Week 5 roundup – Pevensey Bay to Worthing

Wednesday 31st October to Tuesday 6th November

Pevensey Bay to Birling Gap 12.59 miles
Birling Gap to Newhaven 13.25 miles
Newhaven to Hove 13.39 miles
Hove to Worthing 10.02 miles
Worthing to Littlehampton 8.71 miles

Total miles 57.96

Highs

  • Watching the waves from the viewing platform splash Birling Gap’s beautiful white cliffs.
  • Beachy head and the Seven Sisters. Although I inwardly groan when I see a steep uphill section, I actually rather enjoy the effort of trying to maintain a steady rhythm and getting to the top. The views are usually worth it too.
  • Having to company of Jon (ex Sussex Search and Rescue, now RNLI) on the Birling Gap to Newhaven leg. Always lovely to have the company of someone who knows the area.
Seven sisters

 

It’s always a good idea to look behind from time to time. This lighthouse was hidden from the other direction.

 

Birling Gap

 

Viewing platform at Birling Gap

 

Newhaven bench

 

Approaching Brighton

 

Approaching Brighton

 

Shoreham local heroes sculpture with the Adur Ferry bridge in the background

 

Winching the Shoreham lifeboat back into its boathouse after a training exercise

 

 

Week 4 roundup – St Mary’s Bay to Pevensey Bay

Wednesday 24th October to Tuesday 30th

St Mary’s Bay to Lydd 11.54 miles
Lydd to Rye 11.75 miles
Rye to Hastings 12.85 miles
Hastings to Pevensey Bay 12.29 miles

Total mileage 48.43

Highs

  • One of the best things about this walk is the people I meet along the way. For example, whilst near the National Trust South Foreland Lighthouse near Dover (on top of the White Cliffs) I asked a couple of women whether I was on the right path. We got chatting and the next minute I’m sharing tea and cake with them in the cafe (thanks to Rose and Anne 😊).
  • The chalk trails and stunning views on the White Cliffs of Dover. After the flat promenades I’d been walking on it made a lovely change to hike on the undulating terrain more suited to my trail running shoes

Lows

  • Leaving Eric and Thelma’s. After the support they gave me, with B&B, route planning, and company whist walking, I felt a little vulnerable on my own in contrast.

 

Rye wall art

 

Hastings cockle club

 

Old building in Hastings

 

The mural at my B&B, Pevensey Bay

 

 

Week 3 roundup – Ramsgate to St Mary’s Bay

Wednesday 17th to Tuesday 23rd October

Ramsgate to Deal 14.13 miles
Deal to Dover 11.87 miles
Dover to Sandgate 9.66 miles
Sandgate to St Mary’s Bay 10.12 miles

Total mileage ~46

Highs

  • Having 2 days in Deal. Visiting the small but beautifully formed local museum and being given a tour of Deal by my very attentive host, yet another kind and generous member of Kent Search and Rescue.
  • The walk through the National Trust’s White Cliffs of Dover. Exactly the sort of trail I love; undulating, slightly challenging underfoot due to uneven nature, and stunning views. My trail running shoes were made for this and it felt great.
  • The exceptional support given to me by local litter picking gurus, Eric and Thelma, who not only invited me to stay for a few nights, allowing me to walk with just a day sack rather than my 10-11kg 50l jobbie, but drove me to the start points and collected me at the end.
  • Being bought a cup of tea and a cake in the National Trust’s lighthouse tea shop near Dover by 2 ladies I bumped into and got talking to.

Lows

  • None 🙂
Old lifeboat at Deal museum

 

Side street in Deal

 

Painted lift door, Ramsgate

 

“Hand and molecule” sculpture, Ramsgate

 

Pegwell Bay beach huts

 

Sandwich, a Medieval Cinque Port

 

White Cliffs Country Trail, Dover

Week 2 roundup – Sittingbourne to Ramsgate

Week 2, Wednesday 10th to Tuesday 16th October

Lower Halstow to Sheerness to Sittingbourne ~12 miles*
Sittingborne to Faversham 12.33 miles
Faversham to Whitstable 10.15 miles
Whitstable to Westgate-on-Sea 15.17 miles
Westgate-on-Sea to Ramsgate 11.48 miles

Total miles ~62

Highs

  • The interesting second hand shops at Faversham Wharf. Just as well I couldn’t buy anything or I’d have been rifling though all the tools and, I dare say, buying some unidentified something or other.
  • Meeting a social media follower along the route from Faversham and walking part of the way with her and her dog. Lovely to meet you and thanks for the energy bars 😊
  • The excellent tour of Whitstable lifeboat station from volunteer crew member, Alex. So informative and fascinating hearing about the Talus MB4H tractor-type vehicle, AKA “the Bendy” and the technicalities of their D Class RIB lifeboat. Being allowed to step aboard was a treat too 😎
  • Followers on Facebook letting me know how I can order items online without an address. It seems that it’s often possible to have items delivered to many local post offices or Amazon lockers, which is very handy.
  • Being able to get the maps and powerbank I needed in Sittingbourne. Seems no big deal but I was a little concerned about how straightforward it was going to be to source things I need.
  • The kindness of strangers. Huge thanks to all those who have given me a bed for the night and ensured I was safe and fed.
Iwade, on the way to Sheerness

 

Painted beach hut, Westgate to Margate

 

Painted beach hut, Westgate to Margate

 

Painted beach hut, Westgate to Margate

 

Painted beach huts, Westgate to Margate

 

Even Tankerton Bay sailing club painted their door

 

Castle Coote bird sanctuary

 

Oare Marshes

 

West Bay, Westgate-on-Sea

 

Getting close to Whitstable

 

The “Bendy” at Whitstable RNLI station

 

Whitstable RNLI station’s D-class lifeboat

 

Whitstable RNLI station’s WW2 German binoculars

 

Lows (or little niggles)

  • The price difference between buying the maps online and buying them from the shop. About £8 difference for 3!
  • Getting a cold. It was bound to happen at some stage, but on a plus at least it was mild, didn’t last long and didn’t impact on my walking (apart from the many nose-blowing stops 😬😄)
  • *Somehow losing my data for the Lower Halstow to Sittingbourne via Sheerness walk. Maybe Garmin thought is was so grim is refused to save it 😉  My mind drifting whilst following the footpath through the wasteland and thinking of all the crime dramas I’ve watched. It’s really not helpful for to be reminded that it’s just the sort of place that bodies are discovered! Used the walking poles to great effect to increase my speed and get out of there 😄
  • The wind! I was buffeted all the way from Sittingbourne to Faversham. I know when the weather annoys me because I start to laugh at it, and I found myself chuckling a fair few times that day.
  • The burned out tractor and the huge amount of graffiti on the promenade in Margate. Then missing the Shell Grotto, the one place I wanted to see there.
Margate

 

Margate

 

 

 

Week 1 round-up – Westminster to Sittingbourne

Total mileage ~ 52

Highs

  • The Premier Inn bed. Shame I couldn’t take it with me.
  • Staying with Kent Search and Rescue member, Chris, and his partner Janet. So kind of them to let me stay for 2 nights. Despite being independent and happy in my own company, I’m starting to really appreciate the support of others on this trip.
  • The Saxon Shore Way from Cliffe to Upper Upnor. Oh how I love well maintained and clearly signposted footpaths. Makes life so much easier.
  • I like travelling by train as it triggers memories of great days out with my Mum as a child, and the high speed train from London to Gravesend was a bit of a treat. So smooth…and fast. And call me mad but I like the London tubes too.
  • The helpful barman in The Three Tuns PH in Lower Halstow who tried getting me a taxi to Sittingbourne with great difficulty. He put my mind at ease by offering to drive me himself at the end of his shift so I wouldn’t get stranded there. Sometimes you just need someone to say don’t worry I’ll make sure you’re OK and this was one of those times.
  • Having a day off in Sittingbourne and managing to get everything I wanted; the next 3 maps and a powerbank to charge my phone. This wouldn’t have been a big deal when I lived at home, but normal things are extra complicated whilst travelling, so when things go well it makes a big positive impact.

 

View from Gravesend RNLI

 

Saxon Shore Way, Gravesend

 

Upper Upnor

 

Upper Upnor

 

Salt marsh at Riverside country park, Gillingham

 

Mud flats at Riverside country park, Gillingham

Lows

  • Still packing and dismantling a wardrobe at 3am on the move day.
  • Being so stressed and sleep deprived after moving out of my home that I ended up crying into my breakfast in Sainsbury’s cafe. Most unlike me.
  • The Saxon Shore Way from Gravesend to Cliffe. Horrible weather plus graffiti, litter, badly signed and closed footpaths, and my inexperience regarding navigation, meant it was a pretty miserable walk, and one that knocked my confidence.
  • Deciding to book accommodation a few miles of my route and get a taxi to my B&B rather than bust a gut to find somewhere within a short walk of it almost backfired when I got temporarily stuck in a pub struggling to get a taxi. A stressful end to an already stressful day.

Reflections (what I’ve learned)

  • I should’ve got a powerbank (to charge my phone in an emergency) earlier. That would’ve made the difference between embracing the environment and enjoying walking through the stunning Riverside Nature Reserve and having a low battery niggling me and spoiling the day.
  • Become more familiar with my phone so it becomes a more useful tool. For example, I’d completely forgotten I’d installed ViewRanger, which would’ve proved useful on my Gravesend to Cliffe walk.

 

FAQs


What are you doing?
How many miles is it?
How long will it take?
Are you going with people?
Why are you doing it?
Are you scared?
How did you choose your charities?
How many miles do you intend to walk each day?
How many days per week will you be walking?
Where will you stay overnight? Are you camping?
Are you being sponsored by anyone?
Can I join you on part of the walk?
What will you do when you’ve finished?

What are you doing?

The plan is to walk the coast of Britain visiting every lifeboat station along the way. I will aim to follow the coast as much as possible but if lack of footpaths, footpath closures, or a more pleasant or safer way exists, then I will head inland a little. For example, trying to follow the coast around Kent is problematic in parts so I’ve decided to follow the Saxon Shore Way instead. With the exception of the Thames, which has 4 RNLI stations, I shall cross rivers at the first available public crossing nearest the mean high water point rather than wander upriver for miles.
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How many miles is it?

This is a surprisingly difficult question to answer, but Ordnance Survey calculated that it is 11,072.8 miles (17,820 km) using their Boundary-Line high-water data. But it depends on how you measure it, as Alasdair Rae explains in his blog. The Wales Coast Path is 870 miles (1400 km), and the England Coast Path will be around 2,795 miles (4498 km) long when it’s complete. So already we’re up to 3,665 miles before we even factor in islands or the complex Scottish coast! Just taking into consideration that the Ayrshire and Fife Coastal Paths, the Cape Wrath, John o’ Groats, and Moray Coast Trails, and West Highland Way total 725 miles (1167km) alone, and they don’t make up the whole of the Scottish coast or necessarily go past RNLI stations, it’s going to be a long walk.  Probably between 5,000 and 11,000 miles; one fundraiser, Alex Ellis-Roswell, walked over 9,500 miles visiting every RNLI station on the coast of Britain and Ireland.
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How long will it take?

In all honesty I’m really not sure, although it took Alex Ellis-Roswell 3 years to complete his walk around the coast of Britain and Ireland and he’s younger, and I daresay fitter, than me.
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Are you going with people?

No, I am going alone. Thankfully I don’t tend to get lonely.
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Why are you doing it?

Good question. It was an idea that evolved in my 2nd year of university when I was pretty low mentally (due to bereavements and uni stress) and desperately wanted to jack it all in. It was then that I started considering what I would do once I’d graduated, to give me something to look forward to. My 1st idea was to go travelling around the world before settling into a new career, but then I decided that I’d really like to explore Britain, and if I was going to explore Britain it would most likely involve a lot of walking. I enjoy walking and have been a member of the Ramblers Association for many years so this seemed ideal, and if any trip was going to involve a lot of walking I should do it sooner rather than later; after all, who knows what’s around the corner regarding our health. But this all seemed a bit airy fairy and I needed a plan, so it evolved into walking around the coast, and if I was going to do something so huge why don’t I do it for charity?
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Are you scared?

I’m more excited than scared although I must admit to having some days where I have major concerns. The biggest one by far is how I’ll cope with carrying 10kg in a rucksack. Although I’m used to carrying 5kg whenever I go on day hikes over variable terrain and up to ~17 miles, I’ve found that increasing the weight means I can’t walk as far before getting tired. Theoretically I should be able to carry about 20% of my body weight (so 11kg), but I just don’t know how my body is going to behave in practice. I’ll either get hurt or very fit!
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How did you choose your charities?

Regarding the RNLI, I’m in awe of what they do, and once I’d decided to walk around the coast it seemed a natural progression to support them. My idea to support the Association of lowland search and rescue came after watching a documentary about missing people. I had always thought that it was only the Police that conducted searches so I was surprised to find that they work closely with regional search and rescue teams made up entirely of volunteers. In addition, although I suspect pretty much everyone has heard of the RNLI, I’m finding that far fewer people have heard of lowland rescue. I wanted to change this. I also felt that LSAR and the RNLI made a logical pairing as their operations tend to overlap.
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How many miles do you intend to walk each day?

This is another question that is quite difficult to answer because “it depends”. It depends on terrain, weather, how I’m coping with carrying a load day after day, etc., but I aim for 10 miles.
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How many days per week will you be walking?

I’m not out to break any records or to push myself to exhaustion, so realistically I think 2 days walking followed by a rest day is realistic, so walking 5 days a week. I think that it’s better to feel I could do a little more than to be overly ambitious and need time off to recover, and I want to enjoy this not be battling with low morale and pushing my willpower to its limits as I have been these past couple of years.
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Where will you stay overnight? Are you camping?

Because my main concern regarding this trip is how I’ll cope physically with the weight of my backpack I am loathe to add extra weight by carrying camping equipment. As I only weigh 55kg I have to be mindful of keeping my pack weight down and if I added camping kit it would not only be miserable but would significantly increase my risk of injury. Plus, although I have enjoyed camping trips, these have always been with someone rather than alone and have never been in the colder months. The thought of having to cope with the elements, be tired after a day walking, and on top of that not having somewhere comfortable to sleep does not sound very appealing. Nope, having somewhere comfortable, dry and warm to sleep so that I can rest properly and being in the right frame of mind to start again the next day is what I’m hoping for, be that a B&B or on someone’s sofa.
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Are you being sponsored by anyone?

No. Maybe this will change as I progress with the journey though.
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Can I join you on part of the walk?

If you wish to join me on some of the walks you’re welcome to. I will tweet my location and should be wearing a charity tabard for easy ID.
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What will you do when you’ve finished?

At this stage I’m not sure, although my interests are in type 2 diabetes and obesity prevention and management, and in footpath management. I want to let life evolve for a while and see where I end up though.
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Who are you and what on earth are you up to?!

I’m Beth (short for Elizabeth) and I dislike housework so much –  well come on, I mean you put the hoover round and do the washing up and it looks lovely but 6 months later it needs doing again doesn’t it – I’ve decided to give up my house later in the year and go on a very long walk. The plan is to walk the coast of Britain, from RNLI lifeboat station to lifeboat station, raising awareness and money for the Royal National Lifeboat Institution and the Association of Lowland Search and Rescue.

At the moment this is very much in the planning stage, and the next few months will be spent fine tuning the details with these 2 organisations, researching how not to need rescuing whilst raising money for rescue charities (can you imagine that! I think I’d be so embarrassed I’d have to emigrate), and getting fit enough so that I don’t come a cropper only a few weeks in.

I think it’s important to have clear expectations, so you know what to expect of me and my journey and I know what to expect myself, so there will be a few guidelines and rules I shall follow. It may sound daft but the main one is “what exactly is the coastline?” as this can vary by thousands of miles depending on whether I follow estuaries and rivers or not. So, as the planning evolves it will become clear what, when, and how I shall be undertaking this mammoth task. In the meantime I shall update on my planning and training, so at least if I take a wrong turn during the walk, end up on Bodmin Moor and get eaten by feral goats, there may be some useful information for anyone who may want to have a go themselves.

 

About my 2 chosen charities

The Association of Lowland Search & Rescue

The Association of Lowland Search & Rescue is the UK’s governing body for the 35 UK Lowland Rescue teams. ALSAR set the training standards that they have to reach, and the code of practice that they use. They are members of UKSAR, alongside Mountains Rescue and the RNLI, providing official Search and Rescue coverage “From Hill to High Water”, whenever requested.

They work with Police to locate people who are deemed to be in any danger from bad weather, ill-health, age or their location, for example missing children or dementia patients. Many teams also work alongside the Fire Service for flooding, wildfire SAR and drone support at major incidents.

These teams are highly trained and equipped to search across any terrain, administer medical assistance and recover the missing person to safety. They form the backbone of the unpaid Search & Rescue services in the UK with Lowland Rescue covering 33 police authorities, Mountain Rescue covering many mountainous and moorland areas, and Coastguard Rescue covering the coastline.

Key points (from the LR Association Incident Report for 2017) include:
• There were over 1350 operational members and 580 non-operational members;
• Resources included 52 dogs, 75 vehicles, 45 boats, 18 drones, 79 bikes and 41 canoes and kayaks;
• In total there was over 60,000 person-hours of incident activity (22 person-years);
• In 2017 there were 1,234 incident callouts including assists and 1,147 of these associated with searches for missing people;
• Based on the full economic costs of a police officer (National Policing Guidelines 2015) the total value of the Lowland Rescue Services provided for incidents alone would be £3.6 million. This excludes all costs associated with training and equipment.

Currently, funding is used for training of the local teams, bringing them to a recognized national standard, and provision of materials to support online learning. However, they are about to undertake a large dog training program with an aim to deliver 100 ground scenting search dogs nationally. They are also invested in future research for finding missing people, be this the pioneering use of Drone technology or the creation of unique scent bottle kits for trailing dogs. They are a registered charity, run entirely on a voluntary basis, on a par with Mountain Rescue and the RNLI.

The Royal National Lifeboat Institution

RNLI logo

The RNLI is the largest charity that saves lives at sea, through lifeboat search and rescue, lifeguards, water safety education and flood rescue. It operates around the coasts of the United Kingdom, the Republic of Ireland, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man as well as on some inland waterways.

The RNLI has 237 lifeboat stations and operates 444 lifeboats, plus lifeguards operating on more than 200 beaches. Although the lifeguards are paid by local authorities the RNLI provides equipment and training. The Institution also operates Flood Rescue Teams (FRT) nationally and internationally (iFRT), the latter prepared to travel to emergencies overseas at short notice.

Giving these lifesavers (most of whom are unpaid volunteers) everything they need and deserve – from boots to boats – is costly. It cost £176.5M to run their lifesaving service in 2017, mostly funded by legacies and donations.