Day 330 Around Plymouth Sound

Thursday 30 June 2016

Plymouth to Wembury

8 miles

Pilgrims’ Rest Campsite

I woke up regretting the large glass of Bertha’s gin that I finished last night with. Kerry dropped me off at The Barbican Wharves on her way to work and I headed straight for the Jacka Bakery to enjoy another of their amazing pain-au-chocolats. 

looking across from Mount Batten to The Citadel
I took my time enjoying the atmosphere of The Barbican before heading around to The Citadel. This was where the local ferries ran from and I waited for the small ferry that covers the shortest journey, across the Cattewater to Mount Batten. It was preferable to walking inland, through the industrial area, to the Laira Bridge. 

Mount Batten extending into Cattewater
Mount Batten was the site of an RAF station from 1928-86, and before that there were flying boats stationed here since 1913. This was the home of air defence to protect the Naval vessels in the Western approaches to Southern England. 

Drake’s Island and Mount Edgcumbe Country Park on the left
Before aircraft the entrance to Cattewater and Sutton Harbour was protected by the Mount Batten Tower. It was built c1650, probably in response to the threat of war with the Dutch. Today it was shrouded in scaffolding and was undergoing repairs. 

Mount Batten Tower
The sky became blue and the sun came out, just to give me excellent views across the Plymouth Sound so I could properly appreciate the majesty of Plymouth. 
the view across The Sound to Rame Head
The path wound over Jenny Cliff and Staddon Heights, and out to Fort Bovisand. 

clouds bowling over Jenny Cliff
I read that in the 1860s twenty-four forts, constituting “a ring of fire”, had been built encircling Plymouth. They were arranged in 2 rings to protect from seaward and landward attacks, that were expected from the French. 

Bovisand Fort, The Breakwater and Picklecombe Fort on the far side of The Sound
The 3 forts covering the seaward approaches to The Sound were Picklecombe (western side), Breakwater Fort (central) and Fort Bovisand (eastern side). Staddon Fort, which was just above me, had been the principal land fort. 

Fort Bovisand and Picklecombe Fort
There were lots of boats in The Sound, although it is so big that it didn’t seem crowded. I noticed that a high proportion of the vessels resembled old-fashioned sailing boats, and then there were plenty of tiny dinghies with kids learning to sail, all mixing it with Royal Navy warships. 

the view to Wembury Point
The Plymouth Breakwater protects ships in The Sound from rough seas. It is almost 1 mile long, was designed by Sir John Rennie and building began in 1812 but wasn’t completed until 1844. It must be a masterpiece though because Napoleon thought so. 

Wembury Point and Great Mew Stone
Eventually I left The Sound behind and headed into Wembury Bay, facing Great Mew Stone. I was now in South Hams District. 

Wembury Bay, the River Yealm hidden by the cliffs
The beach at Wembury was small and had grey sand. The sea was choppy as it was windy so not as clear as I had been used to. It’s not supposed to be as clear as in Cornwall anyway because this is a marine conservation area so it’s full of nutrients that make the water appear cloudier. 

The Old Mill right on Wembury Beach
The town of Wembury extends up a big hill and the small, very basic campsite is helpfully located at the top. No sooner had I pitched my tent than I could see a sea must rolling in and spots of light rain began falling. I had been lucky today.

Devon’s Coast-to-Coast, Wembury to Lynmouth
I would have liked to have covered a few more miles but this was the only campsite until Bigbury-on-Sea and I had to fit in a lot of ferry crossings over the next few days. 

only 175 miles to go on the SW Coast Path…
…3 miles further on and I’ve now got 206 miles to go?!

Day 329 Sheltering in Plymouth

Wednesday 29 June 2016

Around Plymouth

5 miles

Kerry and James’ house, Saltash

The weather was terrible when I woke up, very wet, and the rain was predicted to last all day. I thought this was lucky for the following 2 reasons: firstly, Kerry offered me the chance to stay a second night (which meant a proper bed) and, secondly, instead of walking past Plymouth I could take a bit of time to explore the city. 

The Mayflower Steps
Kerry dropped me off near The Barbican, the old part of the city that dates back to the 16th Century. After just a short walk across the footbridge spanning one of the wharves I was soaked. 

Tinside Lido, Drake’s Island and Edgcumbe Park across The Sound
I stopped at Jacka Bakery for coffee and a truly excellent pain-au-chocolat. This bakery has been certified as the oldest commercial bakery in Great Britain, dating back to 1597, and it supplied The Mayflower with biscuits for its voyage across The Atlantic. Ancient ovens are still visible, but unfortunately unusable. 

Plymouth Gin Distillery
Just down the road is the Plymouth Gin Distillery, established 1793, the oldest one in England. 

the Belvedere Memorial, on The Hoe
I took a tour around The Mayflower Museum, which overlooks The Mayflower Steps, the point where The Pilgrims set sail for New Plymouth. I met an American couple whose ancestor was on the ship. 

Smeaton’s Lighthouse, relocated to The Hoe 1882. Game of bowls anyone?
Plymouth likes its plaques and memorials. There are a lot. There are plaques commemorating all the famous sea journeys that started from Plymouth, and memorials commemorating the famous men that set sail from here. 

Sir Francis Drake, circumnavigator of the World and famous for finishing his game of bowls before defeating the Spanish Armada in 1588
Most of the plaques at The Barbican Wharves were reminders of how the British colonised the New World; The Mayflower sailed for America in 1620, The Tory sailed for New Zealand in 1839 and plenty of ships sailed for Australia in the 18th Century. 

The RAF, Commonwealth and Allied Air Forces Memorial, the memorial commemorating the first sight of the Spanish Armada from Plymouth Hoe, and the Plymouth Naval Memorial
Up the hill, past The Royal Citadel, built in 1655 for King Charles II, to protect the seaward approaches to Sutton Harbour, I reached The Hoe. More memorials. There are 23,000 names on Plymouth’s Naval War Memorial for the two World Wars, all sailors or marines based at Plymouth. 

The Beatles were ‘ere
At the other end of The Hoe were 4 imprints in the grass, signifying the spots where The Beatles sat for an iconic photograph. All very strange. 

Blocks of granite from Dartmoor Prison, commemorating the imprisonment of Napoleon and other French soldiers in 1815
I wandered through the Stonehouse area of the city and went to the Rocksalt cafe for lunch. Highly recommended. After that I caught the bus back to the Tamar Bridge and walked across it into Cornwall again. I really enjoyed my day in Plymouth. 

the Tamar Railway Bridge

Day 328 Around Rame Head and Across The Tamar to Devon

Tuesday 28 June 2016

Seaton to Plymouth

18 miles

Kerry and James’ house, Saltash

I knew it would be a long day so I got up early, packed away my wet tent and was on the road (back down the steep hill) before 8am. A quick stop at the shop in Downderry to get a banana and some croissants for breakfast and then I was on my way. 

the view along the (steep) cliffs fron Downderry
It wasn’t raining (yet) but the ground was very wet and the cliff paths were overgrown. This meant I had to force my way through saturated ferns, nettles and other plants. I was soaked through from my waist down in no time. 

the path…it is there, honest!
The vista across the sea was expansive and the cliffs had a peaceful air about them. I passed through Portwrinkle and kept going. 

looking down on Downderry and back to Looe Bay and Island
Portwrinkle and Whitsand Bay
At low tide, Whitsand Bay has a 4-mile long beach at the base of steep cliffs; however, the tide was high and so there were just small sandy coves.

Whitsand Bay at high tide
Tregantle Fort is quite imposing, built in 1865 as part of Lord Palmerston’s deterence against a possible French attack it dominates the cliff. It is still used as a firing range and the red flags were flying today so I had to walk around it on the road. 

Tregantle Fort, protected by cows
a more impressive, sea-side view of Tregantle Fort
Suddenly there was a drop off to my left and, across the fields, I could see Torpoint and the River Tamar. 

looking across from Whitsand Bay to Torpoint, the River Tamar and Devon
Back on the cliff top I passed through Freathy and Tregonhawke, two communities of small chalets built all over the cliff. It reminded me a bit of the chalets I saw in the dunes in Northumberland. They must make amazing holiday homes with cracking sea views. 

Tregonhawke cliffs with chalets dotted all over them
I stopped briefly for a bacon and egg butty at the Cliff Top Cafe in Tregonhawke, and to prepare myself for the rain. When I left it was raining hard and the sea mist was coming in. 

walking to Rame Head in the rain
I made it to the ruined chapel on Rame Head just in time to see a couple of the Royal Navy’s Frigates leaving port. Within a few minutes they had disappeared completely in fog. I was soaked through and being blown around in the wind that had suddenly picked up; I was loving it. 

St Michael’s Chapel on Rame Head
A RN Frigate leaving Plymouth, viewed whilst sheltering inside the Rame Head Chapel
Unfortunately I couldn’t see anything as I rounded Penlee Point and then the path headed through woods to the town’s of Cawsand and Kingsand (they have totally merged together so I’ve no idea when I left Cawsand and entered Kingsand even though the Devon and Cornwall border used to split them). The coastline around Rame Head and Penlee is littered with purposely sunk wrecks creating artificial reefs and dive sites that have been colonised by over 270 marine species. 

Cawsand or Kingsand? Either way it’s all Cornwall now
A local couple I’d met on the cliff had told me I should stop at The Old Bakery in Cawsand, so I did. There were 3 other wet walkers already in the cafe. I dried off over coffee and some of their wonderful, home baked, sourdough bread. 

Penlee Point and The Plymouth Sound beyond
After an hour sheltering the rain stopped and the sun came out for the last section through Mount Edgcumbe Country Park. 

Mount Edgcumbe House
The first section of this walk was through a wonderful woodland around Picklecombe Point I got wet again anyway from the dripping trees. 

Picklecombe Point lighthouse, the Plymouth Breakwater and Wembury Point beyond
At a couple of points there were amazing views out from the trees across Plymouth Sound. I could see the Plymouth Breakwater and across to Staddon Point Fort, as well as Drake’s Island in the middle of The Sound. 

a great view across The Sound to South Hams, Great Mew Stone visible
a glimpse of Drake’s Island through the trees
Mount Edgcumbe has wonderful historic gardens that were originally planted in the 18th Century but neglected after they were bombed in 1941 and then rescued in the 1970s. Amongst the gardens are ones with plants from the following nations: England, France, Italy, America and New Zealand. I didn’t take a tour around the gardens but stayed on the periphery And walked past all the fortifications with views across The Sound. 

aiming at Devil’s Point from the Mount Edgcumbe Garden Battery
Mount Edgcumbe Park is also renowned for its Camellia collection. The trees certainly did look wonderful. 

Mount Edgcumbe trees (plenty of Camellias)
Since Tregantle Fort I had passed a further 4 military installations: Polhawn Fort near Rame Head, Picklecombe Fort at Picklecombe Point and a Blockhouse and Garden Battery within Mount Edgcumbe Country Park. I could also see The Citadel at the entrance to Plymouth’s Barbican Wharves, and forts at Durnstone Point and Staddon Point across The Sound. I came to the conclusion that Plymouth has long been a significant port to be so well protected. 

looking across at Old Plymouth…
…newer Plymouth
The Cremyll Ferry took me across the River Tamar to the Stonehouse area of Plymouth. I had finally made it around Cornwall; it had taken me over 5 weeks, the longest time I’ve spent in any county. I think that was a combination of the walking being hard and there being too much to see and do. 

the Cremyll Ferry, from Mount Edgcumbe to Devil’s Point (more German walkers!)
Kerry picked me up and promptly drove me back across the Tamar Bridge into Cornwall (is there no escape?) to Saltash. I was incredibly grateful for a bed for the night. 

The Tamar road (1961) and rail (Brunel 1859) bridges, heading back into Cornwall

Day 327 Looe (Two Towns and an Island)

Monday 27 June 2016

Talland Bay to Downderry

9 miles

Trerieve Farm Campsite

It was sunny again this morning. My day began with collecting the eggs to make my breakfast. Wonderful. 

collecting eggs for breakfast, my tent in the background (no, I’m not wearing socks, that’s a tan line!)
I had lots of admin to do and hung around with Jane for most of the morning, taking advantage of her wifi. Eventually, as today was supposed to be the best weather for the week, I decided I had to get going. I had been invited to stay an extra day and it was very tempting. 

the lovely red rocks at Talland Bay
I could actually see Talland Bay today; it has lovely red rocks that extend underwater into the bay. 

Looe Island, across Portnadler Bay
It didn’t take long to walk to Looe and I had great views of Looe Island as I walked around Portnadler Bay. The island is a nature reserve and was bequeathed to Cornwall wildlife trust in 2004 by the Atkins sisters. It is also a marine nature reserve and a chapel which, legend has it, Joseph of Arimethea came to visit. 

Looe Island from West Looe
Yet again the sea was the most beautiful colour, a deep blue and very clear. 

the sea was a stunning colour in Portnadler Bay (Looe just around the corner)
Looe is a town of two halves; West and East. They were once individual towns and are physically separated by a river that splits into two; the West Looe River and the East Looe River. 

West and East Looe
It would have been easy to walk across the bridge; however, I preferred to pay 50p to cross the river by ferry. 

the Looe River, and a statue of Nelson on the rocks
On the edge of the river in West Looe there was a bronze statue of Nelson, a one-eyed bull grey seal who lived around Looe Harbour and Island for many years before he died in 2003. It’s funny what captivates people. 

Three separate people, including Jane the food blogger, had recommended Sarah’s Pasties in Looe. Apparently the best in Cornwall (and therefore the World). I can’t describe how gutted I was to find the shop had sold out of pasties before I got there at lunchtime. I went and drowned my sorrows in coffee at The Lookout Cafe instead. 

some bigger cliffs ahead, Seaton visible
It was a steep climb out of Looe to the large houses that line the cliff heading to Mildendreath. One driveway had two Bentleys and a boat in it. 

looking back at West Looe and the town beach
Mildendreath Beach seemed to be almost exclusively for residents of the Black Rock Beach Resort. The sand here had changed from yellow to a darker colour, more grey. 

The cliffs on the way to Seaton had lots of houses and pine trees. Very nice, quiet, suburbia. 

Seaton Beach
Seaton had another ‘grey beach’ with the Seaton River that ran out of the Seaton Valley Countryside Park and across the beach. Seaton merged in Downderry and here the houses had lovely views across the sea but it seemed like every other one was for sale or being rebuilt. 

Seaton Valley
There were 2 campsites in Downderry and I chose the one at the top of a mega-steep hill. The other one was a naturist camp! My campsite was very basic, and it was a long walk back down the hill to the Inn on the Shore for dinner. I did wonder (only for a second) if I should have chosen the other campsite.

walking down the steep hill to Downderry

WEEK 46 Coverack to Polperro

83 miles walked

(total 2,700 miles walked)

The Walking seemed hard again this week, although not like the North coast. Lots of beautiful scenery.  

Gerrans Bay, looking at Portscatho
I have been getting the impression that Cornwall is a land on a slant, tilted South. The cliffs in the North coast (from Hartland Point) are very high and so the rivers are small and dig deep gullies to reach the sea. The South coast feels lower and more rolling hills with huge great estuaries. I can’t quite believe how diverse the scenery is on the SW Coast Path. 

look at the colour of the sea! Nare Head and Gull Rock
I saw lots of ponies this week; lots of different types (Dartmoor, Shetland and others) are employed  to graze the cliffs. On the whole they do a good job, but the Highways Agent still need to get their strimmer on those paths!

Dartmoor Ponies on the path
Strange weather again this week. I have even heard Cornishmen exclaiming that they can’t read the weather at the moment. 

Unfortunately my heart wasn’t in the walking at the end of this week. I temporarily fell out of love with this country and felt my values diverged from this Nation’s. Considering my aim has always been to see more of the country I love this presented a problem. I’m working through it. 

the Red Rocket in Fowey

Day 326 A Cliff Walk to Polperro

Sunday 26 June 2016

Polruan to Polperro

9 miles

Camping at Jonny and Jane’s farm, near Talland Bay

Sunshine and warmth woke me up, but that soon disappeared once I had packed away. 

looking along to Pencarrow Head and beyond
It was a nice walk along the cliffs, albeit everyone I met warned me the route to Polperro was very up and down. Lantic Beach was particularly stunning. In fact there were several places where it might be nice to go for a swim either off a beach or some rocks. 
Lantic Bay

Lantic Bay and Pencarrow Head

The cliffs were thick with ferns and greenery, and the path did indeed go up and down. I was surprised to see a small house tucked in the bushes about two thirds of the way down the cliff overlooking Lantivet Bay. I couldn’t resist descending a steep path to investigate. It must be somebody’s holiday cottage; the only way to it was via steep paths, either walking the cliffs or up from a boat. 

a cottage hiding in the ferns on the cliff
I met a Cornish fisherman on the rocks. He was fishing for Bass but apparently the water was too “gin clear” and calm for Bass fishing today. 

“gin clear” water and space to land a boat to reach that cottage
I also met an old man who must have been in his eighties. He had done a short circular cliff walk and finished off with a swim from one of the small coves. What a great start to his day. 

a small cove at West Coombe
There wasn’t much wind so it was another sweaty walk, compensated by great views. 

beautiful cliffs and rocks with streaks of white
I reached Polperro around lunchtime and it was very busy. It was the last day of their festival week and a band was tuning up on the small stage. This typical fishing village had buildings crammed in everywhere so it was amazing they found a space big enough for a stage. 

approaching Polperro, tucked away (Chapel Pool should be at the base of these rocks)
Unfortunately the tide was in so the Chapel Tidal Pool wasn’t visible at the base of the rocks. Instead I popped into one of the pop-up art galleries for the festival but I didn’t fancy bothering with the model village. 

Polperro
There were lots of cafes and I was very hungry so I popped into one to get a fish finger sandwich and escape the rain that was coming in. By the time I left there was a thick sea mist and it was drizzling. Such a quick change in the weather. 

Polperro, stretching up the valley
It was a short walk around To Talland Bay, which had a lovely looking beach cafe, with beach huts to sit in to shelter from the weather. There was a big hill to walk up to get to Jonny and Jane’s. Jonny kindly collected me in his landrover. 
Talland Bay is down there, in the mist
I had a great afternoon and evening. We drove to East Looe for coffee and cake and then Jane made an excellent curry for dinner. I camped on their farmland, next to the yurt that they were sleeping in. Jane is a food writer, recipe creator and photographer. I got some tips on cafes for the next stretch. She’s got a much better blog than mine http://www.hedgecombers.com. 

another view of the cliffs and Lantic Bay

Day 325 Gribbin Head and Fowey

Saturday 25 June 2016

Carlyon Bay to Polruan

11 miles

Polruan Holidays Campsite

It rained heavily overnight and didn’t stop until 9am. I wasn’t in the mood for getting up anyway. 

Carlyon Bay
I left at 10am in hot sun and with a dry tent. It was funny weather and clouded over almost as soon as I started walking. It continued to be a mix of sunshine and showers all day, and the showers were sharp but over quickly. 

lookig back at Charlestown and St Austell
Par Sands was difficult to get to as it was obscured by Par Docks. Par was developed as a minerals port in the 1830s and China clay is still shipped from here. There is a China clay trail that follows the old railway lines used for transporting the clay to the docks that looked like it might head up to the white pyramids that stand high above St Austell. These are enormous heaps of China clay that I could see from as far away as Dodman Point yesterday. 
Par Sands and docks
I eventually found Par beach and it was full of dog walkers. The sea looked brown, I’d not seen that since the Bristol Channel. 

brown sea?!
I carried on around to Polkerris, a small beach and activity centre nestled in the cliff. Having not had any breakfast I stopped here for a big seafood spaghetti lunch at Sam’s and watched some people windsurfing. 

Polkerris
The wind picked up as I rounded Gribbin Head; the first proper wind I’ve experienced for weeks. It was good for cooling me down, and for blowing the showers away quickly. The views from Gribbin Head were far-reaching, all the way back down The Lizard Peninsula. 

Gribbin Daymark
Gribbin Head and Polridmouth
The Gribbin Daymark was erected in 1832, enabling sailors to pinpoint the approach to Fowey’s harbour. 

The Fowey Estuary, a Border Force patrol boat just entering
Around Gribbin Head I got my first glimpse of the Fowey Estuary, full of sail boats. The entrance was protected by two blockhouse forts and St Catherine’s Castle. The castle was built in 1538 as part of the national defence programme for King Henry VIII. Fowey was beginning to remind me of the Scilly Isles. 

St Catherine’s Castle, opposite the Polruan blockhouse
Just before Fowey is Polridmouth, a tiny beach at the edge of woodland that leads to Menabilly. Both these places were settings for Daphne Du Maurier novels.

Polridmouth and Gribbin Head, Daphne Du Maurier country
looking at Polridmouth and the entrance to Fowey from Gribbin Head
Arriving in Fowey I came across signs for The Saints Way, an ancient route between the North and South coasts, from Padstow to Fowey. 

signs for The Saints Way
Once in Fowey I wandered through the town and ducked into a tea shop to escape yet another shower. What a find –  The Dwelling House At Fowey is possibly the best tea room I’ve ever visited. Bold statement I know. I was almost cheered up by a delicious cream tea served on proper old fashioned china. 

Fowey and the Fowey River on the left, Pont Pill and Polruan on the right
Fowey started out as a fishing village, expanded into a port exporting China clay, and now looks like it’s home to the sailing fraternity. The sound of the racing hooter was audible all afternoon and sail boats were constantly to-ing and fro-ing. 

Polruan from Fowey

Fowey from Polruan
I caught the ferry across the River Fowey to Polruan. We weaved in and out of the moored dingies and halfway across we picked up a couple of sailors thumbing a taxi-ride to the shore. 

the Polruan Ferry
Polruan is thought to be an older settlement than Fowey. I climbed up the steep hill to St Saviour’s Chapel ruins atop The Bound, a grassy cliff top that has been an important lookout for centuries. 

looking all the way back to Dodman Point from The Bound
The chapel was thought to have been built in the 8th or 9th Century and is a landmark for Mariners. It was also a pilgrimage for sailors to give thanks for their homecoming. 

St Saviour’s Chapel ruins on The Bound
The campsite was at the top of the hill and had good views over the sea. It was quite windy as I pitched my tent but it died down later. I couldn’t be bothered to walk back down the hill so just had snacks for dinner. I walked back to The Bound late in the evening to look at the view. 

The Fowey Estuary at sunset

Day 324 Mevagissy and “Snarzell”

Friday 24 June 2016

Boswinger to Carlyon Bay, St Austell

16 miles

Carlyon Bay Campsite

It was raining this morning and everyone was glued to the television watching the results of the EU Referendum over breakfast. The rain fitted my mood. I found it very hard to motivate myself to walk today. 

looking down on Hemmick Beach
I set off as the rain eased at about 9.30am. There was no one about as I headed along to Dodman Point. The grey mist was starting to burn off and the views from Dodman Point covered such a wide area, possibly from Lizard to the Devon border. The Dodman Cross dominated the Point and was erected in 1896 “in the firm hope of the second coming of Jesus Christ”. I thought that might be a good thing today. 

Dodman Cross, the Roseland Peninsula in the distance
The Dodman Point promontary seemed like a good site for an Iron Age fort and remnants of the ditch surrounding it were still visible. 

Vault Beach
Approaching Gorran Haven the sea suddenly took on an amazing bright blue hue. It looked incredible. 

bright blue sea approaching Gorran Haven
Gorran Haven Harbour
Gorran Haven was quite large but seemed rather small as it had tiny streets and a small water frontage with not much beach. Some big houses on the edges though. 

Gorran Haven
a house precariously balanced above a landslip, on the edge of Gorran Haven looking back at Maenease Point
I headed straight through Gorran Haven, around the small headland at Turbot Point and into Mevagissey Bay. Chapel Point looked rather splendid, and rather Mediterranean, with its whitewashed chapel and buildings. 

Chapel Point
Portmellon blended into Mevagissey, not even the cliff top between them really separating them anymore. Portmellon seemed to have newer, bigger houses and Mevagissey was the quaint fishing town. It was also a tourist Mecca. 

approaching Mevagissey
I wandered around the narrow streets and the harbour, trying to weave in and out of all the tourists. I popped into the museum, which had some interesting exhibits about life in the town through the ages. I found a cafe that wasn’t too busy and stopped for a break. The Lost Gardens of Heligan were only a couple of miles inland but I didn’t have the time (or the inclination today) to visit. 

Mevagissey Harbour
It was 3 o’clock before I left Mevagissey and I had quite a way still to go. The weather was strange: hot and sunny one minute and then sharp showers the next. 

sunshine and showers over Portmellon and Mevagissey
I was pleased to leave the hubbub of Mevagissey and continue around, past the huge caravan park that dominated Pentewan Beach, and around to Black Head. The Pentewan Valley walk looked nice, heading inland through the woods. 

Pentewan Beach and caravan park
There was quite a bit of up and down as I made my way around Black Head, through muddy woods, and on to Porthpean and Charlestown. 

beautiful sea and rugged cliffs, St Austell Bay
I was on the outskirts of St Austell (pronounced “Snarzell” in Cornish). For a while now I’d been able to see the large sprawl of houses and the large ‘white pyramids’ of China clay that dominated the view inland. 

St Austell, look for the ‘white pyramid’ behind it
The cliffs here had lots of trees on the top and weaved in and out, rather than up and down. There were a few small beaches, like the one at Porthpean. 

Lower Porthpean
Charlestown had an old, small, harbour, the entrance to which was once protected by the Crinnis Cliff Battery. Charles Rashleigh had built the battery in 1793 to protect the new Charlestown Harbour. It seemed suspended in time as the only ships in it were old schooners that might have belonged to the Charlestown Shipwreck and Heritage Centre. 

looking back around Mevagissey Bay to Chapel Point
It was almost 6pm when I made it to Carlyon Bay and the campsite just beyond the railway line. It was hot and sunny when I pitched so I headed straight back to the beach for a quick dip. A significant amount of money was being spent to build facilities at the back of the beach but, in the meantime, there were a couple of pop-up cafes in the middle of the beach. A quick swim followed by dressed crab and a beer on the beach, almost perfect on any other day. 

dressed crab, a hammer to break the claws and a beer, on Carlyon Beach
I had only just made it back to the campsite when another heavy shower came overhead. Good timing. Fortunately there was a covered area where I could sit while I did some laundry and then settled for an early night as heavy rain set in. 

cottages nestled in the hillside at Black Head, facing Mevagissey Bay

Day 323 Gerrans Bay and Portloe

Thursday 23 June 2016

Portscatho to Boswinger, near Gorran Haven

13 miles

Boswinger Youth Hostel

the view around Gerrans Bay to Nare Head and Gull Rock
The sun woke me up, shining into my tent. The ground was quite wet but I packed away anyway and headed off, through Portscatho and around to Porthcurnick Beach. 

Porthcurnick Beach and Portscatho
The sea looked lovely, the sun was shining and the highly recommended Hidden Hut cafe didn’t open until 10am. 

The Hidden Hut cafe overlooking Porthcurnick Beach
Time for a swim. There were already 5 families on this tiny beach and a couple of people swimming. The water was lovely and clear. I dried off in the sun and hung my wet towel and costume over the cafe railings. Breakfast was coffee and a pasty. What a perfect morning. 

drying my swim stuff over breakfast
I eventually tore myself away and headed around the rest of Gerrans Bay, to Nare Head. I popped into the Lookout Station just North of Portscatho. There wasn’t much going on in the Bay today, just kayakers and small boats. 

Gerrans Bay
Kayakers near Nare Head
The walk around Gerrans Bay was beautiful, and the sea was wonderfully clear with lots of sand visible under the water and nice beaches. 

Carne Beach, beautiful colour of the sea
Carne and Pendower Beaches
I met a man who was scouring the Bay for divers; apparently this bay is a favourite over-wintering spot for black- and red- throated divers. He monitors them annually and a few were still hanging around. I thought I saw one but it was most likely a cormorant. 

Porthbean Beach, looking back on Pednvadan, towards the Lookout Station
From Nare Head I could see all the way back to Nare Point, with St Anthony Head breaking up the two bays, Falmouth and Gerrans. 

the view all the way back to Falmouth Bay and the Lizard
Nare Head had a bunker on it, the sister to one at Nare Point. Both were part of the network of Starfish sites during WW2; decoy sites using special effects to lure enemy bombers away from populated and significant areas such as Falmouth. 

a bunker on Nare Head
In 1962 an atomic early warning bunker was built underground. It was a survival unit designed for 3 men to live for 3 weeks monitoring radioactive fallout following a nuclear attack. It closed in 1991 but has been restored and is occasionally open to the public. 

Kiberick Cove, looking across Veryan Bay to Dodman Point
Nare Head and Gull Rock
I left cheerful Nare Head and carried on along the stunning cliff walk to Portloe. What a picturesque little town nestled in the crook of the cliffs. All the houses looked pristine and I wasn’t surprised to see the town had twice won Cornwall’s best-kept. 

approaching Portloe
The sun had been hot today and I needed a break. What luck, Portloe has a posh hotel. The Lugger Hotel welcomed me in, I relaxed on a sofa, read their newspapers and drank lots of tea while I dried out. It was a quiet and blissful hour. 

Portloe, tucked into the cliff
It was 4pm when I left Portloe and I still had a couple of hours of walking around Veryan Bay. It was just as hilly and just as spectacular as Gerrans Bay. 

a hilly coastline around Veryan Bay from Nare Head
There wasn’t much to West and East Portholland, but then I arrived at Porthluney Cove. Set back beyond the beach, surrounded by woods and parkland, was Caerhays Castle. It was rather imposing. 

West- and East- Portholland, separated by rocky cliffs
Caerhays Castle nestled in a wooded estate behind Porthluney Cove
Boswinger is at the top of a steep climb up from Hemmick Beach. I was glad to arrive at the Youth Hostel. I ate a very nice dinner in the hostel, which unusually was home-cooked by the staff. I then spent the evening in the company of 2 guys who had arrived early for a weekend away at the hostel as part of a larger, all male, group. They were seriously camp, and the 3 of us and the 2 female staff had a hilarious evening. Thanks to Wilson for all the prosecco!

Hemmick Beach and Dodman Point

Day 322 The Roseland Peninsula

Wednesday 22 June 2016

Falmouth to Portscatho

9 miles

Treloan Coastal Park

Wendy cooked me a lovely breakfast to send me on my way. It had rained during the night but was dry when I left. 

Falmouth from the ferry
I had 2 ferries to catch and only a few miles to walk as there aren’t that many campsites on the Roseland Peninsula. I had a few chores to do in town so wandered through Falmouth a second time and stopped for a coffee at Discovery Quay, the relatively new development. 

the St Mawes Ferry arriving at Falmouth’s Custom House Quay
I caught the St Mawes Ferry at 11.30am. I had no idea that St Mawes was so affluent and a sometime Royal holiday destination. 

St Mawes
St Mawes Castle and town
I walked up to the castle, the 2nd of King Henry VIII Fal Estuary fortifications. As expected, the views across the Carrick Roads were excellent. 

St Mawes Castle and Pendennis Castle across the Carrick Roads

Wendy had told me that members of the Royal family had stayed at the Tresanton Hotel in St Mawes so I decided to check it out. I didn’t need any lunch after Wendy’s breakfast but I couldn’t resist the opportunity to try it out. The think I find with really posh places is that they still treat me nicely even though I turn up looking unkempt and carrying a huge rucksack. The Tresanton passed my test and I had a lovely, and not bad priced, two course lunch with a glass of wine.
lunch fit for a Queen at the Tresanton Hotel
It was a good job I enjoyed the views over lunch because, no sooner had I left than it started raining and a thick most enveloped everything. Needless to say it wasn’t forecast. 

St Anthony Head (and lighthouse) across Percuil River
I caught the Place Ferry (just a tiny boat) across the Percuil River to St Anthony. (So many rivers!)

I wonder who lives here?
I couldn’t see anything much as I made my way around St Anthony Head to Zone Point. Here was the coastal artillery fort, St Anthony Battery, the third of the Fal Estuary protective forts. Unfortunately, I had no view through the thick mist and drizzle. I could hardly see the St Anthony Head Lighthouse, but I could hear it!

looking back at St Mawes enveloped in mist
St Anthony Head Lighthouse
There were a couple of nice looking beaches at the base of the cliffs as I walked along to Portscatho. 

nice little beach
I was camped just before the town and, when I arrived, the lovely owner made me a cup of tea while I pitched my tent. Although it was no longer raining the air was very damp. 

a Wreck Post near Towan Beach (for practising rocket and line ship rescues)
I walked to the local pub for yet more food and the chance to charge my phone and update my blog. 

Portscatho harbour