DAY 11: Bude to Elmscott (15.71m)

A broken phone led to a couple of unplanned rest days in Bude. Phone fixed and having taken the opportunity to have a catch up with fellow Land's End to John O'Groats walker Mike from Germany I'm back on the road again.

 Me and Mike

Me and Mike

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An easy start out of Bude soon leads to toughest days walking so far with at least eleven steep combes to tackle. 

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I head along the coast to the satellite dishes of GCHQ Bude (dishes which were recently lit up in rainbow colours to celebrate International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia). 

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 GCHQ Bude lights up with the rainbow (photo: GCHQ) 

GCHQ Bude lights up with the rainbow (photo: GCHQ) 

I follow the cliffs until I have to take a diversion inland as the path has fallen away into the sea. 

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Then onto the village of Morwenstow and it's famous vicar. Robert Stephen Hawker (known as Parson Hawker) was vicar of the parish church for forty years in the 19th century. He seems to be noteworthy for two things: his kindness and his eccentricity.

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On kindness: he gave Christian burials to, and rememberence for, the men who died shipwrecked on the shores of his parish. Before him these men would usually be buried on the beach or left to the sea. The figurehead of the ship Caledonia (now inside the church to protect it from the elements) marked the graves of these men. He was also often found directing and organising the rescue of those who had been shipwrecked.

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On eccentricity: although I'm sure there is some exaggeration, if not total fabrication, the stories of Person Hawker are fantastic:

  • He loved dressing in bright clothing. A favourite outfit was a purple coat, blue fisherman's jersey, long sea-boots, a pink brimless hat and a yellow poncho made from a horse blanket. He also, reputedly, would sometimes dress up as a mermaid.
  • He would talk to the birds and bring his nine cats to church (although once he ex-communicated his cat for catching mice on a Sunday).
  • He modelled the chimneys of his vicarage to resemble churches that had been significant in his life (and one was modelled on his mother's tomb).
  • He built a hut on the cliffs from driftwood and sit in it, starring out to sea, smoking opium and writing poetry. Today Hawker's Hut, is the smallest property owned and managed by the National Trust.
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Leaving Morwenstow I come down into Marsland Mouth and the Cornwall/Devon border. I've walked my first county!

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Just a big combe left then I'm at Elmscott bunk. house for the night.  

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