Bryan Clover, chief executive officer of the Rainy Day Trust (RDT), has completed the Pembrokeshire Coastal Path Challenge for charity – walking all 186 miles in 9.5 days!
On 3 May, Mr Clover set out to walk the entire length of the Pembrokeshire Coastal Path in 10 days – completing the challenge half a day ahead of schedule. The trek was not without its challenges, as Mr Clover explains.
The aim of the walk was not only to raise funds for the RDT, but also to raise awareness of the work that the Charity does in Wales, and to encourage more applications. Bridgend-based Addis Housewares agreed to sponsor the walk and provide back-up in terms of PR and marketing assistance, as well as a £3,000 donation to kick things off.
The Coastal Path hugs the coastline of the county through some of the most beautiful scenery in the country but also has some considerable climbs and descents. In all I could expect over 35,000 feet of hills, some of which are incredibly steep and the equivalent of climbing Mount Everest. I chose to use a holiday home as a base for the walk and did most of the walk alone and unsupported. The house was donated to keep costs down and the usual daily routine was to drop the car at the planned end point for the day, then get back to the start point and walk the 20 miles for that day's route.
The walk began at St Dogmaels on 3 May with the steepest section of the coastline, involving over 7,200 feet of climb and descent in just 19 miles. Only five miles into the walk, I twisted my knee in a rabbit hole which was to cause difficulties for the remaining route and required strapping to be worn for the next nine days. The second day saw the walk begin at Dinas Head and work its way across the north of the county to Strumble Head. Good weather and easier going than the first day meant that I was able to make up some time and extend the route by 2.5 miles to shorten Day Three.
With the knee injury playing up, I decided to shorten Day Three to Abereiddy to just 14 miles to give the knee time to rest and recover. Two long days followed, routing round the tip of the county near St David's and then on through Solva and Newgale to Martin's Haven. These two days were both in excess of 20 miles per day, and involved narrow paths and scree-covered slopes. The walking poles proved invaluable as he scrambled down 60 degree slopes on rough terrain.
Throughout the walk, I was monitoring the number of steps taken and calories burnt – the average each day was 38-40,000 steps and about 4,600 calories burnt. Moreover, because of the warm weather I was drinking 3-4 litres of water each day, all of which had to be carried.
In order to make sure that I arrived at Dale at 11 o'clock for low tide on the Monday, I started that day's walk early. This meant that I could cross the estuary there on the mud flats and avoid an additional three mile detour along the roads. Tuesday brought my first day of wet feet. While the weather was still warm and sunny, cold overnight temperatures had led to a heavy dew on the overgrown paths which soon soaked my boots and feet. Having stopped for 20 minutes to change socks and attempt to dry out the boots, I continued, but soon had to stop again to repeat the process. Blisters started to form as the boots rubbed against the wet feet!
Tuesday proved to be the longest day's walk at 22.76 miles, or 36.42 km. As the days progressed, the combination of blisters and a twisted knee led to slower progress, but a determination to finish all 186 miles. As the knee injury played up again, I put in another short day on Wednesday of 14.5 miles to aid recovery.
Thursday's route had to be re-planned almost from the start when the army range at Castlemartin was active. This pushed me onto the roads for the first three miles before I could re-join the cliff path at St Govan's Head. Cooler weather and easier going meant that not only was I able to make up for the shorter day on Wednesday, but also eat into part of Friday's planned route to make for an easier final day, where I would be joined by Aaron Frogley from garden landscaping products supplier Pavestone. A torrential downpour around lunchtime on the Thursday soaked me through, but by that point the end was in sight so pressing on wasn't a problem!
After starting the day south of Tenby, I crossed the finish line at Amroth at 11.30am, having walked all 186 miles in 9.5 days. The walk has so far raised over £6,500 (including gift aid) for the Charity and has gone a long way to raise awareness of RDT's work. I have been asked several times if I would do it again – the answer is 'maybe!'
The Rainy Day Trust is the UK's only charity supporting the home improvement workforce and their families in times of need. They've been caring for past and present employees of the housewares, pottery and glass, hardware, brushware, DIY, builders merchant and garden supply trades in difficult times since 1843.
For more information, please visit www.rainydaytrust.org.uk/events/rdts-pembrokeshire-costal-path-challenge.