Tairbull to Erwood – Day 12 of Romilly’s One Island Walk for street children

Market researches, girls with clipboardsMarket Researchers in Brecon                                                                       © James Forshall

We walked down the main road for the few remaining miles to Brecon.  Johnny wanted to buy some new boots and I needed some maps for the next leg of the journey.

Orchids We were heading  for Nighton, which is two days walk from Brecon.   A straight line drawn on the map would take us within a few miles of Erwood, where there is a bridge over the Wye.    There were few footpaths across the farmland and those did not go in our direction but across it. We would have to take lanes for much of the days walk.  Although it would not be difficult to navigate, tarmac is an unforgiving surface on which to walk.

Looking south to Pen Y Fan framed by treesLooking south to Pen y Fan                                                                             © James Forshall

We stopped at a farm house to fill my water bottle. You could see the Brecon Beacons clearly.  ‘Yes it’s a lovely view’, said the farmer’s wife, who was cutting up cabbage, ‘ but it’s rough up here in winter.’

I walked out of the farm to find that Caro, a friend of Johnny, and who lives nearby, had arrived with ginger beer, pork pies and chunks of delicious ginger cake.  Thank you Caro.

DSCF8998 Ivy clad telephone box copyright James ForshallTelephone Box                                                                                           © James Forshall

At Erwood we stopped for a drink in the pub. As I walked in an old habitue of the place, said, ‘Well hello, looks like Crocodile Dundee’, and sniggered. What I should have said was, ‘Looks like Crocodile Dundee…. It is Crocodile Dundee’….  but of course I didn’t.  I was tired.

We walked through Erwood over the bridge and up the hill on the other side leaving the road and heading north through fields hedged with hawthorn further uphill.  We saw a curlew and heard it’s cry as it tried to distract us from it’s nest.  Peter, Caro’s husband came to pick us up. He took us back to their beautiful house on the banks of the Wye where Caro was preparing a delicious supper.

It was the night of England’s match against Uruguay. We watched the first half before eating and then watched the recorded second half, and the Nibbler of Uruguay destroy England’s hopes.  Well better to be beaten by a superstar and than a mediocrity, and England’s spoilt, overpaid players did seem to be trying a little harder than usual. The surprise of the game was Rooney scoring a goal.  We all agreed that it had been a good game and as I stumbled off to bed I thought what a jolly evening it had been, how delicious the food and how kind and hospitable our hosts, and although I cleaned my teeth I certainly don’t remember my head touching the pillow.

You can help Romilly help homeless children here: http://www.virginmoneygiving.com/team/RomillysOneIslandWalk

Aberdulais to Tair Bull – Day 11 Romilly’s One Island Walk for Street Children

man sleeping in sleeping bag, foxgloves We started walking around 6.30.  Our target was the campsite at Brecon.  It was going to be a long day. We walked past woods and wind turbines.  The track was clear enough.  After about an hour and half we came over the side of a hill an saw Duffryn below us.

Oxeye Daisies at Duffryn

                                                                                                                                © James Forshall

We walked down between two rows of cottages which Johnny told me had originally been bought by the coal board, who when short of money sold them to the tenants.  When the pit closed those that had bought found their savings locked up in houses that no one wanted to buy.  Beyond this a road led off to the main village.  A man with a stick was walking towards us and I went to ask him where the pub was.  I was thinking of breakfast and wanted to keep my cold deep fried sausages in reserve.

The man told us that Duffryn was the birth place of St Patrick and that was a stone dedicated to him down the road, how he’d been a slave and then become a Christian and went to Ireland.  ‘People say he was Welsh, but there were no Welsh then. We were all Romano British. The term Welsh didn’t exist in St Patrick’s Day.’   The man’s name was George Evans. He was over 80 years old and as sharp as a tack.  He pointed us on to the pub. ‘Tell Glynn George sent you and to treat you right.’

We found Glynn outside the Duffryn Arms,  stripped to the waist, painting the wall in front of the pub.  He took us in and fetched us cheese rolls and a cup of tea.  We chatted away. He asked where we were walking to, where we had stayed.  ‘How much do I owe you’  ‘Oh, let’s see…..make it a fiver’.   We had also had a couple of bags of crisps.  ‘That seems very reasonable’.  He asked why we were walking and when we told him he gave us back the fiver.  ‘Here put this towards your charity’.   I found this very touching.  Thank you Glynn.

A little to the North of of Duffryn we picked up the Sarn Helen, the Roman road going up to wards Brecon.  It is very impressive though sadly damaged by green laners and tractors.

Sarn Helen, Roman Road

Sarn Helen – The Roman Road                                                                         © James Forshall

We walked past hill farms and through plantations of fir trees. We met no one except for a party of DoE girls resting and later some elderly rambler types ending their walk and getting into their comfortable cars. Here there was a stream. We were at the base of the Beacons.  Not so far to go now.

Johnny had sped along the day before but was finding it more difficult today. It was long and he was wearing a pair his son’s shoes, which were not providing him with much protection from the broken stones of the Roman Road. Though obviously suffering he never complained.Man bathing feet in stream

We were two hills to the west of the Storey Arms.  We climbed almost due east and then turned north and made our way along sheep tracks, past shaggy ponies to the top of the hill. We turned north west and then due north to a saddle and then just north of East walking towards the top of the cliffs above the road which heads north from the Storey Arms.  We could now see Corn Dhu and Pen y Fan to the East.  We had been walking for over twelve hours.

Looking North East towards BreconLooking north East towards Brecon                                                           © James Forshall 

Man Reading Map


Man descending hill side

© James Forshall

We climbed down towards the road which leads north from the Storey Arms to Brecon.  It was about as steep as a grass bank can be. Once on the road we headed down hill for the Tair Bull pub as quickly as we could.  We were hungry and wanted to get there before the kitchen closed.  Once at the pub we ordered chicken curry and beer. We had walked 28.5 miles and were about 5 miles short of being back on schedule.

Help Romilly to help homeless children. Donate here :  http://www.virginmoneygiving.com/team/RomllysOneIslandWalk

All photographs © James Forshall


Instow to Illfracombe – Day 8 Romilly’s One Island Walk for street children

I’d arranged to meet Bill Bennett, Tessa Rubbra, and Tim and Lizzie at the south end of the new bridge in Bideford at 8.30 so I had six miles to do before 8.30, which meant starting at Instow at 6.30, which meant leaving the house at 6.00, which meant getting up at 5.00 ish.  We had allowed half an hour to get to Instow, which should have been enough especially as we were taking the most direct route but somehow it wasn’t and we arrived at Instow at 7.00. I was really paying for my late breakfast of the day before. Nobody’s fault but mine

It was another beautiful morning. I hammered down the Tarka Trail.  Because it is a railway line the curves are long and the straights are longer. This makes one feel as if one is moving very slowly, which relative to the trains for which is was designed, one is. Most people use it as a bicycle path. electricity poles, old fence poles floodingI went as fast I could.  In the end I did the six miles in 1 hour 5o minutes, which meant that if we had been able to start from Instow on time I would have been ten minutes early. My knees ached but I was pleased with myself, especially as Billy was the only person at the r.v. before me.

We continued along the Tarka Line. More tarmacadam. The weather was hot too. Team Romilly © James ForshallTeam Romilly: Tessa Rubbra, Tim Drake, Bill Bennett and Lizzie Drake.

Our first target was Croyde. Luckily there was a footpath across the hill, which we took and which gave us lovely  views across the estuary.DSCF8680

DSCF8681Just after this field I lost the footpath. I could see the path we were supposed to join, traversing gently down and across the hillside below us, and access to it from a gate in the field  to the right of the one over which I was looking. The thing was to get into the field with the gate below us to the right.  I walked to the right. Now all we had to do was cross the fence and bash our way through the scrub into the field below, with the gate, which I could no longer see, but which must be there, because my compass said it was. The only question was, would the others baulk at the fence.  Not a bit of it all of them clambered over with out so much as a scratch.  Now for the scrub. This turned out to be made up of mature hawthorn, immature hawthorn, gorse and brambles at all stages of development. My trousers were torn and Tim and Lizzie only had shorts. The hawthorn got thicker and thicker. I wondered if we would be able to wriggle through it on our tummies. The scrub got darker and darker as the hawthorn became taller. On the lower edge of this hawthorn cave immature hawthorn blocked out the light and the way. I saw a lighter patch and headed for it. We waded through huge ferns. ‘It’s like the jungle’, said Tessa happily. “Its like Bear Grylls’, she said. ‘No it’s not’, said Billy, ‘He gets the television crew to do everything while he hangs out in a hotel’.  And then after a very severe bit with a steep drop disguised by a huge pile of rotten wood and brambles the trusty compass confirmed my faith and there, bingo!, was the path. I don’t know where the gate and the field, which I had seen from above,  had got to, but no one was complaining and none of us really cared where the path would take us.

It took us to Croyde and lunch with Catherine, Flora and Ben Rubbra, who were our valiant back up team and who had brought us Flora’s delicious sandwiches.

Toad Warning © James ForshallToad warning.

Team Romilly Woolacombe Beach © James ForshallTeam Romilly on Woolacombe Beach.


DSCF8705Team Romilly. Lizzie being good humoured about getting sea in her boots.

We met Catherine and Flora again at Mortehoe.

 admiring the beach © James ForshallOur admirable back up team admiring the view from Mortehoe.

DSCF8733 © James ForshallGreenbank, sea view, foxglovesfootpath closed sign, man climbing fenceVisiting the danger tree.

Man and woman on footpath sign keep to the pathWe arrived at Illfracombe at about 8.30. My original section, Barnstaple to Illfracombe had been 18 miles, to which I had added another 6 miles in the morning: 24 miles at least. Not bad and I had made up for my late start of the previous day. In Illfracombe the sun was setting and people were getting ready to watch footie. Tomorrow was a scheduled rest day….and Fathers’ Day.

Help Romilly to help street children. Donate here:






Portreath to Perranporth – Day 3 of Romilly’s One Island Walk for street children

I awoke at 4.30 in the morning but I didn’t know it then because my mobile was charging up in the camp deep freeze room.  The tent fly-sheet was flapping and a bird was singing right next to the tent door. It was like wearing stereo head phones. Each note was precise, a strangely beautiful, alien music with tiny rapid clicks below the treble.. and incredibly loud.  I wondered if it was a skylark, if my phone batteries had charged, and what the time was. I unzipped the door and wandered bare foot through the dew.  4.30! Blimey. Back to bed. Catherine was coming at 7.00 to take me back to Portreath to meet Lucy Gore who was walking with me, Rosie, Rosco, and Flora.

DSCF8302Lucy, Flora, Rose and Rosco

We met beside the Portreath car park where Guy and Jamie had picked me up the night before.

DSCF8252The coast was lovely, beautiful, but the layout and architecture of many of the coastal settlements is dismal. In some places not far from the path a field of houses, like some deviant experimental crop, had been plonked down without any apparent relation to anything .

Path, 4 walkers, sea, houses in distance

Houses, green hill, sand, sky

Beach, wave breaking, grass covered cliffDoes a beach like this……

Deserve development like this?

Buildings on green cliff above beachDSCF8293

DSCF8282 Team Romilly at Chapel Porth © Beach CafeTeam Romilly at Chapel Porth Beach Cafe

Brown Dome in brown field fence and MOD notice

DSCF8330Redistributing the blood after lunch at Perrenporth.

DSCF8310 Cold War: airfield dispersion blast shelter.

That night I we reached Crantock, just before Newquay and well beyond the day’s target. With my team of walkers it had been a very jolly day of beautiful views and sunshine. A great day. If I can carry on like this I’ll have time to spare for a rest day.




“Where shall we park the car?” Romilly’s One Island Walk for street children

Sea view, Lands End, Cliffs, Rocks
” This looks like it”.  We were both very tired after a series of late nights trying to clear stuff before I left. Catherine, who was heroically driving me down to the start, on the day of her private view, had sensibly got us up at 4.30 a.m. in order to miss the traffic for the Royal Cornwall Show.  DSCF8018

We left the house at 4.55 a.m. driving West, with the sun skimming the tops of the Michael Mass daisies on the central reservation at 300,000 kms per second, painting the road signs and the wind mills in hallucinatory, gleaming, day glos. It was a beautiful start.

Here it was, the Land’s End Hotel, with a low facade flanked by Corinthian Columns. If I had to describe a Las Vegas Funeral parlour this would be it, I thought.  The car park was empty.

“There doesn’t seem to be any body here”

” I hope it’s not closed”

We were both looking forward to coffee and me to a second breakfast.

“Where shall we park?”

“Over there. We won’t have so far to walk to the hotel”

Catherine had a cup of coffee and we kissed good bye. My cousin Paul came to see me off and we had another cup of coffee. 

Fat man in Lycra photographing him self in traffic reflector

I was very lucky with my first day: lovely weather in the morning, a route which was on high ground with the sea usually in view to the south, beautiful wild flowers, campion, cow parsley, blue bells, fox gloves, stitchwort, a subterranean Romano British dwelling, approached through a tunnel of huge granite slabs, an artist painting,

hands working on landscape painting

a bee keeper keeping, and at the end of it a wonderful, wonderful welcome from Milly Aynsley and Jonty Lees, both artists, and their very sweet children. They fed me, picked me up, gave me a bed and a breakfast, gave me wifi for the blog and send me on my way with a picnic lunch.  Thank you both very much.View of country side  mineshaft danger sign


pink wild flowers, campion, road, lane, sky

Thanks to all my fellow walkers, all those who have helped so much, and to all of you who have donated so generously. It’s very encouraging.

Help to give street children a chance. Donate at http://www.virginmoneygiving.com/team/RomillysOneIslandWalk

Romilly’s One Island Walk for Street Children

 Sponsor the One Island Walk and help street children.

Map of Britain with dotted line from Land's End to John O'Groats

James Forshall writes, ” I’m setting off from Land’s End 3rd June hoping to arrive at John O’Groats before the end of July. I shall walk all the way except for various water obstacles, which I may choose to sail, row, paddle or swim. I’ll have to average 20 miles a day. So it’s quite a challenge.

Please support Romilly’s work to give street children a chance by sponsoring me.