Decaying Chances (Blisland to Colliford Lake) (Day 9 - Walking Lands End to John o'Groats)

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July 4th 2011
Published: April 23rd 2012
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Bodmin Moor ViewsBodmin Moor ViewsBodmin Moor Views

Views from Day 9 (Blisland to Colliford Lake) of our Lands End to John o'Groats (LEJOG) charity walk.
The sweet, sickly smell of decomposition made me gag. Its pungency hung thick in the air. There was no escaping it. To make matters worse, the aroma came from decaying human flesh, the human flesh of my wife. It's a topic of conversation I never envisaged having. "Excuse me love, but I believe your foot is slowly rotting away." We both knew it was happening. We both hoped by ignoring the issue, it would just disappear. As to be expected, it hadn't.

Ever since the second day of our 1160 mile charity walk form Lands End to John o'Groats, my wife had been inundated with blister issues. Covering her feet with blister plasters seemed to have corrected the problems. But now taking the plasters off for the first time seven days later, I knew they were masquerading a graver issue.

Like sniffing salts, the nauseating smell hit us head on. Chunks of skin fell away with barely a touch. The stark realization of the seriousness of the situation hit home. To think we were still less than 10% through our planned journey made it impossible to envisage completing our charity challenge. We'd both been secretly hoping it was just
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Views from Day 9 (Blisland to Colliford Lake) of our Lands End to John o'Groats (LEJOG) charity walk.
a matter of breaking in her hiking boots. I was starting to think our only option of reaching the finish line was to ditch the new £100 boots or take a prolonged break.

My wife's feet might have been falling off, but she reliably informed me the levels of discomfort were bearable enough to continue. We'd slept for over twelve hours the previous night and were both refreshed and in buoyant spirits. Quite remarkable considering our possible predicament of not continuing for much further. It was another glorious summer's day and today would be the shortest walk of our challenge so far. South Penquite Farm, our campsite the previous night had been a refreshing surprise. Homemade sausages and burgers for sale, spacious, grassy pitches, excellent sustainability ethics and roaming pigs that craved attention like dogs made me wish we could spend another day here.

To be honest, it was a shame we hadn't planned another rest day. Not only were there many more ales to try at The Blisland Arms, but Bodmin Moor is a place steeped in myth and legend. First farmed over 4000 years ago by Bronze Age settlers, the rocky crags, bottomless bogs and dense
South Penquite FarmSouth Penquite FarmSouth Penquite Farm

Friendly pigs. Views from Day 9 (Blisland to Colliford Lake) of our Lands End to John o'Groats (LEJOG) charity walk.
mists leave no question why Bodmin Moor has featured so heavily in folklore and fairytale.

One fable involves the stone circle at Minions and 'The Hurlers', who were turned to stone because they chose to play on the Sabbath instead of going to church. Another legend is that of Jan Tregeagle, who was sentenced to death for various misdemeanours in the 17th century. People say his ghost can still be found running across the moors, pursued by the Devil's hounds.

But it is King Arthur who populates most of Bodmin Moor's storylines. As early as the 12th century the moor was linked to Arthur in literature and King Arthur's Hall, a late Neoloithic or early Bronze Age ceremonial site, west of St. Breward, has appeared on maps from the 17th century onwards. Probably the most famous of all King Arthur's legends on Bodmin Moor though can be found at Dozmary Pool. Located near Bolventor, this small lake is said to be the place where a dying Arthur ordered Sir Bedivere to throw the sword Excaliber.

Today, it is the more believable story of 'The Beast of Bodmin Moor' that springs to the mind of the majority of
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Views from Day 9 (Blisland to Colliford Lake) of our Lands End to John o'Groats (LEJOG) charity walk.
visitors. The Beast of Bodmin Moor is a big, black cat of puma or panther origin that has received many creditable sightings. With no concrete evidence though, like the stories of King Arthur, it still remains a creature of myth.

As we retraced our steps from the previous day back to Blisland, it was the wild horses, rather than black cats, I was wary of. We carried on south-eastwards towards the dual-carriage A30 through undulating, empty country lanes. Cyclists we had met doing the journey in the opposite direction had all said the hills of Cornwall were far worse than anywhere else along the route. Today we had no reason to doubt these words. With just one more day of walking in Cornwall left, we knew there would be a psychological boost if we could get through this.

I was happy that we were able to break away from the dangerously busy A30 (a road that dissects Bodmin Moor in two) not too long after reaching it. Lacking any pavement we were forced to walk along the narrow, uneven grassy verge. Juggernauts whizzed past only inches away. As soon as we were away from the A30 again, it
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Walking along the narrow country lanes. Views from Day 9 (Blisland to Colliford Lake) of our Lands End to John o'Groats (LEJOG) charity walk.
was back to open moorland and empty roads.

We walked eastwards, staying just out of earshot of the A30. I'd read some people who walk from Lands End to John o'Groats choose to do it only along main roads. From this little stretch endured, I couldn't think of anything worse. When we reached the tiny hamlet of Temple I stopped next to the eroded War Memorial. Located almost in the centre of Bodmin Moor, Temple contains nothing more than a couple of houses and the small St. Catherine's Church, made famous as a place where marriages could be performed without a license up until the early 20th century.

It's not often I take note of War Memorials, but in a place like Temple I couldn't help but notice that this memorial contained more names than there were houses. Pretty traumatic considering I could count the number of dwellings on one hand. It's easy to forget how many people lost their lives fighting for Britain during the two world wars. In Britain there were only 52 'thankful villages' after World War I. The term 'thankful village' was coined by Arthur Mee in the 1930's and refers to places that
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Views from Day 9 (Blisland to Colliford Lake) of our Lands End to John o'Groats (LEJOG) charity walk.
received not a single World War I fatality. Including the Second World War, this number drops to only 14. Hearing the stories of my grandparents, who lost several of their siblings it's impossible to visualize the pain and suffering endured and how common place these occurrences were. Temple certainly hadn't been a 'thankful village' by any sense of the phrase.

From the hamlet of Temple, it was only a short walk to our finishing point, Colliford Lake. Colliford Lake is actually a reservoir and at 3.6km², it is the second largest lake in Cornwall. With the weather set to turn nasty within the next 24 hours, I was tempted to walk the extra 14 miles to Launceston and enjoy an extra day of rest. Sensibly, my wife refused to share the same ideology.

Our campsite was located on the northern edges of Colliford Lake, which remained hidden as small conifer plantations had been planted all around the campsite's perimeter. Near the entrance I spotted a man in a grubby tracksuit amongst the conifer trees. Looking dishevelled as though just waking from a night of alcohol and substance abuse, I noticed he was watching our every step. His hands
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Views from Day 9 (Blisland to Colliford Lake) of our Lands End to John o'Groats (LEJOG) charity walk.
were in his pockets and gyrating enough to make me feel very uncomfortable. It could all have been very innocent, but realising I was returning his stare, he immediately disappeared into the shadows of the deciduous trees.

There was an eeriness I didn't like. It didn't help matters that we were the only people staying at the campsite. The campsite bar was void of any punters and the wind whistled constantly through the branches of the surrounding, looming trees. It reminded me of the start to a thriller movie, where you can sense something unjust and untoward is about to happen.

With the pub closing after lunch until evening, we spent the afternoon doing laundry. With a bag full of sweaty, festering, dirty clothes this was becoming a regular necessity of travelling with such a small selection of clothing. Waiting around for them to finish washing and drying can easily ruin the best of afternoon plans, and we decided a visit to the nearby Dozmary Pool, home to the most famous of King Arthur fables, would have to wait. Instead we basked in the afternoon sun and watched the frolicking wild rabbits that called the campsite their home.
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Views from Day 9 (Blisland to Colliford Lake) of our Lands End to John o'Groats (LEJOG) charity walk.
Amongst them, a fluffy white rabbit happily played, looking as much out of place as an elephant in a supermarket. I wondered which magician's hat it had managed to escape from, as there were no urban dwellings for miles around.

As soon as the bar opened, we spent the rest of the evening drinking Doom Bar and eating quite possibly the best Baileys Cheesecake known to man. In the bar, the owner and his daughter, the only other people at the campsite, chatted away. Coincidentally they had originally lived only a few miles from my own childhood home and the father had owned a very successful computer games company a couple of decades earlier. When Atari went bust, so did his chances of making millions.

Returning to our tent just before closing time, I scoured the conifer trees for the pocket-snooker-playing male. He was nowhere to be seen, but I still felt uptight. I wished there were other campers in the campsite, and as the wind picked up and the conifer trees creaked and howled, I knew sleep would be hard to come by.

Land's End to John o'Groats (LEJOG) Walking Statistics:

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Enjoying our empty campsite and imposing conifers. Views from Day 9 (Blisland to Colliford Lake) of our Lands End to John o'Groats (LEJOG) charity walk.

Start Location: Blisland
End Location: Colliford Lake
Distance Covered: 8.24 miles
Start Time: 09:40
End Time: 12:30
Total Walking Time: 2 hours 50 minutes
(this includes all rest and stoppage time between start and end location and not just walking time)
Footpaths Used: Near Blisland we followed parts of National Cycle Network Route 3 (known as The Cornish Way). For more information, please visit the Sustrans website at
Accommodation: Colliford Tavern, Bodmin Moor, PL14 6PZ. Cost: £10 (£4 off normal price due to walking for charity)


Total Land's End to John o'Groats (LEJOG) Walking Distance: 1160.23 miles
Total Distance Covered: 102.62 miles (8.84%!)(MISSING)
Average Miles Walked per Day: 11.40 miles
Days Walked: 9 (out of 82)

Pint(s) of the Day:

Doom Bar (Sharps Brewery) (4.0%!)(MISSING)
This Cornish bitter is named after the infamous sandbank at the mouth of the Camel Estuary in North Cornwall. "The aroma of Doom Bar combines an accomplished balance of spicy resinous hop, inviting sweet malt and delicate roasted notes. The mouth feel is a perfectly balanced and complex blend of succulent dried fruit, lightly roasted malty notes and a subtle yet assertive bitterness. The bitterness remains into the finish
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Views from Day 9 (Blisland to Colliford Lake) of our Lands End to John o'Groats (LEJOG) charity walk.
with dry fruity notes which implore the drinker to go back for more."
Stuart Howe, Head Brewer,

Charity of Choice:

We are walking 1160 miles from Land's End to John o'Groats (LEJOG) to raise money for cancer research charity Association for International Cancer Research (AICR). AICR funds cancer research projects globally. If you would like to see how much we manage to raise or if you are inspired to donate to this worthy cause, please visit our donation webpage at


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