Hello, Colin and Helen.
I stayed just one night on a hiker’s pitch at Stoke Barton campground during a backpacking trip from Minehead to Tintagel.
I read over the journal I kept of my hike this past weekend. My notes reflect how kind you both were to a weary American hiker. I wanted to send you a much-belated Thank You.
My cell phone had stopped working, and Helen offered to help me send a short email back to Chicago to inform my wife that I was still alive and well. After dinner, Colin came over to my tiny, solo backpacker’s tent and cautioned me that the next section of the trail towards Bude was “arduous” and very steep. I was carrying a large backpack with about 40 pounds of food, clothing, and gear. (I was long-distance hiking in the American style, camping every night , rather than just day tripping from one B and B to the next, and using luggage transfer.) His warning was appreciated and certainly true. My notes for the next day are that it was a “long and difficult day” The trail guide labeled it as one of the most difficult sections of the entire SWCP. I walked from 6:45AM to 5:15 PM, but only got as far as Cornakey Cliffs. I “rough camped” along the path that night, snacking on cup-a soup and Devon white cheddar cheese that I purchased in your store.
During our conversation, I mentioned to Colin that I was a retired history professor. He mentioned a “Private Standing Stone” on the property only a few minutes walk from my tent in a pasture. I walked over to see it, and watched the sun set over the coast behind it. My journal recorded that as one of my favorite moments of the entire 21 day hike. My notes also mention that “the coastline near Stoke is the most beautiful I’ve seen so far”.
My SWCP hike was the greatest physical challenge of my life. I made the trip to celebrate successful cancer surgery. I’m still cancer free. I continue to do strenuous outdoor adventures, such as wilderness canoe trips in Canada and shorter backpacking trips in the USA.
But nothing comes close to the sheer exhaustion I faced walking up and down your path’s many hills and valleys. I’ve also never seen so many historic churches. (Nothing in America is “really old”, except for Native American ruins). Although I spent only one night at your campground, it was a most memorable one. Re-reading my notes eight years later, it stands out as one of the highlights of a very wonderful adventure.
Cheers, and best wishes. Steve Volkening.