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Devon Trekking

Last weekend I joined some friends hiking in south Devon.
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We set off in good weather and walked three miles into Salcombe to pick up on the south west coastal path. I have often seen the little acorn on sign posts but never realised it was marking a 630 mile trail around the south west of England.
wp-1462299639612.jpgJust past Salcombe we discovered the trees pictured above. In case you are wondering like I was, its knitting graffiti. I would still be pondering now on what it was if it wasn’t for Hayley and her knowledge of strange tree knitting practises.

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Heading south out of Salcombe it was not long before we discovered the amazing Devon coast line. The path led us up and over starehole bay. The view was breathtaking.

Until the mist came in.

Then the view was more a whitish gray.

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It wasn’t long before we could barely see 20 metres in front of us, and things started to get a bit damp. About 5 miles along the path Sophie started to ask howlong before we get back to the camp site. So we promised her were were half way and there will be a pub alone soon.

Mooing out of the mist c

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Me looking strangely optimistic that we would soon be rescued by a nice warm helicopter

ame a friendly cow. She seemed pleasant enough so we turned out back on her just for a second to see how far away the rest of our hiking crew were, turns out right behind us.

 

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We turned around just in time to see the look of shear terror on their faces as they started to run in the opposite direction. Puzzled, me and Pete looked ahead into the mist to see a HUGE cow galloping towards us with a look of craziness, pretty sure it was one of those mad cows with a taste for blood.

Being the man that I am, I ran following the others screaming like a girl hoping the cow would devour Pete first and give me time to make my escape.

Then we heard a scary roar!

Turns out it was Pete.

Thinking on his boots, Pete sized up the scary zombie monster cow and without a thought for his own safety, decided to charge it head on and shout at it.

The mad cow was more than a little freaked out by this, you could see in his face that he was thinking “This guy is obviously more crazy than I am” So turned on its hoofs and ran in the other direction. Allowing us a safe passage past him and quickly over a fence.

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As the mist came in even more we decided now would be a good time for lunch, being careful not to eat the rolls that Peter had been carrying all day and snacked on chocolate and dried fruit.

Some 14 miles later we finally fell into the pub we had been promising Sophie that was ‘just over this hill’ for the last 9 hours. Sitting by the fire we slowly acclimatised back to civilisation before we walked the last few miles back to the camp site.20160430_222026

Then in true British style, we ate BBQ in the rain at 11pm at night with a rain filled can of Fosters to wash it down.

Before crawling in a thankfully dry tent and passing out.

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This micro adventure has left me thinking… how about the other 616 miles? I didn’t realise we had this awesome hike right on our door steps!20160501_210648

Flying is fun too!

If it was not so damn expensive I would do this every day.

I have been fascinated with flying simulators on PC since I was 8 years old. So what better way to spend my 40th birthday than seeing if my simulation skills work in real life.
This turned out to be not quite your average day.

We taxied to the runway after getting clearance from the tower as a old bi-plane was just taking off, we pulled up next to a spitfire while waiting for our turn on the runway. Our wingtips were a few feet from the magnificent bird, I was in awe.
My instructor didn’t look a day under 80 and she was so short she had two booster cushions so she could see out the cockpit of our piper warrior.
As she got the all clear to pull onto the runway we had a mayday call from the bi-plane saying hes coming back to land NOW while calmly mentioning he lost all power. We looked up and seen him on approach coming from the same direction as he had taken off from.
Over the radio everyone maintained silence as my tiny old instructor got our aircraft off the runway and ditched it on the grass.

To our relief he landed safety, and a landing I would be proud of in my simulator. Everyone on the radio let out a audible mass sigh of relief apart from the bi-plane pilot, he was as cool as a penguin after belly flopping in the Antarctic with a radio manor that made me think it happens to him every day.

My pensioner pilot made a comment about never seeing a mayday landing before and got us in position to take off.

She opened the throttle and the engine spluttered, followed by a frail old lady shrugging her shoulders while saying that don’t sound good, then we took off.

At that stage I realised my vertigo disappears at 400 feet, but my fear of dieing did not.

As soon as we got to a altitude of 1700 feet she leveled off and trimmed the aircraft then said to me “she’s all yours, see if you can maintain this altitude”
For the next 55 minutes I was living my life long dream.
I flew us over the Isle of White, down to Bournemouth then backtracked to bognor following the river East.
All too soon it was time for super granny to take back the yoke and aim us towards the ground. I passed over the controls after checking she was still alive.
She performed a perfect landing with the stall warning ringing out just as the wheels touched tarmac. As soon as that happened she passed over the controls once more to me so I could get a feel for steering with my feet and I taxied our light aircraft off the runway.

By this time the guys manning the tower have called it a day and gone home, so we were listening to the radio for other traffic just as the coast guard asked us to stop where we were. I found the toe brakes without instructions, I think the old gail was doing her nitting.

It turned out the coast guard was escorting someone in but was flying I a zig zag across the airfield. This was because he was flying one of those how-the-bloody-hell-does-that-work magical helicopter things and he could have turned our little plane upside down with the down draft from his blades.

We finally crawled out the piper and stepped foot on solid ground once more.
Then I got the confirmation I was secretly hoping for, my instructior asked me if u was sure I had never flown before as I performed each turn perfectly and stayed at 1700 feet the entire time.
My 32 years of simulation showed and I was a very happy student pilot.

Next flying adventure is gliding! watch this space.