97 – Crantock to Newquay

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Distance: 5 km

Recorded steps: 6,566 (plus a good number of Parkie shuffles)

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Treago Farm Campsite in West Pentire was just too nice. The family that own/operate the site are super friendly and helpful, there’s a little shop that sells everything, takeaway food and best of all, hot showers. I had a comfy, soft, level, grass pitch and I set up the basher in its most palatial configuration. They do a fine cooked breakfast in the morning, which I sampled, and the time was gone 10:00am before I got underway.

In glorious sunshine I strolled down into Crantock, exchanged ribald banter with the builders up on the scaffolding and paused a while in the shade of a bus shelter to change over maps.

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I took good local advice from a gardening gentleman wth a Type 25 VW campervan and followed his directions down towards Crantock beach (NT). Here I picked up the coast path again as directed by ‘Chris’ (also NT and supremely helpful). The path follows the south bank of the Gannel estuary for about 1 km to a tidal footbridge.

By luck (I’d like to say ‘good planning’ but that would be a fib), the tide was out, so I crossed the wooden bridge and made my way up a steep tarmac path between modern houses to emerge on the main road atop Fistral Beach.

The gardening gentleman pulled in to the kerb in his VW campervan, excited to see me. “Well, I could have given you a lift, I only live just over here, but that would have been cheating!” said he. How we laughed

I walked beside the golf course and down to Newquay bus station to enquire about a bus back to London. The man at the bus station indicated bus stop number 7 but advised me I’d need to go to Newell’s Travel in town to obtain a ticket.

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The lady in Newell’s could not have been more helpful. She checked all the timetables to find me the best deal but the bus I needed was due to depart in 13 minutes. It would take me all that to get back to bus stop 7 and if I dilly dallied, the driver was unlikely to wait. I decided to get the train instead, which had the added advantage of allowing time for lunch.

And glad that I did too. For on the Newquay to Par diesel shuttle I met Geoff and Vicki embarking on an adventure of their own. They are making a crowd-funded video visiting every single station in Great Britain (there are 2,563 of them). What fun! Please visit their website at allthestations.co.uk or youtube.com/c/allthestations

So here I am, three pairs of boots, more than 2,000,000 steps, almost 1,000 miles and 97 days from the Dartford Bridge, on a GWR train bound for Paddington (£10 cheaper than the bus incidentally, and a lot more comfortable).

Is this the end? somehow I think not…

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96 – Perranporth to Crantock

Distance: 13 km

Steps recorded: 17,078

I’ve found out why the pedometer thingy no longer counts properly. It’s because part of the time nowadays I degenerate to a shuffle rather than striding out boldly. It can’t count the shuffles, only proper steps!

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There are some substantial concrete bunkers left over from WWII on Perranporth Airfield and I camped last night in the lee of one of them. They must have housed some mighty guns in their day.

The sun rose at 6:00am and so did I. By 7:00am I was on the trail, preceded I have to say by a lone mountain biker. He whizzed past my bivvy and I followed his tyre tracks the next couple of miles.  There’s an assortment of abandoned architecture around Cligga Head and hereabouts.

I reached the YHA soon after 9:00am. It is the most westerly building in town and clings to the cliff top at the very end of the road.


Just beyond the hostel I was treated to a panoramic view of Perranporth and Penhale Sands. The biggest beach I have ever seen.


The route of the SW Coast Path runs due north up the centre of the beach so I walked the next 4 km on sand. Here it is from the northern end.


I lunched at Holywell then stayed the night at Treago Farm Campsite (nice hot showers), West Pentire, Crantock.

95 – Porthtowan to Perranporth Airfield

Distance: 8km

Steps: 15,530

 

Jezabel kindly drove me to Barnehurst station 


for the first leg of my journey today, so as to avoid anxiety about the rail replacement bus service. 


I got the Paddington train as far as Plymouth, then a smaller local diesel train on to Truro. This latter train must be the busiest service I have ever used. Every seat was occupied yet there were more people standing than sitting. There was a rugby team, a group of a dozen boozing lads clearly off on a sailing jolly, parents and kids with buckets & spades for the beach, a baby crying and two dogs barking at each other. And everyone was talking. All very chummy indeed. 


Our route was matched by the ‘cross-country solid fuel’ service. A rather uninspiring railway jargon name for the magnificent Great Britain steam locomotive, hitched in tandem with another of the same class, pulling a train of Pullman restaurant carriages. 

I alighted at Truro and caught the 304 bus to Porthtowan where I had left off last month. I’ve used the 304 before and I have to praise the friendliness of the drivers and passengers on this route. We discussed haloumi cheese. 


I strode out from Porthtowan full of energy and optimism. The light rain was was persistent but not unpleasant. Derelict tin mines abound on this stretch of coast. 


On the way to St Agnes Head I spied two dolphins from the clifftop but I was too slow to get a photograph. I descended into Chapel Porth, where I got good camping advice, a waterproof map, excellent ginger cake and a ££s donation from the lovely people at the Chapel Porth Cafe. 


The rain had petered out and the sun was breaking through as I approached the Driftwood Spars Hotel, where there was a wedding reception in progress. I walked up through the ornamental garden and over the top to Blue Tin Valley beginning to seek somewhere to camp for the night. 


A brave fellow traveler had already set up his tent on the beach so I carried on and made my camp amongst the gorse on the outskirts of Perranporth Aerodrome.