Day 80 – Port Isaac to Tintagel 17 July 2016

Day 80 – Port Isaac to Tintagel 17 July 2016

img_1326We’re all aboard the 16.18 from Bodmin Parkway to Paddington.

We made a fairly early start, by our standards, leaving our very modern B & B at Three Gates Meadow at 8.30. The day is marked as ‘severe’ in the book, same as the Pendeen to St Ives stretch, but only 14.8km rather than 23.5 (that is less than 10 miles).

We decided not to walk back to the cliff edge at Port Isaac but to go along the road for a mile to avoid the first big drop, and we were very glad to have done so. We cut back to the coast and after about a quarter of a mile, the land fell away into one of the steepest valleys of the route so far – ie since setting out from London Bridge! Going down was horrible. My knees have been pretty good this trip, with no heavy bag to carry and shorter distances but this was evil and they were protesting severely. Up the other side, I was almost on all fours – generally up hill is less troublesome to me butimg_1350 this was a killer.

Back on the top the path was flat for no more than a quarter mile before dropping away again, not quite so severely but bad enough. Up again, and along (through a herd of young stirks who hovered near the stile, of course). A flat bit and then down the dip we’ve christened Big Bertha for obvious reasons. We met a man and his daughter who are doing the whole South West Coast Path, – camping!  Ugh!  They were bowed under the weight of the kit. Rather them than me, but they seemed pretty jaunty. Bet they didn’t enjoy Big Bertha.

From the map, it looked as though the worst were over, but no.  Dropping down into Trebarthwith sands was an almost vertical staircase.  A quick ice-cream as reward, then up the other side and a final 2 miles into Tintagel, where we cut across the fields to the church before collapsing into a pub for lunch. We had made it with just 20 minutes to spare to bolt some food before picked up by our taxi.img_1364

The weather today was a fascinating mix. There was a heavy sea mist when we set out, which cleared off the tops, leaving bright sunshine above, with thick mist over the sea – very atmospheric.

The temperature has now soared. It must be around 28 degrees, but fortunately, our train is air conditioned and Jon and Stephen were very happy whilst waiting for it, as a steam train pulled in, to be ooh’d and aah’d over by admiring crowds.20160717_153626

Goodbye to another part of the great adventure, although I am feeling as though I have barely scratched the surface yet…

In theory, I have now done 20% having broken through the 1,300 mile point today – assuming the 6,500 guestimate is close enough to the reality.

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Day 79 – Padstow to Port Isaac 16 July 2016

Day 79 – Padstow to Port Isaac 16 July 2016

Today was another glorious day. I really do love North Cornwall. I think it has overtaken Dorset in my favourite English counties. But definitely North Cornwall, rather than South which I didn’t especially like – although that might have been the bag carrying…

Last night we walked into Padstow from our excellent B&B (called ‘Tamarisk’ and run by Betty – definite recommend). We decided that we: a) would not eat in the most expensive place – meals here are equal or more than London prices, and it can’t be transport or staff  as they all claim to serve local produce and wages are low; b) would not eat in one of Rick Stein’s numerous places – not that we object to Mr Stein but after a day’s walking even following a shower and change we don’t really look the part, and c) we would not eat outside. The wind was very sharp and we had spent all day outside. So we went to Rick Stein’s Bistro, ate in the garden and paid a very fine price! But it was an excellent meal.

In the morning, we took recommendations from Bimg_1208etty on pasty shops and waited for 20 minutes for a gluten free batch to be finished for Jon.  We then hung around Padstow harbour waiting for the ferry across the Camel.

The first section of the walk was easy, from Rock on the east of the estuary to Polzeath where we had coffee. The weather was very fine, quite hot in fact and copious applications of factor 30 were required. Stephen, after feeling rather tired yesterday was full of beans today and in full snipping mode. I can’t remember whether I have mentioned that as an act of selfless public good, Stephen walks with a handy pair of small secateurs and clips over-exuberant brambles from the path.  It is a treat to walk in his wake with nothing catching at hair or legs.img_1296

From Polzeath the route became progressively more difficult, with a number of ups and downs. We reached Pentire Head around 1pm and stopped to eat our pasties, still slightly warm inside mmmm. The views were absolutely superb, particularly at the eastern side of the headland. Apparently, it is possible to see Tintagel Head, and possibly even Bude, but it was not clear enough for that.

Port Quin a very narrow inlet, also owned by the National Trust, was impossible to see until you were on it. We had promised ourselves ice cream when we reached it, but there was only a tea van with a very grumpy lady in it, who shut up shop promptly at 4pm.

From Port Quin to Port Isaac is somewhat over 3 miles, and a very steep three miles at that. The path drops and rises precipitately, with steps cut into the cliff that look as though they will drop right down into the sea at various points. img_1314We toiled and moiled slowly along, reaching Port Isaac, which is delightful, except for the stony beach. After being turned away by several restaurants (they claimed they were full, but I fear they thought we would lower the tone), we had an excellent meal in the Golden Lion pub, before ascending yet another hill to our B&B.  Today’s distance was 12 miles (20km).

Day 78 – Porthcothan to Padstow, 15 July 2016

Day 78 – Porthcothan to Padstow, 15 July 2016

img_1135Today has been a gentle day, 17.3km (nearly 11 miles) of fairly flat walking, with only one major down and up. We started late after a very convivial breakfast with our host, as the distance was not too great.

Yesterday’s sun had completely disappeared and the sky was overcast. The turquoise water had turned to a rather attractive petrol green. A couple of miles brought us to Treyarnon. Unlike yesterday, there were few surfers about, as, despite the chilly wind, there was no surf. After a coffee in the pub there, we carried on around another couple of coves, and crossed Trevose Head. This is yet another area of coast largely owned by the National Trust. From the tip of it, we could just about see back to St Ives. Because of the lie of the land, from this point onward, St Ives will be out of sight.

Moving north-east, we then skirted Harlyn Bay and eventually arrived at Stepper Point, the headland overlooking the Camel Estuary.  Just on the tip is the Stepper Point Coast Watch station. This is run by a charitable body which notes all (and I mean all) of the movements along the coast with watch points all around the Cornish coast. The public can enter and see the very fancy equipment that tracks vessels. For future reference, we were marked down as soon as we came within sight in the book as ‘1m white shirt (Jon) 1f green blouse (me) + 1m (Stephen).’img_1176

One of the most interesting things in the watch house was a map and list of all the wrecks along the stretch of coast since the early 1600s. It was a fascinating record, ships from Jamaica and Malaysia, Dublin and Falmouth, and even as close as St Ives, many wrecked on Doom Bar, a shifting sand bar across the Camel mouth. Where known, the cargo, the captain and the number of crew lost were noted. The charity is always looking for volunteers, so if you are on the coast, and fancy helping out, make enquiries.

After this, we turned down the Camel estuary. The sun had come out and we decided to make for the tea gardens at Prideaux house, a Tudor mansion where the Prideaux family has lived for 14 generations. Before we got there, we were side tracked by another tea spot, the Rest-a-While, overlooking the estuary. So we did, and watched the rather lovely yachts zipping up and down the Camel as we ate a very satisfactory cream tea.img_1183

It was fortunate we were weak-willed as Prideaux House was closed for filming.

We are now in a very comfy B&B in Padstow. Definitely one of the best of the trip.