Gower beaches

Walking the Gower Coast. The Rules.

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Coloured Sands at Three Cliffs Bay

One result of developing PTSD over 5 years ago is that for a long time I had limited energy. I honestly cannot tell whether my energy levels have returned to “normal” levels yet, or ever will. I find that it takes me a couple of days to recover from social events (and no, it’s not a hang-over as I don’t drink alcohol) or from traveling/visiting family or another town. Maybe, everyone my age is like, I don’t know.

I used to have ambitions or even a sort of “bucket list” of things I wanted to get round to doing, some time. I don’t much care for the term “bucket list”. If you haven’t heard about the term “bucket list”, it is a list of all the goals you want to achieve, dreams you want to fulfill and life experiences you desire to experience before you die. Here was mine.

  1. Learn to surf
  2. Learn to Meditate
  3. Walk the coastline of Gower
  4. Run a marathon
  5. Walk the pilgrimage route to Santiago del Compostela
  6. Visit Japan

I did learn to surf and I was very keen for a while, but I was never terribly good at it. I also once went on a 10-day meditation course. There was no talking for 10 days. Strangely, that was the easy part. I was running 20-25 miles on a weekly basis when my life took a swift left turn and everything ground to a halt in 2012. I am still active but I don’t run very far at all these days. I know I won’t be able to run a marathon unless I gave up everything else and just trained, ate and slept. There would be no energy left over for painting and making a living, so that’s out of the window. I cant afford to travel, not at the moment so it’s going to have to be number 3.Walk the coastline of Gower.

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I have a curiosity about exploring the whole coastline of Gower. I know and love certain parts of it very well, such as Three Cliffs Bay. As a painter of the Gower peninsula there are parts that I have visited and painted many times. However, there are also parts I have not visited for years, and a few places I have never visited. I did plan and start to walk the Gower coast in 2016, but it all came to a halt as I tried to cope with the repercussions of being made redundant from my teaching post where I had worked since 1999.

So start again. Here are my rules

  1. Travel in a clockwise direction around the Gower coast
  2. Travel by public transport and by foot.
  3. Walk on sunny days.
  4. Erm, that’s it.

I will document the walk with photos, sketches, and paintings. However, I am nervous about this. The big challenge for me will be in terms of my energy levels. The whole coastline is something like 38 miles long and I know I will have to divide that up into many short walks that will be very tiring for me. I will probably need a week to recover in between walks. I am nervous that I won’t have the determination to finish this, or something will happen to put me off, such as in 2016 when I got part way through in 2016 and gave up. I hate not finishing things.

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Coast Watch Station, Rhosilli

It will also be challenging for me mentally. When I was younger, I did many brave things on my own. I traveled around the UK and spoke at Academic conferences, I even traveled to Texas very soon after I passed my driving test and drove a hire car. The PTSD has had the result of reducing my life and what I do, either because I get tired or because I am fearful. PTSD means that my brain goes into anxiety mode very easily. My head will worry about the coming back before I have even left the house.  I will convince myself that none of the buses will arrive and I will be stranded in the wilds of the Gower and have to sleep under a bush. Yes, it all sounds stupid when I type it, but that’s the sort of thing that keeps me awake at 3am in the morning.

So I will have to prepare well, take a load of bus timetables and set off early and challenge the fear. A few weeks ago I panicked and jumped into the sea, thinking I was about to get washed off some rocks. Bizarrely, the evidence has given me confidence. The boots and I survived. It was uncomfortable but the boots dried out on my radiator. So I will make a start this week, even if it takes months to complete the challenge.

 

 

 

 

 

 

22 replies »

  1. Thank you for explaining “bucket list” for me, a term I “got” in a way but never heard it defined. before. Thank you for posting the beautiful paintings from the Gower walk, so lovely! (And from another PTSD sufferer, I urge you to think of the changes that have been necessary as a journey to greater wisdom about life and how best to enjoy it. You are on a healing path!

    • Dear Carol, thank you for your wise words. I still think I give myself a hard time for not being the way I used to be. Yes, I am on a healing path, thank you!

  2. Good luck with your challenge, Emma! I think it’s very brave of you to do this. If you’re still interested in learning to meditate, I found the app “Calm” very useful. It has plenty of free-of-charge features… though I must confess, the racier and anxious the mind, the less I am able to concentrate at all.

    • Thanks for that tip. I will give it a go. I have always been more of a Yoga woman, I like movement. Although I have found working as an exam invigilator is like a form as meditation as you have to be in the moment as much as you can to cope with the dullness of the job!

  3. Brava Emma. I’m looking forward to hearing about (and seeing the paintings of) your Gower Camino. I think that just determining to set out can be a major step. And can I add that although PTSD has never been part of my life luckily, I too get hugely stressed about arrangements, buses and all the rest of it. And I too once strode the world fearlessly as you did. I’m put it down to advancing age and try to focus on the positives of being a 50something – namely a credit card and an unthreatening middle aged woman appearance which invites all manner of interesting conversations.

    Next month I’ll be down in Cornwall in a bid to notch up a few more miles on my quest so I’ll wave at you across the sea. And I’ll add my rules to your list:
    Have a taxi company on speed dial
    Cut out any part of the route that looks tedious, unnecessarily heavy going or just plain unpleasant.
    Never pass a loo without stopping. Seldom pass a refreshment opportunity without ditto.

    Good luck. Ceri

    • Thank you Ceri, all good advice. That 50 something woman thing is quite an advantage these days. I regularly have chats with grey haired ladies with dogs when I am out. Many years ago when I traveled Europe with a female friend of mine we got a lot of grief from local males in certain countries (although I can heartily recommend Austria for polite and helpful people) – thankfully those days are past! I had been thinking of cutting out a small part of the route that I have visited many times before. Enjoy Cornwall, it is a beautiful part of the world.

  4. This is brave–not because it’s dangerous but because it feels dangerous. I’m cheering you on.

    And on a different note, your blog’s disappeared from my inbox. I’m going to try unscubscribing and resubscribing and seeing if that helps.

    • Hi Ellen – well there’s the danger of twisted ankles, falling off cliffs, snakes, and biting ponies (most of those I saw listed on a sign I saw the other day) and missing the last bus home! Thanks Emma

  5. You can do this Emma but only if you dictate the speed that suits you. Of course if you’re relying on sunny days, this is the UK and could take years but at least you’ll get some brilliant art out of it.
    xxx Massive Hugs xxx

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