Wednesday 12 and Thursday 13 August 2015, Plymouth, Devon – Walthamstow, London.
I had another lousy sleep. My right hip started to seize up in the night, and I ‘awoke’ to a bit of pain on the outside of my hip. My room in the guest house was on the 3th floor, in what would have been the attic before conversion. There was a really steep stair down to the main landing and then a couple of flights down to the breakfast room. Walking both up and down the stairs was agonising. I rang El after breakfast to discuss things, I hate being a quitter, but it was the right thing to do and I wanted to have her blessing as well, which she gave of course. So I quit walking
El is in Edinburgh until tomorrow so as I didn’t bring house keys with me I decided to stay for one more day and after some faffing and searching on the interweb decided on spending the night in Plymouth. I booked another guest house, which was again cheaper than the campground in Woolacombe !
It was at this point I discovered that my shoes were pretty stuffed, I have had them for a while – I did my 50th birthday 50km run (also on the SWCP) in them almost three years ago, though I didn’t think I had completed too many off-road miles since. I didn’t think enough to check them before I left anyway. A shame as they were so comfy.
The 20 minute walk to Barnstaple station cemented my decision to stop. It was a very painful walk, there was no way I would have been able to do tough coastal sections like this.
I arrived in Plymouth just after 1:00 and there was another painful 20 minute walk to my guest house. I was exhausted when I arrived, lack of sleep over the last week and lots of walking, left me completely drained. I had a brief lie down before heading out to find some lunch as I was starving as well
Plymouth is another really old town, it is a port town and the first pilgrims to the US left from here in 1620. As a significant naval port it was heavily bombed during the second world war, so a lot of the city centre has been designed and built in that delightful post war concrete Stalinist style. Luckily the harbour remains lovely and there is still a very small old town to explore.
My guest house was not far from the Hoe so that was my first choice of place to visit, nice views out over the harbour. I spotted a tapas bar down below and decided that was what I wanted for dinner. Which meant I could have pizza for lunch. Though I could not find somewhere to have pizza…
Smeaton’s Tower is a lighthouse from 1739 and is the central point on the big Hoe park area, it was surrounded by lots of families eating lunch and playing ball, very nice. I always like to see parks being used.
Below the park is a big old outdoor pool, I am kinda liking Plymouth.
I wandered around for ages trying to find pizza, my hip hurt and my foot was hurting and I was hungry and getting grumpy…. it was turning into less of case of trying to find pizza and more of a case of trying to find somewhere I wanted to eat. I finally found The Barbican area – I should have gone there first as it is one of the big tourist areas and full of bars and restaurants. I still could not find pizza so settled for chicken and chips in one of the waterfront bars. It was remarkably disappointing – the food, not the waterfront….
The Barbican is next to the old town, so I took a very quick walk through there, it is tiny so a quick walk is all that is achievable!
I somehow missed the Mayflower steps, I think because someone was parked in front of the sign, but I did see this plaque commemorating the sailing of the Tory, one of the first ships that sailed off to far away New Zealand to start the colony there in 1839. I loved the fact that the lighthouse was 100 years older than the start of the colonisation of New Zealand.
With my hip and foot getting more and more painful I decided to hobble my way back to my lodgings, along the waterfront and passed the Royal Citadel – which I don’t think is open to the public, though it looks big and forty and probably quite interesting.
After a bit of a lie down, and possibly a bit of a doze I headed out again for more food, but with some wine this time. I left early as I suspected the tapas would get quite full later in the evening. I took a detour past the lighthouse to try and get a couple of silhouette type shots, I was hoping to get the sun coming through the windows at the top, but left it slightly too late to do so.
I got a nice outside seat at the tapas bar, overlooking the harbour and the sun setting on the day, lovely. The food was great – I ate more than I should The wine was also really nice, I had a very light rose to go with the food and it was perfect, a great combination.
As it was still early I walked back to the hotel via the supermarket and bought a small bar of chocolate and a small bottle of rioja and slobbed in bed reading and finishing my wine and chockie.
Plymouth was OK, for a city that has sooooo much history I would liked to have been able to find it more easily, or maybe so much of the history is wrapped up in the navy that it is all behind barbed wire ?
I woke up Thursday morning quite stiff, I knew I would seize up one day so I was not surprised at all. Worst though was the pain in my foot, sharp shooting pains with every step. I get this every now and then, and it is always related to walking distance in the wrong shoes. It sort of confirmed my thoughts that my old Salomon trainers were knackered.
It was hurling it down with rain so I accepted the final humiliation and got a cab to the station for the journey back to London.
That was it. Trip over. I walked less than I wanted to, enjoyed most of the walking, enjoyed the evenings less. Still keen to do it, still keen to do it and camp on the way. As I said a few posts back, I learned a few lessons on the way, so next time will be better.
My foot was still sending shooting pains up leg four days later, so the right decision was made!