The Coastal Path is one of my very favorite blogs. It chronicles the explorations and light-hearted shenanigans of the Maunder Taylor family as they travel on foot along the coast of Britain. I like it partly because Greg and I hope to hike Britain’s seaside trails in the not-too-distant future. But mostly I enjoy reading The Coastal Path because it’s just plain fun to tag along with this close-knit wayfaring clan on their frequent coastal jaunts.
Recently, I asked Nic (Dad and blogger) for his tips on undertaking a walk around the coast of Britain. I was thrilled when not only he, but each one of his family members, chimed in with their own witty words of advice!
Today’s Featured Guest Writers are Nic, Deb, Ben, and Catherine Maunder Taylor!
The Maunder Taylor Family at Boscombe
Nic told me that he first had the idea of walking the coast of Britain 20 years ago but didn’t act on it. He went on to make a career, eventually joined the family business, and settled down into a life of working during the week. He then spent his weekends “half waiting for the week to start again.”
After about 10 years of this I turned 40 and had what I call a “healthy mid-life wobble”. It wasn’t a crisis by any means – just an appropriately timed self-correction. For some reason (I have no idea why) I declared I wanted to go to Southend Pier on my birthday. We went on some rides (I went upside down on a roller coaster for the first time since I was 15) and took a walk up the pier. We went on a tall ship that happened to be moored at there and had coffee. I remembered the dream I’d had when I was younger.
For a couple of months I thought quietly about things and then suggested it to my wife. She thought I was quite bonkers and preferred the “one step at a time” approach, agreeing to do a walk if I could convince the kids. Convince the kids?!?!? That was EASY!
“Hey you two!” I shouted, “If you come for a walk with us we’ll do ice cream and roller coasters at Southend!”
“Yay!” they shouted!
Oh, my poor children! Little did they realise what they were saying yes to!
Beachcombing on the British Coast
How do you get a family of four to walk around the coast of Britain? This is one of the toughest exercises known to humankind. It is no mistake that DHL offers no such service within their menu of logistical offerings.
What follows are the informed views of four people who, most weekends, do exactly this:
Nic (Aged 42) – Equipment stockman, driver and mule, carrying anything and everything put into his backpack by anyone and everyone else.
Deb (Aged 42) – The person most likely to put anything and everything into Nic’s backpack. The person most likely to insist we return home 10 minutes after setting out because she left something out.
Ben (Aged 11) – The person most likely to complain that out of everything put in his father’s backpack, including the thing that they just turned round and went home for, none of them have screens and none of them connect to the internet.
Catherine (Aged 11) – The person most likely to think that if everything was taken back out of the backpack, there might be enough room for her.
Nic – Map Reading at Botany Bay
Nic’s Advice for Fellow Fathers (in no particular order):
1. Just do it. There is never a right time to start. Don’t think. Do. Get on with it or you will never start.
2. Ignore the remonstrations of your children. Once they actually get to the coast they have fun. Persuading them to go down there in the first place, however, is a weekly task. When they ask how far you are going to walk each weekend, think of a number and double it. Stick to the answer without any hint of humour.
3. Walkie-talkies – these were an idea of a friend of mine and they are worth their weight in gold. They give the kids a new lease of life after 10 miles or so. You occasionally pick up other random conversations between persons unknown and get to interject with complete anonymity. The kids absolutely love that. Especially when it’s the police.
4. Have a checklist of things you need to take with you. I never make a checklist and every week I regret it.
5. Buy a big backpack. Your wife will fill it. From skiing jackets in mid-summer to swimming trunks in the deep winter, it can all end up in there. It is best to just accept what is put in and get on with it.
6. Remember to take last week’s packed lunch remains out of your backpack when you get home at the end of the walk. Especially if they include banana skins.
Deb at Hythe Beach
Deb’s Advice for Mindful Mothers
1. Put the cat out! We have to go back because I have left something in, not out!
2. Leave dry socks back at the car. Kids. Sea. Regardless of weather. Enough said.
3. Food. The night before. The morning of the walk. The mid morning of the walk. The lunchtime of the walk. The mid-afternoon snack of the walk. You get the idea. But no bananas – see husband’s rule no. 6 above.
4. We plan our route, view it on Google Earth, and if it looks being anything other than ‘get to the beach, turn right and keep walking’, we look at other bloggers who have done the walk and see what they did. And we still get lost. Just like they did.
5. Never pass a loo. You never know when you will see one again.
6. Ditto ice cream vans.
Catherine at Sandwich Bay
Catherine’s Advice for Dutiful Daughters
1. My first tip would be always help your mum make your sandwiches or she might leave something out (hopefully by accident – salad).
2. Always put your own clothes out because my mum has always put winter clothes out when it’s sunny. I’m normally too hot or too cold which is not nice when you have to walk 15 miles then wait for a taxi.
3. I sometimes do a check list the night before because you can’t leave all your stuff with your parents to sort out and there is always something we need to go back for.
4. Bring a camera for your own pictures because there might be something you want to take a picture of but your dad doesn’t.
5. I prefer sports socks than walking socks because the walking socks are just too itchy to wear for a whole day.
Ben “doing what he does best!”
Ben’s Advice for Surly Sons
1. Get woken up by mum when I’m really tired.
2. Drink and eat anything I get cuz I get really hungry.
3. Try not to throw up in the car (listening to Capital FM works well for me).
4. If I can’t listen to Capital then I bring my MP3 player.
5. Stuff myself at breakfast cuz I get hungry.
The Maunder Taylor Family at Hope Gap (Seven Sisters cliffs in the background)
~~ There you have it! Big backpack; big breakfast; go! Good luck – only 7,000 miles to cover! ~~
My sincerest thanks to Nic, Deb, Ben, and Catherine for sharing their time, tips, photos, and fun with us! You too can join them on their excellent adventure at The Coastal Path: One family’s walk around the coast of Britain. ~Jody