There is no ‘bucket list’ - Lynne and I are both well, thank you – but we have arrived at a point in our lives where we have the time, the money and the good health to indulge in a passion for travel. We know how lucky and privileged we are to be able to do this, and we know it won’t last for ever, but while it does…..

Sunday, 25 May 2008

The South West Odyssey, English Branch: Introduction

The South West Odyssey is a long distance walk.
Five like-minded people started in 2008 from the Cardingmill Valley in Shropshire and by walking three days a year have now (April 2018) reached Ringmore on the South Devon Coast (almost)..

First there was Go West! in which six like-minded people decided to walk due west from Stafford, or as due west as footpaths would allow, until halted by the sea. After nine days walking - spread over five months - we had all stood knee deep in the briny on Barmouth beach. That was in 1998 (or was it 1999 – it was certainly in the days before digital cameras put a nice clear date and time on every picture).

Go North! reaches Settle - and Alison wears a fine pair of trousers

After an intended year off, which foot and mouth extended to three, we embarked on Go North! and after fifteen days walking - over three years - we reached Hadrian’s Wall and a natural conclusion. This time we had allowed ourselves some deviation from due north – strolling through the suburbs of Manchester with rucksacks on our backs and walking boots on our feet would have looked weird. Instead we swung east to traverse the moors between Oldham and Sheffield – much more natural walking country.

Beside the South Tyne
(photograph by Alison Crane)
By the end of Go North! we had established a pattern of walking for three days during the summer half term whilst non-walking spouses dropping us off at the start, spent the day doing touristy things and picked us up at the end.
Up the Cardingmill Valley onto the Long Mynd

The South West Odyssey started in 2005. Setting off from a point near Shrewsbury on the Go West! route, we headed for the Long Mynd and then along the Welsh border before turning deeper into Wales towards Brecon. 

The River Usk at Brecon

The western extremity of the Brecon Beacons National Park seemed an appropriate place to stop, so in 2008 we returned to the Long Mynd and set off on an English branch to the South West Odyssey.

Brecon Beacons

In Homer’s poem Odysseus, Greek hero of the Trojan War, spent ten years wandering around the eastern Mediterranean trying to find his way home to Ithaca. The gods chose to shower him with problems and diversions, but even so the eastern Mediterranean is small and ten years is a long time; the inevitable conclusion is that Odysseus was a pretty crap navigator.

Corn Du and Pen y Fan - Brecon Beacons
Like Odysseus, we will, doubtless wander. [update 2011 We have spent whole days walking southeast, and at least one half-day walking north]. Our wandering is not the result of navigational problems – ‘if in doubt follow Francis’ is almost foolproof – it is by choice. Our Odyssey is about the journey, not the destination. Our ‘Ithaca’ is, at best, hazily defined; we may take ten years to reach it, or more, or less, it matters not; no Penelope is waiting at the end fending off suitors with unpicked needlepoint.

The Black Mountain - Brecon Beacons

To find out about the walk or just look at the pictures simply click on the episodes below


  1. An excellent introduction to the South West project.

    If those trousers did not actually cause Alison and I to separate, they certainly played a part!!

  2. What's wrong with her britches? Certainly no more alarming than your shorts, I fear!

  3. Just like to confirm I was talking to you, Daddy, not Francis! :p Francis' trousers are perfectly respectable!