Braunton to Westward Ho! (via the Instow-Appledore Ferry) 17 miles
It was a hard slog of about 11 miles from Braunton to Instow following the SouthWest Coast Path and combined Tarka Trail where we caught the ferry over to Appledore. The trail is a tarmaced trail utilizing an old railway track leading down to Bidderford, and very hard on the feet for walking. From a walker’s perspective it is far from ideal walking as I have always felt that a mile on tarmac was comparable to walking two on a natural trail.
So this has been my day’s “suffering” and yet it has been very low on the scale by comparison. But suffering is an intriguing subject to contemplate, an one that we think about often. Not to be wrapped up in any kind of gloom & doom mindset mind you, but suffering is a real necessity from our perspective relative to any transformative journey. Consider what myth and folk tales speak to in this regard; Cinderella needing to suffer the abuse of her wicked step sisters before meeting her Prince Charming, or the King’ son in Grimm’s Iron Hans story who needs to suffer the trials and tribulations of a lowly station in life in order to win the hand of the King’s Daughter in marriage. Mythic stories vary over time and place yet all speak to the recognizable truths regarding the ways we inwardly meet the trails, and opportunities, of our day.
Although beautiful to pass through, the countryside’s charm was being challenged by the metaled pathway reaching up to embrace our steps this day. It would be so sweet if the trail was the green grassy verge that marked most of the trails we’ve passed over on this journey. Good for cyclists for sure, and all the lovely families out enjoying their bit of local heaven, but not good for me!
But stories do serve us well if we but listen deeply to what truths they hold.
I checked my wayward thoughts, dropped into a slightly bended knee, or crouch, where I absorbed more of the trails impact while lowering my stature by a few centimeters. Humbling in gesture but it got me thinking about all the fine people
who were out using these trails with family and friends this day, and before you knew it I was contemplating the larger significance of such pathways. They connect places together, where all the highlighted stretches of this coast without them would just be fragments of beauty in isolation. There are these stretches though that, although not the most beautiful and celebrated, enable more people with multiple means for accessing and recreating within the regions they call home. Very down to earth, real, an vital as landscape links in chain called the coastal path.m
My “suffering” for the day turned out to be an opportunity for going a bit deeper into my experience of the day; an experience of the Estuary of the Rivers Tar and Torridge. To witness the ebb and flow of the lifeblood of the land while simultaneously seeing the ebb and flow of my inner state; knowing that a bit of honest attention brings them both into a healthier perspective.