97 – Mawgan Porth to Treyarnon Bay

Distance: 10km

Steps: 15,267


We had scrummy egg rolls for breakfast then departed the down-at-heel campsite at 11:00am. Sherpa Jezabel set off to find Treyarnon whilst I traipsed over the soft dry sand of Mawgan Porth beach in search of the coast path.

About 200 metres beyond the RNLI lifeguard hut, a set of concrete steps rise up to cliff top level of about 85 metres elevation above T Bay. The path then stays up top for the next 4 km. It then descends to a wooden footbridge over a small stream at beach level. A track leads to Pentire Farm. Here the fashionable pastime seems to be to balance stones on top of one another.


I managed seven but there were several examples of eleven and one pile of thirteen!


Around the next headland lies Porthcathow Bay (very nice little shop), where I witnessed the lifeguard rescue a lady, she having been cut off by the rising tide.


Jezabel met me on the cliff top above here and we walked together to our campsite at Treyarnon Bay

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94 – Reskajeage to Porthtowan

Distance: 8km

Steps: Unknown (pedometer u/s)

Everything is wet. The Met Office app on my phone predicts that today there’s a 5% chance of precipitation. Outside it’s raining cats & dogs. I think it’s time for the Met Office to replace them old chicken bones?

I set off from Deadman’s Cove already wet through but anticipating a ‘windy but dry day’ to air out my damp kit.


Upon my descent into the combe at Carvannel, I slipped and ended up on my backside. Jezabel’s walking poles dug into the soft earth effectively acting as land anchors. I carried on with caution. The coast path goes around Western Hill and down into Portreath. The path here is sneakily slippery. It’s the topsoil I think.


Portreath has a rich lndustrial history based on copper, tin and coal. The design of the three basin dock is unusual and was clearly made with purpose in mind, though it now has grim housing built on both sides.

The rain eased a little bit as I climbed the hill out of the east side of town to an elevation of 78 metres. Dramatic rock formations below.

The map proclaims ‘Airfield (disused) and a stout MoD fence protects the location but there’s only agricultural land to be seen. Above Gullyn Rock there remain these relics of WWII.

This stretch of clifftop has a selection of old redundant concrete including the mysterious object below, about a metre in diameter and very deliberately surrounded by a concentric mound of shale and earth. It beats me what it is but somebody went to a lot of trouble to put it there?

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Past Sally’s Bottom and I descended 90 metres into Porthtowan. Waterproofs on again. I could see the Unicorn pub but it was closed on ‘winter hours’ when I reached it. I sheltered from the rain in a vandalised bus shelter to take stock. This adventure depends to some small extent on pubs being open and the weather being reasonable. 6km to St Agnes (colloquially ‘Saint Agg’).  I decided to call it a day and take an early bath. I holed up in ‘Blue’, a nice trendy bar with loud old school hip-hop playing, wifi available and board games on the tables. Vibrant and full of young people (oh, and one old  bloke). The bar staff were super helpful and on advice I took the bus to Newquay. Where I met Jonathan and Damian.

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Jonathan and Damian on this day were operating the single coach, diesel powered, generously heated service on the Newquay branch line. Which means that they spent their day shuttling back and forth between Newquay and Par. They took pity on my soggy plight, sat me by their finest heater to dry out and took me with them on their journey. Thank you gentlemen.

I caught the 22:55 sleeper service from Par and was in London at 05:10. I’ll return as soon as the  weather cheers up a bit.

Beyond Lands End 2017

Best laid plans.

Just about to click ‘confirm’ when it crossed my mind that my outbound journey from London would be on a Sunday. As I kind of half expected, there’s no bus service at the Penzance end going as far as Lands End on a Sunday afternoon.

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I have to start at Lands End, as that’s where I left off  last year. So I’ve brought everything forward 24 hours and I start on Saturday 25th March. Clicked ‘confirm’. Bought my tickets.

I’m planning to walk a leisurely 83 kms only this week, visiting Trewellard, St Ives, Portreath and St Agnes along the way, then ending up in Newquay. As always, if you’d like to join me for a few days walking, text me or send a message via this site.

New kit. I have treated myself to a Rab Storm bivi. Report to follow.

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Here we go again…

Well, I thought it was all over when we reached Land’s End but my boots seem to think otherwise.

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Just another 800 miles to Robin Hood’s Bay in Yorkshire. There are a few spots I intend to visit this year:

  • Watergate Bay
  • Buck’s Mills
  • The Red Lion, Clovelly
  • Tibbet’s, Lundy (by helicopter)
  • The Royal Oak, Nailsea
  • Offa’s Dyke
  • Wainright’s
  • Black Sail Hut
  • Great Gable
  • The Bay Hotel, Robin Hood’s Bay

Since returning from Land’s End, the latter part of 2016 was, amongst other things, a bit focussed on vehicles.

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Iris is now looking after the orange Camper, Sneezie has a shiny new blue Camper, I’m driving a slow but robust Gator and the Polo is awaiting a new (jet) engine www.jetpolo.com

Looks like for most of 2017 I’ll be travelling on foot.

I plan to get the 09:55 train from Paddington to Penzance on Sunday 26th March and walk a bit further.

Wish me luck.

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88 – Treen to Land’s End

Distance: 8km

Steps: 15,557

3:45pm – Arrived Land’s End 😎

It was kind of surreal to see Molly, Jack and Phoebe walking up the hill in Treen at 8:30 this morning. Hundreds of miles from London, they had conspired with Jezabel to join me for this, the last day. Incredible, I had no idea.

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We set out immediately, Molly on map and Jack on compass, through Treen campsite and down the cliff to Porth Curno beach. Where the girls stretched out in the sun for a while.

We climbed the steep stone steps up from the beach and visited the Minack Theatre

This unique outdoor theatre dates back to Roman times and has been lovingly brought up to modern day standards by Rowena Cade and her team.

The Minack has performances six days every week, but not on a Saturday which is changeover day. So there was a bustle of activity with crews shifting kit in and out but no actual show.

We met Debby and Paul in the car park of the Minack, then we were off on the final leg of the journey.

Today was the day of the 41 mile coastal ‘ultra marathon’. This followed the same path as us so we met lots of runners!

The finish line in sight as we topped successive headlands, we paused just once, briefly,  for refreshment at Porthgwarra. Debby and Paul doubled back from here and I steamed on, accompanied by Jezabel, Molly, Jack and Phoebe.

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The final 200 metres is up a gently sloping gravel path. Where this passes a giant boulder, Debby and Paul lay in wait with PJ and Chee from London. As I reached the rock, they all sprang upon me, cheering, with champagne, party poppers, streamers and all. Hugs and handshakes all round, we supped the bubbly and took photographs.

Thank you all, a lovely surprise.

72 – Cawsand to Looe

Distance walked: 15km

Steps: 29,764

Cawsand is a beautifully maintained, quaint Cornish village but a bit of a ghost town mid-week. Jack was the only person under 50 that we saw. 


The path leaves Cawsand from the corner of the town square and for 2km rises gently through woodland to Penlee Point. 


We saw the biggest and oldest beech tree halfway up the hill. 

It was a foggy morning with a constant accompaniment of ships’ fog horns from Plymouth Sound. 

Penlee Battery is now a nature reserve. There are some interesting structures left behind. From here onwards, mostly it rained for the rest of the day. We turned west and continued uphill to the lookout station at Rame Head. The path gets a bit indistinct around here so we followed some horses who seemed to know where they were going. For the next 5km the path meanders amongst vacant wooden chalets and summerhouses, waiting optimistically for the summer. 


Then we reached the firing range at Tregantle Fort. 


The red flags weren’t flying so we ignored the sound of automatic weapons and took the ‘permissive’ route across the range. 


2km on Tarmac brought us to the Fillygook Inn at Catchole, from where we got a cab to Looe. 



We stayed with Peter from Orpington at the Dolphin B&B, a very tidy esablishment. In the evening, Jack treated us to a nice traditional meal from the Moonlight Tandoori. 

70 – Plymouth to Heybrook Bay

Distance: 11km
Steps: 22,769

  
We got the 10:06 from Paddington, arriving in Plymouth three hours later. Jack took the opportunity to  catch up on sleep during the journey. 

From Plymouth railway station we walked south in glorious sunshine to the Hoe, where we joined the SW coastal path. The path led us neatly to the Mountbatten Ferry. 

     

 If you’re paying close attention you’ll have realised that we’re going the wrong way. But I need to get back to the Eddystone Inn at Heybrook Bay to pick up where I left off last time.

The path here goes up and up from ferry level to 125m elevation at Staddon Fort, where we found this intriguing rusty disc, high on the cliff top 

  

Soon we were looking down on the derelict buildings of Bovisand Pier at Staddon Point 

  

The path goes through the largely uninhabited Bovisand Estate then follows the cliff top past a beacon and on to Heybrook Bay. A fine evening meal in the Eddystone  Inn. 

 
Where the landlady kindly booked us some B&B with Phil in Wembury, the next village. Very nice establishment, clean and tidy with a powerful shower. 

  
Jack got the futon. 

68 -Beacon Point to Noss Mayo

Distance: 16km

Steps: 37,020

Blooming weather! During the night, the wind grew increasingly fierce (gusting to 50mph) and the rain came with it. My carabiners and tent pegs held the canvas firmly to the ground but the wind stole the tentpole at the head end. So there I was, under soaking wet canvas, with the wind flapping it in my face all night. I think I slept for an hour between 3:30am and 4:30am. Character building stuff. At 4:30am I gave up trying to sleep and packed my kit away, all but the sodden basher. I waited for the dawn, which came late, then wrestled the basher into a bag and strode out towards the River Erme.

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The River Erme estuary is about 500 metres wide at Wonwell Beach and when I reached it at 8:00am, the sea was cliff to cliff and the surf was up. Nobody was surfing but they could have been. All indications are that the Erme can be crossed on foot by wading at low tide, so I had three hours in hand. The village of Kingston is just 2 miles inland, so I set out in search of refreshment. Kingston is uphill all the way and at 9:00am on a weekday morning it’s closed and deserted.2504109_1d6a7e0b

The Dolphin Inn opens at midday but the laundry room door stood ajar so I nipped in and plugged in my phone to charge. I spread my wet kit out on a picnic table in the sun to dry. “Punch! Punch!” shouted someone, well, two someomes, both of whom claimed to be the licensee. They kind of lost interest in me when I explained I wasn’t Punch but said to make myself at home in the laundry room.

Back at the Erme at 11:00am and the sea had subsided, leaving a stream, 20 metres wide. With my boots hung around my neck by their laces, I waded barefoot across. The bottom is stony and unkind to bare feet but only knee deep and I managed to stay upright. I rested on a rock on the west bank, in the sunshine and dozed off.

There followed 6km of cliff top walking. On my way up from Bugle Hole I stopped to chat with two ladies who had come from Minehead (surely not this morning?). They recommended The Ship in Noss Mayo. With still 8km before Noss Mayo, this was looking like it could be a late lunch.noss

I made very slow progress that afternoon and recognised feelings of exhaustion in myself. Lack of sleep the night before. I’d allowed for emergency inland escape routes on this section of the path but this didn’t yet quite rate as an ’emergency’ so I carried on to Stoke Cross, about a mile from Noss Mayo. It was 5:00pm when I reached The Ship.

STATEMENT: Noss Mayo is the friendliest village on the planet.

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lisaI was a bit self-conscious of my rucksack and muddy boots as I entered the Ship at restaurant level. They do great food and drink but sadly no B&B. Lisa was onto this immediately and had me booked in with Jackie and Phil at Worswell Farmhouse in under a minute. Thank you. Thanks also to the barmaid who discretely woke me up so whilst my meal was still warm.

Phil Rogers kindly collected me from the pub, door-to-door service. Can’t top that. Jackie and Phil were most welcoming, and my bed was so comfortable. Worswell Farmhouse is the most hospitable B&B you could hope to find. Jackie even hung up my wet basher to be dry by morning. Zzzzzzzzz…….

 

 

 

67 – Malborough to Beacon Point

Distance: 20km

Steps: 41,121

Asleep by 10:00pm last night, slept soundly and undisturbed until dawn. Gorse leaf litter makes a very comfortable mattress once the dead branches are out if the way. I awoke to a glorious sunrise.

The basher was wet so I guess it rained a bit overnight though I was oblivious. Packed away and on my way at 7:00am, I walked down into Soar Mill Cove, then over Bolberry Down in the company of two walkers who’d recently completed Wainwright’s Coast-to-Coast using the sherpa service. Must do that. They directed me to Hope Cove for a cuppa. 8592a4d39f101c3460c965b788d6b31a91703cd8

Politics: There’s an Inner Hope and and Outer Hope. Inner Hope is quiet, thatched and slightly aloof. (Hunter wellies). Outer Hope is quaint, busy, vibrant and the pub is open all day (Mums with buggies). 550-FAs I had breakfast at the Hope & Anchor Inn, I realised I still had yesterday’s contact lenses in! No harm done. Then north towards Thurlestone.

Gets a bit grockly along here. The South Milton Beach House unashamedly offers the slowest, most laid back service I have yet encountered. I queued for over 20 minutes for a bottle of water and there were only three customers in front of me. Nobody seemed to mind. In fact the man in front of me had forgotten his money, so took his order and returned to pay later. The Beach House looks to me like a proper little goldmine.beachhouse-south-milton-sands-eat-drink-caf-s-delis-large

There’s a very photogenic footbridge at Thurlestone. It doesn’t show up as  ‘FB’ on the map (perhaps it’s new) but it’s loocated at about 677416.

I took one of my few successful photos.

2 km onward, with optimism but no actual plan, I reached the estuary of the River Avon. I approached the car park manager’s office and enquired about the availability of a ferry and a pub. “Ferry’s down by the river but it’s not running for the next three weeks. Harbourmaster’s away. Pub’s over there 👉”. I  was duly informed.

Antipodean dude walked along beside me. “Just ask around down there mate” he said helpfully. “Someone will get you over there”.😄

I clomped on down the hill. 

“I say!” a man’s voice called, “I say, do you need to get to the other side? I’m going that way.” How lucky can I get? 

I fell in with a tall senior gentleman, wearing wellies and a green fisherman’s jumper, clearly athletic. My boots muddied his rowing boat but he didn’t mind. As he rowed me across the river he confided in me that he planned to be an expert kite-surfer before his 70th birthday, which gave him 18 months. I take my hat off.

My impromptu saviour suggested a possible route to Bigbury along the beach on the north side of the estuary but in view of the rising tide I slogged up the 90 metres elevation to the cliff top at Folly Hill then down the other side. Burgh Island is isolated by the waves at high tide and without it, Bigbury seems a heartless place: a car park, a cafe and a handful of houses. There used to be a youth hostel here but not any more. So, head to wind, I decided to carry on past Challaborough Bay Holiday Park towards the River Erme. The next 5km is lightly used by walkers and I saw nobody at all on this section of the trail. I planned to camp in Broad Cliff Copse, in a bit of a valley, so sheltered from the wind. The copse is defended by a stout barded wire fence so I decided to give it a miss and pressed on, dusk now fast approaching. I reached Beacon Point without finding a nice place to settle. The light was fading so I took slight refuge behind a hedgerow and set up the basher with the windward end closed up.

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66 – Totnes to Malborough

Distance (on Coast Path): 16km

Steps: 32,671

For only the second time in 66 days, I questioned my motivation for this jaunt. Having checked out of my mediocre B&B,

I stood in the rain, with old people and chavvy teenagers waiting for a bus. The bus from Totnes to Kingsbridge runs at intervals of an hour and forty minutes. I waited in the rain for over an hour.

 But the bus came, as did the one onwards to Salcombe and I was soon on the little ferry boat to East Portlemouth. Back on the Coast Path😃.

I discovered Mill Bay beach (the locals’ choice),

then walked up through National Trust woodland past Rickham to Gara Rock for lunch.

The view of the Coast Path from the cafe.

The ginger cake is still just as good.

The walk west around the headland starts with a narrow path clinging to the cliffs. It’s a sunny day with little wind. The views are amazing. As the path begins to run beside the ria at Limebury Point, it becomes a gentle woodland walk.

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Back in East Portlemouth I boarded the little ferry boat again, by the blue cafe and returned to DFT Central .

Range Roverless and sporting just one Helly Hansen garment (no Musto) I strode defiantly through Salcombe. How incongruous I must have appeared to the locals.

Salcombe does have some absolutely fabulous riverside properties but more than its fair share of DFTs.

The posh villas gave way to South Sands beach, which is cool for families. They even have one of those elevated beach tractor bus things

4,South-Sands-Ferry-Tractor,110909_1006The path ascends steeply past the South Sands Hotel. This hotel looks really nice, one to come back to. Then the tarmac ends and I’m in a muddy lane. I spy two anglers. “…just a couple of plaice…” the men reply to my enquiry. As the path gets narrower, some oddly dressed trees catch my attention

This is unusual. Three trees wearing embroidered blankets. Perhaps a memorial to somebody, though the terrain is relatively gentle along this stretch. Or maybe some obscure woodland school project? Whatever it is, this is recent, the colours are still bright and fresh. I leave the woods and walking on bare rock, round the headland. This one even has a handrail to help avoid the 60 metre sheer drop on my left.

Time’s getting on, and at 6:15pm as I reach Sharp Tor, I meet my final fellow travellers of the day, a couple of flourescent runners. He complains that he has to keep waiting for her, as she can’t keep up.

Then as the sun gets close to the horizon I find myself on the top of The Warren, near Malborough, a warm evening, with but a gentle breeze from the south west. I set up camp on soft ground, in the midst of a gorse thicket, protected on all sides. Perfect accommodation on the trail.