I arrive in Penzance ahead of two walking days that will eventually take me around Lands End and onto the north coast of Cornwall. It is very windy, but sunny when I park up and wait for the bus to Portleven.
I know the first half of todays walk is going to be up and down, and so it was as I made my way out to Tregear Point. Here I pass a small monument with white cross to all those that have been lost at sea and the passing of the Gryll’s Act of 1808 which stated that any body washed up on the shore would be laid to rest in consecrated ground.
The path rises and falls all the way out to Trewavas Head, where I pass a number of old mine buildings and chimneys. All of the buildings are in a derelict state, apart from one, The Wheal Prosper mine, which has had work carried out on it by its owners, The National Trust.
As I descend towards Praa Sands I can clearly see my journey’s end across St Michaels Bay to Penzance. I can also see the headland heading out towards Lands End in the far distance. The walk along Praa sands is very easy-going, at Sydney Cove I climb back up to the path and continue on past Prussia Cove, named after a well-known smuggler. The path continues to rise and fall past Perranuthnoe all the to the village of Marazion. Here I follow the path down to the foreshore and walk a short section over large boulders.
At Marazion, the easy walking begins, starting with a walk through the streets of the village and then onto a long, paved path sweeping around to Penzance in the distance. The causeway out to St Michaels Mount is visible, but having made the journey across to St Micahels Mount some 36 years ago I decide to continue onto Penzance and my B&B. The walk has taken some 5.25hrs.
Distance today = 14 miles
Total distance = 598.5 miles
The last day of my three-day walk around the Lizard. Today is going to be a relatively short walk from Porthleven south to the village of Lizard. I would be making use of my moped again, so I intended to first drive to the Lizard, drop off the moped then drive to Porthleven and walk back.
It was an overcast morning when I first set off. I’d manage to find a free car park just on the edge of the village. I follow a tarmac road towards Highburrow where the road ends. I walk alongs a newly constructed path, due to the many recent landfalls along this stretch of the coast. The path drops down to Loe Bar, a short raised section of beach which holds back the largest body of freshwater in Cornwall, The Loe.
I climb off the beach continuing south-east. I pass a small memorial, with a white cross dedicated to the 100 or so people lost when HMS Anson was beached in a storm in 1807. I continue along a very level path all the way to the hamlet of Winnianton. Here I find the church of St Willwalloe at Gunwalloe. The church is quite an unusual shape and looks to be into the dune system here. I do not pay a visit, but continue. I pass into another small sandy beach with a minor road. The path soon leaves the road and climbs steadily up a gentle rise to a monument. I am just above Poldhu Cove and this is the site of Marconi’s wireless station, the location where the first transatlantic radio message was sent in 1901.
I walk around a former large hotel, now converted into a retirement home. A short distance on, I pass another hotel above Mullion Cove. The coastal rock formation have suddenly become very dramatic, with a number of large sea-stacks guarding the entrance to the Cove. I continue on along grassy paths with little or no elevation. It has become very sunny now and with the absence of wind it feels just like spring. The dramatic coastline continues with rock of many different colours on show. I pass Soap Rock, previously mined/quarried for Soapstone or talc.
At Kynance Cliff I head due east and drop down into Kynance Cove, one of the Cornish ‘honey-spots’. The cafe down by the beach is very busy and there are many people walking along the beach and exploring the various small inlets. I drop down to the beach nad climb up the far side. I pass a number of Choughs, with their distinctive red legs and beak.
At Caerthillian Cove, I reach the point where I had finished yesterdays walk, so I follow a public footpath into Lizard. The walk has taken 3.75hrs.
Distance today = 13 miles
Total distance = 584.5 miles
My second day of a 3 day trip to the Lizard. Today would be a tough walk with multiple ascents and descents and the weather would play a part as the walk began in grey, cold, windy and wet conditions.
This part of the Lizard is not covered well by public transport, so it was a case of driving to the Lizard village to park then ride my moped to Coverack where I would begin my walk.
One of the great attractions of the Lizard is its geology and the unique appearance of ophilites and other rarely seen rocks such as Serpentine. Ophiolites are thought to be part of the earths oceanic crust and upper mantle. At Coverack the ancient Moho is visible and was originally sited some 5 to 8km below the oceans and forming the boundary between the Earth’s Crust and the Mantle. I did not search out the ancient Moho, as I suspected I would have to get along along the beach somehow. As the tide was in, this would have not been possible. I continue around Dolor Point and onto Chynhalls Point with its Iron Age Fort.
The Path gradually climbs the Chynhalls Cliffs which lead out to Black Head. Here is an enclosed lookout point, now converted into a small information centre with views all along the coast. Unfortunately, the views are not so good this time of the morning with mist, rain and squalls limiting the views. I do however, get some respite here from the elements before continuing my journey. After another 2 to 3 miles I come to Kennack Sands and it is here that Serpentine is seen in pebbles, cobbles and boulders of various sizes on the beach. This metamorphic rock has beautiful colouring with reds and greens showing up when the rock is polished or wetted. I carry a few samples home with me to lacquer and preserve the striking colours.
I press on passing through the small fishing village of Cadgwith and a little distance on I pass a large collapsed sea cave with its sea-arch still visible – this is the popularly named Devil’s Frying Pan. At Kilcobben Cove I pass above the recently (2011) resited Lifeboat station with its impressive funicular lift down the steep cliff face to the station itself. I pass the Bass Point with its large look-out station and begin to walk westwards.
In the near distance I can see a large white building housing the Lloyds Signal Station where incoming vessels were given orders through semaphore about their movements. About 100m further on I pass the restored Lizard Wireless Station, now owned by the National Trust and where Marconi did a lot of his pioneering work on wireless telegraphy in the wooden shack.
I head towards and around the Lizard Lighthouse and thence to the Lizard itself, with a visitors shop and car park. I pass a number of visitors who seem to have appeared along with the sun. Although strictly speaking this is not the actual Lizard Point, it seems to be the popular choice. The actual Lizard Point is about 400m west of the popular choice. I head around the Lizard and begin walking north. When I reach Caerthillian Cove I head in land along a public footpath into Lizard village and the end of my walk. It has taken 5 hrs.
Distance today = 13 miles
Total distance = 571.5 miles
Today was going to be the first day of a three-day trip to walk around the Lizard Peninsula. I was basing myself in the small village of St Keverne, at the Three Tuns Inn. St Keverne is a quiet little village not far from the sea. The village was very prominent in 1898 when 106 poeople onboard the liner Mohegan lost their lives when the ship struck the infamous Manacles reef. Most of the unfortunate victims of the disaster were buried in a mass grave in St Keverne.
The Lizard is not that well served by public transport so I load my moped into the Doblo van. The first port of call was Helford where I dropped the moped off. It was free to park my moped here. I then drove to Coverack, I also found free parking for the Doblo as well in a small local car park with sweeping views up the Lizard coast.
The walking for the first couple of miles was very easy-going. I passed the now disused Dean quarries, which used to quarry for Gabbro. There is still extensive quarrying on this section of the coast, and even though this quarry was now closed other quarries remained in use and would account for two major detours inland to get around them. Upon reaching Godrevy Cove the path headed inland on the first of the detours through the small hamlet of Rosenithon and then back towards the
coast at Porthoustock. The second detour from Porthoustock pointed back inland again for over a mile before I dropped down again to the coast and the small village of Porthallow (pronounced Pr’alla locally). The local pub, The Five Pilchards was still closed, but I was amused to see a sign with an elective range of names associated with the village.
I climb above the cliff-line and continue walking north towards Nare Head over open fields. In the distance I can now make out part of Falmouth. I head inland following the course of the Gillan Creek. At low tide it is/ or was possible to cross the Creek at Low tide, but crossing is now not advised. Anyway, I could not see a way across without getting my feet wet. So it’s a 2.5mile detour to get around the creek. The going is easy and as I round the head of Gillan Creek I continue along a narrow road. The road has suffered some damage with recent floods and is closed to traffic, but not for those on foot. I pass through the small village of St. Anthony-in-Meneage and walk out towards Dennis Head. The view is quite extensive now out across the mouth of the Helford River towards Falmouth. The final two miles into Helford is along the banks of the Helford and through trees. I eventually emerge into the picturesque village of Helford with it’s lovely cottages and thatched roof pub, the Shipwrights Arms. The walk has taken 5 hours. I ride my moped back to Coverack to pick up the van.
Distance today = 13 miles
Total distance = 558.5 miles
Today is a short walk from Falmouth to Helford Passage. As public transport is not readily available I drive to Helford Passage and park my Doblo van in a car park next to the Ferry Boat Inn. I then use my moped to drive back towards Falmouth from where I begin my walk.
Falmouth is a very interesting town, steeped in maritime history and offering a fantastic anchorage for all types of ships. I begin my walk at the pier from which the ferry departs for St Mawes and thence on to Place. I walk through the main high street and down towards the train station and docks. I spot a number of Royal Navy ships alongside the docks and get a fantastic view of a dry dock.
The road goes out towards Pendennis Point, where Pendennis castle sits atop the promontory. The road which encircles the castle was used as a road race track from 1934 – 1936 for motorcycles and light cars. As I round Pendennis point I see the back shore of Falmouth stretching to Swanpool beach. The walking is along a promenade which offers very easy walking. I climb up and walk towards Pennance Point with its Home Guard monument before descending to and walking around the small cove of Maenporth. The remainder of the walk is a delightful stroll through open fields, in which the path rises and falls gently offering excellent views across the Helford River to its southern bank. I pass close to the village of Mawnan and through Durgan before finally arriving at the Ferry Boat Inn at Helford Passage. This delightful walk has taken just 2.75hrs.
Distance today = 10 miles
Total distance = 545.5 miles
It’s a lovely calm and sunny day as I continue on my journey towards Falmouth. I will be walking out onto the Roseland Peninsula that ends at The Carrick Roads, the large flooded ria that gives Falmouth its unique position. Getting to and from Place is difficult using public transport, so I make use of my moped by dropping it off there and then driving around to Portloe.
The first couple of miles of the path is done on high cliffs with slumped highly overgrown slopes. The path follows the inundated coastline around Manare Point, Blouth Point and Nare Point. Nare point used to be known as Penare Point for some reason the “Pe” was dropped. Most of this coastline is owned by the National Trust, which include a number of tenanted farms. I pass some strange underground ventilation structures which I suspect may be World War 2 underground buildings.
After a few steep up and downs I finally descend to Pendower and Carne Beach. There are few people about and I more or less have the beach to myself. After a couple of fairly easy miles of walking I pass a look-out station and get my first good sight of the fishing village of Portscatho. Just before I reach the beach, I find a wooden bench and eat my sandwiches. The weather has held and I have made good time. I climb out of Portscatho and am rewarded with a view all the way to Falmouth, I can see the path falling and rising gently which looks very inviting.
I round Greeb Point, Killigerran and Porthmellin Head before continuing onto Zone Point. From Zone Point I walk a few hundred metres to St Anthony’s Head and enter the Coast artillery fort of St Anthony Battery. Although long since used as a military base, the National Trust has made preserved the defensive structures of the Battery as well as converting some of the buildings into holiday lets. This battery was one of a numberf which guarded the entrance to the Carrick Roads and the port of Falmouth. The battery has a number of visitors and I explore the remnant artillery structures on show. I pass the squat little lighthouse built-in 1834 and head off towards Carricknath Point, passing small tiny coves with people simply paddling, sunbathing or exploring rock pools. I have passed the tip of the Roseland peninsula and am now walking eastwards before dropping down into Place. I can see St. Mawrs just across the water. I pass the 12th century church of St. Anthony and the striking Place House with it large sweeping lawn all the way down to the shoreline. A few hundred metres further on I reach the small jetty for the St Mawrs ferry. It has taken me almost 5 hours to get here.
Distance today = 13.5 miles
Total distance = 535.5 miles
The second day of my two-day trip to Cornwall…….and it was going to be another very hot day. I parked the van just outside of the village of Portloe, at a free car park, which was just a few hundred yards from the coast. I then got on my moped and drove to a lay by on the B3273 just outside of Pentewen.
As I locked my helmet away, I could already feel the heat even though it was only 9:00 in the morning. I set off over fields and picked the SWCP path up. I head out to and rounded Penare Head before dropping down into Mevagissey. Mevagissey is perhaps one of the best and most picturesque Cornish fishing villages, with its multi-coloured houses rising steeply above the harbour. The village was quiet when I passed through, but I saw a number of people taking their breakfast out on their veranda’s. I remember many years ago doing a large jigsaw puzzle of Mevagissey, I was just as impressed then as I was now by this charming village. I passed around a small headland into Portmellon, which is now officially part of Mevagissey.
The path now follows a private drive which leads down to three striking houses at Chapel Point. The walking is very easy here along a low-lying grassy track that bears right before the three houses. In the distance I can see Gorran Haven, my next fishing village. Gorran Haven is another beautiful little village, with very narrow streets, a small beach and the church of St. Just. I continue through narrow streets, sorely tempted by the smell of bacon baps!
I continue around Maenease Point and head south along the high cliffs towards Dodman Point. At Dodman Point I note a large 20ft granite cross, which has been used as a Day Mark. A group of people are engaged in a conversation, they do not acknowledge me so I do not linger. The Point does however, offer a superb vista up and down the coast here. I’m now heading north from Dodman Point
Just after Hemmick Beach I pass through a small group of Highland cattle, although ferocious looking they are indeed a very gentle animal. By the time I reach Porthluney Cove near Caerhays Castle it is has become very hot. I seek some shelter from the sun in a refreshment building in the car park where I purchase an ice cream and top up on fluids. The car park is very busy and is the main car Park for the castle, which was built-in 1808 and designed by John Nash.
The path climbs up above the cliffs again before dropping down to the twin-hamlets of East and West Portholland. The climb up and out of the hamlets is tough, as the afternoon sun is ferocious nad fatigue is starting to set-in. It therefore comes as quite a relief to come into the small village of Portloe. I resist the temptation to partake of an ice-cool cider in the hotel that I pass. But I’ve still got about a mile of walking still to do. The 14 miles takes a leisurely 6hrs. A lovely days walk along a stunning coast.
Distance today = 14.5 miles
Total distance = 522 miles