A restorative walk by the sea

As we celebrate the announcement that Natural England has started work on all stretches of the England Coast Path, Ruth reflects on how a good walk by the sea helped her and her husband through a traumatic experience.

Ruth Latham is a Ramblers local organiser based in Bristol.

Last autumn my husband and I were in serious need of a getaway. I had just been diagnosed with breast cancer and I was knee deep in hospital appointments. As luck would have it, I had a break in my appointment schedule and this coincided nicely with a forecast of an Indian summer so we arranged a last minute trip to Cornwall to walk along the coastal path.

We drove down to Boscastle and found a B&B for the night before starting our mini adventure. That evening we climbed up onto the cliffs behind the harbour, overlooking the sea, and sat with a cold beer in the evening sun and all our worries melted away. It's amazing how quickly a trip away from home, or from the normal routine can revive you.

Ruth sitting on a rock looking out to sea as the sun sets

Day one, after a full English breakfast we were fuelled and ready to set off. We left our car in Boscastle, packed up, collected a pasty from the bakery for when breakfast wore off, and set off westward on the coastal path. It was a stunning day to be out; clear blue skies, a slight sea breeze and the last of the autumn sun. We walked and chattered and admired the views.

Navigation was really easy and we were happily following the contours of the coast, past the
beautiful Tintagel Castle, and forgot about the time. For a lunchtime stop we spotted a beach (Trebarwith Strand) and dropped down off the coastal path to investigate. After a hot morning of walking it was just too much for me to resist a dip in the sea. It obviously wasn't quite as appealing to my husband so I had to drag him in too with the threat of eating his pasty if he didn't join me. Post swim and a quick lunch and we were off again.

Ruth walks along a path with two cows ahead walking the same path

We arrived in Port Isaac which looked stunning and welcoming with white cottages and slate roofs. It was early evening so we decamped to our B&B, showered and found a pub and a nice place for seafood. Fish always tastes so much better by the sea and after a long day of walking we appreciated it even more.

A view of Port Isaac from above - a bay with houses overlooking it

In the morning it was straight up the climb out of Port Isaac to start the next leg of the journey. Heading up the hill we looked down on the pretty fishing village below before continuing on our journey. The weather on day two wasn't quite as good as day one but the clouds made the sky even more spectacular and the light on the sea was stunning. We met many fellow walkers with the same idea as us on the stretch to Polzeath. We were enjoying the walk so much we elected not to cut the corner just north of Polzeath Beach and walked out onto Rumps Point before dropping down into the town for a coffee on the beach.

The final stretch into Rock was really easy going and a nice chance to reflect on a great and restorative weekend.

One weekend, 25 miles walked and cancer forgotten.

If you're interested in campaigning in your local area, find out more about becoming a local organiser.

Find out more about the England Coast Path, and get involved here.