the days prior too. My propensity to focus on the smallest detail at an all time high, all the research and prep had finished and here I was. The beginning. No going back.
The whole walk as you may already know also entailed a handful of gigs along the 134 mile route starting in Woodbridge at The Angel.
I’d arranged for a lift down to the venue with some friends and waited for them anxiously at home. I don’t live in the easiest of places to find and a couple of navigation assisting phone calls later and much pacing and calming words from Claire I was on my way. Much chat and banter was had en-route this in part was possibly my attempt to quell my nervousness and anticipation of the unknown. I’d never attempted anything like this before and my head was full of thoughts of possibilities, what if’s and I tried to keep from being distracted as I imagined what it might be or might not be like on the road that laid ahead of me. As the countryside wheeled past as we sped on our way, I couldn’t help but notice signs to places I will be soon making my way past on my way. The miles for a moment seemed endless.
My pack was heavy, a good 11kgs or so, this weighed not just on my back but my mind too. I’d not bothered with any training with the pack at it’s full weight on my back, mainly for fear the weight of it might somehow make me, mentally at least doubt I could do it all. Better I didn’t know I thought to myself. Once on the road I’d just deal with it. Sometimes I figured the unknown was the best idea. That said I had walked plenty and felt full of confidence the milage at least wouldn’t be an issue. The weather was dry but forecast to be a lot warmer than I’d expected too. At this stage it didn’t worry me, better dry than wet.
The gig was a great success made all the easier by the warm reception from Chris the hugely amiable guy who runs The Angel, manning the sound equipment and bringing an air of calm to proceedings. I liked him a lot and I felt much more at ease than I had at the beginning of the day.
I loved the pub it reminded me of the pubs I’d frequent when I was a student and gigged in my early days. So I instantly felt at home. Old oak beams and an open brick hearth with leaded windows dappled sunlight shone in as I tried to calm myself and soak it all up.
Falling From Trees who opened that evening were a bundle of harmony and fun as always and those guys never fail to impress me with their performances, now with added ‘Joey’ on Bass. Always a big ball of energy Joey brings much laughter and fun to evening. With a supportive audience in attendance the evening it couldn’t have been a more celebratory way to start my adventure. As the light disappeared outside I sung my heart out while the thought of the miles ahead drifted in and out of my thoughts as I performed.
My digs for the night were were provided by local and fan Neville Stein. He kindly provided me with Bed and Breakfast that night. I slept well that night.
May 21st. Day One.
A fine start to the day with much chat over coffee and a fine fried breakfast. Neville dropped me off and pack on back, map in hand I was on my way. The weather was fine and dry it couldn’t have been better for my early morning start:
It was time I made my way from Woodbridge Tide Mill a beautiful old mill building made of wood the morning hazy sun shone from it’s white painted wooden slats. It’s sits overlooking the Quayside on the wide River Deben that meanders out toward the North Sea. The area once the location for boat building and sail making.
The opposite sloping bank was Sutton Hoo, the ancient Anglo-Saxon burial site where famously a complete burial ship was discovered under one of the many mounds, its occupant and artefacts very much still there it gives the place an air of something I can’t quite put my finger on. Mystery? History seeped into the very fabric of the air.
It felt fitting I would be travelling on foot. My imagination allows me for a minute to think I’d be following in the footsteps of Anglo-Saxon warriors, traders, fishermen and sailors.
Weaving along the river bank I’m in turn greeted by boat yards full of vessels propped up being repaired, painted or just collecting moss and dust as they seemingly hadn’t moved for decades. House boats sit on the tidal mud along the shallow banks. Homes made from old barges and boats cobbled together each one in a unique way from what looked like old sheds to shipping containers. Wooden walk ways linked them to the land with huge ropes holding them in place as they wait to rise and fall with the tide. Wading birds forage in the muddy pools underneath and Gulls sail overhead greeting the day a squawk.
I’m soon met by the main road and make my way over the bridge and across the road down a set of steps to join a boardwalk where the horizon disappears behind reed beds on one side and woodland on the other , buzzing with birdlife and jewel coloured Dragonflies and Damselflies darting back and forth just above the reed stems. The board walk soon turns toward the trees and then up onto a small lane trapped on both sides by lush green branches and hedgerow again buzzing with all manner of life. I head up a hill towards Bromeswell a quaint little village peppered with lovely cottages and gardens full of Foxgloves and traditional cottage flowers like Borrage and Rosemary reaching for the sunlight through the flickering light as bees forage the plants for nectar.
It’s an idyllic scene and I can’t help but think of the cream tea’s and country fete’s. Easily the scene could have been from books I read as a child like Enid Blyton’s Famous 5 or Arthur Ransome’s Swallows and Amazons.
Soon I cross another main road and make my way through a woodland track before being greeted by a Golf Course!! The path crosses the course and I caught some puzzled stares from golfers and quickened my pace as I crossed the main fairway. In the distance I could hear the crack of club against ball and the gentle thud as ball lands just feet away from me. Quickly the landscape changes to scrubby heathland sands oil and tracks weave their way around the odd section of Woodland and the chainlink fence of the old RAF Woodbridge Airbase.
Its hot now and after a lunch stop. I made my across heathland toward Rendelsham Forest and my first camping stop. The heat persisted as I meandered through the heathland. The landscape dry and scrubby full of Fern and gorse bush and open farmland. It soaks the heat up like a sponge would water and emirates it back at you, so the shady relief of the pine forests were a welcome respite. Making my way through the dark alleyways between the pine trees. Dodging the odd pinecone attack from the overhead squirrels raiding their plentiful larders I’m at camp. An opening in the woodland edged by the tall pine woodland.
That evening as I crawl into my sleeping bag I’m lulled into my slumber by a distant Cuckoo then as the light fades and night fell the Two Too of nearby Tawny Owls bid me goodnight.