SPRING NEWSLETTER 2018

imageSPRING NEWSLETTER 2018

MARCH EXPEDITION FOR CORNWALL HOSPICE CARE
Written Diaries recording Spring Expeditions will appear here (photos and video diaries will appear on FaceBook ‘Robin Moore’s Walking For Charity Page’.

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Pennance Mine

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THE ST PIRAN’S WALK
Fortunately the weather held and we managed to complete a partially modified section of the local St Piran’s Trail. We also enjoyed a splendid evening at Carharrack Club thanks to local band BLACK EYED NANCY who played in honour of Cornwall Hospice Care. Although sparsely attended due to weather and time of year we are expecting a significantly larger turn out for the May Beer Festival when we will be walking for the Children’s Hospice. Don’t miss out on this great weekend of fun!

EASTER WALK – Supporting Cornwall Hospice Care – CHC
Local pub walk (5 miles) to be published on Facebook

cornishpilgrimage

WALKING THE CORNISH PILGRIMAGE
Robin Moore will be walking the Cornish Pilgrimage (200 miles), from Morwenstow to St Michael’s Mount during April/May for Cornwall Hospice.
The itinerary includes a Bank Holiday Saturday Walk around the Gwennap Region (9 miles) and entertainment at local inns throughout the weekend.
For more details about the event, Robin’s walks around the world and books detailing his adventures visit: http://www.robin-moore.co.uk
For information about The Cornish Pilgrimage visit:
http://www.cornishpilgrimage.org.uk
You can either join us for part of the Pilgrimage or turn up on the Bank Holiday Walk for noon start. Await details or phone me on 01209 822 025.
To support our campaign and make a donation to CHC please us the justgiving page below:
https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/robin-moore9

THE CORNISH PILGRIMAGE SPRING WALK ITINERARY (April/May)
Clive and I will be walking The Cornish Pilgrimage at the end of April in memory of Hazel’s daughter Zoey and to raise funds for Cornwall Hospice Care.
The Route will take in Launceston, The Saints Way and our local Gwennap Pilgrimage over the Bank Holiday period (see the next section below); I will then continue to St Michael’s Mount.
ITINERARY – 27th April to 8th May
START: MORWENSTOW
Day 1: Langdon Cross – 26th April
Day 2: Altarnun
Day 3: Padstow
THE SAINTS WAY – 29th April
Day 4: Lanivet/Lanlivery
Day 5: Golant/Fowey –
Day 6: Pentewen/Mevagissey
Day 7. St Just-in-Roseland
RIVER CROSSING WITH ‘TIM AND FLUSHING GIG ROWERS’ –
Day 8. Carharrack (Bank Holiday Entertainment at St Day Inn
Day 9. Gwennap Pilgrimage (see below) – Saturday 5th May
SUNDAY – Raffle and Motor cycle Raleigh
Day 10. St Ives – Bank Holiday Monday
Day 11. ST MICHAELS MOUNT

For a full itinerary and overview of The Cornish Pilgrimage please visit:
http://www.cornishpilgrimage.org.uk

Gwennap Pilgrimage

A 10 mile circular walk which forms the Gwennap Section of the Cornish Pilgrimage

MAY BANK HOLIDAY WALK – SUNDAY 6th MAY
THE GWENNAP PILGRIMAGE
Continuing the Cornish Pilgrimage, we invite the public to join us on the Gwennap Section which is made up of a circular walk from Gwennap Church though we will start and finish from one of the pub car parks. We also hope to run a raffle for Cornwall Hospice Care Sunday evening at the Coppice after the Bike Rally.

THE PARISH OF GWENNAP

Gwennap; Trevarth; Lanner; Vogue; St Day and Carharrack;

INNS

The Coppice, Lanner; Star Inn, Vogue; St Day

Inn; The Fox & Hounds, Comford.

ROUTE

Using public footpaths, bridleways and byways the route also

follows tramways, mineral trails and Route 3.

TIME: 10.30am

THE WALK

STARTING FROM THE PUB

From The a Fox & Hounds cross to the Comford/Carharrack Road,

turn right and walk a hundred metres uphill to the

footpath on the right. Climb the granite steps to access the path

and walk through the escarpment in the direction of Gwennap. Be

mindful of rabbit warrens and any other obstacles that nature has

cultivated along the way; at the gate turn left and walk through

the pastures alongside the estate.

STARTING FROM THE CHURCH

From Gwennap Church This route is also accessible

from a bridleway halfway along the Gwennap/Comford Road,

though this path is often flooded during winter months. Reaching

the top of Comford Hill, join the Carharrack Road briefly: then,

with caution, cross to the byway opposite. This is marked by a

shell on a tree to the left of the lane, and from here the journey

continues for half a mile to Trevarth on the Lanner Road.

Turn left at the Lanner Road and walk another half mile to the

Coppice where you can collect your first passport stamp. The inn

caters for young families and serves coffee alongside the bar

menu making it a prime location for the pilgrimage. Lanner

evolved from a hamlet to a village when Tresavean Mine became

active giving rise to the terraces which exist here today. The road

to Redruth, which dated back to Roman times, was used by

pilgrims as an alternative route (via St Day) to St Michael’s

Mount. Leaving the Coppice, cross the busy main road and

continue towards Tresavean Estate, keeping a lookout for scallop

shells along the lane on the right. Here you will join the Tramroad

which veers away to a track on the right as it continues in the

direction of Redruth. The tramway was opened as part of the

Hayle Railway hauling Welsh Coal and locally mined copper

during the 19th century. With the decline of industry it closed in

1936, when it has since become a leisure route and a home to

native fauna. Having walked a mile beside hedgerows and

paddocks you will reach a gated junction near the water tower.

Here the Gwennap Route (way-marked as a mineral trail) turns

right away from the main Pilgrimage Trail which continues to

Churchtown, Camborne and St Michael’s Mount. For a more

substantial circular walk you may continue to Churchtown and

return to Gwennap Pit via Redruth along Route 3. For young

families we recommend you follow the mineral trail down Tram

Cross Lane passing the B/B: then cross the road to join the Carn

Marth Trail on the opposite side. Follow the mineral trail to

Pennance Mine, and then continue uphill past the quarry

amphitheatre to the lake at the top of Carn Marth. The top of Carn

Marth affords panoramic views over Carharrack and the Gwennap

Region and is designated an area of great landscape value; from

the lake veer right and walk downhill to the next lane which is

marked by an old ruin. This lane descends to a byway: at the

bottom, turn left and walk about 300 metres to Gwennap Pit. John

Wesley preached at the open air amphitheatre on 18 occasions

during the latter part of the 18th century (1776 onwards) and

services are still held here including one at Whitsun. The pit was

naturally formed by mining subsidence during a period when the

Gwennap region made up the richest square mile on the planet.

John Wesley would have shown little interest in such wealth as

his concern was for the ordinary people who toiled to survive

during that great period of Cornish History. There is a tea room at

the Visitor Centre which is manned by volunteers between May

and Mid-September: the officer in charge will mark your passport

with the official Gwennap Stamp. Passports and guides are also

available here. At the end of the road junction, turn right onto

Route 3 and walk downhill to Vogue. The Vogue Shute has long

been remembered for its contribution to the community

supplying water for St Day before the introduction of mains feed

after the Second World War. These days thirst is enjoyed at the

popular Star Inn where it may be possible to obtain a Pilgrim

Stamp as well as refreshment. Continuing uphill past the

recreation ground you will also find the St Day Inn and the Holy

Trinity Church which are designated pilgrim stops. The old church

in St Day is worth a visit too: although abandoned in 1956 it was

a place of worship from 1829, and in contemporary times has

become a community venue exhibiting historic artefacts.

Leaving the village via School Hill, descend to the bottom and

cross the byway (Route 3) to the footpath opposite which is the

route into Carharrack. The trail comes out near Carharrack Club

where you continue downhill passed the Wesleyan Chapel to the

St Piran’s Church on Church Street. St Piran is the patron saint of

Cornwall and this much-loved church is the soul of the community

holding services on Sunday as well as hosting charity events

throughout the year. St Piran’s was built in the 1880’s as a

Mission Church to Gwennap Parish Church.

Nearby is the Carharrack Stars inn which has been a popular

watering hole for many years; at the opposite end of the village

is the site of the old coal yard for The Redruth & Chacewater

Railway built to serve the mining boom of the early 19th century.

Like the Portreath Tramroad, it was horse-drawn for part of its life

and provided a useful link to the coast-to-coast railway which

helped the development of inland mines.

Continuing downhill beyond the inn, take the second right turn

onto Sparry Lane and walk 300 metres to Trevince Woods.

Reaching the fenced perimeter, turn left and walk along the

bridleway where you need to be mindful of equestrians who

frequently follow this course. It is a pleasant walk crossing the

woods on the way to Gwennap Church. Wildlife abounds in these

woodlands exposing walkers to enumerable mammals including

buzzards, foxes and badgers.

At the end of the footpath leave the woods by turning right onto

the Gwennap Road; this lovely winding section is formed

alongside running water interchanging at the church where the

Pilgrimage concludes.

SPRING BANK HOLIDAY WALK AND BEER FESTIVAL
Join us at Carharrack Club’s Bank Holiday Beer Festival and Morning Walk for Children’s Hospice Southwest. The local St Piran’s Trail officially starts at the church though we will be meeting at the club around 10.30am on Saturday and walking the 5-mile route via Pink Moors, Mount Ambrose, Vogue and Wheal Damsel.
VENUE: Carharrack Club
TIME: 10.30AM
DISTANCE: 5 MILES
TERRAIN: EASY
REGISTRATION: Participants can register at the club or on the day for £10 which will entitle them to a colour guide booklet of the walk. All proceeds go to the charity And we hope to provide a certificate of achievement for those who have walked and raised funds for this worthy cause.
For more information about local walks and fundraising visit: http://www.robin-moore.co.uk
Robin Moore’s Walking For Charity On Facebook

The Feast Day Trail

Part of the Feast Day Trail near Pink Moors

THE ST DAY WALK – To be published after Easter, will take place in June over the Feast Weekend.

THE GREAT WAR TRILIOGY
3 books set for completion by Autumn, describe Robin Moore’s expeditions across Europe’s battle fields of the Great War; each story commemorates the fallen, revisits the final days of the war horse, pays respect to my relatives who fought in the campaign (my grand dad enlisted at 14 and was still under age when the Armistice took place), the many war poets who died in this campaign. Here are a few poems of my own which attempts to tell a story of one of the world’s great tragedies.

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POEMS FROM ROBIN MOORES GREAT WAR PILGRIMAGE
A Triliogy of the Great War

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Historic Walk of battlefields commemorates WW1 and completes 30,000 miles of walking around Europe helping worthy causes

POEM – ‘A Pilgrimage Borne from War’
‘Summoned by the call to arms we proudly enlist,
We are the young liberators who care not of risk,
Compelled by a sense of duty to do what is right,
The War is our calling and God’s cause is our fight.’

‘We fear not the harshness of a war unknown,
But then, it won’t last long and we can all go home,
It will be a chance to travel, adventure at its best,
We’ll be back by Christmas, victorious in our quest.’

Buoyant with optimism our soldiers sail South,
To a tumultuous welcome in wait at Hell’s Mouth,
Where the closeness of conflict amid mud and barbed wire,
Sees ‘tommies’ dodging shrapnel from deafening shell fire.

The guns boom louder here, evoking fear across the land
Reducing historic towns to mounds of brick and sand,
So onward to the field they go, into its world of eerie gloom,
This is no place for a young man who knew a better life at home.

Memories of fun are a far cry from here,
Where rats run rampant in trenches near,
‘Stark as it is, we stand stoic and true,
To our cause to free Europe which we aim to see through.’

Above the parapet, the jaws of hell open wider still,
In an oncoming storm that threatens life at will,
A fierce barrage rages throughout the night,
As we steel ourselves nervously for the imminent fight

‘The dawn whistle blows and we go over the top,
To face bullet and barbed wire until we finally drop,
Amid darkness of ‘no mans land’, gun fire and gore,
Our destiny is sealed by a pilgrimage borne from war.’

By Robin Moore

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Poem – Kitchener’s Army of ‘Pals’
The Great War rages on with the reaper as its guide,
Hovering in the theatre of battle to visit death upon each side,
And as the allies push toward the banks of the Somme,
They find another road to hell amid shell, barbed wire and bomb.

The whisper of the Somme ushered forth more men in boots,
Young, fit and keen to fight are Lord Kitchener’s new recruits,
Old pals from Blighty, so happy and cheerful they once did roam,
Soon to embrace the wrath of conflict, many miles from home.

Summer marches on as The Battle of Albert draws near,
Beneath the mask of laughter and fun is a sense of growing fear,
Generals speak bold words of gallantry, duty and ultimate victory,
Could anything possibly halt this great surge of equanimity?

Onward march Kitchener’s men in hearty voice and cheer,
To the front they go, their songs and anthems clear,
Dawn approaches fast, with the big guns soon to stop,
And for the old pals to fix bayonets, ready to go over the top.

There’s no time to think of the day to come,
Still young with cool air and rising sun,
Gone is the life that we once knew,
Replaced by bullet, barb wire and spew.

60,000 fell on that first morning of battle,
Pushed over the top like herds of cattle,
Summer long fighting saw a million dead,
In a bloodbath of youth who were badly mislead.

Today, a land of white tablets tell of shortness of life,
From Maricourt to Albert where conflict was rife,
Like a bridge spanning nations helping the world to cope,
It’s now a place of remembrance, peace and great hope.
By Robin Moore

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Devastating effects of The Great War

POEM – ‘No Winners in War’
Each ruling party believed their cause to be right,
Prompting seven countries of Europe to rise up in a fight,
Enthusiasm and excitement for this war of insanity
Made the Continent a dark place of great calamity.

Remember the upsurge of patriotic elation,
Men cheering from trains on their way to damnation,
But when our ‘Champions of Liberty’ waged war on the ‘Hun’,
The lights went out in Europe for a long time to come.

Who would rise victorious from this cauldron of madness,
Halt tolling bells from their mournful sadness,
Both sides face defeat with a generation lost,
Because No one envisaged a great war at such cost.

Ultimately, death to old Europe is the final result
Who will modernise, rebuild it, and who is at fault
Emotions were mixed over who was to blame,
But war to the elite is little more than a game

A moment of madness lit the touch fuse to war
Belgium first subjugated breaking peace treaty law,
Then France sacked and ruined in a 4 year assault,
Until finally a railway carriage brought war to a halt

Now Autumn guns fall silent across the land,
Their deadly action powerless without command,
Soon, trees will grow tall again in wooded glades,
And poppies bright red to mark fallen comrades

So the war was really over, like a new gift of life
No more waterlogged trenches amid winter strife,
Thank God for an end to those dreadful 4 years,
No one else will die now, no more burials and tears

But that’s little comfort to the young men who fell
Sent from many nations to this place they call hell,
They’ll never know this euphoria, for they are all gone
Rotting in foreign battlefields a long way from home.
By Robin Moore

A PILGRIMAGE TO THE SOMME is now available on AMAZON.

or log on to:

http://www.justbooks.co.uk

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WINTER NEWSLETTER 2018

WINTER NEWSLETTER 2018
THE ST PIRANS WALK For Cornwall Hospice Care

Event Details
Date:
3rd March 2018
Time:
4:00 pm – 6:00 pm
Event type:
Local Events
Fees and sponsorship requirements:
£10
Contact details:
Robin Moore 01209 821025 robin-moore@hotmail.co.uk
Location:
2 Chapel Terrace

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Join other keen walkers on the St Pirans Trail which is approx a 5 mile easy route taking in Pink Moors, Mount Ambrose, Vogue and Wheal Damsel. Meet at the Carharrack Club for 4pm start. £10 per participant which includes your walking guide for the trail. Real ale, snacks and live music to follow in the

form of BLACK-EYED NANCY

Also participants will receive a certificate and booklet

of the walk.

New Book Release – Available Worldwide Now
A Pilgrimage to the Somme (Great War Trilogy) (9780995580800) by Robin Moore

https://www.justbooks.co.uk/search/?author=Robin+Moore&title=A+Pilgrimage+to+the+Somme&lang=en&new=1&used=1&ebooks=1&destination=gb¤cy=GBP&binding=%2A&isbn=9780995580800&keywords&minprice&maxprice&min_year&max_year&mode=advanced&st=sr&

Also found at The Cornish Library Redruth and the Somme Museum at Albert, France

FUTURE TITLES
A Pilgrimage of War and Words and A WW1 Pilgrimage will complete the Triliogy of Walks of The Great War.
Including Poems to commemorate the Fallen

POEM – ‘No Winners in War’
Each ruling party believed their cause to be right,
Prompting seven countries to rise up in a fight,
Enthusiasm and excitement for this war of insanity
Made Europe a dark place of great calamity.

Remember the upsurge of patriotic elation,
Men cheering from trains on their way to damnation,
But when our ‘Champions of Liberty’ waged war on the ‘Hun’,
The lights went out in Europe for a long time to come.

Who would rise victorious from this cauldron of madness,
Halt tolling bells from their mournful sadness,
Both sides face defeat with a generation lost,
Because No one envisaged a great war at such cost.

Ultimately, death to old Europe is the final result
Who will modernise, rebuild it, and who is at fault
Emotions were mixed over who was to blame,
But war to the elite is little more than a game

A moment of madness lit the touch fuse to war
Belgium first subjugated breaking peace treaty law,
Then France sacked and ruined in a 4 year assault,
Until finally a railway carriage brought war to a halt

Now Autumn guns fall silent across the land,
Their deadly action powerless without command,
Soon, trees will grow tall again in wooded glades,
And poppies bright red to mark fallen comrades

So the war was really over, like a new gift of life
No more waterlogged trenches amid winter strife,
Thank God for an end to those dreadful 4 years,
No one else will die now, no more burials and tears

But that’s little comfort to the young men who fell
Sent from many nations to this place they call hell,
They’ll never know this euphoria, for they are all gone
Rotting in foreign battlefields a long way from home.
By Robin Moore

New titles for order will include other pilgrimages, charity endurance
events and expeditions abroad.
Walking guides in Cornwall will include a new book for the Spring entitled Gwennap Walks, comprised of short circular trails showing insight into this idyllic region. Other local titles which include The Cornish Pilgrimage Trail, Gwennap Pilgrimage and St Piran’s Trail are available for purchase from the Cornish Library, Redruth.

EXPEDITIONS
I am currently planning a Pilgrimage to Santiago and Muxia prior to Easter.

HERE’S WISHING YOU GOOD HEALTH AND HAPPINESS THROUGHOUT 2018
Take and God Bless You All!

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AUTUMN NEWSLETER 2017

 

AUTUMN NEWSLETTER – 2017
A mixed Summer, after a dodgy flu jab rendered me powerless for 6 months, I was able to participate in a couple of Pilgrimages and numerous short walks in Cornwall throughout the Spring and Summer Months.

FUNDRAISING IN THE NENE VALLEY
THE OUNDLE PILGRIMAGE
The Oundle Pilgrimage went well and our new guide based on the new Sue Ryder Fundraising Trail published by Rick Murphy (co-founder of the Oundle Pilgrimage) and myself is both interesting and informative. I was also fortunate enough to publish the St Pirans Guide and St Day Feast Walk in time for both the walking events which helped raise funds for our Cornish Hospices too. As well as Sue Ryder Thorpe Hall other charities to benefit in the Nene Valley from the Oundle Pilgrimage are Prostate Cancer UK and Cancer Research Oncology Unit Peterborough Region. Presentation anticipated sometime in November 2017.
For those interested in joining future annual pilgrimages or following the more extensive Pilgrimage Discovery Trail to explore the Nene Valley should visit our website: http://www.oundlepilgrimage.org.uk

FUNDRAISING FOR CORNISH HOSPICES
Sadly my mother is very infirm these days and I am her fulltime carer which restricts my participation in expeditions – I miss those 1000 km walks!
All the same my walking band and I have chipped away at accumulating miles to these worthy causes. We intend to do another walk for the Children’s Hospice followed by live music at Carharrack Club hopefully within the next 6 weeks.

I haven’t walked all the Cornish Pilgrimage this year but have sponsored and organised the Harvest Auction for Cornwall Hospice Care as a means of increasing the fundraising purse.

HARVEST AUCTION
We have a harvest auction at the Coppice Inn, Lanner in honour of Cornwall Hospice Care on Saturday October 7th at 7.30pm followed by visit from the Cornish Choir who will be entertaining us that evening. At this stage I’d like to ask the public if they could donate some produce/gifts to help make the event a success; please contact either the pub or myself if you can help.
The Coppice Inn: 01209 216668.

BOOK RELEASE – ‘A Pilgrimage to the Somme’
This book forms part of a trilogy of WW1 expeditions completed in the last couple of years. We intend to donate to War Museums and sell all publications online with Amazon. The latest edition is now imminent and could be distributed locally around the time of Remembrance Week.

A Pilgrimage to the Somme

Isbn: 9780995580800

https://www.justbooks.co.uk/search/?author=Robin+Moore&title=A+Pilgrimage+to+the+Somme&lang=en&new=1&used=1&ebooks=1&destination=gb¤cy=GBP&binding=%2A&isbn=9780995580800&keywords&minprice&maxprice&min_year&max_year&mode=advanced&st=sr&ac=qr

 

Sent from my iPad

To research charity expeditions and learn about fundraising please visit my blog: http://www.robin-moore.co.uk
THANKS

 

FOR INFORMATION ABOUT LOCAL WALKS VISIT:
Robin Moore’s Walking For Charity On Face Book and Community Walks also on Face Book.
Www.robin-moore.co.uk
Www.cornishpilgrimage.org.uk

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SPRING WALK

For information about this year’s Oundle Pilgrimage please go to Pilgrimage section.

The last of the Spring Walks culminates with our St Feast Day Walk in honour of Cornwall Hospice Care on Sunday 24th June at Star Inn, 11am, Vogue (after the Ale Festival)! For more details check out:

Robin Moore’s Walking For Charity On FaceBook/Youtube

Robin Moore’s Community Walks On FaceBook

The Piran’s Walk for Children’s Hospice Southwest; see details below:

The Feast Day Trail

Part of the Feast Day Trail near Pink Moors

Join us at Carharrack Club this Bank Holiday Weekend for Beer Festival and Sunday Morning Walk for Children’s Hospice Southwest. The local St Piran’s Trail officially starts at the church though we will be meeting at the club around 10.30am, and walking the 5-mile route via Pink Moors, Mount Ambrose, Vogue and Wheal Damsel.
VENUE: Carharrack Club
TIME: 10.30AM
DISTANCE: 5 MILES
TERRAIN: EASY
REGISTRATION: Participants will register for £10 which will entitle them to a colour guide booklet of the walk. All proceeds go to the charity And we hope to provide a certificate of achievement for those who have walked and raised funds for this worthy cause..

COMPLETED
EASTER SUNDAY WALK AND LIVE
ENTERTAINMENT
Join us for a walk along the Gwennap Pilgrimage for Cornwall Hospice Care followed by evening band – CROSSFIRE 69 – 8pm onwards.
(Search Facebook – Crossfire 69)

A 10 mile circular walk which forms the Gwennap Section of the Cornish Pilgrimage

VENUE: Start and Finish at The Coppice Inn
TIME: 10am
DISTANCE: 10 miles
ROUTE: Following an independent circular route which forms part of the Cornish Pilgrimage, the journey takes in tram roads, woodland trails and public footpaths/byways between Gwennap Pit and Gwennap Church. There is mixed terrain but plenty of ‘pit stops’.
INNS: The Star Inn, The Fox & Hounds, Carharrack Club and the Coppice Inn.
ENTRANCE FEE: £5 covers your pilgrim passport used to collect stamps along the way; a Gwennap Pilgrimage booklet; and certificate of achievement. Entrance can be paid on the day at the Coppice. Guides are available there also and at Redruth Cornish Library; St Day Post Office and Gwennap Pit (if it’s open!).
EVENING ENTERTAINMENT
Join us for live entertainment with CROSSFIRE 69 from 8pm. As it is a charity evening we invite the public to donate to the Cornwall Hospice Jars at the bar. Please support a worthy cause!
Sponsored by Robin Moore and Keltek Brewery
Www.robin-moore.co.uk
For about the Cornish Pilgrimage visit: http://www.cornishpilgrimage.org.uk
To view and read about Robin Moore’s expeditions visit: Robin Moore’s Walking For Charity On Facebook

Tresavean Tramroad which once formed a section of the Hayle Railway

SPRING WALKS
NB We will also be walking The Gwennap Pilgrimage on both May Bank Holiday Sunday’s at the same time; a post will be published. And we anticipate a good social evening at the Coppice after. The St Day Feast Walk will take place on the Sunday after the Vogue Ale/Music Festival at 11am.
All walks support Cornwall Hospice Care.
PLEASE SUPPORT A WORTHY CAUSE – you are welcome to join us on our walks or perhaps make a donation to one of our Pilgrimage CHC jars. In fact any loose change throughout the Spring will help build better facilities for those who need them most.
THANK YOU AND HOPE YOU HAVE A LOVELY EASTER

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WALKING TO THE END OF THE WORLD

The Complete Diary
THE CAMINO DE SANTIAGO TO FINISTERRE
Day1 (Getting there)!
Heading off on a new adventure which begins Saturday afternoon at 1430 from Redruth to Paddington; with excursions later to Liverpool Station and Stanstead Airport, I finally reach Santiago de Compostella at 1530pm on Sunday. Santiago is an iconic world pilgrimage centre and final resting place of St James. Attracting travellers from all cultures the place has inspired many great journeys usually finishing at the Cathedral. The bus ride into town evokes a hint of nostalgia as part of it revives fond memories of walking there in a previous decade, (once from the French Alps, and a year later Portugal). However the experience failed to recall all the vital geographical layout of the city itself, and I made hard work of finding my pre-booked accommodation. Also the new Pilgrim Administration Centre beyond the Cathedral Praza proved allusive amid a spectacular hub enjoying the late afternoon sunshine. At least I manage to find my favourite Tapas location at Bar Charra nearby, and Hotel Monte (previously a Pension owned by a friend called Maria). Better still, I have my credentials for the journey tomorrow, which unlike all other caminos, will start at the Cathedral. From here I will be walking to the ‘The World’s End’ at Finisterre, the rock-bound peninsula on the west coast of Galicia.

Day 2 Santiago to Negreira
As predicted for the time of year, it is a wet start to the day at the Cathedral which is an altogether quieter scene compared to yesterday’s furore. Begining my Camino to Finisterre at Rua Das Hortas I set out along the last remaining commercial outposts as far as a small park where a trail is formed through the woods.

The transition from city to countryside takes only 2km and before long I cut a solitary figure traversing muddy terrain along wooded lanes and escarpments.

Passing an orchard I see two female pilgrims accompanied by dogs; they pause momentarily as one of the animals takes a drink from a nearby stream. We exchange greetings in Spanish though they look more Scandanavian than of native origin, and a moment later I begin a sharp ascent by road to the next mile stone. Feeling hot and thirsty I am fortunate to find a cafe, Caso de Xantar amid the wild unspoilt countryside. With a sense of relief I sit for a while enjoying some tapas kindly provided by the barman.

After refreshment, I continue my camino along the thoroughfare of what appears to be a small community.

Passing through the village I am joined by a young Italian female who is also walking to Finisterre; she completed the St James Way last August, and is presently on a travelling holiday after working in London and Ireland – a stark transition that must have been!

We walk for an hour, managing to get lost twice but enjoying the ambience of woodlands that have so far shaped the journey. We part company on a steep section where the young maid decides to have a break. Beyond here I endure a wet climb through another forest pass; as monotonous as it may sound it is at least more palatable than the diet of dual carriageway served up on my last tour of Europe. Emerging at the little community of Pontemaceira I cross the magnificent 15th-century bridge spanning the Tambre River. There is a hotel nearby, but although under the siege of wet weather, I choose to continue my quest enjoying the exuberance of running water below that adds vitality to the walk.
By 2pm I am entering the Province of Negreira, the busiest place since leaving Santiago and a natural pilgrim sanctuary too.

Finishing at the Albergue La Mezquita in the centre of town, I pay 30euros for B&B and promptly enjoy a glass of beer with some more tapas before winding down for my evening meal.

Day 3 Negreira to O Logoso
It is barely light when I set off, leaving via the medieval-looking arches of Pazo do Coton (actually 18th Century) which is possibly the most characterful site within this modern-looking place.

The route is taken up first by road until devoid of urban life; then I follow a woodland path with some steep ascents which help to clear out the winter sinuses. In the course of the morning I hear wood-cutters toiling in the forest, and later when joining a link road, I see other walkers ahead making their way to Finisterre. In the distance on the highest points are windmills providing energy to the smaller isolated communities that still exist in these obscure parts.

The Camino interacts occasionally with the road bringing with it the solace of a cafe allowing a chance for rest and refreshment. At Vilaserio I meet a Portuguese Pilgrim called Diogo Friases Coelho who is looking to reach his destination by Wednesday; that’s do-able I feel, and I need to aim for that too in order to obtain transport back to Santiago once the walk is completed.

But this seems an age away with more exacting terrain ahead as I make off to meet the challenges of a long afternoon. The wind blows fiercely here and I can picture the Atlantic swell that lays in wait; the pilgrims who made this journey in ancient times would have been in awe of Finisterre.

I notice there are more sections of road since leaving Vilaserio and yet the places en route are diminutive compared to Negreira. Out here it seems to be the responsibility of the farmers to run the Pensions/Albergues which ensure pilgrims obtain a night’s shelter.

On descent into Lago, a great lake dominates the scenery to the right; it occupies my gaze for several kilometres finally giving way to a lovely ornated cemetery near to Olveiroa and yet more beautifully built corn granaries and stone houses.

There are good amenities in this quiet little corner of the world’s end, and although tempted to stay, the trail beckons me towards another forest ascent.

Back on higher ground, the camino offers stunning river views as fast-flowing water occupies the chasm below. Rolling through the woodlands, the stone track eventually runs into an Albergue at the small hamlet of O Logoso. I can’t stop as there is no receptionist nor guarantee of a meal, and by chance I see a sign to a restaurant uphill from here where I feel there is a better prospect of a replenishing stay. A farmer stops by in his tractor and tries to persuade me to backtrack to the Albergue, but it is too late as I have ‘the bit between the teeth’ and need to reach this destination.
It turns out to be a good decision and on reaching the road, I locate the Restaurante Bar Pension A Pedra where two Spanish Ladies take care of my needs. Then after supper I am invited for a walk with them to their most famous landmark, Pedra Cabalgada. I have been dry all day, but the excursion back along the camino is met with prevailing wet weather as we struggle beneath wind-swept umbrellas. The site is an iconic natural beauty forged from rocks which has become a well-known landmark for the travelling pilgrim. So popular in fact that the local Albergues provide mini tours for those staying at their premises. It transpired to be an interesting end to a long day which left only the prospect of a glass or two of ‘Vino Tinto’.

Day 4 O Logoso to Finisterre
Today serves up a dull, wet start to accompany tired legs induced from yesterday’s effort, and I am in fact the last to leave the premises. Another pilgrim left half an hour before me and after joining the path beyond Hospital I saw a cyclist and 3 other walkers. Stopping to take in the many religious monuments along the way helps break up the monotony of walking and severity of the early morning tempest which is thankfully short-lived. The route is comprised of country lanes and woodland cuts which are substantially solid and well-demarcated. It holds water a bit in some places but the diversity it offers up makes it a natural catalyst for adventure.

Eventually the Camino begins its decent towards the coast affording panoramic views of the Atlantic ports that lie ahead. As the path continues to tumble into Cee and Corcubion one can begin to marvel at scenes of historic medieval architecture of white windowed balconies and terracotta rooftops. These are lively market towns steeped in modern amenities and it is hard to imagine that they are almost in reach of the world’s end. Life goes on and so must I; with less than 20km to walk I grab a coffee, gather some water and continue along slim lanes and alley ways above these thriving communities, capturing unspoilt views of the stunning coastline. On leaving Corcubion a steep path begins at a huge large arrow which takes me away from the coast for a while, testing the legs in much the same way as the North Coast of Cornwall does. It soon flattens out and later joins the road again as the journey takes in Sardineiro, the last built-up outpost before reaching Finisterre.

Beyond here a mix of coast road and path provide further descents finally settling by the beach where the fierce wind stings my nostrils with the scent of the sea as it wafts across the Camino. The path is slated in places interchanging with a board walk near to the shore to break it up a bit. And soon I am closing in on the built-up suburbs of Finisterre where hotels promise paradise at a small price; generally speaking it is very cheap to stay any where along the way which is a big hurrah for athletic tourists who combine their fitness hobbies with travel. We all need a worthwhile challenge in life to recreate ourselves and this experience takes one away from the wider world that continually chases the ‘mighty dollar’.

The walk to ‘the end of the world’ seems eternal for a while and then realise I have actually passed the finishing line a few kilometers ago! Only do I gain this knowledge at the lighthouse, Faro de Cabo Fisterra which really is conclusive! The ancient pilgrims would have loved this – well up until Christopher Columbus came along and quelled many of their aspirations of where the world ends. So, I end up feeling a bit more tired than expected, but have gained at least an extra few miles and stamp on my pilgrim passport. Despite the presence of many visitors I still find a place to stay and into the bargain am awarded a free certificate for my effort – I think I’ll come again!

SANTIAGO DE COMPOSTELLA
Pilgrimages are made here from France, Portugal and different parts of Spain; it can be walked from Italy and Switzerland too. In fact many pilgrimages exist throughout Europe (Fatima is a good example), usually linking up to reach the ultimate destination of Santiago.
This imbibing city attracts many visitors throughout the year who enjoy the elaborately carved stone buildings and grand plazas opening up from the Cathedral. Here the joy of life is celebrated throughout the streets in tapas bars, mini arcades and souvenir shops where the flavour of different cultures adds its own special recipe for fun.

‘A Delightful Stay’
HOSPEDAJE SANTA CRUZ
C/ Rua do Villarreal, 42
TLF: 981582362
Having finished my Camino I needed a place to stay on Friday night as my hotel was fully booked and could not accommodate me. By chance whilst perusing the lovely Rua do Villa I stumbled across a delightful little Pension with beautiful wooden floor and stairwell. On reaching the top I was cheerfully greeted by Maria who offered me a room for 21euros; it had a double bed, sink, wifi, heating and good light with tall Windows opening out onto one of my favourite alleyways. It had everything I needed for a comfortable stay and boy do I love the imbibing hub of Santiago with its endless rows of tapas bars and restaurants.
To me it is one of Santiago’s best-kept secrets though guilt has got the better of me so I feel it only fair to share my find with other pilgrims who I hope will benefit from this lovely, clean and authentic acommodation. Enjoy your stay!

Hotel Manoupa
For those seeking hotel accommodation and not too fussy about Windows, I would highly recommend this one for 24euros (lowest booking rate); an extra 5 for breakfast. It is clean with good amenities and breakfast bar.

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WALKING FROM GENEVA TO ARLES

Day 1 Geneva to Le Mont Sion (Neydens Region)

READY FOR ACTION!

READY FOR ACTION!


Mental start!! Several hours of walking round in circles – nobody has a clue where the French border is let alone a pedestrian route there! Thankfully a young lad stops and pulls out his mobile Sat/Nav. and thanks to his intervention all is well as I progress to the border via Carouge. At dusk I camp in a field which lies between the river and road – freezing cold and a few hours after settling I have a police visit. Thumbling in the dark for my passport amuses them and after commenting on my accent they leave me to shiver for another few hours.
Camping on wet mud gave little comfort and at dawn I continue my walk as far as an hotel where the proprieter offers me a free breakfast. We chat for awhile and in between serving her customers she sorts me out with a decent route in the form of ´The Famous Camino de Santiago´ – many of these paths I have walked before during my travels around the continent.
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Day 2 Charly to Frangy
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A 2-mile hike from the hotel leads to Charly where there is in fact a Gite dÉtape for pilgrims – a hostel for pilgrims providing a free bed and stamp for your passport. From here I set off up the steep, muddy lane which I´m glad to say is clearly marked. From a height of 760metres the pilgrim route – GR65 takes in La Motte, Charnouy and Contamine-Sarzin. Despite being very damp and muddy – similar to conditions you´d expect in the UK right now, it became warm once away from the cold wind that is prevalent in this stern mountainous region. By 3pm I come to a standstill at Frangy and book into a hotel for 35eu – at least I can enjoy a ´policeless´peaceful warm night´s sleep.
Day 3. Frangy to Chanaz
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The Swiss alps continue to dominate the landscape bringing the cold winds which dispel any thoughts of camping. The terrain remained muddy and a steep rural blast between Le Grand Pont and Syssel is enough to blow out the cobwebs of a good nights rest.
The afternoon session encounters the small places associated with Le Bourget du Lac, and at Pont de la Loi I am overtaken by an equestrian group. There were many cyclists too – largely following the National Cycle Route which at times interracts with the Camino de Santiago. There is a pleasant river section that leads to the village of Chanaz which seemed like a good point to break off for the day. At the Gite de Chanaz I pay 10eu to camp but in fact spent most of the night in the warm changing rooms where I am able to get a few hours sleep – frost suggests it is still too cold for camping!
Day 3 Chanaz to St Genex Region
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Leaving around 7am, I manage to purchase a coffee at the village and then I make my ascent away towards Yenne – 18km. Pausing momentarilly I capture the mountains poking through the mist evoking yet another scene of unvisited beauty. As the cold air disperses it becomes another glorious day but I have difficulty in obtaining food and water as shops are scarce in this region. As the afternoon drifts on I get tired and thirsty – often knocking on doors to obtain water from locals. The mountain route was desolate and at times unforgiving – winding throughout the forest where snow lay all around. Eventually I descend from Mount Tournier yet there is little that ressembled a community let alone a shop – only the churches remain prominent here. On my next ascent I stop at a solitary cottage which was in fact a guest house still closed for winter season.
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The lady, Annie stopped her painting chore to refill my water bottles and on hearing that I planned to camp suggested I stayed at the cottage – this was a far better option to camping and although not yet open and heated it was a great comfort to me and Annie was very kind ensuring I was well nourished after a gruelling day on the GR65.
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Day 5 Guiers-Cotenvert (Annie Latge) to Voiron
It would be another month before Annie can expect visitors walking the Camino most of whom hail from Austria and Germany, so she was happy to stamp my pilgrim passport and acknowledge me as the first walker of the ´season´- God Bless her.
After a lovely breakfast at Annie´s I made short work getting to Saint-Genex-Sur-Guiers and was soon walking up the river bank to Aoste where fishermen were enjoying a calm sunny morning. The Camino route proved difficult to follow at times and in the afternoon I found myself on the cycle route which led me on a massive excursion to Les Abrets which should have been just 5 km away and yet took nearly 4 hours to walk! Unhappy with this and not certain of the direction to Lake Paldeau I completed the evening section on road as far as Voiron where I camped rough on a farm track just beyond town.
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Day 6 Voiron to St . Hillaire-du-Rosier
Happy to continue by road today, I would endeavour to rejoin the camino either St Antoine-lÁbbaye or Valence where the path follows the Rhone for the remainder of its course.
After walking 13 hours yesterday I feel tired – not helped by another cold, sleepless night. It is quite hot today and I stop frequently for coffee and water, as the sun nears the top of the mountains I enjoy a tiny little knap at a picnic park between Teche and St Sauveux. Passing St Marcellin I take a wrong turn but thankfully realise and retreat and make good in the final hour. At St. Hillaire du Rosier I see a small hotel along the thoroughfare and am lucky to stay there for 30eu.
Day 7 St Hillaire to Valence
Continuing my journey along the remainder of the D1092 I enjoy a warm morning to Romans sur-Isere where I change route and now walk the cycle track beside the N532 dual carriageway. It is slow progress to St Marcel-les-Valence as I set off in search of another great city. As the road winds through the city I take time to explore and photo the prominent landmarks. After obtaining a geographical fix on my exit across the river to the opposite bank where I can join the Camino to Arles, I retire to the Lyon Hotel where I pay 38eu for a room.
Day 8 Valence to Cruas
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A bottle of vin rouge and a good night´s rest was all I needed to recupperate and once across the river I was soon stepping out on the camino route along the Rhone to Beauchastel. It remains warm with an added presence of equestrians and cyclists, who as locals probably frequent the route daily. There was a solitary boat along the river and after the morning stint I stopped for coffee at a club-style cafe where the jukebox played ´We´re all living in America´! After ´´feeling chilled´´ out by that experience I continue my journey to Le Pouzin which is shared by towpath and road.
Everything converges on this place and the session that follows takes me to nightfall and I am lucky to stay at the Cruas Campsite which lies on the Camino Route which is only a few metres from the river bank.
Day 9 Cruas to Bourg St Andeal
It was another night in the changing rooms I´m afraid as the evenings here are still cool, unlike the day which is always full of promise. The first part was a bit misty as I encounter the EDF Power Station. I get lost a few times trying to get beyond this point but once on course I put in a good stint to Le Teil. It was a less enjoyable affair to Viviers where at least I got some provisions for the evening.In the heat I try to focus on the chalk clifs which obscure the Rhone and as the chill of night draws in all was at peace once again. I saw freight trains pass by all day and walked through concrete towns -´literally´ – places that have evolved from the cement industry which now provide a strong economy (at least 3and 1) and good foundations too – I hope! On reaching Bourg I get a room at a local hotel and enjoy a meal of bread and cheese which I managed to buy at the last town.
Day 10 Bourg to Laudin
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Using the cycle route I walk on to St Just where I have coffee and Raisin bread for breakfast. At Pont-st -Esprit I sit on a bench and enjoy a picnic and then take photos of a statue which commemorates the local men who fought in the Great War. The nearby Abbey sees me on the way again with a few signposts for Arles to add momentum. At Bagnols I run into trouble trying to follow the Camino de Santiago to Laudin and I find myself on a circular cycle route which puts pay to the evening session. By dusk I find a lonesome hotel in the region of Laudin and call it a day. I was glad of the room but the wine I ordered cost me 20eu!!
Day 11 Laudin to Graveson
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A tough day now beckons in order to make up for the previous bad evening session and this time I will see it through along the road. I am able to use the hard shoulder and make light work of Avignon but walk round the town a couple of times so as to be sure I was on the correct route to Arles. Looked more like a motorway but was in fact a modern dual carriageway which eventually diminished into the usual bog-standard secondary route which at times can be a bit too narrow. After collecting provisions at Graveson I walk on to a peaceful location beside the canal and set up camp just before dusk – it was lovely – and warm for a change.
Day 12 Graveson to Arles
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Good sleep and a great start – no traffic until reaching the industrial outposts of the ´modern Arles´´. A kind lady treats me to breakfast at her hotel and later I spend time exploring ancient Arles. I was so captivated with its charm I spent the night there and got my coach to Spain on Monday instead where I immediately started a 5-day walk from Valencia to Alacant which would take me to completion of a continuous circle of walks around the country! Read more soon -will also be publishing on EBOOKS later in the year, walks on the continent will be available in this section.

WALKING IN SPAIN
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Day 1 Valencia to Cullera
Commencing a new adventure in Spain around 7am, I first had to find directions how to get out of Valencia. A road sweeper assists and soon I am walking the underpass which runs through the city gardens. When I run out of city and foot path a young maid points me in the right direction and soon I emerge at a narrow lane next to the motorway. I run into some gypsies who were less helpful but a local guy confirmed my route and I was soon on my way. It was basically a cycle trail weaving in and out of the smaller coastal places the first of which was Pelida where I stop for coffee. At the next stop the motorway becomes the CV500 which caters for allcomers making my journey into El Saler a straightforward one. Beyond here I have water to my right which is strange as I am walking the Mediterranean coast and it should be on the left! There are sluice gates ahead forming a dam, and I wonder whether it is a fish farm.
Later in the day I reach Cullera and get a taste of resort life which is the main attraction of this coastline. I sustain myself with oranges picked from the trees and decide to walk through the town.The idea paid off as I found both campsite and supermarket and spent a lovely peaceful evening there for just 7eu with only a family staying here at the top of the pitch.
Day 2 Cullera to Olivia Region.
I sleep well despite heavy festivities from a nearby saloon. The constant sound of explosions signal the advent of a bank holiday which the Spanish will celebrate passionately. The cool air was welcome as I eventually leave the town (there was tons of it!) and soon I joined the N332 coast road, my route for the remainder of the journey. By noon it is hot and there is a motorway section to encounter between Xeresa and Gandia. At Gandia I follow the coast road into Daimus and Olivia where the celebrations are at a peak. I had drunk youths driving motorcycles at me and then taking their hands of the steering bars, explosions going off all around and people barely able to walk because they had ´´over-celebrated.´´ It was great fun for most of us!
Leaving here the evening stretch became intense and inconclusive as I had lost a page in my map and unsure whether to take a detour into the next resort. I made the decision to camp rough behind some pine trees along the road rather than risk an unwanted excursion.
Day 3 Olivia to Culp
A sleepless night with dogs barking and traffic belting past followed by an early morning 12 km hike was not the tonic I needed to start the day. At Ondara I get in a mess with the motorway and have to start again to ensure I get on the right road as both are extremely busy at this point. The 2 roads cross at a toll gate and I am unhindered by the interraction heading off to an English Cafe where I stop for a chat and a coffee. From here the day drags on along winding roads- no Camino de Santiago here, though desolate sections remind me of the Otira Gorge in New Zealand which I walked last year.It is a change from the urban sprawl though still potentially a dangerous experience along the bends and the partially built bridges. By evening I enter the busy resort of Culp and am immediately overwhelmed by the spirit of tourism. Each road is a nightmare to cross and after purchasing groceries I escape to the scrubland beyond the town and pitch my tent beside some bushes. Although concealed a dog barks throughout the night!
Day 4.Culp to Benidorm Region
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I felt warm and slept well despite the barking hound which I saw on leaving the scrub. I wasn´t even on his land which made me cross and I shouted at him before disappearing into the traffic flow.Straight away I find a cafe and enter for breakfast, coffee and a shave. It was a good interval and after paying my bill I left in search of Benidorm – not that I was gripped with enthusiasm or anything mildly excitable about coming here! Soon the towering flats emerge and I pass inumerable hotels with unpronouncable names! The landscape is dominated by rows of flats and on rejoining the road it seems more like a motorway which at least gave me the hard shoulder. And like a true ´man of the road´I stop to eat my lunch on a concrete plimp next to the crash barrier. Eventually I find a roadside cafe where I chat to a couple who had taken notice of my progress reiterrating that they thought it was a remarkable quest. Continuing a little further I find a newbuild village with a supermarket and with night drawing in I head into the scrub for another night of camping rough.
Day 5 Benidorm Region to Alacant
A few spots of rain troubled me little and by 7.30am I was on the road. Stopping at the first cafe I came to the English owner arrives on cue and lets me in while he cleans up after a party. He goes on to explain that he came out here to look after his dad and decided to buy a pub. He now feels that England has been ruined and turned into a ´Nanny State´´ and in any case has no desire to go back.
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Does England have a future I ponder, but thank him for his kindness and from here I kick on to Compello where I have coffee and a muffin. I am now walking the boundaries of Alicante which takes up the rest of the morning. On reaching the city they had moved the Estacion de Autobus and so I had a longer excursion trying to find that, when I eventually found it – it was closed!! I return at night and manage to buy a ticket to Santander for 48eu and once there I can rest in my favourite hotel – Hotel Alisas who have looked after me since my travels began in Europe back in 2004. Anna has booked my ferry to Plymouth and so by Thursday I could be back in England – well Cornwall at least!

Spearheading MOVEMBER at the Coppice Inn.

Spearheading MOVEMBER at the Coppice Inn.


ALISAS HOTEL, SANTANDER, Tel:+34 942 222 750.
DON´T FORGET TO SPONSOR THIS EVENT!!!!
Please go to:
http://www.justgiving.com\Robin-Moore-cancercharities

HISTORICAL OVERVIEW
Catalunya – 1000km – Perpingnan to Santander (then Plymouth to Land´s End.
Basque Coast – 500km – Biarritz – Santander.
Camino de Santiago – 800km – St Jean to Santiago
Camino Portuguese – 300km – Porto to Santiago
Portugal (incl. Caminos de Fatima, Santiago and Atlantic coast) – 7000km
Med coast 1. – 1200km – Faro to Alicant
Med coast 2. – 1200km – Nice to Valencia
Med coast 3. – 200km – Valencia to Alicant

FRANCE-BELGIUM-SWITZALAND-HOLLAND
Belgium – 0700km-Ypres to Nantes
Holland – 250km – Eindoven to Ypres
France – 0700km – Nantes – Biarritz
Swiss – 0500km – Geneva – Arles

NEXT WALK
Geneva to Ypres – 1000km

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PILGRIMAGE TO YPRES – April 2013

WALKING IN HOLLAND AND BELGIUM (Finishing at Ypres)
DAY 1. EINDOVER TO POSTEL – 26km

Heading off along the N123 in Holland

Heading off along the N123 in Holland

Revisiting Europe at War in 1914, I endeavoured to walk from Eindover in Holland to Ypres in Belgium as my next expedition around the continent.
Starting at the Airport on arrival at 9am, I walked along the cycle routes away from the city via Veldhoven. I got confused with the town layout at times and in fact walked in the opposite direction until a lady set me back on course. Fortunately the locals were kind enough to provide good directions to the N123 my chosen route for the first 2 days of my walk. Having walked through a park I was able to join the road at Steensel and after crossing a road bridge I was able to keep to the cycle route as far as Eersel. Later I followed a forest route frequented by joggers and some cyclists and after a few miles I crossed the border into Belgium.
To celebrate I went for a coffee at a restaurant close by; here I spoke to a couple of German travellers who were cycling in the area. There were many routes crossing the forest here and the whole region contained cycle paths on each side of the road.

The Abbey Shop at Postel

The Abbey Shop at Postel

Making good progress I arrived at Postel around 5pm and after enquiring at an inn about camping the landlord suggested I went to the Abbey to see if Father Nicolas could help. This I did and the father was very kind offering a bed and meals for my stay here at Postel. There was a group of Nuns here from Gwent on a Bible Study for 4 days and later we enjoyed supper together. The duty father spoke good English as did one of the visiting men also staying at the Abbey. They were all very kind and keen to hear of my travels in Europe particularly those to Santiago which I completed in 2006/07. It was a lovely peaceful place with the tranquillity broken harmoniouslyy by the melodic chimes of the church bells. There were deer grazing in the grounds and a shop nearby which sold produce made here at the abbey. Before retiring I returned to the inn to thank the landlord for his good advice and help. It was one of the best places I have ever stayed at and I was grateful for a good night’s rest having forfeited sleep yesterday to obtain an early flight this morning.

DAY 2. POSTEL TO NOORDERWIK – 42km

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Having enjoyed a good breakfast to get me on my way I said my farewells to the nuns and thank you to the Father before passing through the grounds one last time as I strode off in search of the N123 and my next day’s walk in Belgium. What an adventure! Soon I was crossing a canal at the next town called Retie and as the morning evolved the sun brought temperatures of 22 degrees. I stopped for coffee at Kastererlee and despite a blister made good progress from here to the larger province of Herentals. This was a complicated section and after receiving instructions from a young group at a nearby garage, I continued along the cycle path which followed the main roads where traffic was bound for Antwerp and Lier. I could have followed the river bank to Lier but in the end opted for a village route via Morkoven. Arriving at the next village around 6pm, I decided to make use of the local campsite as there were not too many facilities along the way. I was told that camping is forbidden here in Belgium which sounds a bit stronger than ‘no tents please!’ Any way after paying the owner 9euros I had secured a night under the stars and once set up I returned to the centre for a meal and a drink at the local pub where the lovely English-speaking maid told of her desire to travel to New Zealand. On this subject I was highly qualified to give her a few tips and after an interesting hour I retired to a much-earned rest.

DAY 3. NOORDERWIK TO MERCHTEM – 58km

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Starting early, I continued my quest which would hopefully cover about 60km as far as the town of Merchtem. The first part of the day took in the smaller villages including Heist-op-den-Berg and later I joined the N15 where I negotiated Putte and later the busy large town of Mechelen. Wandering through the pedestrian centre I was able to admire the beautiful citadel and religious buildings and stopping at a café I was able to enjoy a conversation with a local lady who also advised on the best route out of town. It was actually very straight forward and on continuing along the main street to the railway crossing brought a natural exit from the place. After passing over a bridge I stopped for some bread and cheese by the river at Hornbeek where a few cyclists sped past following the path beside the bank. It was nearing teatime and I noticed a greater surge of traffic as I continued my walk through the villages of Lorderzeel and Steenhuffel; later a young lad explained where I could buy some food. By 9pm I had cleared the town of Merchtem and making my last call at a local shop where I was able to buy my supper. The girl was Asian and spoke excellent English explaining she had a sister from Birmingham who she visits once a year. She also gave me some bread and told where it would be safe to camp without intrusion.
Just beyond the railway I located a paddock and the rough ground where she suggested I camped; it was great and even my neighbours – a couple of horses added their voice of approval!

DAY 4. MERCHTEM TO WATEGEM – 62km

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Rising early it was a touch misty as I left the railway behind and continued my journey along the N211 to Aalst. It was raining at this stage and I was a bit confused as to the junction to take for the N46 which was my route to Oudenaarde. Fortunately I was able to obtain directions at a café and continued my walk as far as Burst where I sat and enjoyed a yogurt and banana. This was destined to be another long enduring affair that would take me beyond dusk once more and so I did not hang around long. Most of the places from here were substantial and so I was able to enjoy a coffee along the way as I passed through Oombergen, Hundelgem; finally arriving at Oudenaarde around 6pm. It was quite a laboured affair passing through the town and once more having to locate the appropriate exit route. It was pleasant enough walking to Wortegem where roadworks at least stemmed the flow of traffic. Dusk was approaching as I trekked through the farmland broken by tiny communities that flickered like candles in the night. On nearing a forest in pitch black I looked for an opening where I could find a place to camp and by 9.30pm I found a suitable spot at the end of a riding. I could see a house in the distance near to what appeared to be an equestrian centre; at this moment in time all I needed was a few hours rest. Boy that was a tough day!

DAY 5. WATEGEM TO YPRES – 44km

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Starting at 5am I rolled up a very wet tent and took to the road immediately. I negotiated a tricky section to the N43 but once on course I continued into Kortrijk where the town was still in the process of waking up on this sunny Saturday morning. At least I managed to get a coffee and from here had another tricky section to the outskirts of town where I followed the river path to Werelgem; from here the N8 saw me to Menen and Ypres Street which brought about the last act of this event.

SAM_1425 As I walked the final outposts (last 20km) of the journey remnants of the Great War began to dominate the countryside and as Ypres came into view so did the grave stones of the men who fell protecting her nearly 100 years ago. There was a museum built  by a trench on my right containing artefacts from the front line (probably worth millions); opposite lie the unknown graves of warriors who fought there. Further on to the left is Hill 62 where the Canadians fought a do or die battle only metres from the town. Finally my pilgrimage reaches its conclusion at the Menin Gate where I attended the Last Post. Later that evening I was joined by an Australian Vietnam War Vet called Andy and a few tourists from his home land also visiting the battlefields. One guy called Mark had been taken to a nearby farm by his tour guide and introduced to the land owner whose grandfather had fought alongside his own in one of those significant battles.

SAM_1427Part of the trench where they died was still intact serving as a poignant reminder of their sacrifice and yet more importantly this final resting place now evokes a sense of pride which two families can at last share. Mark will at least go home with the satisfaction that he had retraced his grandfather’s footsteps to his last moments in battle. It was just one of many fought in this region over a 4-year period and the thousands of names of unfound soldiers at the Menin Gate make it the most sacred place on Earth to a British soldier.

SAM_1430It was a special evening and after saying farewell we promised to return for the anniversary parade of 2014. Shortly after I retired to my tent for one last night under canvas before travelling across France to the ferry port of Roscoff and ultimately, on Monday, the journey home to Cornwall.

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