St Antony Head – Portloe (13.7 miles)
Distance from Minehead – 348.8 miles / Distance to Poole– 283.6 miles
Another scorcher today. In fact I think that today has been even hotter than yesterday, which I am told was the hottest day so far this year. The factor 50 sun cream was liberally applied and off Toby and I set for our day of walking. A fairly easy start which soon became strenuous. Not only was the going tough, but the heat was unbearable. It made walking so incredibly difficult and the sweat was literally pouring off me. At least I could use the excuse of reapplying the sun cream as a reason to stop every so often, rather than the main motivation being the need to breathe and rehydrate. I don’t think I have ever drunk so much water in a day before. And poor Toby was also suffering with the heat and poor me had to carry enough water for him too!
The route today passed a number of beautiful, golden sandy beaches. These places were obviously crammed full of people making the most of the glorious weather, and a lot were using the sea to cool down. It looked heavenly – the ice-cream vans selling ice-cold beverages and of course ice-creams and lollies, the crystal clear sea water was cool and inviting and the gentle waves were a source of fun and laughter.
As I walked past the first beach I looked across with a smile and appreciated the fun people seemed to be having. By the time I passed the second beach I was beginning to look with a longing – oh if only I wasn’t walking it would be such fun to hang out on the beach. By the time I reached the third beach I was in real trouble. I was red faced with exertion, my clothes were stuck to me with sweat and I was desperate to find some way to cool down. I stood looking at the water and considered a break. I could rest a while on the beach, take off my boots and go for a paddle. In fact the salt water would do my feet good and the rest could only be beneficial. I resisted only by telling myself that I could rest at the next beach.
And so it went on. Each beach was more tempting than the previous one. Each time I stood and considered how great it would be to stop. Before I knew it I was considering stopping for the day – I could always walk more tomorrow. After all what harm could it do and I was so very hot and bothered, and the water was so very cool and inviting.
In the end I made it to Portloe and barely took off my boots before plunging my feet into the water. Portloe is not a beautiful, golden beach, but a working harbour and the water is filled with seaweed. It was not the paddle I had been longing for but perhaps it was the paddle I deserved. Deep down I know that if I had stopped at any one of the beaches along today’s route, I would still be there! Temptation isn’t always the obvious things, but can often be more disguised. I was proud that I had finished today on this the hottest and possibly toughest day yet – mentally tough that is, as well as the physical toughness of a hard day’s walking in extremely hot temperatures. Our rewards for resisting temptation may not seem as grand as the item that is tempting us, but at least I can go to bed with a clear conscience and my sweaty head held high!