Hike Southbound through Britain with Daryl May
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DS60 Eliot Arms
DS60 Old mailbox
Mailboxes in Britain are painted red, and small ones were sometimes embedded in walls, like this one. The GR refers to George Rex (King George VI in this case), which makes this one over 55 years old
Days S53 - S65                                                             English West Country
Day S60 - Bridestowe to Tregadillett
Day S59           Like ships that pass in the night            Day S61
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Scottish Highlands
Central Scotland
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North of England
English Midlands
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Northbound Home
Thursday, April 24,  2008

Time of departure: 8.30 am
Time of arrival: 3.15 pm
Place departed: Bridestowe, Devon
Place arrived: Tregadillett, Cornwall

Miles: 16
Cum miles: 887.7
Percent complete: 91.4

Bed sign The Eliot Arms, Tregadillett **
Cost for bed and breakfast: 40 ($80)
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DS60 River Tamar
DS60 Welcome to Cornwall
I missed northbound end-to-enders, Gayle and Mick, this morning. It turned out that we had a common route for a while, but I had passed that common stretch (in Lewdown) two hours earlier and was in Lifton when I learned that they were in Lewdown. So much for the miracles of modern communications. It's sad to miss them because end-to-enders have a lot in common. (One thing in common is a desire to keep going; so neither party wanted to turn back.)

Mentally, I'm ready to be at Land's End. Now in Cornwall, I've started to count down the days. Much as the walk and the country are sweet, the end is sweeter. I'd rather be "there" than "here".

But, physically, I'm still "here". And each day is hard, very hard. Other end-to-enders have said that their bodies fall apart over the final miles, but I suspect that's a mental thing. I've detected that the zest goes out of their last weeks of reporting. You're ready to stop, but you can't.

Robert Frost wrote:

"The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep."

I've walked for 60 days now, with an elapsed time (which includes two rest days and 15 injury days) of 77 days. The corresponding figures when similarly close to my destination on my northbound hike were 49 and 51 days. That's 26 days longer for "southbound". And, as you can see, I'm counting them.

I booked at the Eliot Arms in Tregadillett, west of Launceton. It's actually the Eliot Arms Square and Compass, established in 1625 and modernized in 1840. Its exterior is charming, with vines bedecking its ancient structure, and the pub part of the place is welcoming enough.

Unfortunately, when I booked, they didn't say anything about being closed until 5 pm, and they don't post their hours outside the pub either.

It had rained earlier, and that added to my frustration in sitting outside from 3.15 pm wondering what to do. The doorbell didn't get answered, and nor did the phone. Without getting in, I wasn't going to get the weather forecast that would let me plan tomorrow's accommodation. That's especially important tomorrow, because the next place with any available beds has turned out to be Bodmin, 21 miles away, and I want to make sure I secure a bed there now. Hobson doesn't like to walk 21 miles and start to look for a bed upon arrival.

Waiting outside, I started to mutter to myself that this was "all part of life's rich pageant" when a teenager emerged from the locked pub. I persuaded him to let me in and occupy a room, which was better than sitting outside for over 90 minutes.

With that questionable start, you won't be surprised that there was no hot water and no functioning radiator at 7 pm. After a by-now-familiar socks-off, boots-on complaint trot down to the bar, they confessed that they'd replaced the gas tank and forgotten to switch on the boiler. Why, if I'd just wait 45 minutes . . . hmm, that's what the Monmouth Queen's Head said, and I didn't get hot water until the morning.

Now, as a brief aside, I've started work at 7 am for most of my life, which is an American west-coast thing having spent 25 years in California and Washington State. It's pretty embedded that I get going around that time even now that I'm retired. So it's hard to deal with a pub that doesn't start breakfast service until 8.30 am - and that's on a weekday. Many pubs serve breakfast from 7 am. Walking nine or more hours tomorrow, as I must to reach Bodmin, I can't start breakfast at 8.30 am or I may run out of daylight. So I negotiated a cereal, milk and juice tray to take to my room this evening. But when the tray arrived, there was no milk. It appears that the pub's popular restaurant is out of milk, but not-to-worry, someone will be going to Tesco and I'll have my milk around 9 pm. Anyone placing bets?

The radiator never did give any heat. Seeking to dry my clothes on hangers, most of them were broken. Looking for hangers revealed all sorts of crut in the cupboards.

Why is it so hard to get decent customer service sometimes? (The answer: some people don't try unless enough customers complain.)
Day S59                                          2007 and 2008 Daryl May                                          Day S61