Dartmouth – Brixham (10.8 miles)
Distance from Minehead – 487.5 miles / Distance to Poole –144.2 miles
Today has been the hardest stage. Or at least that is what I was told by a lot of locals I have met along the way today. In fact it seems that pretty much every day has been the hardest stage if you ask the people who live along that particular stretch of the coast path. To be honest and frank with you, most people are wrong. There are undoubtedly some really hard stretches and some incredibly tough stages, but they can’t all be the toughest. There are also some moderate or easy stages with a tough climb thrown into the mix. In comparison to the rest of the stage it may seem the worst ever climb, but in the context of the whole walk, it is not that bad.
It has not been helped today by the rain and bad weather. Although however bad the weather was today it is nothing in comparison to the worst weather others have walked in. Gale force winds came become hurricanes and rain storms turn into monsoons. It is not that people are purposefully lying but perhaps that this is how the experience was for them.
Gregory Bateson says that ‘all experience is subjective’. This means that even when two people share the same experience, such as walking the same stage on the coast path on the same day, they will have two different experiences of that event. Their upbringing and past, their feelings and attitudes, their beliefs and stage in life, will all mean that what they are experiencing is totally unique to them. This is true for all things in life, everything we do – no one can ever experience what we experience in the same way, because they are not us. It also means we can never really know what someone else is going through, even if we have been through the same thing.
This is a harsh reminder for me, who was starting to get frustrated at how people consider moderate or strenuous stages to be the toughest ever. I need to take more time to regard where those people have journeyed from in the sense of what else they have been through before climbing this hill or walking this path. It also reminds me that in life I need more patience to get to know people and what makes them who they are, before I make hasty judgements on how they perceive shared experiences….after all I don’t like it when others presume to know how I feel or experience things – apart from Jesus of course!