Progress to date

At the time of writing I should be out walking the coastline of Argyll and Bute on my first coast walking trip of 2020.  However I’m not, I’m stuck at home because the government has decreed were not allowed to travel anywhere, go walking away from home or leave the house unless absolutely necessary (and even more depressingly, there seems to be no end in sight, so it’s impossible to even plan anything for the future, either).

However here is my rather crude map of progress to date (as it was in late 2019) with the bits highlighted in red being the parts I have walked.

Coast Walk

In 2019 I covered the coast of the Scottish Highlands from Lochinver in the north to Lower Diabaig in the south. I also made a start on the Ayrshire coast as I could just about do trips up to there for the weekend. I covered the section between Gourock and Maidens. Lastly I crossed the Irish Sea and walked the Causeway Coast Way, a 33 mile walk covering some of the best coastal scenery in Northern Ireland, including the famous Giant’s Causeway. (That does leave the question as to whether I’ll do the rest of Northern Ireland, a question I haven’t yet answered).

I think it’s now obvious I will be making far less progress in 2020 (and possibly none at all). My first trip, supposed to start yesterday is already cancelled. The hotel I booked and pre-paid for (Premier Inn Greenock) did contact me and tell me I could now cancel and obtain a full refund, despite booking a non-refundable “saver” rate. Well done Premier Inn (though in the end they later contacted me to tell me the hotel was now closed anyway, so they would have had to refund me in the end). Sadly the same could not be said for British Airways who insisted that the flights I was booked on are still running (even though I’m not permitted to take them – they must be running almost or entirely empty?) and so I could only have a voucher (which I’m still waiting for) to the value of the flights instead, to use against a future booking – so I am already out of pocket.

My second trip (booked and paid for already) was due to be late April. That too is now cancelled because the hotel is closed to all but key workers until at least the end of April (this time I was not due to pay until arrival anyway, so could cancel without cost) and this time the flights have also already been cancelled (though that does at least mean I can get an actual refund, rather than just a voucher).

My next trip is booked for May and also looking very doubtful. 2020 looks to be a write-off and I feel like this year has been stolen from me – forced instead to spend most of it under what is virtually house-arrest (something I never thought would or could happen in Britain if you haven’t committed a crime and been charged with it).

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18 Responses to Progress to date

  1. 5000milewalk says:

    It’s frustrating isn’t in Jon. I’m going stir crazy shut up in my flat here, can’t wait to get out but who knows when that will be. Of course having had the virus, I’m now immune and can’t be a carrier either, but I understand the need to keep the roads clear and health workers focussed, so we’ll just have to wait until we’re all allowed out again. 🙂

    • jcombe says:

      Yes must be even more annoying if you’ve already had it. This is why more people need to be tested so if it shows you have had it you can go back to living your life.

  2. Alan says:

    Hi Jon, your worst fears have certainly come to pass. Like yourself I feel frustrated at not making the best use of the improving weather and daylight hours. I have not completed any walks since my last walk out to the Isle of Sheppey and also cannot see an end to the “lockdown” in the near future.
    On a brighter side, I am sure there are going to be some pristine household gardens as well as well-maintained houses up and down the length and breadth of the land. LOL.
    Your Progress to Date map is really useful and I can see you have some tough bits to negotiate on the West Coast. Knowing your penchant for islands, I think we almost certainly be reading of your visits to Skye, Mull and Arran.

    All the best Jon.

    Cheers Alan

    • jcombe says:

      Yes unfortunately I could see it coming. Our freedom has been stolen forced to stay under house arrest, and just as the clocks have changed and the weather has got nicer too.

      On the DIY front you might be right. I did get round to putting wood preserver on the front door at the weekend, as it had started to flake off over the winter.

    • 5000milewalk says:

      That Progress to date map looks fantastic- like you’re nearly finished, but I guess that squiggly bit left to do is probably another 1000 miles!😬

  3. It’s tough isn’t it. ☹️
    I had a week of walking planned, a couple of B&Bs booked, and my van all loaded up. The evening before I was due to leave for Torridon, Boris did his press-conference and advised no unnecessary travel. I pondered overnight and tried to convince myself that this trip was necessary (to me, anyway) but, to be honest, I didn’t feel like going, so I cancelled. By the end of the week, the Scottish authorities were complaining about all the English visitors coming up to the highlands, and I’m glad I cancelled.

    Can’t see this as ending anytime soon, I’m afraid.
    Stay safe, Jon. The coast will wait.

    • jcombe says:

      Yes I also suspect it’s also going to cause a gap which I’ll have to go back and fill. This is because I’ve planned all my next walks in the Highlands. On my last trip I’ll be staying some of the time in Mallaig, moving down from Kyle of Lochalsh where I’ll be staying prior to that.

      So if that does go ahead once I move down to staying in Mallaig I’ll not want to drive all the way up to Torridon/Applecross area from Mallaig each day to resume from there and will probably do the coast northwards from Mallaig instead. Then I’ll have to make another trip to come and fill in the gap (possibly in late autumn but more likely next year now). That’s the other problem because hotels get booked up so early in the highlands of Scotland you have to book months ahead so if I can’t make one or more of the earlier trips, I end up with a gap I’ll have to back and fill.

    • 5000milewalk says:

      That’s tough. Luckily for me my coastal walks are still in driving distance from home so I’ve not had to cancel any transport or hotels.
      But I’m finding the hardest thing is not talking to anyone. Living on my own since January and not talking to another human being face to face is so hard. Can’t wait to get back to social interaction.
      How is your return to work going Ruth? I hope you’ve got enough PPE and are staying safe, must admit I’m a bit worried for you.

      • Living on your own must be tough, Paul. I feel for you. I live alone normally, but my daughter and her boyfriend moved in with me a year ago while their house got renovated, and they’re still here!

        I’m not back at work. It’s over 8 years since I touched a patient, so if they do call me up we know the situation is truly terrible 😄

  4. I can understand if you are dissapointed. Can I find all your walks on a webb site? Have tried to follow you. We were supposed to visit Scotlands west coast 3-13 of April. All cancelled. Ever wanted to do a book about your coastal walks? All the best!
    Bo Bjelvenstedt

  5. Jane says:

    We should have been picking up our coast walk this week after a long break due to moving house and my diagnosis with arthritis in my back. Having settled in and improved the back with exercises we were all set to head back to Essex once school had broken up for the Easter holidays. Our last walk involved crossing the River Crouch on the Burnham Ferry and I have just seen that the owner has put the boat up for the summer and it won’t be running at all. Difficult days, Jane

    • jcombe says:

      I’m sorry to hear this too Jane. It sounds like you are in a similar situation, though after a more difficult winter than me. It would be so nice to get back on the coast now after all the storms over the winter. Sad to hear to about the Burnham Ferry. If this carries on for much longer I think much of the travel and tourism industry will be wiped out. No one can travel. People with bookings they now can’t go on (understandably) want their money back, whilst very few people will be booking. Whilst the Government might help out with wages of staff and business rates, most hotels will still have to pay insurance, suppliers, water, gas, electric, perhaps rent or lease, interest on loans and so on, with no money coming in. Few businesses will be able to survive for long in that situation and it will be hardest for the small businesses (like the Burnham ferry).

  6. snowgood says:

    It’s not all bad, maybe a chance to ferret around locally. We’ve lived in Sussex nearly 7 years and found a lovely “new” path less than 3 miles from our front door on Saturday. We even had a picnic 2 miles from home, which was glorious. Tonight before our evening meal I spotted a Goldcrest in the next road down from here.

    Life’s not so bad, there are no bombs falling from on high. the food shortages are all relative for this land of plenty. In the time since COVID-19 started 20,000 odd have died worldwide, but 1.6 million children in poor countries have died from malnutrition, diarrhoea, malaria and TB.

    Perhaps now’s the time to be thankful for all the fun we’ve had on long trails?

    • jcombe says:

      Well I have done a few local walks, though I am familiar with all the paths and access land around home and I’m not walking distance to the sea sadly.

  7. It’s so frustrating! We’re all like rabbits in hutches at the moment.

    • jcombe says:

      Indeed. What’s making it hardest for me anyway is no idea when it will end. What keeps me going through bad times is having something in the diary ahead to look forward to. At the moment there is really nothing because all my plans are falling through. I’ve had 3 events I was due to go on cancelled and 2 trips to Scotland, and that only takes me up to the end of April. I’m sure I’ll be putting a line through all my plans for May pretty soon, too.

      No travel insurance companies are covering new bookings now, so if you book a holiday (or flights, ferries, hotels or even train tickets) at the moment you run the risk of losing all the money you spend. So no one will book. Which means most companies involved in travel/tourism are seeing no money coming in, still have a lot of outgoings and on top of that are having to refund existing bookings. Unless something changes very rapidly I think most of the industry will be wiped out.

      • I know, it’s dreadful. We didn’t have too many plans for this year yet, but we had a cottage booked for later this month which I’ve managed to swap for August. I hope we’re ok by then! Like you, I worry about what will be left the other end of this.

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