Wednesday 16th December 2015 – 50/52 – Icart Point to Pleinmont
Today was the 13th and very last time on this Icart to Pleinmont stretch, which I consider to be the most difficult and demanding of this whole 4 x 13 week marathon charity walking project.
I met Anne S off the No 81 bus and we were very soon joined by Clive S for our start at Icart Point. Weather conditions were favourable, despite the sky being somewhat dull, with the temperature around 14 degrees, very mild for this time of the year. It was great to have both Anne and Clive with me again today – both now in their 70s I may add; this would be Anne’s last walk as she will be off island for Christmas and New Year. They have both been absolute rocks of support throughout 2015, having participated in many of the weekly walks as well as making generous donations to the project.
As we set off along the craggy and winding cliff path route there was a south-westerly wind, which made for dramatic sea views with the waves crashing into the rocks along the coastline. The topic of conversation very much centred on just how mild it was here in the middle of December, a huge bonus today on this section where poor weather conditions just add to the difficult walking terrain. Despite the difficulties the views are just staggeringly spectacular and well worth the additional physical and mental efforts you need to make. Arriving at Petit Bot we were reaching to take off at least one layer of clothing, it was so mild, and navigating the steep climb up the steps to the top of the valley has always been a real lung buster. What a view from the top of here, though, not only of the sea but back up the valley of Petit Bot. I often wonder just how many locals and holidaymakers have this shot in their photographic collections.
Although weather conditions were mild there were very few people about as we headed on towards Le Gouffre. The walk back down the steep cliff path steps is again just breathtakingly beautiful with the sea as spectacular as it was today, just adding that extra dimension. Climbing up again towards the Gouffre cafe we met a lone local walker who was also anxious to take in the sea views today. It was very quiet around the tearooms as they are closed over the Christmas period, so we quickly moved on towards the Snail House and then up through the National Trust land towards La Corbiere. Anne, who only normally walks this far on this particular leg, left us at the car park, and Clive and I headed towards Les Tielles, knowing full well the physical and mental challenges we faced: what appears to be an endless “up and down” of cliff path steps, that at times are different heights and depths. There is, in my opinion, only one way to approach this stretch, a strategy I have adopted on all 13 legs I have completed this year, and that is to just hit it as hard as you possibly can, both physically and mentally, and that is just what we did again today. The rewards are just staggering, not only knowing you have completed the section, but it is also an outstanding area of natural beauty that you never get fed up of seeing, irrespective of whatever walking conditions you meet on the day.
The stretch from Les Tielles to Pleinmont is still difficult in certain areas: with Pleinmont Point being very exposed at the westerly point of the island is usually quite windy, but there are also still a lot more steps to climb up or down. Additionally there are quite a number of German fortifications in this area, which I always enjoying seeing, and I have been observing throughout the year just how many other locals and holidaymakers make the effort to visit and study part of Guernsey’s history. The wind was stronger today on Pleinmont Point, but not as strong as I thought it might have been, and there was no rain, which had been a distinct possibility based on the forecast earlier in the morning. I would have been disappointed today had I not seen a bird of prey on my last trip, but up popped a kestrel to give us a fly past and salute – most fitting, having seen many on the 13 trips in this area of Guernsey.
Descending from the Point at Pleinmont and onto the coast road heading towards the Kiosk and toilets at Portelet gave both us the time to reflect on our personal experiences on this tough leg; Clive is very much at home and knows this leg very well as he often walks in the area, while for me there was a huge feeling of relief at having completed all 13 legs throughout the year for the project. What staggers me more than anything is this – having taken the trouble to count the cliff path steps with a clicker machine there are 1, 924 steps between Icart and Pleinmont, and 1,575 between The Aquarium, St Peter Port, and Icart. If you add these together and multiply x 13(legs), then it works out at a staggering 45,487 steps walked, either up or down throughout 2015 on this project!
We had a bonus this week in that, on Saturday at the Guernsey FC match, I was fortunate to win 2 draws, one for £396 and one for £100. I split the money between GFC and my Autism365 challenge, then received a very generous donation for £50 and another for £13, meaning that I will be passing on to Autism Guernsey as part of my 365 Challenge donations a very welcome £363!