Arriving at Newquay was a real delight for me though underneath this satisfaction, there was a nagging feeling that something wasn’t right with my body. My left leg was still not recovering from the walks and I hoped that the relatively flat section around Newquay would give it a better chance of recovery. During the walk from Newquay to Perranporth my gut feeling was proved right when at the top of a 200ft climb, I noticed that I had an irregular heartbeat.
Getting used to a new heartbeat straight after transplant was a strange thing and adding exercise into the mix made it a fascinating period of time. I have always pushed this lovely gift, running the London Marathon twice, skydiving and hill walking. I have a max heart rate of 120 bpm but it has always been in sinus rhythm no matter what I have put it through.
I listened to the rhythm and realised I was getting ectopic beats. This is when an extra beat is added which throws the rhythm off and often there is a short period of time when you can’t hear your heart beating. Then, a heavy thud returns things to normal. I had never had these beats whilst exercising before.
On top of this cliff, I sat down and whilst catching my breath, listened intently to my new funky rhythms. The view of Perran sands made the worrying situation a little better. I rested for a while until I had recovered and set of down to the beach.
As I approached Perranporth along the huge sweeping golden sands, I realised the tide was coming in and asked the lifeguard if I had time to nip around the bottom of the last cliff before Perranporth got cut off from Perran Sands. He said it was touch an go. I wasn’t going to risk it and this left me with another climb to the top of the cliff before finally going back down to the finish. As soon as I had done 20 steps upwards, my heart was off again doing its groovy jazz beat. A group of 20 year olds were behind me and as I pulled over to the side to let them pass, a cocky dude with a straight jaw and a six pack, mocked me. He had seen “5000 mile walk” on the back of my rucksack.
“Haha, you’ll have to get fitter if your going to walk 5000 miles around the coastline”
For a split second I was transported back to childhood hearing the fit boys teasing my heart condition. I looked him straight in the eye and said:
“Well I have walked 4100 miles so far”.
Our eyes locked and his face dropped. His brain was trying to compute the scenario.
“whoa….um”, was all he could muster.
I told the group about my walk, my transplant, ectopic beats, the BHF and congenital heart disease. I gave out my “business” cards and was amused as the cocky lad went to tuck the card into his speedos.
They were all really interested and having adjusted the dude’s perceptions of hidden illnesses they went on ahead of me.
It was an immensely satisfying moment and it carried me up to the top of the cliff. I finished the walk at Perranporth and headed back to my Travelodge knowing that I needed to look seriously at the situation. My needy poor left leg had now been relegated as my heart took up most of my attention – yet again!
Day 245 Newquay to Perranporth 11 miles 1900 elevation
I decided to cancel next few legs and hoped that rest would do the trick. It was a hard decision to make. I would usually rest then start again from where I left off but lots of things had already been arranged for my arrival at Lands End. Cancelling them was the only option. So I have 5 legs from Perranporth to Pendeen to go back and do.
Day 246 Perranporth to Portreath 12 miles 2250 elevation
Day 247 Portreath to Hayle 12 miles 1362 elevation
Day 248 Hayle to St Ives 6 miles 751 elevation
Day 249 St Ives to Pendeen 16 miles 2683 elevation
Sylvi joined me on “Day 250” for my walk into Lands End. My beats had gone back to normal and I felt confident that I would be ok. The walk went well and as we approached Sennen Cove (about a mile from Lands End) I received a phone call that BBC Spotlight, the SW region TV news programme, were sending a cameraman and interviewer to do a piece for my arrival. We met Paul the cameraman and he filmed us at Sennen Cove.
Walking along the coast path to Lands End is something that has gone around my head for years and years. It didn’t disappoint. I felt elated and had a tears in my eye as we walked towards it. Before we met up with Eleanor the journalist, I punched the air and screamed “yyeeeeessss” as we walked past the famous signpost. No-one battered an eyelid. Lands End is full of people doing crazy things. They are usually starting or finishing though. I have to be different!
The piece that they did for the evening news was excellent, see below:
The following day became a “BHF and my walk awareness day” at Lands End. Sylvi and I were joined by BHF fundraising managers, area managers, volunteers, two CHD’ers and eventually Simon Gillespie, CEO of the BHF.
We gave out cards, chatted to lots of people, had the traditional Lands End picture taken and walked to Senna Cove and back. It was a glorious day full of humour, fun alongside some sad stories of how peoples lives have been afftcted by heart disease too. Tracey, Maria and myself even got our scars out!! We raised a bit of money and we all went home happy.
My ectopics, however, had come back towards the end of the filming the previous day so I decided to take some more time off and went back home to Dawlish.
The walk, like cliff walking is a bit of a roller-coaster.
I took the next section steadily and split longer walks in two. It worked perfectly. The heartbeats were strong and powerful on the elevations and went back to normal on the flatish bits. Lands End to Lizard is an incredible section. High cliffs look down upon many beautiful sandy coves and lead you to gorgeous Mousehole, Penzance and then the stunning St Michaels Mount at Marazion. Bad weather or should I say typically Cornish weather, greeted me a Lizard Point – the most Southerly point on mainland Britain.
I have now visited the most easterly (Lowestoft) northerly (Dunnet Head) westerly (Ardnamurchan) and southerly (Lizard point)
Here is a selection of photos from Day 250 to Day 255:
Day 250 Pendeen to Lands End 10 miles 1522 elevation
Awareness Day at Lands End
Day 251 Lands End Porthcuno 5 miles 891 elevation
Day 252 Porthcuno to Lamorna 7miles 1113 elevation
Day 253 Lamorna to Marazion 10 miles 725 elevation
Day 254 Marazion to Portleven 11 miles 1916 evaluation
Day 255 Portleven to Lizard Point 13 miles 2412 elevation
Cornwall has been stunning and even the massive influx of tourists during the summer holidays hasn’t annoyed me, it has given me a chance to tell my story and get donations. I still have some lovely locations to walk through before Devon awaits me once again.