Tuesday 28 June 2016
Seaton to Plymouth
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.
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 vista across the sea was expansive and the cliffs had a peaceful air about them. I passed through Portwrinkle and kept going.
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.
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.
Suddenly there was a drop off to my left and, across the fields, I could see Torpoint and the River Tamar.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
After an hour sheltering the rain stopped and the sun came out for the last section through Mount Edgcumbe Country Park.
The first section of this walk was through a wonderful woodland around Picklecombe Point I got wet again anyway from the dripping trees.
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.
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.
Mount Edgcumbe Park is also renowned for its Camellia collection. The trees certainly did look wonderful.
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.
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.
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.