Fishguarding and the Mayor

Only four walks this week as I returned home for a funeral, a bone density scan and also triple birthday meal.
My life before transplant is never far from my thoughts as I have many friends living with CHD. Some are very well, some have sporadic troubles and some are really struggling much the same as I was 8 years ago. Gilly was a wonderful lady, always giggly and cheerful. I spent many hours walking in the peak district with her and other CHD’ers. We are all in shock over Gilly’s death, mainly due to how quickly she went downhill. Living with a heart condition is hard not only for the physical nature of the beast but also the mental side. It is an invisible illness than can be so cruel at times. Thank you Gilly for the hugs, giggles, silliness, support, campaigning, love and of course… dance moves!

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The walks this week were as varied as the Welsh weather. Aberporth to Cardigan was a road walk in mostly a cold and windy gloom. I was cheered up by the children’s dog poo posters scattered around Penparc.

 

Cardigan itself was lovely and also cleared up a mystery in my head. The previous day, as I drove back to my Travelodge I had this exceptionally stupid thought. ‘Where is Aberteifi? All the road signs are saying it is the exact same mileage distance as Cardigan is but I can’t find it on my map’
The Welsh readers or geography buffs (or Welsh geography buffs) should now be shaking their heads at this comment. For those who are still confused. Abertifi is Cardigan. DOH!
The next day, I left my stupid head back in the room and was delighted to meet the Cardigan BHF Fundraising group at Cardigan Castle. We chatted over a cup of tea at the lovely castle cafe, had a photo session and exchanged stories. I also got to sit on a throne.

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They waved me goodbye and I set off in the drizzly mist to Newport. The fierce headwind made life quite hard for most of this section and arrived very damp with a disappointingly soggy bottom.
By contrast the next day was crisp, bright and dry and the only concern was the wind speed. Gusts of over 50mph were forecast. I made my way up onto the cliffs and was greeted with spectacular views and a boggy path. This was going to be nearly 2000ft total incline over the course of the 12 miles so I took the route steadily. The pembrokeshire coast path is now on Google maps ‘street view’ so you could do this walk from the comfort of your home. I did this the previous night so I knew how my fear of heights might fair. A walker had previously walked the path with one of the Google cameras attached to their head. You can follow the route online.

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It was a great walk and lovely to meet two walkers and their small dog as I approached Fishguard. I was putting on my wet weather gear as the two ladies approached. We chatted and they headed off in front of me. A few minutes later the clouds dumped a violent hailstorm on me. Welcome to Pembrokeshire.

 

I carried on and eventually passed the walkers who were huddling together protecting the small dog. If the hailstones were hurting my face, I tried to imagine how the small dog must have felt. It must be like being surrounded whilst paintballing and without the ability to fire back…bar the odd grumpy woof.

Fishguard was beautiful and I arrived in time for a meeting with a photographer and the Mayor at the Town Hall. I was ushered into a plush meeting room aware that I had at least half of the coast path splattered all over my legs and pasted to my boots. We talked about walking and mayoring. It was a lovely end to a great days walking.

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The downside to the extra height gain the previous day was the return of the toe injury. David Beckham famously had a metatarsal problem, I have a less glamourous right toe problem.
I returned to road walking for Fishguard to Trevasser for this reason but did make it out to Strumble Head. I love that name.

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Next week I take my sore toe round the toe of Wales, St David’s and head east for a few weeks.
Thanks to The Guardian article, various other press in West Wales and donations on the way, my total has gone up to £8820
Please share my walk fundraising page where all donations go directly to BHF research.
https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/ATrailofTwoHearts

Kieran xx

Cardigan Bay

I have been looking forward to this section. So many people have told me I would love the walk along Cardigan Bay. I must admit, it was tougher than I had expected and there were quite a few times where I was longing for a bit of flat tarmac but all in all it is a breathtaking, spectacular walk.

Borth to Aberystwyth was one of the best short walks I have had for a long time. I chose to walk on my rest day as this particular Sunday was crisp and bright and would be perfect for cliff walking. Luckily for me, the forecast matched the day and I ended up with fabulous photos and memories of this.

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Aberystwyth was a big marker point for me. Like Hunstanton, the forth Bridge, Cape Wrath,  Blackpool and many more in-between, Aberystwyth was somewhere to aim for. I have broken this walk into sections and these maker points are a motivation point and usually somewhere I have always wanted to go. Walking down from the cliff railway and seeing the town below me had me once again in tears. I gathered myself together for a flat stroll along the beautiful arc promanade, listening to the waves crash to my right.

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If Borth to Aberystwyth was as close to a perfect walk, Aberystwyth to Llanrhystud could be said to being as uncomfortable walk as you can get for me. With immensely steep, muddy climbs and thin paths cut into the cliff face with sheer drops to my right, the walk became a test of balance, strength and nerve.

I am still scared of heights. You would think having walked along  some of the tallest cliffs in the country, across Britain’s biggest bridges and previous to this, had skydived from 10000ft, I might be curing myself but sadly it is not happening. The only thing I have achieved so far, is finding coping mechanisms when I find myself in these terrifying positions. I found out afterwards that “not many people do that leg of the coast path” and I wished I had read the Ceredigion coastal path website which said it was “not for those suffering from vertigo”

I slowed to a crawl for large sections, chanting “1-2-3-4” and “I can do this” with each step. The pictures below probably don’t do it justice but I was pretty scared.

The last climb was as steep as the first one and as I got to two thirds of the way up, my feet slipped downwards in the mud and I quickly grabbed hold of  a bundle of grass to my left. I collapsed onto the mud, gasping for air and saw both legs shaking in front of me. As I sat there, I made a video log. This will not be published on here as it contains expletives but maybe at the end of the walk, I will bleep them out and do a compilation of scary bits and out-takes.

Obviously, I made it to the top and below is a video where you can hear the relief in my voice (and annoyance)

I made it off the cliffs and back to Llanrhystud but had to take the next day off for my wobbly legs to recover. It wasn’t the steepness that had made them shake, it was the excessive tensing when I was up high and didn’t feel safe. This is what caused the temporary injuries.

Llanrhystud to Aberaron was a better day. I parked my car in Aberaeron and went to get onto the bus to Llanrhystud. I tried my best to pronounce the village name but I failed miserable much to the driver’s amusement. He then said he wouldn’t let me on unless I could say it properly. Cheeky bugger. The walk itself was a pleasant one.

Aberaeron and New Quay are both beautiful coastal villages so its no wonder a few people I had met had said that this was their favourite stretch. New Quay to Llangrannog and then onto Aberporth were both lane walking. I do like coming inland to see the little farms, villages and communities.

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Aberporth

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Llangrannog had a lovely little bay with Saint Craggog looking over it and I found a lovely small cave to sit into to listen to the waves in the sunshine. The walk to Aberporth, however,  was particularly wet and very windy though Aberporth itself looked gorgeous damp and weathered.

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So most of Cardigan Bay done and I am nearly at the end of west Wales coast path.

Kieran xx

 

 

Bugs Gout and Back

It’s so easy to do daily updates on Facebook that I forget about the blogging side of things. So once again, here is an update covering a couple of months.

Mid December I caught a bug and had to come home. It was just a winter cold but my energy levels were sapped leaving no option but to rest. I enjoyed a great Christmas at home with Sylvi and was on the road to recovery when I got the dreaded gout again. Not as severe as before but enough to make me hobble around for a week or two.

By the end of January I was much better and went for several long walks with no ill effects. I decided to go back to Wales on the 31st Jan 2018, starting in Tywyn where I had left back in December. The following day was my years anniversary of walking. I set off from London on the 1st Feb 2017 and in the next 365, I walked for 180 days covering 2800 miles.

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Memories came flooding back and with the aid of pictures on facebook, I became quite emotional as I started my walk from Aberdovey to Machylleth. Thoughts such as “If I had remained well over that year, I would have finished by now” surfaced but were quickly dismissed as I knew realistically this was never going to happen to someone walking with a suppressed immune system. What amazed me that day was the amount of people still following me (not literally…..that’s creepy) and still encouraging me. It truly is lovely to see and helps me every day.

Tywyn to Aberdovey was a short 6 mile walk along sand to start off again and to get the little legs working. With the wind behind me most of the way and mixed weather it turned out into a glorious multicoloured sensory overload. The sand wizzed past me along the beach, each grain looking like it had overslept and was late for sand castle duty. It looked amazing both facing the wind and away from it.

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Aberdovey looked pretty in the sunshine and even better when I returned the next morning to start the next leg. The A493 clings to the Dyfi Estuary and would be the more direct route but the road looked a bit to dangerous to walk on for 10 miles. I decided to follow the Wales coast path which took me from 0ft to 800ft within the first few miles up into the hills. I cursed my body over and over again until I reached the peak and was rewarded with a great view over the estuary and also a peak at the next day’s walk. The rest of the walk was boggy and I went shin deep in mud many times. The only fun part is the noise when you eventually pull your boot out.

 

Machynlleth! I still can’t spell it let alone say it. Once over the cute little bridge the little town has an impressive clock tower. I sat in my car exhausted but chuffed that I had done 11 miles with 1200ft incline whilst slowly having a mud bath. I answered some press enquiries before heading off. An interview for the local Cambrian News was arranged and also an interview as part of an article in The Guardian on Volunteering.

The next day saw me finishing the day back on the coast at Borth. It was an uneventful walk with long stretches on the road. There were several straight boring sections towards the end where I amused myself by making lists of favourite sandwiches (fish finger won) favourite thing on toast (cheesy beans with brown sauce) and favourite wrap (None- I don’t like rap)

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So, I am back and I will try, once again, to blog more often. Cardigan Bay this week. 🙂

Kieran xx