Monday 30 May 2016 (Bank Holiday)
St Agnes Head to Gwithian
Gail cooked me breakfast and made me some sandwiches, and Gerry dropped me off at St Agnes’ Head. I had been so well looked after; proper Cornish hospitality.
The sun was shining and the sky was blue, no sign of yesterday’s fog. I was lucky because today was a particularly beautiful walk. I started near the old coastguard lookout station which, on a clear day, has a 30-mile panoramic seascape from Trevose Head to St Ives. This was the place where signal fires would be lit to warn of imminent seaborne invasion.
I was in the heart of tin mining country and almost immediately passed Wheal Coates Tin Mine. It was in operation, on and off, between 1872 and 1914; however, the area had been mined for ore since the Middle Ages, first for copper and then tin.
The mine, and the Towanroath mineshaft, looked were in striking locations on the cliff. There was a group of young artists drawing the mineshaft in the morning light.
It didn’t take me long to reach Chapel Porth so I didn’t need an ice cream; however, I felt compelled to try an iced hedgehog. This was Cornish ice cream smothered in clotted cream and covered in roasted hazelnuts. Delicious…and very few calories!
Chapel Porth is named after a mediaeval chapel and a holy well. Apparently the beach cave below the chapel was a ‘bottomless pit’ which the mythic giant, Bolster, was commanded to fill with his blood in order to prove his love for St Agnes. The rocks are still stained red.
As the tide was in I couldn’t see the cave or the rocks. Instead, I noticed that Chapel Porth is the location for the annual World belly boarding championships (no fibreglass boards or wetsuits allowed). I thought I might have to return in September to enter the event. I have a wooden belly board at home, made and painted by my dad to fit an undersized 10-year old girl. I thought I saw my dad in the photo on the board!
The next beach along was Porth Towan, although I didn’t stop. It was hot and sweaty walking up and down the cliffs to each beach.
There wasn’t much breeze to keep me cool and I wore my hat all day to ward off a sunburnt head.
Nancekuke Airfield, with Portreath Remote Radar Head, stands high on the cliff between Porth Towan and Portreath. As I walked down into Portreath I passed lots of large, new houses on the cliff and there were plenty more being built.
In the early 19th Century Portreath was the copper capital of the world; now it is just a small town at the Western end of the Cornish coast-to-coast path, with a popular beach renowned for body boarding.
Once again the views along the cliffs were stunning and the water below looked incredibly clear and beautiful shades of blue.
It was an easy walk along a wide path to Godrevy Head; a popular walk with several car parks along the way.
Although I was hot, the wind was picking up a bit and it was late afternoon so I didn’t fancy scrambling down the steep cliff for a swim in Fishing Cove. Besides, I wouldn’t have had it to myself.
There were only 3 seals lolling around in Mutton Cove, a favourite hauling-out beach for one colony.
I walked around Navax Point and Godrevy Point, admiring Godrevy Lighthouse on its island off the Point.
The car parks were full and there were lots of people on the beach at Gwithian, although it’s so big that there was still plenty of room. I didn’t need to walk along the beach but cut back through the dunes and St Gothian Sands local nature reserve (created in 2005 on the site of an old area of sand and gravel extraction) to the village.
I had been invited to call in on Jill when I arrived at Gwithian and so I stopped by hoping for a cup of tea. Well, one cup led to another, and then dinner and a bed for the night (which became 2 nights). Good company and a comfortable bed beat camping!