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. 

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

2 thoughts on “Day 325 Gribbin Head and Fowey

  1. Chris F June 27, 2016 / 4:47 pm

    Daphne Du Maurier lived in huge house in dense woods behind Polkerris. Many many a summer was spent on that little beach and I remember the cliff path well. Thank you Juice for the trip down memory lane.


  2. jstumm June 27, 2016 / 5:29 pm

    I love that picture of the sunset – it has to be one for blowing up and putting up at home as a reminder of your trip! Altought there are probably many such photos. Keep going, we are all in shock, though the talk here is all about if it will really happen…


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