Day 85 Clovelly to Westward Ho! 19th October 2016

Day 85 Clovelly to Westward Ho! 19th October 2016

Today started out very straightforwardly.  Back up the cobbled street of Upalong-Downalong to the path, greeting more Clovelly cats as we went. The first three miles were along a level path called the Hobby Track through the woods. Once again there were lots of pheasant, but today there were also lots of guns. We could hear the beating and them the calling of the pheasants as they took flight. I shouldn’t complain as I am happy to eat pheasant and it is far better than factory farming, but I struggle to understand how anyone can actually get pleasure out of killing a live creature.

The guns gradually faded as we travelled briskly along. Our first descent was to Bucks Mill. – a tiny hamlet which once again hailed to produce a café. Then up and flat again until a sharp descent into Peppercombe where there was a crew of National Trust volunteers burning brush. There was not much wind so the smoke caught my throat and got into our eyes and hair.

As we looked back, we could see Clovelly – it had a bit of morning sun, but was soon in shadow. Coming out of Peppercombe, the path climbs up to the cliff top and veers north again. There were several long, painful ups and downs, before one drop right down to the cobbly shore. There was lots of litter and driftwood, some of the bakers’ tray sleds that the people of Clovelly use to drag things up and down. Not sure if they find trays that have come ashore or whether the trays get washed away. We reached Westward Ho! along the old Bideford to Westward railway track, which was apparently torn up for the First World War effort and shipped to France. Unfortunately, it never got there, being sunk in the Channel.

After an excellent cream tea at the Tea on the Green Café, we arrived at our B & B, the Mayfield. We had noticed down on the sea-front, some of the lines from Rudyard Kipling’s famous poem ‘If’, laid out in shells. It seems he went to school here, in the buildings opposite our B & B and this is where his book ‘Stalky & Co.’ is set. Excellent school stories – not nearly as ‘play up and play the game’ as you might imagine. In fact, Stalky is a rebel who hates games – my kind of schoolboy.

Today’s distance was 19.7 km – just under 12.5 miles.

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.

Day 76 – Perranporth to Newquay 13th July 2016

Day 76 – Perranporth to Newquay 13th July 2016

Last night’s hotel rather grew on me as the maintenance man came to fix the lock on my door. When he isn’t maintaining he is either surfing or firefighting. He definitely brightened my day! The food was pretty good too.20160713_132459

I had no luck in Perranporth with finding a new memory card for my camera so I had to do a bit of judicious editing which was absolutely essential as there were certainly some fabulous views to take.

The path starts out along the glorious golden sands for nearly a mile (although it was not brilliant weather). Right at the end there were the rather pitiful remains of a whale that beached a few days ago – the pong was pretty fierce, and we were rather boggled at the number of people who seemed to see the poor creature as a tourist attraction.IMG_0962

At the end of the beach you climb up onto the dunes. We didn’t go quite far enough and made heavy weather of climbing up the dunes rather than going up the nice wide stoney track.  The path then skirts along the headlands, dotted with a few Shetland ponies. The wind was fierce, although other than a shower just when we were starting out, the day has been mainly sunny. This morning was cold though. I don’t know what the wind chill factor was, but it felt no more than on 12 or 13 degrees. Not good for mid-July.

Rounding the headland, you come to the little cove of Holywell. At the head of the beach is a pub, where we stopped for coffee and cake, then a stiff climb over dunes.  Always hard going and at one point I thought I had pulled a calf muscle but all seems well now.

Above the dunes we saw a kestrel, and heard what we thought were its chicks. Back out to a headland, and round a second, past what looked like an army training camp, before turning into another narrow bay, with good surf.  We saw another kestrel dive bombing a crow. The crow seemed unconcerned, just ducking as the orangey – brown bird of prey shot over its head, circled and came in again. We assumed the crow was too close to the kestrel’s nest, but we didn’t see any chicks.

The next bay is the Gannel estuary. The sun had come out and it was full of children and dogs enjoying the waves. I took my boots off to walk over the Crantock Bay sands which are very fine.20160713_143045

Unfortunately, at some point, I managed to lose yet another water bottle. Very annoying. It is only possible to cross the long inlet by ferry or going quite far inland to cross a footbridge. We were in time for the little ferry, which cost us the astonishing sum of 60 pence each as we only needed to take it halfway.20160713_163636

With the tide low, the ferryman came to a little platform half-way across. On the far side, there was a little shop with live lobsters and crabs, waiting to be chosen and sent on their way to the local dinner tables. The hotel at the top gave us our first cream tea of the trip. Around another headland, on top of which there was a mediaeval huer platform (where someone was posted to watch for the pilchard shoals) and then along the path above the beach at Fistral, past Rick Stein’s fish restaurant. Don’t think we’ll be eating there!

Day 63 – Fowey to Mevagissey – 12th July 2015

Our B & B in Fowey was very quaint, apparently one of the oldest buildings in the town, dating from 1430, but our morning peace was somewhat disturbed by the seagulls who were up and about at 4am. We left Fowey about 9.45 – there didn’t seem much point in hurrying as it was raining. The path climbs out of the town, but here, as elsewhere it is very poorly signposted.

We hummed and hawed at an unmarked fork. A young Swede or German rushed past, saying he was sure it was the right hand fork, so we followed him. After a quarter of a mile, he came rushing back – no, it was the other fork. For a couple of hours we could see him zooming over the headlands to the west. I presume he is at Land’s End by now! After walking for an hour or so we came to the most gorgeous house, hidden in a cove. It was absolutely the perfect house – it even had its own duck pond.

IMG_9875At the next junction the map and the signage disagreed. We decided to follow the signs, thinking that the path may have been diverted since the map was printed. It ended, however, with us missing a walk up to the light-house that we could see coming out of Fowey, and hitting a road instead. However, as it was still raining, there would not have been much to see. We came to another little cove, this one had a coffee stall, and a sailing school, so we sat in the rain and had a cuppa. The stall man was very helpful and explained that the map gave a false impression of the path at Par Sands. He gave us detailed instructions on how to negotiate the caravan park and the kaolin works. Whilst we were drinking our coffee, we watched a group of teenagers having a lesson in managing a dinghy. I began to feel faintly sea-sick watching them. We climbed another cliff, then dropped down into the dunes behind Par Sands.

On the edge of the beach were two little gazebo things, housing the Par Sands Carnival Committee. They were hoping to raise money for the Carnival by selling hot-dogs etc at the planned raft race (which it appeared might be cancelled, or perhaps had already been cancelled, or might perhaps be back on if the wind changed. No-one seemed to mind.) They kindly let us leave our bags and boots under the shelter whilst we paddled. We must have looked a bit bizarre – paddling in our rain gear. We then consumed a couple of excellent fresh hot dogs.IMG_9880

Along the grey sands of the beach, then through the caravan park, onto the road through the town, and round the Works. Our B & B called to say they wanted to go out. It was no problem to us as we were unlikely to arrive before about 7pm. Around 3.45 we came to the port of Charlestown (Porth Meur). This was developed from the original hamlet of West Porthmear in the late 18th century by the local squire, Charles Rashleigh. The purpose was to transport the huge amounts of, first, copper, and then china clay coming out of the Cornish mines. The last exports left in 2000, as the port is not deep enough for modern shipping. Pleasing to our eyes, was the sight of the pub, and even more pleasing was the sign advertising Prosecco Cream Teas. We took advantage of this excellent combination of food and drink, not leaving until about 4.30. IMG_9883Unfortunately, that had a bit of a knock on effect and progress was slow. We got hopelessly lost at a place called Trenarren, although not so lost as another group of people who several times set out on different paths, only to re-emerge where they started, like actors in a farce. Eventually, we found the right route (no thanks to the sign-posting) and, after some punishing ups and downs between headlands, arrived at Pentewan, the town prior to Mevagissey.IMG_9887 We stopped for ten minutes, which was a mistake, as Rachel’s foot began to play up as soon as she put her boots back on. The last mile and a half into Mevagissey along the tarmac was rather miserable. We have been cheered both by our supper, in the local Indian, and by our excellent B & B (see review). Although we’ve done under 14 miles, it has been a tough day.