Cheque presentation at the Coppice Inn, Lanner
The Cornish Pilgrimage raises money for Cornwall Hospice Care.
Robin and friends, Craig Robertson, Mike Dunstan, Derek Wills, proprietor and supporter seen above at the Coppice handing over Cheque to Sarah Newton, fundraising executive for Cornwall Hospice Care. The amount represents local fundraising from The Gwennap Region (also supported by Flushing Gig Rowing Club – see the day-to-day diary of the walk – Aug/Sep making a grand total of £1418. With the project expanding across Cornwall we do aim to raise more money outside of our locality too.
Starting in Morwenstow and running coast-to-coast The Cornish Pilgrimage takes in coastline, canal routes and mineral trails; it also follows some of the ancient pilgrim routes formed by the Irish Saints. As a discovery trail it makes a good alternative for those wishing to explore the region.
Robin, who has recently returned from a war pilgrimage of the Somme, has been fundraising for Cornwall Hospice Care since the turn of the century and has raised/donated thousands of pounds to a wide range of charities (mainly hospice/cancer care and research. To learn more about the Cornish Pilgrimage Project visit:
For more about Robin and his recent challenge in the Somme you can find his blog on Robin Moore’ Walking for Charity on Facebook or
His recent walk helped raised the importance of wearing a poppy as a symbol of peace and he has a donation page open for those wishing to contribute to the Royal British Region. His story may help people realise the great debt owed to the British Empire a century ago.
Fundraising walks begin again in March starting with St Pirans Day when a group will do a 5-mile Round Robin hike from St Pirans Church in Carharrack via Wheal Damsel, Vogue and Primrose Herd.
Many thanks to those you helped raise money for Cornwall Hospice Care – certificates will be issued in the next few days.
THE CORNISH PILGRIMAGE CHALLENGE
Saturday 20th August – 2016
Today marks the journey to Morwenstow from where I plan to commence my Cornish Pilgrimage Challenge. The day starts in turmoil at Redruth Station where ‘the whole world and its mother’ is trying to board a 5 carriage train bound for the Scottish Highlands. You’d think this time of year a couple more carriages would have been the sensible approach in providing a fair service to the high-paying travelling public. And once the Spanish students board at Plymouth there is no possible movement beyond one’s seat. Fire Risk! You wouldn’t stand a chance here and all I need is the toilet!
Any way beyond Exeter the bus journey to Bude provided some solace in between much-needed catnaps (it was a two plus hour journey) though sadly I was deposited at the town centre in pouring rain and gale force wind. When I say wind it wasn’t even possible to wear a bobble hat! Then finally it sinks in that there are no buses running to Morwenstow thus subjecting me to a ten-mile road march to reach the start point of my journey!
It is not unusual for me to have a warmup day before the start of a major challenge – the most I achieved before a walk was 47 miles – bit over-zealous on that occasion!
Passing a campsite, I enquire how much to pitch a tent – £30 plus is the reply – stuff that is my retort; Cornwall doesn’t need to be leisure capital of ‘Rip Off Britain’, ‘Brexit’ or any other form of oppression; the tents worth less than that. Holidaymakers beware!
Continuing through Stibb and later Coombe Valley I gain some shelter from the on-coming storm. Later I see a sign for the Bush Inn, Morwenstow which says 2 miles – great I think, but an hour later I see another one saying Bush Inn 1.75 miles and so the quest continues!
Two hours and three more sign posts later I finish the final mile to the village and locate the inn; at last I have sanctuary, good ale a hot meal and hopefully tomorrow a chance to start my walk along the famous Cornish Pilgrimage from Hawker’s Church to St Michael’s Mount.
Day 1 The Cornish Pilgrimage 2016 – August 21st – 26 miles
After a windswept night a sustaining breakfast at the Bush Inn sets me back on course for a new day as I head off in search of the official Pilgrimage starting point at Morwenstow Church.
The parish of Morwenstow gains much credence from its long association with Reverend Robert Hawker, an eccentric vicar and poet, who preached at the church from 1834 until his death in 1875. As a deeply compassionate man he sought to provide Christian burials for the many dead Mariners who had succumbed to the Kingdom’s most brutal coastline, and as the Pilgrimage takes shape along the North Coast Footpath I find his little hut built of driftwood. Here he would spend many hours writing poetry and looking out across that Atlantic Anvil for those in peril on the sea.
A few more ascents lead me away from the past to the present day as the satellite dishes at Stanbury Point bring Cornwall into the 21st century. Further undulations take in Duckpool where I startle a hawk resting by the cliff edge; it takes off in front of my eye line and drops to a ledge below – beyond there all I can make out is the blur of torrential rain. On my next climb I speak to a couple of ladies enjoying their mandatory dose of exercise; by now many groups were parading the cliff tops as I encountered Sharpnose Point, Sandy mouth and finally Bude – still now under siege of inclement weather.
I ponder long enough for refreshment at the Globe where the majority of holidaymakers appear to be taking shelter from the summer weather. Later I grab a pasty from a corner shop, and across the road acquire a passport stamp at the Tourist Office. This no country for old folk! As the prevailing wind and rain fails to captivate even the most ardent bad weather enthusiasts and meets only the approval of local water fowl and a handful of seasoned fishermen frequenting the Bude Canal. The canal forms the preliminary stages of my walk to Langdon Cross and is the official start of The Cornish Way National Cycle and Walking Route. Although now benign, the canal once played a significant part in Cornwall’s Industrial Revolution largely transporting sand from the North Coast to inland farms where it could be used as fertiliser.
As the cycle route peels away from the canal it follows a course to Marhamchurch where I pause briefly to take a photograph of the church of St Morwenna. Passing through the village I continue towards Week St Mary, the next 4 miles of which are dominated by farmland. A herd of goats give their opinion of my effort and bewildered cattle stare at me as though I am some sort of anthropological curiosity – ‘Who’s this strange bloke pounding through our countryside’. Soon normality is restored and grazing resumes. Thankfully traffic is minimal and with no facilities open at the village of Week St Mary I march on towards Clubworthy. I see a few signs for North Petherwin and during the final blast of the day I come across the billboard for the Otter Sanctuary; this provides me with a moment of solace too as I am nearing completion of today’s journey and at the next junction I cross to shelter at the Countryman Inn where carvery awaits which at least dispels some of the discomfort of yet another ‘Cornish summer day’ – no cider festival this year – but who cares what a great place to rest!
Day 2 – Langdon Cross to Five Lanes
After a laboured effort yesterday along the coast path and Cornish Way I was fortunate enough to be given a room for my toil at the Countryman Inn; a guest had failed to show up and I became the benefactor – ‘Fortune favours the Brave’ on this occasion, and I certainly needed a shower and comfort to enjoy a proper nights sleep.
Rising at 7am I enjoy a good breakfast and plan my route for the day. It is something of a mixture starting on the busy country link into Launceston (B3254) where the narrow sections require a cautious approach. Stopping briefly at Yeolmbridge I mark up some sign posts with Pilgrimage stickers and then make steady progress to St Stephens Church. From here the road drops to Launceston Stream Railway; on the descent I pass Newport House where I had stayed on previous travels. The lady retired some years ago yet the place still evokes happy memories and I feel a sense of well-being each time I pass by it; I recall it being pleasantly antiquated and the lady proprietor was a lovely person of old traditional values.
On reaching the railway I pause to take photos of the passengers waiting to board the noon train to Newmills Farm. I intend to visit the station in a while but for now I ascend the hill into town passing the old Norman Castle Ruin which remains Launceston’s most ancient landmark. Arriving at the Tourist Office I collect my stamp and the lady enquiries about this year’s pilgrimage and whether I stayed at The countryman the previous evening. I am happy to confirm a pleasurable stay there and after bidding farewell for another year I locate ‘Sarah’s Bakery’ and stop for a coffee.
After the interval I return to the railway for a bit of old-fashioned nostalgia which makes my time in Launceston all the more satisfying.
After speaking to Nigel Beaumont, the founder of Launceston Railway, I obtain a special stamp from the platform shop. For a moment time stands still as I admire the old worlde advertising boards displaying products fashioned in a pre-decimal era when the waft of coal -fired engines was an every day event. Today the schedule runs by the hour though to my sadness the train is presently en route to the hamlet of Newmills. Tregadillet is a mile uphill from Newmills which I make on foot along the byway formed from the railway bridge beyond the old priory. It is 2.5 miles to Newmills then a further mile to Tregadillet. At the top of the village stands the Eliot Arms where a sudden attack of thirst prompts me to step inside! This inn was the starting point of my first big walk in 1992 and remains a popular meeting place and pit stop for walkers. I recall a group called TWATS (Tregadillet walkers and train spotters) who took the train from Launceston to Newmills and then climbed the steep hill to the pub where they enjoyed sandwiches and refreshment. The simple pleasures still remain the most rewarding in life whatever one’s title – God Bless them!
My stay here was appreciated too, for beyond here lies a complex network of roads which I need to follow in order to stay clear of the A30. The first mile follows the old road out of the village where I cross at the roundabout to pick up the byway to Kennards House and the South Petherwin Junction. The diminutive road is less demanding as it veers away from the A30 leaving the din of traffic behind for awhile; it is well marked and ensures I make it to the junction without any bother. Turning right onto the busy B3254 is another matter demanding complete concentration and precise crossings to counter the narrow bends that prevail along this hazardous section. Two miles into the trek I cross a single track bridge, climb a hill which takes in another narrow section and at the top I bear right onto a farm track to Lewannick – phew – what a relief! The farm track proves to be innocuous without even a tractor to disrupt the 2-mile journey to Lewannick. After passing St Martin’s Church I grab a pasty from the Post Office and a pint at the local pub before returning to the task. The main road journey from here to Five Lanes is only 3 miles but the Pilgrimage adds a further 2 along the quieter byways and farm tracks. It traverses Kelly’s House and Plusha; then crossing the Callington/Bodmin Road I locate the farm route which is a mixture of woods, paddocks with a few scattered houses; the last mile follows the course of the A30 as it closes in on Five Lanes where I conclude my journey at the KIng’s Head.
Day 3 – Five Lanes to St Kew – 21 miles
It was a pleasant evening at The Kings Head in Five Lanes last night and I slept well in the tent despite heavy dew and a ‘slug invasion’ at dawn. Today looks good and I enjoyed a full English Breakfast curtesy of landlady, Mandy to get me back on the road with Altarnun just half a mile down the hill.
The gentle descent encompassed by woodlands sets up the day nicely and soon the church of St Nonna comes into view – behold ‘The Cathedral of the Moor’ as it is known locally, and more prestigiously, a title befitting of its grandeur. Altarnun is the archetypal olde worlde village with running stream and green but the church puts it in a world of its own and I enjoyed my tour inside where I met the warden briefly. After a cheerful interaction he signs my passport and I depart via the church footpath which leads to a country byway; from here I pass Nathania’s Pilgrim Hostel and later a little moorland pub called the Rising Sun. Bearing left I follow the road round to the Route 3 junction at Davidstowe Aerodrome. Here the slim trail skirts Crowdy Resevoir on its course to Camelford and along the way I see many cyclists, a few touring motorists and an abundance of sheep which frequent this wild, windswept terrain. I exchange greetings with other athletes enjoying their daily tonic of exercise and by 1pm I am making my descent along Roughter Road to ‘Arthur’s Kingdom’. The bright sunshine makes Camelford all the more welcoming and with time to relax I visit Jo’s pub, The Mason’s Arms and enjoy a peaceful beer in the garden. An hour later I make a further excursion to the Post Office to obtain some funds, then I am on my way again. Leaving Camelford, at the end of the cycle route I cross right to pick up the Trewalder Byway which passes Bowood Hotel and golf course. Beyond here I capture a glimpse of Lanteglos Church and then it’s off along the winding narrow roads associated with this section of the Pilgrimage. Villages are sparse here – more a spread of farm cottages broken by St Teath and Pendoggit – the latter I bypass as I make my descent to St Kew. The antiquity of this little village sizes up well with Altarnun complete with old church and inn of similar age. The masons lived at the site of the inn for ten years whilst building the Church of St James the Great and as ale was an important part of their diet they used the premise to brew their own. It must have ignited a good social forum during that decade because once they had completed their mission the old dwelling was officially licensed as a pub (around 1495) and is still known as St Kew Inn. I found the place delightfully intriguing and felt privileged to be able to camp the night on the pub garden opposite the iconic 15th century church.
Day 4 – St Kew to Wadebride – 16 miles
Leaving the St Kew Inn, I take the steep ascent out of the village and then turn left onto the St Minver Road. It is much cooler today and I progress well along the byway ticking off all the appropriate junctions which form the Pilgrim Route. The rustic landscape ensures there is plenty of activity along these narrow lanes where tractors toil to move their harvest and I am quiet shocked to see a bus squeeze past leaving no room for even the slimmest of pedestrians let alone a tank like me! Re-emerging from a nearby gateway, I gather my composure and make light work to Rock where I stop to grab a sandwich. Both my feet are hurting – the left has a series of burst blisters covering most my heel (some of this was caused on last week’s Oundle Pilgrimage in the Nene Valley) and more concerning is a sore Achilles’ tendon. Ignoring the pain I plod on towards the ferry terminal with thoughts of visiting Padstow and its endearing world of Rick Stein.
Any hope of a swift crossing is soon dispelled on arrival at the shore where the whole world and its grandparents where queuing back to the road and half way up the hill. I really can’t see the pleasure in spending money on a holiday such as this which involves constant queuing.
By the time I reach Padstow I had lost the impetus of the day and struggle to make any headway through the crowd. All around people are queuing to spend the coin of fun – shops, cafes – even toilets – it was like watching cattle being herded along the street. I felt a sense of relief reaching the Camel Trail but it was short-lived as I could barely get going amid the throng of tourists who are clearly captivated by the sight of ‘two wheels’. Eventually I steal some grassland beside the trail and continue nipple high in cyclists. They come in their droves – all shapes and sizes – some of the ‘telletubies’ don’t look safe and are clearly traumatised by the experience; and there are adults that can’t even ride a three wheeler! Then of course you get the mandatory pair of ‘tanks’ who come along two abreast (and that was a sight for sore eyes!) bullying all else into submission; though I must concede it prompted a rye smile watching every one scatter into the vegetation! By the time I reach Wadebridge the mayhem of holiday season proves too much and so I decide to call it a day and attend to my feet. I book into the Swan Hotel for the night and on foot inspection find my right shoe is full of blood resultant from a burst blister – can’t believe it is that bad! A good scrub down and a spot of food soon puts pay to the discomfort leaving the rest of my day in front of the TV watching the cricket.
Day 5 – Wadebridge to Pentewan – 27 miles
Leaving Bodmin around 9am provides a good start along a much quieter Camel Trail than yesterday, and I enjoy the early steps stopping for a moment to look at the old train station next to the town’s library. There are definitely no camels present along this track which is largely characterised by its connection with the old days of steam. Before the Beeching axe fell this section formed part of the Great Southern Railway which followed the Camel Estuary to its terminus at Padstow, now the fish processing halls which earn the town a healthy living (any one remember Rick Stein!).
As the journey progresses away from Wadebridge I enjoy glimpses of its former life; well-restored platforms and time tables set partially in wooded escarpment gave it the ‘look of a railway’. At Boscarne Junction I bear right on the pedestrian footpath which forms part of my route via Nanstallon to Lanivet. After crossing a bridge a group of children escort me uphill to the village and ensure I take the correct road. This forms from the left of the Boscarne Sign post and so I follow its course to the Bodmin/Lanivet Road. After a quick blast of traffic I reach the village and immediately call into the chip shop to order some lunch.
Like Camelford chip shop, this plaice is also known as the best chip shop in England! But I have to confess it is very nice. Progressing beyond here along the Saints Way I soon become familiarised with the rural countryside which is presently busy with harvest duties. Some of the roads are a but tight but I am able to use my climbing skills to keep out of trouble; trees and gates are generally ok but I find hedge rows and barbed wire fences a bit of a problem – welcome to modern life on an ancient pilgrim route!
The journey continues inexorably for most of the time interacting with hamlets and farm yards where dogs herald my arrival at each passing place. People also take note of my progress, and at Luxulyan a guy pulls up to say well done; we had met earlier on The Camel Trail when he was doing his morning cycle ride; he went on to say he had cycled to Lourdes in France last year and is keen to do the Camino de Santiago – good on him – what a great challenge for him to do!
Luxulyan Valley provides an inspiring late afternoon session amid wild beauty and refreshing sound of running water’; en route a train thunders across the lofty viaduct and beyond here I walk through the grounds of the Eden Project. The path on the far left continues along Route 3 into St Austell; it is also possible to continue to Charlestown and Porthpean; occasionally I use this route when I need to call in to Mount Edgecombe Hospice. Today I just follow the course into the town centre and later exit along the Pentewan Tramroad. On completion of the cycle route I follow the coast path to the Pentewan Campsite where the receptionist finds me a spot to camp (19.30pm) – and obviously I had a pint after that lot!.
Day 6 – Pentewan to St Just-in-Roseland Creek
Setting off along the coast path in brilliant sunshine I enjoy the all round panoramic views across St Austell Bay. It is a strenuous first section as the trail climbs several paddocks on the way to the summit – the cattle need a good head for heights here! Reaching the peak there is a grass park with benches overlooked by a few houses and from here I follow the rows of cottages as they tumble to the harbour. The water scene is a mix of pleasure craft and fishing vessels and all around people are enjoying the holiday atmosphere. Bank Holiday looms and I need to get clear of these vastly popular seaside places. Struggling through the crowds I make my way to Portmellon where the pub ladies replenish my water supply to combat one of the hottest days of the year.
Moving away from the coast I pass all the rural communities along the way stopping briefly at the campsite at Boswinger for more water; later I cross the grounds of Caerhay’s Castle en route to Porthlunny Cove. The place is a hive of beach lovers who gather to enjoy the incoming tide and the tearoom nearby has a queue stretching from the car park; there is money to be made everywhere here today and as I leave more tourists struggle to obtain a space to park. My journey continues uphill via the coast path to Porthalland where I take a dip in the sea to cool down – then a cup of tea to relax. Heading back inland I reach the ‘Round Houses’ of Veryan; unusual buildings but effective in the days when the Devil lurked in every corner of a dwelling. He was not present today and so the challenge continues without disruption. After collecting groceries at the villageI continue to Porthgower for my last glimpse of the sea for awhile and after a quick burst along the St Mawes Road I turn off in the direction of Philleigh.
The road winds itself around the farmland and I cross some of the pastures via a footpath; soon I am approaching the Roseland Inn where I decide to take a break and indulge in some much-needed supper. The evening cools down as I set of for the final session which is a little painful on now blistered feet. I reach the creek before dusk and settle in a field nearby.
Day 7 The Cornish Pilgrimage Challenge – August 27th 2016
St Just-in-Roseland to Carharrack – 14 miles
Waiting by the boatyard whilst enjoying the serenity of the creek, Clive and Craig appear on the waves paddling ‘No Worries’ (name of the canoe) up to the shore. Shortly after mooring the Flushing Gig Rowing Team arrive to ferry across the water to Point. As the day progresses the temperature rises and I feel refreshed and grateful for my privileged passage across the estuary.
Docking briefly at Point I disembark bidding my comrades ‘Bon Voyage’ after three cheers for their beloved companion who died recently at a Cornwall Hospice which looked after him in his final days. I arrange to meet Clice and Craig later at the Coppice Inn, Lanner then set off to Devoran Quay I meet Anne for a snack and beer.
After the break I continue across the Portreath Tramroad towards Bissoe. The sunshine draws people across the Tramroad; dog walkers, cyclists and even joggers who can sustain the heat. I stop again at Bissoe for coffee and cake then press on to Twelveheads where I ascend to the old Redruth & Chacewater Railway which is an appropriate way to finish the day. Carharrack and Lanner here we come; and tomorrow all being well we’ll take a hike along the Gwennap Pilgrimage for the local section of the challenge. Hopefully we can provide some video footage for this leg and on Tuesday the journey continues to St Ives by way of Route 3, The St Michael’s Way and Coast Path.
Day 10 August 30th
Carharrack to St Ives – 26 miles
Having enjoyed my Bank Holiday tour of the Gwennap Region, I head off along Tram Cross Lane to the top of Tresavean Tramway Junction; then after a short walk uphill I bear right and take the byway to Copper Lane. My friend Anne is cycling ahead and we both take footage of the awe-inspiring landscape which affords all round views from the North Coast to Carn Brea Castle and back towards Redruth and Carn Marth.
Descending to Churchtown we pass St Euny Church and follow Route3 to the Carne; briefly it adopts The Great Flat Lode over the top as far as the Mineral Centre at Pool. Having reached this landmark Anne begins her return journey to Lanner while I continue on Route 3 to Camborne enjoying highlights of Heartlands, the new centre at Pool funded by the Lottery, and the many derelict engine houses that continue to haunt the landscape. The gaunt relics still emanate a voice from the past reminding us that they helped to make this region the richest square few miles in the world during the peak of Cornwall’s the Industrial Revolution.
After crossing the railway track to reach Camborne I stop for a break at Wetherspoons; then continue along The Cornish Way to Penponds. A diminutive trail leads me past a park and joins a narrow lane on its course through these rural outposts of the journey to Hayle. Passing through Penponds a train roars past above momentarily disturbing the solitude of village life. Joining a slim trail on the right below the railway tunnel I march on to Carnell Green; here the road widens and there are crop fields on both sides as I make my way to Gwineer. There is a greater flow of traffic here and amazingly a few walkers too! Cyclists use the road because it forms part of Route 3 which we adopt as passage for our Pilgrimage to Hayle.
Reaching Hayle I am pleased to see it is only 2pm and a brisk march across the estuary enables me to escape the busy streets reaching Lelant 20 minutes later. There is no respite here as the surge of holidaymakers proves unrelenting, yet by chance I catch sight of a fascinating pub called The Water Mill and decide it is time to take refuge and quench thirst before heading off on the St Michael’s Way which starts at St Uny Church.
This interesting old world pub has quant interior with Victorian working machinery and a large functioning water wheel outside too. After a refreshing interval I leave the commotion of tourism behind – once I manage to cross the bloody road that is! But from then on I indulge myself with the quieter coast lanes of Lelant.
Joining the St Michael’s Way at St Uny Church heralds the beginning of the last and most ancient section of the Pilgrimage to St Michael’s Mount; though there are still some miles to be trodden tomorrow along an arduous course across the wide open spaces of Lelant Downs and Trencrom.
The path is gently undulating with golf course to the right and the beautiful Porth Kidney Sands below with seaward views as far as Godrevy Point. A train chugs past on its way to Carbis Bay and soon a great sea of tourists engulf the beach ahead as I make my ascent towards the holiday centre. I follow the path through the grounds of the Carbis bay Hotel and over a couple of bridges; soon I pass the St Michael’s Way Junction and from here the remainder of today’s journey is completed along the coast path. On arrival in St Ives I head for Ayr Holiday Camp Site and book in for the remainder of the walk. Then it’s sauna, swim and a beer to complete today’s effort. Cheers everyone!
Day 11 – August 31st
St Ives to St Michael’s Mount
After a press meeting with Toby from the St Ives ‘Times and Echo newspaper’, I start the day with a steep hike to The Cornish Arms at Carbis Bay where I join Steeple Lane and make further ascent to Knill’s Monument.
There is a bit of drizzle about as I make my way through the bracken to Laity Lane. Turning left I continue by road and pause to speak to a lady walking her dogs; she uses the St Michael’s Way regularly but admits it is one of the more difficult sections of the Cornish Pilgrimage Route to follow.
I find the next sign post by a few scattered houses which leads me through an escarpment; then I cross a paddock and enter farmland which makes up the next mile to a small hamlet near Bowl Rock Chapel. Crossing the road I pass by the chapel and ascend through the cattle field beyond as far as Tremcrom Hill. Here I join a nature park and enjoy a trek as far as the car park where I rejoin the road and then a byway which falls to a solitary Victorian Chapel. The building is now a residential property and soon I am traversing the back garden – colourful it is too I may add! Then another stile; a few more cattle fields and a farm and I find myself descending through another escarpment. Before the trail dips to its lowest point I catch sight of St Michael’s Mount and a little further downhill are a group of pilgrims. I catch them up and discover they hail from Germany and all look to be keen walkers dressed for the occasion. By now wet weather had transformed into another hot summer’s day and the Pilgrimage an ambience of hedge rows, time old features including a ford which can be crossed by a foot bridge and after an ascent by road Panoramic views of Mounts Bay and the idyllic Ludgvan Church. The downhill journey across the paddocks lead to some lovely wooded sections accompanied by the sound of running water. All is quiet at Ludgvan and it is too early for the pub so I continue across the flat farmland to the next road junction. Traffic is full on as one can expect in peak season, but I cross easily, take on the next section which also crosses the A30 and later the main line railway from Penzance.
The rest is a gentle stroll through the marshes to Marazion where the tide is out and I cross easily to the Mount.
The Island is full of Tourists and I fear having a panic attack after an intense walk and dehydration. The Harbour Master sees I am distressed and offers to sign my passport so I can escape the crowds; also I have a press release to secure for this week’s publication and promotion of our support for Cornwall Hospice Care. I now feel I should consider a final leg to Lands End tomorrow as a full end to end journey of Cornwall; it will bring more publicity and reopen old chapters of my old walking history with new meaning to my Pilgrimage. All will be revealed tomorrow!
Day 12 – The Cornish Pilgrimage Challenge – 1st September 2016
Continuation of Pilgrimage to Lands End
‘ My Staff and I’
Throughout the Pilgrimage my wooden staff with St Piran’s Scallop has been my aid and companion in sun and rain; yet the story of its origin is even more compelling.
Whilst on a coast-to-coast expedition of the British Isles I suffered an early blister which did not heal and later turned into an ulcer. The pain was excruciating and my boots were often full of blood by the end of the day. I was loathe to camp in case of infection and for the greater part of the journey managed to stay in hotel/inn accommodation. Having walked round the Ring of Kerry I engaged myself into some long hauls exceeding 50km; I still had Waterford and Rosslare to go as the Ireland leg drew to a close. On my approach to a town called Kilmeaden I was in considerable discomfort and it was far to late to get anywhere to stay. It was freezing cold by the time I reached the place and as I passed what looked to be a social club a lady shouted across to me. She was the bar attendant called Carol just breaking off for a cigarette and after a chat she invited me in for a Guinness. I was surprised to see the place still open and with people there supping ale. One of the guys was a raleigh driver called Mick Morrissey who had travelled the world on 4 wheels and done his bit for charity too. One such epic in Lebanon finished in a hail of gunfire which left his hotel room needing a spot of renovation! After an hour of chat and another final last orders of Guinness, Mick invited me to his home to rest up for the night and I can tell you after a punishing day I was grateful to know I wouldn’t be sleeping under the stars!
During the early hours of the morning Mick went over to his workshop, and being the skilful man he is, made a lovely walking stick complete with handle and of course his signature below. It was a gift I would always treasure because of its contribution to an effort under duress and more important the foundation of a good friendship.
That day he followed me to Arthurstown to ensure I was still fit to continue my quest; the following year we met again; this time at the end of an epic Barmy Army Walk of 2008 covering 5 Celtic Kingdoms over 3 months. In that calendar year I was able to raise £7000 for Hospice Care and Cancer Research so the effort was at least rewarded with a worthwhile contribution.
2 years later we launched our Pilgrimage Projects (Oundle for Sue Ryder Thorpe Hall and Cornwall Hospice Care) which are walked each summer and have raised thousands of pounds for the charities as well as putting them on the fundraising map in new places that knew little about them before. This year has seen the involvement of the Flushing Gig Rowers, local canoeists, cyclists and maybe next year we will see some equestrians take part and raise money for a worthy cause.
And so the stick that has accompanied me throughout this pilgrimage of Cornwall has a place of origin and an important place in my heart as a symbol of friendship.
Wherever you are Mick keep well and enjoy your travels too!
Back in Penzance Market Jew Street is a hive of activity as holidaymakers continue to explore the nooks and crannies of this great fishing town steeped in smuggling traditions. I pause long enough to grab breakfast at Wetherspoons, then kick on to the outskirts of town where I connect my journey with the sign for Land’s End.
It initially follows the A30 with some pavement and notoriously steep hills; there is no dual carriageway here – just country roads that service the small communities in the basement of Cornwall. Later I make an excursion along the byway to Sancreed, an ancient settlement with Celtic Roots. All is peaceful as the din of traffic is replaced by tranquil presence of water formed from a large dam which follows the road for half a mile. It meanders off away to the right as my journey descends along a country lane which harbours only a few cyclists and the occasion four wheel drive. All is good as I pass the St Just turn off which reveals a glimpse of Sancreed Church. A bit further on a side lane bears off towards Brane whilst I continue along the country lane interspersed by a few Farm houses. Along the way I pass equestrians who confirm my journey to Land’s End is just another 6 miles. Rejoining the A30 I walk on to Crows-an-Wra and pause for a mineral drink. Continuing carefully I cross the road regularly to avoid sharp bends and leave nothing to chance amid the surge of holidaymakers set to invade the Country’s notorious end. It’s not quite the end of the world but has become a tourist magnet all the same and I have began and finished of a dozen major expeditions here – many exceeding thousands of miles making it an important landmark for my achievements – and one I look back on fondly.
A nearing my destination I stop at Sennen for more fluid and make my final descent; the road is full of caravans, camper vans and numerous coaches and open air buses as I arrive at Land’s End. most impressive was a lady with a dog who skipped all the way from Sennen to this final Pilgrim destination. Despite numerous visitors I manage to arrive at the famous sign post to mark the end of this journey and to celebrate 30,000 miles of Expeditions/Pilgrimages for charity. And on attempting to pay for the pictures a kind gentleman steps in and gives the photographer his fee; I had barely thanked him before he disappeared into the hub of visitors becoming invisible within seconds.
I will soon be leaving here after a few moments of nostalgia and time to reflect on many great walking achievements which have culminated here in the last 20 years. Long may it go on – and when I can’t do it any more – some one else will! Bless you all and good luck.
A Pilgrimage of WW1
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 forward to 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 is no time to think of the day to come,
Still young with calm still air and rising sun,
Gone is the way of life that we once knew,
Replaced by bullet, barb wire and spew.
60,000 men fell on that first morning of battle,
Pushed over the top like herds of cattle,
Summer long fighting saw a million dead,
It was a bloodbath of young soldiers who were badly mislead.
Today, a land of white tablets tell of their shortness of life,
From Maricourt to Albert where the Somme battles were rife,
Like a bridge spanning nations helping the world to cope,
It is now a place of remembrance, peace and great hope.
By Robin Moore
Walking from Luxembourg to Albert (the Somme)
Day 1 Luxembourg to Arlon – 30km
After a late evening lift with ” Coppice Derek” to Exeter Airport; a plane to Manchester and another to Luxembourg, I arrive with the help of public transport at the railway station in the city centre where I completed last year’s walk from Arnhem, September 2015.
Like the 2014 Pilgrimage of War and Words (now in print), this walk commemorates the Great War and pays tribute to those who fell at the Somme in 1916 which transpired to be one of the bloodiest battles of the conflict (see justgiving page for British Legion). It bears similar poignant reminders of a conflict which changed a way of life engineered through the genius and power of the Industrial Revolution throughout the previous century. The technology devised in this age though sought only to reek destruction, havoc and hardship.
We wonder how lessons of war have not been learnt despite the fact we are no longer a fledgling society finding our way in the world; on that note I ask why are we still fighting today!
Initially my main battle here amid the traffic is finding the correct route out of the city centre, and after a lot of backtracking with experimental hikes I find myself back at the railway station where I seek help from a local touring company. After receiving clear instructions from the two girls on duty I am on my way wondering why I never went there in the first place! Later I seek further assistance from The Bank of Luxembourg who kindly provide me with a local map and confirmation that my journey to Arlon is well underway. Luxembourg itself did not fire a shot in anger during WW1 but was occupied by Germany who used the high ground to shell the French positions, and the rail tracks to infiltrate both France and Belgium. The city today has a look of the modern world yet steeped in gothic-style architecture of yesteryear that is also predominant in parts of France. On my last visit I noticed many refugees around the city centre and a strong police presence at night time. As I walk the streets on this sunny afternoon I see people begging in shop doorways but generally speaking a brisk pace of life continues here devoid of any conflict.
Within an hour the motorway kicks in and the traffic flow reduces to a gentle ebb as I enjoy the comfort of a pavement to the outskirts of the city.
A steel bridge construction ends the Luxembourg experience bringing about a transformation of open countryside broken by small villages. The Autumn is well underway here lacking the riot of colour served up on home shores; instead leaves and twigs drift across the paths obscuring my passage in the dimming light. Facilities become sparse for a while but as dusk approaches I cross into Belgium where the next town awaits on the horizon ahead. Around 6pm I am entering a supermarket in Arlon where I purchase a few groceries, though the place is so big I can’t find the bloody exit! Once away from there I hastily look for a night time refuge following a big H sign to the local hospital! Then I walk into a stationary tank next to a memorial in the market square – and so it goes on! After another hour circling the town with no real sense of direction I am fortunate enough to stumble across a lovely little restaurant, The Tulli which also provides accommodation – B&B for 55euros.
Day 2 Arlon to Florenville – 43km
Having spent a good night at the Tulli Hotel I start the day with a few photos of the town centre before locating the N40 to Habay. With a population approaching 30,000 Arlon is the smallest provincial capital in Belgium but probably one of the oldest pre dating Roman times when it’s natives were a mix of Celtic and Germanic origin. Sadly it is also known to be one of the first casualties of the Great War when 121 of its town folk were executed on the orders of Colonel Richard Karl von Tessmar. The violation of the 1839 treaty of Belgium Neutrality brought about Britain’s involvement in the war and they were soon to take up arms against Germany in the first great battle at Mons Salient, August 23rd 1914.
Having enjoyed a brief encounter with history I locate my route which is reasonable for walking. Enjoying its ruralness I note the transition of opulent gothic buildings of yesterday to those of purpose-built farm dwellings along the way. There are pockets of forest and trees that nature has failed to strip eminently displaying Autumn colours of golden and reddish brown. Pausing briefly along the way I note a dedication to Notre Dame; derived from the efforts of local people it contains collage, souvenirs and narrative paying tribute to ‘Our Lady of Paris’ . Arriving at Habay I find little in the way of facilities, so press on through Rules crossing its diminutive bridge where I see a plaque dedicated to local heroes of the Great War. Later, I make my first stop for coffee at Marbenam where I sit by a wood burner to stay warm and get help with directions from two local guys at the bar. The sun had tried to poke through the haze earlier but has gone now I feel for the rest of the day leaving the cool air to creep in once more. I have completed over 24 km and it is 2pm; I will give myself another 4 hours on the road before trying to find lodgings tonight.
Leaving the village on the N891 I set off for Rossignol and Jamoigne but amazingly rain sets in to make a task of it. The road too has its shortcomings with potholes soon filling up with water and I feel a visit from ARC is overdue! I make an excursion to Izel in hope of seeking out it’s much-lauded hotel/restaurant only to later find it closed! A further hike sees me to Pin and with the time at 5pm dusk is approaching already. It’s five more ‘clicks’ to Florenville where I need to find both food and shelter having not eaten since breakfast. On reaching the town my fortune changes as I book into the newly opened Le Florentine Hotel where the pretty receptionist sets up my wifi and directs me to the nearest supermarket.
Florenville, a substantial town of nearly 6,000 inhabitants, is situated on the Semois River and is close to the French border which all being well I will cross in the morning. Then a town or so later, on reaching Mouzon, my past and present pilgrimages of the Great War will meet thus completing a 6,000km circular trail around France; taking in the Italian border, as far as Geneva and beyond to Verdun, Luxembourg, Lille and Ypres in Belgium. Then back through Vimy Ridge Arros, Amiens and Nantes; beyond here my travels follow a course through La Rochelle finishing near to the Spanish border at Biaritz.
Day 3 Florenville to Sedan – 40km
Leaving the hotel I pass ‘The Church of Our Lady of the Assumption’ as I set off in search of the D981 to Mouzon in France. It is a wet start along the quiet forest road and within half an hour I cross the border into France. Nearby on the Belgium side is a statue dedicated to the British war effort during 1914-18 elaborately ornated with a lion at the top. Further on I see a few guys out on a game shoot (hopefully that’s all they were interested in!!), and later I pass through the first of several farm villages. Heading into rural France the road becomes more diminutive interspersed by a handful of tiny communities and I am relieved to reach the substantial town of Carignan where I enjoy a coffee break
I have completed 16 km already and it is only 11.30am; this place is sizeable though at present looks as though it has been maintained by ‘Guy Fawkes’ as rubble and broken bits of the thoroughfare lie all around. After skirting round a heap of concrete at the end of town I continue my journey along the D19 to Mouzon.
Traffic speeds by on this slim country road which winds itself around the hilly forest land but later the sun shines over the River Meuse as I make my descent to the ancient gated town of Mouzon. As I pass through the gateway I am immediately exposed to the beautiful double-towered gothic-style church and after crossing the bridge I find a local restaurant to enjoy a much-needed coffee and a moment to savour my travels in France.
Pressing on in the direction of Sedan I cross over another bridge spanning a wide section of river where two guys are fishing; the air is still and I press on to the end of town. A century ago the terrain along the Meuse would have been a theatre of war taking in the battles of Ardennes, Sedan and Verdun; the latter raging on throughout the entire conflict. It took until 1917 onwards when a US/Franco offensive under General Pershing began to erode the German lines eventually pushing them back through Luxembourg. Beyond the town the country vista opens up again as my route bears down on a peaceful Meuse. The walking pace remains brisk though I gain composure watching the river meander through its quiet, unspoilt landscape and tiny communities conspicuous only by smoking chimneys. I took a different route to Sedan previously but this undulating terrain allows good all round panoramic views of the whole region including the road on the far side of the river. Passing through new villages I churn up the miles and amuse myself talking in French to cattle and horses; earlier I shared my lunch with a pair of goats whose company brightened up my day. With light still good and a spring in my step I make Sedan by nightfall yielding over 40km due to the longer combination of roads. After a further excursion to Lidl I collect some groceries and later book into a Kyard hotel at 60 euros for B&B, but had to return to the supermarket having forgot to get beer! All is good now as I relax and enjoy refreshment with my thoughts drifting to tomorrow and the new adventures that lay in wait.
Day 4 Sedan to Le Val De Vence – 42km
Sedan was in German occupation throughout the Great War and I am unsure whether it is Remembrance Sunday here in France today but have my poppy attached just in case. After breakfast at the hotel I head off in search of the route to Flize. En route a French hiker assists with directions and the pronunciation of Flize which sounds more like “flees”. At the next village I join the cycle route along the River Meuse which runs first to Dom-le-mesail which is 6km and a further 2.5km to Flize. The cool air is biting yet the tranquility by the water allows me time to relax away from the stress of the road. I encounter a few cyclists and die-hard joggers along the way; the first section running beside a canal; after a few locks it returns to a fuller expanse flowing alongside woodlands with pastures to my left running back to the road. On reaching Flize I immediately pick up my route to Poix Terron which goes well as far as Bouzincourt. To say this village is a sleepy little place is an understatement – they must be very tired here as I don’t remember a soul on the way through let alone anywhere open for trade!
Ahead the motorway traffic roars in and out of Charville Mezieres and on reaching intersection I have difficulty in finding a pedestrian route; after several attempts I follow the only road left which to my dismay does not have signs for any places on either of my maps. Ah well! Keep bearing right and see what happens is my prognosis! Soon I am on a farm track defined as unsuitable for transport; it is a steep ascent and ahead I see youngsters struggling uphill on their bycicles. They wish me good day and seconds later some maniac speeds past scattering the group though luckily not inflicting casualties. It only takes one idiot to spoil the party! Pressing on the slim lane passes a farm yard as it runs through the rural out backs untill all traces of mechanical activity subsides. All that surrounds me is forest now and tons of it! After Continuing for an hour I am heartened by the din of distant traffic and arrive at another unchartered village; guess what – it brings me out onto the D35. Great is my initial response until I realise there are no signs for places anywhere or even nowhere! I toss a coin – left it is then and 5km on I am informed by a pair of local hikers that I now need to turn round and walk 5km back; further more Signy l’Abbaye, my next destination is 18km! Feeling totally lambasted with daylight fading rapidly I hasten past the village I joined the road from earlier. A few km later I stop to repair my feet and eat a curled up sandwich salvaged from breakfast time. As dusk looms ever near I march on to Le Val De Vence arriving at the D27 junction for Signy which is now only 11km. Amazingly, to my great relief, is a hotel literally across the road from the junction and within moments I am instilled in a lovely little room with a breakfast booked for the morning! What a miraculous end to a testing day – it was as if it had been planted there, and words can’t describe how grateful I am for that!
Day 5 Le Val De Vence to Montecornet Region – 58km
Having enjoyed a great rest and slumber I take breakfast before heading off in the direction of Signy l’Abbaye. It’s a mirky start with an air of ‘Monday Morning Syndrome’ which does not bother me particularly as each day is the same in this game. Throughout the early steps the clearing mist is cool and I benefit from the continued quietness of my journey amid forest and farmland which still captures a semblance of endless rusticity.
Ironically all that passes by are two “Convoi Exceptionalle” illustrating that quiet country lanes are the best routes to transport heavy goods in France. At Dormany I stop by a fishing lake and savour a moment of peace; the village has a few interesting buildings which enables me to make sense of the title ‘Route of Churches and Fortifications’ as it is known to the tourists who frequent it. On arriving at Signy l’Abbay I stop for coffee and then go in search of the Tourist Office to obtain a better map.
I find the town disappointing paying over £4 for a basic coffee and no sign of a Tourist Office for assistance. Passing through several more villages I savour the beauty of Autumnal colours along this peaceful byway knowing that a Route change is imminent. This I find at the next town signposted as D978 around 1.30pm but without further addition to the 25km walked today, I break for coffee and a chat with the proprietor who enjoys looking through books of my past adventures; then as a gesture of respect treats me to a chocolate desert.
After the interval I cross to the left of the road and commence my journey to Rozoy-s-Serre.
The walk goes well and I make my destination by nightfall and although I find the hotel it has a notice saying closed on 7th November – how typical is that – the only bloody day of the year too!
This now means a night trek which is likely to include camping. It is hazardous despite sporting fluorescent cloths and torch but 2 hours later I reach Montecornet which – guess what – also has no facilities! I see a young maid walking her dog using a ridiculously long lead which I manage to trip over several times as I walk the thoroughfare. After a while we stop and chat; then she tries to help by explaining that I need to take the right fork out of town. Following her instructions I walk a further 3 km beyond the fork, finding a spot to pitch my tent in a nearby forest – a short distance from a railway crossroads.
Day 6 Montecornet Region to Origny Benoite – 57km
It is no joke pitching a tent in total darkness in the confines of a thicket! Amazingly I got some sleep but wake to find fog; also my phone has failed to charge up at my previous stay so I have no communication/ alarm clock ect. It is an aweful struggle in the fog on what now transpires to be a ‘truckers route’ – not good and it is a slow 13km yomp to Maule where I do at least obtain a coffee and instructions how to find St Quentin. No sign posts yet but have been informed it is another 50km! The market square is a hive of activity and I capture a moment watching townsfolk exchange hugs as they squeeze past street traders clinging to their baguettes and sweet bread. Passing along the industrial byways is less invigorating though, as I concentrate hard to ensure I arrive at the appropriate junction.
Managing to get out of the town I continue along my route feeling no more animated than I did on arrival there! With no facilities available I rest by some hay bales to eat a tin of mackerel, my only remaining source of nutrition. While nourishing myself the farmer arrives on a fork lift needing to distribute the very bale I’m sat on – unbelievable! After moving to another haystack I change my socks before continuing this enduring hike. Setting off again the farmer returns to collect more fodder and we wave goodbye on parting in different directions. Eventually I reach a small village which also brings about another route change; no let up in traffic though as heavy goods wagons, mostly shipping sugar beet from local farms, continue to dominate the highway.
I make it to the next main town Origny Benoite and to my delight I see a sign for St Quentin – only 6 km. It is dusk now and I fail once more to find accommodation in this industrial set up. Feeling frustrated by the lack of facilities over the last 100km I depart against the teatime traffic and the sickly smell of sugar beet – walking until I can take no more! Finding a coppice beside the busy highway I retire to pitch a tent as rain comes in to ensure an uncomfortable night. The hope of a hot meal still seems a very long way off!
Day 7 Origny Benoite Region to Perrone (Somme Region) 43km
“Il fait mauvais temps ici”
Heavy rain soaked the coppice last night as I heard horses struggle for shelter nearby, but despite a rough 2 days I slept adequately though footsore on the start of today. The weather is unrelenting and so are the trucks -I wonder if there is any left in France! My plight is halted momentarily at Saint Quentin where I stop at the first cafe I come to and warm myself up with a coffee. Next I need a sock change and head off to find a suitable shelter. Later I visit the town centre which has many opulent buildings and for a change hotels! The market square is hosting a live presentation which is well-attended despite the rain. St Quentin, largely recognised through its association with art, had seen plenty of action throughout WW1 ; initially it is remembered as a haven for those retreating from Mons and the battle of Le Cateau; then more significantly in 1918 at the Battle of St Quentin Canal. This was a pivotal battle starting on 29th September under Australian General John Molash commanding British, American and Australian forces in a final assault on the Hindenburg Line, Germany’s most fortified position. It took nearly a million shells in 24 hours to break through the line, but it meant there was little hope of Germany winning the war and from here the allies, further mechanised with tanks, gathered strength in their quest for supremacy in the field.
Stopping at an Ibis Hotel the receptionist helps me book accommodation at Perrone which is a further 30km as I feel another night in the forest would not bode well.
Great I think initially, but later realise I have left the town via the route to Cambrai! Basically I now need to walk the whole way back beyond the town bridge which I crossed 2 hours ago. It is difficult as there are no signs for Perrone and it takes ages til I see one for Amiens. Having asked a good range of people on my way back through the city I eventually get onto the road to Amiens.
Still snowed under with lorries – must have passed a million by now! And worse still is the mini hurricane that comes from nowhere! The dark clouds move quickly wth bursts of ice rain and there is danger as I am tossed into the road like a rag doll. There are no forests here to offer protection and I notice that cars too are struggling to cope with these conditions. For a while it is difficult to make any headway and I wonder if I will ever get to Perrone. Eventually I reach the Somme border and as dusk descends quickly I turn off the Amiens Road and on towards Perrone. Teatime traffic slows me down along another narrow road, but I arrive unscathed by 7pm, collect groceries and then retire to the pre-booked St Claude Hotel costing 70 euros. Thank God!
Day 8 Perrone to Albert – 26km
Setting off from the St Claude Hotel in Perrone I backtrack through the town to the Albert sign where I commence my journey through the old Somme battlefields. Perrone like St Quentin saw plenty of action during the campaign having been occupied from August 28th, 1914, and on 1st September 1918, a month before the partial destruction of the Hindenburg Line, the enemy was ousted for good – paving the way clear for victory. Today the sky is clear and the calmness of the morning allows me to progress more effectively than yesterday. The road is kinder too with less traffic to dodge and I pause along the way to admire the remaining landmarks of the journey. Beyond the A Route to Arras and Lille there are many war graves and cenotaphs interspersed all the way to Albert. Passing through the rural landscape I hear gunshots nearby; a century again the heart would have raced but today only pheasants run the risk of defeat! Stopping briefly at Maricourt I visit a cemetery used after an early Somme offensive in August 1916. This was also the last outpost of the British Frontline and from here the French continued their trenches along the Meuse through Verdun extending as far as Basel in Switzerland. Stopping again a few km further on at a small cenotaph I note signs for a Devonshire Cemetery and Commonwealth sites at Rancourt and Bray. As Albert looms ever near the endless fields of white grave stones evoke a chilling reminder of the great debt owed to the British Empire. On reaching the city there is a French Cemetery and just beyond a Police Station. Further on I pass the local Commonwealth Cemetery and after reaching the memorial cenotaph I am fortunate enough to book a room at a local hotel opposite. Once settled in I hurry out to visit the War Museum which is an underground experience full of interest containing many artefacts and history of the Great War and the front line at Albert. Tomorrow I will observe the silence at the city memorial; then catch a train to Lille where I can make my journey home
Day 9 Remembrance Day 11/11/2016 – Albert
Today is spent en route with the local band precession as we make our way round Commonwealth, French And British Cemeteries paying tribute to those who gave their lives in the field of battle to set others free. It is also about recognising the importance of wearing a poppy as a symbol of peace. After all It is not the fault of those who died here in battle a century ago that humanity has failed to learn about the futility of war; the evidence here suggests this would have been one of the harshest lessons dealt up on a military scale. Many of the young men who fought here were part of ‘Kitchener’s Army’, a brigade of friends and families from villages all around the UK stiffened up with a few ‘old regulars’ from the BEF. Thrust into battle by generals schooled in Crimea War tactics, the Battle of the Somme became known as the worst military disaster in British History.
Wear your poppy with pride and remember these young lads marched to their deaths in the name of freedom; I hope one day yet humanity will find a more peaceful path to tread.
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