54. Port Isaac to Boscastle

It is a gorgeous morning when I arrive in Boscastle, the sun is out and there is not a breadth of wind. After parking my car, I amble around window shopping at the few craft shops, none of which are open. One particular sculpture piece catches my eye, it is a beautiful head-piece of Venus by Edge Studio. I did not know at the time that they are based 6 miles away from where I live in Telford. The cost of the piece is £140. I will mull over this piece for the duration of my walk.

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Looking down on Trebarwith Strand

As I still have some time to kill until my bus arrives, so I climb a small hill overlooking Boscastle. As I near the top I hear music blasting out across the village – tourists I think. As I home in on the music I can see that it is coming from the local Primary School and the children are all in the yard doing their morning exercise to the music! The music is very catchy and I later find out it’s by Clean Bandit and called “Rather Be”. The song now always reminds me of that beautiful morning in Boscastle and the children doing their mornings exercise.

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Tintagel

I catch the bus to Port Isaac. Its been about 4 months since I was last in Port Isaac, due to the fact that I altered my sections to fit in with my Winter schedule.

Today I was not using my walking boots, but a new pair of Karrimor walking shoes. I got them for £30 from Go Outdoors. I normally buy North Face Hedgehogs, but at £90 a throw I thought I try a cheaper alternative. Big Mistake! They give me blisters! I rarely get blisters and never with walking shoes. They are relegated now to occasional social ware.

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Arriving at Boscastle
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Footbridge over the River Valency, Boscastle
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One of the buildings destroyed in the 2006 flood
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The sculpture in question – Venus by Edge Studios

Although not a great distance, todays walk will have many ups and downs, probably about 8 in all. I set off along easy walking atop Bounds Cliff. After a mile I reach the first of my up-and-down. Five other steep descents and ascents follow, before I come to Trebarwith Strand situated in a steep valley, which is tough to climb out of. I am nearing Tintagel and I see on the cliff side, evidence of quarrying with large pillars left by the quarrymen. The quarry cliffs are vertical and plummet down to the foreshore. Before I know it, the crowds have increased and I am at Tintagel. I attempt to use my NT membership card to get in, but its English Heritage and their having none of it! I must admit I was rather under-whelmed by Tintagel. From the photos I had previously seen I was expecting something better, more dramatic. I move on and follow a small group through Rocky Valley, which is an interesting ravine that the path passes through. I am soon at Boscastle and I have made my mind up to go into the shop and make an offer on the sculpture I had seen at the start of the day. I offer £100. They say no, as the prices are fixed. I skulk away, deflated and sad. The walk has taken 5.5 hours.

 

Distance today = 14 miles
Total distance =   798 miles

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53. Newquay to Padstow

Today was going to be a long walk, as I try to connect up and a fill a gap in my progress along the SWCP.

I park early at Constantine Bay, about a mile day down the road from the beach, well its free and right next to a bus stop. I park here and not in Padstow, just in case the legs don’t make it to Padstow. If I make it to Padstow I will get a bus back to Constantine Bay.

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Trevelgue Head

It is a beautiful summers day as I arrive in Newquay and immediately head north along the cliff top towards Whipsiderry. At Trevelgue Head, I come across the Iron Age castle and Bronze Age burial mounds. I must admit to being rather “take it or leave it” when it comes to these sites as it usually takes quite a load of imagination to distinguish them from the normal grassy mounds. I am probably more interested in the artefacts found at these sites than the site itself.

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Ornamental boundary wall
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Blow Hole near Treyarnon

I move onto and down to Watergate Beach, passing fabulous masses of Thift embedded in old walls. Watergate Beach seems to be a new development built around the surfing industry, it’s rather noisy with loud music as I clamber up the valley sides. I walk onto towards Mawgan Porth, a lovely beach, which is just beginning to fill up with its days visitors. I walk along the beach a short way before scrambling up the dunes, back onto the path. The walking is quite easy-going, with few serious up and downs. I buy a drink and ice-cream as I pass through the small coastal hamlet of Portcothan, by which time it is very hot now. As I move along the cliff tops the stiff sea breeze coming in off the coast, keeps me cool.

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Mother Ivey’s Bay

I reach Treyarnon which is adjoined to Constantine Bay, which means I could simply walk up to my car and call it a day. That would mean coming back to do this short section. My legs are good and the terrain is gentle and easy, so I carry on. As I pass north of the golf course I come across a couple of “Blow Holes”, they are really well-developed and must have been quite a cave to form such a large hole.

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Padstow – Rock ferry
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Busy Padstow

I finally round Stepper Point and the lookout station there to enter Padstow Bay. I keep a sharp lookout for the Doom Bar ( one of my favourite beers from the Rock Brewery) , I think I manage to locate the Doom Bar within the Camel Estuary. At Harbour Cove I descend to the beach, identifying the places on the opposite bank which I had walked through some months past. I walk along the beach all the way into Padstow. It’s very very busy in Padstow. I head out-of-town to catch my bus outside a Tesco store. I chat with a young local lad about the Royal Cornwall show which is being held 12 miles away, but causing big disruption to local transport. The 24 miles has taken 7.25hrs.

Distance today = 24 miles
Total distance =   784 miles

 

52. Lynton to Hele Bay

Todays walk would be east to west and walking to Hele Bay which I had previously reached from the south in January 2015. I parked in the Pay & Display car and caught the early morning bus to Lynton.

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Cliff railway Lynton
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Feral Goats Valley of the Rocks

The weather, was warm ,but slightly dull and overcast, which suited me. Lynton has a small busy high street, which offers good views down to Lynmouth. I turn left from the main into North Walk Hill, a tiny tree-lined road  that crosses over the funicular railway. The cliff railway is very busy, as I see the qeues above and the number of passengers in the cabin has it passes below me, driven by water ballast. The path continues as a lovely tarmac path which hugs the steep hillside, it is called The North Walk and it leads to a unique area called the Valley of The Rocks, a dry valley with exposed strata. The area is famous for its feral goats, I see a few of them perched below me munching on roots and grass.

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Valley of the Rocks
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Slow Worm at Great Hangman Hill

The path joins a tarmac road, in fact the road is a toll road and runs for a few miles above the cliff -top. The road is quite quiet, but traffic suddenly increases due to a slow moving classic car rally. I pass by Lee Abbey, now a retreat of some sort. I hear singing coming from within, I don’t think they were monks! I enter a wooded area which I remain in until I emerge above Heddon’s Mouth. Here I must descend to and cross the River Heddon and climb up the far side through a series of zig-zags.

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Looking towards Ilfracombe from Great Hangman Hill
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Interesting coastline near Widmouth

I pass around the flanks of Holdstone Hill before dropping down into Sherrycombe, where I pass a small group of walkers who are taking a breather. Shortly after leaving this group I come across a slow worm, sunning itself on the path itself. I manage to get a couple of phots, not very good, before it slithers off. I am soon on the top of Great Hangman Hill (318m) and the highest point on the SWCP. The summit is marked by a large cairn of loose stone. Although, the views are limited in the haze, I can easily see Ilfracombe in the far distance. I descend towards Little Hangman Hill, but the path turns slightly inland before dropping down into Combe Martin.

After climbing up the hill out of Combe Martin, I soon turn off a small track which continues above this fascinating cliff-line towards Widmouth, wher I rejoin the main road. The path more or less follows the main road into Hele Bay, albeit with a few minor diversions. I take 6hrs for the walk.

Distance today = 16.5 miles
Total distance =   760 miles

 

51. Perranporth to Newquay

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Looking back at Perranporth

The second day of my late Spring trip to North Cornwall. I get the early morning bus to Perranporth from Newquay. It is a beautiful sunny day with little wind as I stride out over Perrin Beach and the long stretch of Penhale Sands which has just been “combed” which seems to be quite common on Cornwall’s beaches. One purpose of this practice could be to bury the detritus from the previous days use.

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Radio antenna at Penhale Point
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The Gannel estuary
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Wooden bridge over The Gannel
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Fistral Beach, Newquay

The dune system is quite high here with a good covering of grass. I join the jogging fraternity on their early morning exercise, perhaps not in speed but in direction. I descend back down to the beach as I go over an headland restricted by the tide. The next mile or so is pure beach walking. Eventually I climb up and over the next headland and round the MOD Penhale camp. I pass around a fascinating array of circles which look something to do with radar or radio antennas. I drop down into another secluded beach, Holwell Beach. The crowds are just arriving as I pass through the dune system and onto my next headland. Before I know I am descending to another smaller beach, which has a small group of bathers, facing into the surf as it rolls onto the beach. As I pass around Porth Joke, I move around a small headland Newquay comes into view, although I still have a way go yet. I must also cross the River Gannel. I descend down to Crantock Beach and join the many people who have set up their camp for the day on the beach. I am looking for the Fern Pit bridge which will take me across to Pentire, the western bit of Newquay. I do not see the bridge at Fern Pit because it appears it is only erected in tye tourist high season. I carry on further upstream following the Gannel. The tide is well out as I approach the foot bridge, which is exposed at low tide, at Penpol Creek. Between me and the bridge is a small channel, so it is a case of boots and socks off and paddle through. I put my boots back on and cross the wooden duckboards that form the bridge and make my way through Pentire towards Fistral Beach. I follow the SWCP into Newquay, which is heaving with tourists and surfers alike. I head along the main road towards Tolcarne Beach, where my hotel was the previous night. The walk has taken a very short 3.5hrs.

Distance today = 12.5 miles
Total distance =   743.5 miles

 

50. Perranporth to Portreath

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Bat Castle above Hanover Cove
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Looking towards St. Agnes

An early start for my 2 day trip to North Cornwall. I park at the football ground and walk around to where I think the bus stop is. I have a 40 minute wait for the bus, the sun is out but there is a distinct spring chill this morning. I see my bus coming, it disappears behind some houses and to my horror does not appear down the street I am waiting!! I check the bus stop sign I have been waiting under, which seems ok. They must have changed it. I decide not to wait for the next bus, but to reverse my walk direction i.e. I will walk to Portreath.

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Mine workings above St. Agnes
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Wheal Coates

I climb the steep road up and out of Perranporth, still seething after missing my bus. Almost immediately after gaining the cliff top I encounter industrial mine workings, which will be a familiar sight all the way to Portreath. Above Hanover Cove, I pass a number of old mineshafts. Some the shafts are capped with a conical iron mesh structure, locally called ” Bat Castles” probably die to the fact that bats still nest within the shafts. I drop down into Trevellas Porth and see more mine chimneys at the Blue Hills Tinstreams. The path descends to the outskirts of St. Agnes.

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Porthtowan
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Portreath

As I climb up the steep miners path out of St. Agnes I notice a deep worked quarry with open mine galleries facing into the open mine. After rounding St. Agnes Head the path contours well into the steep hillside and gently descends to more mine workings. I pass the tin mine Wheal Coates, which outer structure is well-preserved. Shortly after I descend into the small village of Porthtowan, where I am able to walk along its beach, as the tide is out. I contour along the cliff top passing around a MOD airfield, with its distinctive Golf Ball Radar on show. Soon after passing the airfield I begin my descent into Portreath. I have over an hour to wait for the next bus, so with the sun beating down, I head into the Waterfront Inn, where a few pints of Shandies help quell my thirst. The short 12.5 miles has taken me a leisurely 3.75 hrs.

Distance today = 12.5 miles
Total distance =   731 miles

 

49. Port Isaac to Rock

Todays walk was going to be a simple and short affair, as I driving down for the day and driving on to Devon afterwards. The non-league football club I support, AFC Telford United, were due to play Torquay United, the following day.

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Doyden Castle
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Lundy Hole

I parked in Rock at the playing fields and waited for the bus that would take me to Port Isaac. Although sunny, there was a very stiff breeze that I would have to contend with. There were few people on the bus and it seemed even less in Port Isaac itself. I walked through the village and around the harbour. I was vaguely away that Doc Martin was filmed in the village and I think I espied the house used as his surgery, although I could not be sure as I only ever watched it once!

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The Rumps

The climb out of Port Isaac is steep and the annoying thing is once you have climbed that hill, you descend almost immediately and lose all the height you had previously gained! After a short walk along the cliff tops I descend into Portquin, which is simply a slipway with a couple of houses. I pass a small group of other walkers who seem to be heading for the same place as me – Doyden Castle. This small folly is owned by the National Trust and I believe it is rented out. I make a small diversion to walk around the building, it did’nt take long and I am soon on my way.

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Hayle Bay, Polzeath and The Camel Estuary from Pentire Point
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Padstow ferry
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Looking down the Camel Estuary

Above Portquin Bay I pass by Lundy Hole, a great example of a ‘Blow-hole’, where the roof of a sea-cave has collapsed. I round the small promontory called The Rumps, which once contained an Iron Age settlement. I read Pentire point where I can see both the Camel Estuary and Hayle Bay. I drop down onto the beach and across the sands to Polzeath, where I walk for a short distance along the shoreline path before dropping down to the beach again at Daymer Bay. I will now remain on the beach all the way into Rock, still some 3 miles away. the walking is very easy on the firm sands. I can see the ferry going backwards and forwards between Rock and Padstow. Eventually, I emerge from the beach close to the main slipway at Rock. After getting changed, I head for Sharps Brewery which is based in Rock. I purchase a number of bottles that you cannot get in the supermarkets where I live. I don’t buy Doombar, as this concoction is brewed and bottled in Burton, whereas as the draft version is still brewed at Rock. I head off towards Torquay and get stuck in a large queue trying to get into the town…….good job we won 2 – 1 !! The walk took 4.25hrs

Distance today = 12 miles
Total distance =   718.5 miles

 

48. Croyde Bay to Hele Bay

Quite a wet and windy day, as I parked up at Hele Bay. I did have second thoughts about starting my walk, but the weather forecast was for a slight improvement during the day…which did not happen. I caught the bus to Croyde Bay, where one or two people got off.

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Looking across to Woolacombe Sands
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The lighthouse at Bull Point

It was just spitting with rain when I set off. I was heading into a very strong wind as I headed out along the excellent footpath towards Baggy Point. I had soon rounded the Point and was heading east and descending to the extensive beach at Woolacombe Sands. As the tide was out I was able to get onto the beach and take a direct route to the village of Woolacombe. Walking was difficult, especially in the wind and with squalls coming and going. I came ashore at Woolacombe and transferred onto an excellent path out to Morte Point and then onto Bull Point passing the lighthouse on my way. It was certainly not a day for sightseeing or loitering as the wind and rain had not abated.

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Heading towards Lee
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Residence below cliff with cave access.

As i neared the village of Lee, the path remained on the road for a while. I could see the familiar geology typical of North Devon as I left the road and entered what is called the Torrs Park area of Ilfracombe. the path descends steeply through zigzags into Ilfracombe itself. I cliffs here are quite dramatic and some of the tiny coves have houses built above them with access via a series of caves. I pass the iconic conical Landmark Theatre, which reminded me of cooling towers. At Windy Corner the waves are quite rough and breaking high on the promenade. The path rounds the small headland of Capstone Point and brings me through streets to the harbour.

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The Landmark Theatre
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Verity

Across the harbour I notice an unusual statue guarding the entrance to the harbour. It’s a woman and she has a sword raised high and she is pregnant. I suddenly realise what this statue is! Its Damien Hirst’s Verity. In true Damien Hirst style the statue has a woman split in two with one side showing the out skin of the pregnant woman, while the other side shows a cut-a-way of the womb with the growing embryo inside. This cut-a-way is extended to reveal bone, muscle and tissue peeled back. I am not a big fan of Hirst, but I love the siting of the statute at the harbour entrance – it’s both evocative and provocative.

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Looking down on Ilfracombe from Hillsborough

I head over the final hill, Hillsborough, which offers a grand view looking down on Ilfracombe. The rain and wind continues as I drop down into Hele bay and my car.

 

 

Distance today = 15.5 miles
Total distance =   706.5 miles