Sunday 5 June 2016
St Just to Treen, near Porthcurno
Treen Farm Campsite
It was a grey, still and humid day. My clothes hadn’t dried very well in the Youth Hostel’s drying room so I set off with my underwear hanging from my rucksack. The sea was different shades today without the sunlight and there was a mist that obscured my view of both Cape Cornwall and Land’s End. I couldn’t tell where the sea ended and the sky began.
I passed lots of coves again. Large, rounded stones and lots of seaweed prevented easy access to the sea in most coves but I did spy one guy snorkelling around the rocks.
Whitesand Bay is the first big beach since St Ives and there were several surf schools drumming up business, although no surf.
Sennen Cove overlooks the Southern end of Whitesand Bay and I stopped here for a second breakfast. Eggs Florentine overlooking the Bay was a good Sunday brunch.
I had to climb up Mayon Cliff to get to Land’s End. I stopped at the National Trust hut and Irish Annie didn’t stop talking! She gave me lots of tips for pubs coming up, told me I should write a book and said there’s an escaped Pelican living wild, and fishing, in this area.
There was a small plaque acknowledging the long association of the Commandoes (from before they were Royal Marines) with the peculiar West Cornwall cliffs, particularly those around Sennen Cove. This is where many Commandoes learn to climb.
I reached Land’s End, British mainland’s most Southwesterly point. It was busy; although I didn’t see anyone who looked like they were just starting LEJOG. The Longships Lighthouse was only faintly visible offshore. I found someone to take my photo near-ish to the signpost (you have to pay to stand right next to it). I avoided the theme park and the animal farm and carried on around the headland.
There were a couple of people taking a dip at Nanjizal, a place where I have swum before. The tide was out so there wasn’t much water in the tunnel at the side of the beach. There was a seal just beyond the seaweed, watching the humans in the water. As I walked along the sun was getting stronger and the sky bluer.
Around Gwennap Head I finally turned East and immediately dropped into the sheltered village of Porthgwarra. I stopped at the cafe for a cream tea and took the opportunity to admire the beautiful setting that was apparently used in the recent Poldark television series.
In the 1800s this was a thriving fishing village, landing pilchards, mullet, crab and lobster. The fishermen carved “ullies” (tanks with wooden floors and lids) into the rock below high water so that fish could be kept fresh for market.
There was a tunnel through the rock that had been hewn by local miners in the 1890s to enable easier access to the beach for fishermen and farmers (collecting seaweed to use as fertiliser).
I passed St Levan’s beach, which had St Levan’s well at the top.
There were lots of tourists and cars at the Minack Theatre, perched on the cliff just before Porthcurno. I had been before to see Othello and was too hot to stop and pay to look at the empty stage. Besides, I had spied a beach.
The sea lapping Porthcurno beach looked so beautifully clear. There seemed to be miles of sand under the water, no rocks or seaweed, so this made the water look lighter than I had been used to. It was very inviting and lots of people were in the sea.
I pressed on to my campsite as it was only 10 minutes away. That way I could get my tent up, wash my sweaty clothes and then go for a well-earned dip. The campsite was lovely and I learned that there was another beach just below the cliff near Treen. Pedn Vounder beach was not accessible at high tide so I needed to hurry if I was going to swim there.
What a place! It was a difficult 10 minute scramble down the steep cliff to get to the beach but it was definitely worth it. Lots of people were leaving as I was arriving because the tide was already covering the rocks at the bottom. However, some people were still there and, as I got closer, I realised most were naked…this was a nudist beach. Strangely, all the naked people seemed to be men (although I didn’t stare too closely). This was one time I wasn’t going naked!
I don’t think I’ve ever been on such a beautiful beach in such glorious weather. I ran straight into the sea. It was such a cool relief and I could have wallowed there for hours, except that the tide was still coming in. I reluctantly climbed back up the cliff.
Ruth and Graham, who I had met skiing in Italy, live in Treen. They had a friend staying but we still all met at the pub for dinner. It was a lovely evening to cap a wonderful day.