57. Westward Ho! to East Titchberry

My penultimate walk on the SWCP and one that would see me returning to Westward Ho! to walk to the farm at East Titchberry, close to Hartland Point.

As with my previous visit to East Titchberry I needed to park at in the National Trust car park and then cycle to the village of Hartland some 3 miles away. At Hartland I locked up my bike in the local car park and waited for the bus to Bideford. The bus was on time and quite busy as it weaved its way in and out of small villages as we headed towards Bideford. At Bideford I had a short wait for the regular service to Westward Ho!

I arrived at Westward Ho! to overcast skies, but which made for speedy walking. The path out of Westward Ho! was along an old disused railway track which soon turned inland. I could see my route along the coast almost all the way to Hartland Point. I could see the white houses in the seaside villages of Bucks Mills and Clovelly. At Peppercoombe I enter a wooded area which I would remain in for the majority of the walk. The path had a number of ups and downs as it would itself through the trees. I descended into Bucks Mills and then climbed steeply out of it and back into the woods. I eventually came to the Hobby Drive, a beautifully constructed “pleasure” road which contoured the steep coastline cliffs.

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A glimpse of Clovelly down through the trees
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Ornate wood carviing on shelter nr Clovelly

Noise and the occasional clearing in the trees told me that I was approaching Clovelly. It looked very busy with many people descending from the car park , situated at the top of the hill, down the steep cobbled street to the village below. Although I would normally have descended myself, somehow I did not fancy that steep climb back up to the path again. I headed on. Soon after Clovelly I came across a lovely seating shelter with superb wood carvings adorning the roof and upright structures.

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Looking out towards Lundy

I was still in a wooded area, but occasionally got excellent views across the Bristol Channel to the Welsh Coast and the nearby island of Lundy. I had two significant descents and ascents at Mouth Mill and Winbury Head, which in the increasing made me flag somewhat. On climbing Windbury Head I could see the rest of the path towards the Radar station was predominantly open fields and fairly level. I pass a small memorial to a Wellington bomber crew that crashed at Exmansworthy cliff in 1942.

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Memorial to Wellington Bomber crew

The SWCP comes quite close to the road at east Titchberry and I make the short walk to my car completing the walk in 6.5hrs.

 

 

 

 

Distance today = 16.5 miles
Total distance =   851 miles

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56. Bude to East Titchberry

Today I would need to use my bicycle to cycle about 3 miles from East Titchberry – where I parked my car to Hartland – where I would catch an early morning bus to Bude. The cycling is quite easy although there are a couple of steep sections where I must get off and push. I lock my bike up to a railing in a small local car park.

The bus I am catching to all intents and purposes is a school bus, although it does take fare-paying passengers. The bus fills up with children, all attending the main high school in Bude. By the time we reach Bude and the School, the bus is full of school children. Other than the driver I am the only adult on the bus – I feel rather odd.

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The route north from Bude

I call into a local convenience store and bought a Cornish pasty and some water. Although the forecast was for bright sunshine, the early morning weather was quite overcast – which was nice. I set off across the coast path, which was very easy-going. My first objective and you could not miss them is the large white radio dishes for GCHQ, which can be seen for miles around. The path seems to lose itself and me as I try to keep a respectful distance from the perimeter fence of the high security establishment.

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GCHQ is listening

I had counted about 12 “ups and down” on todays walk and with the sun now beginning to break through I knew it was going to be a tough day.

The sea cliff become quite steep and dramatic as I come upon Hawkers Hut, the little hideaway of the Victorian Poet the Reverend Robert Hawker, who used the hut for quite meditation and smoking opium. I met a Belgian couple at the Hut and we have a small chat.

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Hawkers Hut

As I descend a steep valley after Marsland Cliff, I cross the County boundary from Cornwall to Devon. It was sad to see Kernow go, I had enjoyed walking its coastal path immensely. I manage to avert the next two steep sections by walking along the beach, the tide is well out.

 

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Goodbye to Cornwall

The sun is very hot now and as I approach Hartland Quay and drop into the Hartland Quay Hotel. I order a pint of bitter and drink it almost immediately, my second pint is a pint of Shandy. I meet a fellow walker, Brian from Yorkshire, who is also walking the path with his dog. We talk about walking and before I know it, an hour has gone. I bid Brian farewell and set off to complete the last 3 or 4 miles.

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The dramatic Devon coastline

I set off towards Hartland Point and am amazed at the cliff and rock formations on display. I round Hartland point and begin walking due east. I am rewarded with great views of the Isle of Lundy, which shimmers in the afternoon heat out in the Bristol Channel. I eventually come to my turn off for East Titchberry. I complete the walk in 8.5hrs.

 

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Hartland Point Lighthouse

 

 

 

 

 

 

Distance today = 20 miles
Total distance =   834.5 miles

 

55. Boscastle to Bude

Today was a continuation of where I left off yesterday with my route north from Boscastle to Bude. The first 5 or six miles was going to be tough with many ups and downs, but the latter part would generally flat with some beach walking. The sun would be out later, but fortunately it was a nice cool start as i climbed aboard the 7:04 #595 Bus for Boscastle at a cost of £3.70.

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Boscastle Harbour

It was very quiet in Boscastle as I followed the twisting harbour path out towards the sea. I climbed above Boscastle and could see the route ahead consisted of a number of steep up and downs. By the time I reached Crackington Haven, the sun was well high in the sky and it was very hot. I bought an additional drink at the shop/cafe, before setting off up a gradual slope that climbed above the tranquil village. Immediately I noticed that there were more steep ascents/descents ahead. In the far distance through the morning haze I could just make out the white radar dishes north of Bude. I was re-assured to know I would not be walking that far today.

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The route ahead over High Cliff

I descended into yet another secret cove , this time with horses, which had become a feature of the walk in the morning. I suspected they were Exmoor ponies.

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Whalebone at Wanson Mouth
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GCHQ north of Bude
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Bring on the Bride – Bude

I was relieved to descend to Millook, where I ascended my last steep climb of the day. It was tough going at this point. As I descended again at Wanson Mouth I was able to get onto beach, which I stayed on for the next mile. I came across the remains of a whale, although time and tide can had had a large effect with little but a couple of bones still remaining. At Widemouth the crowds were out in force, on the beach along the shore line. After passing through Widemouth the path snaked alongside the road almost all the way to Bude. The walking was lovely in places especially as I approached Bude, which had gently undulating paths carrying me towards Bude Compass point Tower, an octagonal building with a compass point carved on each face. I looked down on the large beach and could see that many people were out enjoying the sunshine.

I ambled the half mile to my car, passing a beautifully turned out wedding carriage with grooms and horses. The 16.6 miles had taken 6.5 hrs.

Distance today = 16.5 miles
Total distance =   814.5 miles

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

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