345. Fairlight to Rye

After yesterdays unintended extended walk, I decided I would have a much shorter day. I managed to escape from Pontins at the ungodly hour of 06:00, handing my chalet key to the guy on the gate. I had decided to reverse my direction of walk today because of the bus timings, which meant an earlier start. It also meant I could park up at Rye railway station again to get the bus to Fairlight, a small village close to Hastings Country Park.

I caught the #101 bus service from Rye getting off  close to Fairlight and walking the short distance down to Hastings Country Park. Even at this time of the morning the car park was full of cars and camper vans. The weather looked a bit more settled with no showers forecast, just a grey overcast sky.

The topography around Fairlight would be a dramatic change from my previous flat sea-wall walks, as the much higher ground of the Weald anticline exposes a collection of sandstones, siltstones and mudstones, resulting in high unstable cliffs. One of the good things about reversing the direction of walk today was the fact that I would be starting on the high ground and walking to the lower.

I made my way downhill and onto the residential streets of Fairlight Cove and up onto Fairlight Hill. Close to the top I met an elderly gentleman who was training his Spaniel on game retrieval, we chatted awhile and he related a number of stories on attempts to reduce the continual erosion of the Fairlight cliffs. By the time I came to Cliff End I could look down on the Sea wall that ran along Pett Level. I descended down into the village of Cliff End and found the start of the Military Canal which I had previously come across on my walk through Hythe. I transferred onto the sea wall headed across Winchelsea Beach.

Early morning at Hastings Country Park looking across Rye Bay to Dungeness
The cliff-top road at Fairlight Cove
Looking down on the Pett Level and Winchelsea Beach from above Cliff End

The path continued onto and through the Rye Harbour Nature Reserve. Most the reserve was composed of shingle and was quite similar to that on Dungeness. The area was quite desolate apart from a building that came into view. This was the lifeboat house of the Mary Stanford. In November 1928 during a great storm, a distress call was received from the Alice of Riga steamship. The lifeboat crew of the Mary Stanford responded and launched into heavy seas. This lifeboat had no engine and was powered by oarsmen. Just after the lifeboat was launched a message was related that crew of the Alice of Riga had already been rescued and the lifeboat could stand down. Unfortunately, because of the poor weather conditions the flares could not be seen by the crew and sometime later the lifeboat capsized with all 17 crew members perishing.

I soon emerged at the mouth of the River Rother where it entered the sea at Rye Bay, the river had been ‘channelised’ back in the 1930’s. Here I met many other walkers who had parked at the large nature reserve car park at Rye Harbour. I passed by the impressive and newly built Rye Harbour Discovery Centre, closed today for staff training. The road into Rye itself had a good footpath and passed by a number of industrial works. As I entered Rye I  crossed over bridge’s spanning the small Rivers Tillingham and Brede, before arriving back at Rye Railway station.

The start/end of the Military Canal
Looking back at Cliff End from the sea wall
Heading along the sea wall at Winchelsea Beach
I passed this little bird who was very vocal, possibly a female Wheatear
The Lifeboat House of the Mary Standford
The mouth of the River Rother
The newly built Rye Harbour Discovery Centre
Locks on the Royal Military Canal at Rye
The River Brede at Rye

Distance today = 11 miles
Total distance = 6,406 miles

344. Dymchurch to Rye

Well it’s been quite awhile since I last updated my blog, October 2020 in fact! I have been busy though, with a range of gardening and DIY projects all completed through our recent lockdown. I have managed a few local walks over the Winter, but nothing too strenuous, thus my apprehension about starting my coastal walk up again.

My plan was continue where I left off in Dymchurch in Kent and continue walking westwards over two days. To break me gently back into the routine, I had planned a couple of easy days with an overnight stay, well that was the plan!

I made a very early start from Shropshire to avoid the morning traffic on the M25. I parked up in Rye railway station car park, at £2.90 a day , it was a reasonable charge compared to other council run car parks. I then had to get to the start of my walk at Dymchurch. The Traveline website gave me a route which involved three changes of buses, but curiously all with the same bus service number – 102. Only as I was about to alight at Lydd, did I find out that the same bus ran the whole way to Dymchurch – it turned out to be an expensive fare for me! At Dymchurch after getting off the bus I walked  the short distance to the sea wall along a path I had trodden some 7 months ago.

The weather was cloudy with the odd shower around. I could still just about make out the French coastline  and the whole coastline back towards Folkestone. I passed by two Martello Towers as I left Dymchurch behind me. My view southwards along the coast was drawn to the large square buildings of Dungeness Power station in the far distance. I continued along the sea wall past the small villages of St Marys and Littlestone-on-Sea. As I entered Greatstone-on-Sea not only did the sea wall end, but the first of many frequent showers hit me. I soon transferred down onto the wide open beach where the compacted sand made for easy and rapid walking.

Heading south from Dymchurch along the sea wall
A Martello Tower with canon on top
Looking NE towards Hythe and Folkestone

I transferred back onto the Dungeness access road just before the Pilot pub, one of two pubs on the weird and wonderful headland that is Dungeness. I was now heading towards the newer of the two lighthouse, although this was in fact the sixth lighthouse to be built on the shifting shingle. A collection of small cabins, shacks and cottages soon appeared, each with a different appearance and  were scattered over the landscape which is also home to a collection of flora and fauna unique to this part of the UK. All of this though was overshadowed by the twin power stations of Dungeness A and B. While Dungeness A ceased generating back in the ’80s, B has a new 10 year licence to begin generating again this year after a string of earlier safety concerns.

On the beach near Greatstone-one-Sea with an heavy shower approaching
The Pilot Pub on Dungeness
This is a Beach Tanning Copper which were used for dyeing and preserving fishing nets and clothes from the ravages of the sea
This is Prospect Cottage, the home of the late film director Derek Jarman
Huts selling freshly caught fish
The new lighthouse
The old lighthouse
Dungeness A and B Nuclear Power Station
Heading westwards along the shingle

I was now heading westwards past the Power Station towards the MOD Lydd Firing Range. The rat-a-tat of heavy machine gun fire and red flying flags confirmed my worst suspicions – the range was closed to walkers! I had checked the firing times for the range on the gov.uk website and could see the only firing was the day AFTER my walk. As I write this the website still says no firing on the 19th May. I walked to the control  tower spoke to someone to query why the website was saying one thing. A chap said he would pass my complaint onto the office…. yea … yea. I had intended to walk along the coast towards Jurys Gap, but this now meant an additional 2 miles inland detour via Lydd. I followed the firing range boundary perimeter into and out of Lydd.

The control tower at the edge of the Lydd Firing Range
Heading towards Lydd along the firing range perimeter
The reason for my detour, the Army with machine guns mounted on Land Rovers

The road from Lydd out to Jury’s Gap also followed the Lydd Firing range, fortunately there was a good footpath set back  from the road. Soon after leaving Lydd I heard my first Cuckoo of the year and spotted the little fella on a branch about 50 metres away. With the sea wall now in sight I passed from  Kent into East Sussex. I had been walking in Kent since February last year, so it was good to see some progress. I eventually arrived at Jury’s Gap and climbed up onto the sea wall. The rain showers had begun to get increasingly more intense and as I walked through Camber I got a severe drenching. I headed along a footpath heading towards Rye, which ran alongside the golf course. I soon heard the unmistakable sound of thunder coming from a particularly dark patch of sky about a mile away. As I passed the club house I heard a siren go off which I presumed was a warning to the golfers out on the course. There was no shelter nearby so I waited a short while close to some shrubs. I caught sight of some lightening strikes about an half mile away. As I waited I was relieved to see that the thunderstorm was heading away from me and out to sea. I could still hear rumblings from other dark clouds some distance away. As I crossed over the River Rother into the ancient Cinque port of Rye the sun was well out and it became very warm. I climbed up into the town and through the old Landgate and down to the railway station.

It had been a tough days walk and much longer than I had originally intended. All that remained for me to do now was to drive down the road to Camber  and check into my room for the night at Pontins Holiday camp! The chalet was quite cheap and had lots of space, although I stood out like a sore thumb from the young families who were enjoying their holiday.

The across Rye Bay towards Fairlight from Jury’s Gap
A heavy downpour out in the Channel
A nearby thunderstorm at Camber
Approaching the town of Rye
Crossing the River Rother
Entering the town through The Landgate
The old Grammar School in Rye

PS. It has become a right pain in the back-side trying to use WordPress now.  So many changes, I may think about changing even if  it means paying!

Distance today = 23 miles
Total distance = 6,395 miles

Nearing the End of my Coastal Walk

When I first decided on completing a Coastal walk around Great Britain I thought long and hard as to whether the walk should raise money for charity. Because I would be completing the walk in sections over a number of days and then returning home, the challenge was not as great as those brave and tenacious souls that have completed a Great Britain coastal walk unsupported, carrying their tent on their back and in a single long walk taking up to year and more in the process. So I decided against it at the time, feeling embarrassed to ask for money while I spend money on myself for fuel and accommodation.

However, now I do plan to commemorate my Coastal Walk completion with a unique gesture. In my spare time I am a wood turner, I don’t do it for a living, principally for pleasure. Most of my pieces I have given away to friends and family, Charities or sold at Christmas Fayres where I charged just enough to cover my material expenses and the stall fee. So I’m actually looking to turn about 10 bowls between now and my completion in various shapes and sizes and in various wood that I have to hand. I hope to donate the pieces to various Charity Shops with an indication as to what they could possibly sell them for.  I have spoken to my friend who manages one of The Severn Hospice shops in Telford and he thinks this will be a good idea. Obviously I would hope to donate to a broad range of Charities, especially when some have seen a significant fall in revenue over these troubled times. There may be further ways I can give or donate to Charities which I am still exploring.

Through this blog I hope to show how I turn a log or tree stump into something that would grace anybody’s sideboard or mantel piece. I was thinking about doing some YouTube videos, but I am a rubbish presenter and from experience it takes an awful lot of effort and time to produce a YouTube video that is presentable. I haven’t started turning any bowls/plates/platters, vases yet as I’ve still got about 16 days of walking until I arrive in Sandbanks near Poole. As you know I’ve been stuck at Dymchurch in Kent which is in Tier 4 and very much inaccessible at the moment.

Below are a couple of photos of the bowls and I have previously turned in various woods and some in resin, which I also turned. The first photo is a mock-up my Christmas Fayre stall taken in 2018 in my kitchen. Nearly all of these on show have been sold, donated or given away. My favourite is the Constellation Bowl, it was coincidentally bought by next door neighbour.

My stall mock-up in 2018
My Constellation Bowl
My Ikea Vase – made from scrap pieces of wood free to the public at my local Ikea store!
My Floating Cup, the garden animals in the background is Minty the Sheep and Bellatrix Lestrange the Flamingo
The fluid bit is made from coloured crayons
My Steampunk Bowl made from Ash

I’ll post something more in the near future when I have thought through a few more of the details.

343. Dymchurch to Dover

I decided to reverse the direction of travel for today’s walk because of bus times, so I drove to and parked again at the Western Heights car park. I read some signs saying that the car park had been the centre of recent anti-social behaviour, although given the shifty nature of the people I saw in parked cars that early in the morning I have my suspicions what that could be! I Again I descended down towards the Railway Station, but stopped short at a bus stop and waited for the 07:51 #102 service towards Lydd. The bus journey seemed to take an age as the driver observed strict timetable waits at a number of stops.

I was glad to get off the bus in Dymchurch and equally pleased to have used my OS App, with free Bus Wi-Fi, to know which stop to get off. A short walk saw me on the large and sweeping shoreline of East Road. The bay curved back towards Folkestone and had a large modern sea wall guarding the low lying interior of Romney Marsh. I passed by a Martello Tower that had been totally transformed into a residential property with the walls all rendered and a large conservatory on the roof. When I reached the Hythe firing ranges I could have continued along the coast because there was no firing planned for today. However, I could see a large construction site around the Dymchurch Redoubt, complete with Heras fencing. I decided to stick to the perimeter road around the firing range.

As I entered Hythe town itself I was interested to walk along the Military canal; built between 1805 and 1809 as a strategic move against a possible French invasion during the Napoleonic Wars. The canal runs for 28 miles from Hastings to near Folkestone. I followed the canal till it came very close to the promenade which ran  all the way into Folkestone. The sea front was busy with many people out walking, cycling, jogging and just chilling out at the number of beach side cafes.

Looking towards Hythe and Folkestone from Dymchurch
Transformed Martello Tower at Dymchurch
Dymchurch Redoubt
At the Military Canal in Hythe with statues of Navies who dug the canal
The Military Canal in Hythe
Heading along the seafront towards Folkestone
Sandgate Castle was the first of Henry VIII’s ‘Device Forts’, basically an Artillery Fort
Folkestone Harbour

As I reached Folkestone I passed by the old Folkestone Harbour railway station, closed to all traffic in 2009, in 2018 after a period of refurbishment it re-opened for pedestrian use and was hosting a small open-air market when I was there. I crossed over the old railway bridge and along the harbour walls with its fish sellers doing a brisk business. At Copt Point I climbed up steep steps towards the Martello Tower, which offered excellent views ahead across the expanse of wild partly forested chalk cliffs called The Warren. Here the Saxon Shore Way and England Coast Path joined the North Downs National Trail. I could have descended and walked along the base of the cliffs, but at some point I would need to climb up onto the cliff. I chose to do the climbing first as I planned to visit somewhere that was situated on the cliff-top path.

I had caught a glimpse of the Battle of Britain Memorial earlier that morning on the bus, so I was keen to take a closer look. Opened in 1993 on the site of the Capel Hill Battery (WWII), the Battle of Britain memorial contains a visitor centre, which was closed and a replica Spitfire and Hurricane. The open area contains a wall listing all those that fought in the Battle of Britain. Both yesterday and today a Spitfire flew over Dover and Folkestone performing aerial manoeuvres, I’m not sure if that was a planned thing, but it certainly brought home the message and the debt the county owes to “the few”.

I continued on across the Warren cliff top towards Abbots Cliff, here the coastal path split to a minor inland incursion avoiding the narrow path with exposed drops down to the railway line. Soon after I came to the Abbots Cliff Sound Mirror. A forerunner of radar, acoustic mirrors were built on the south and northeast coasts of England between about 1916 and the 1930s. The ‘listening ears’ were intended to provide early warning of incoming enemy aircraft.

The amazing physical features as I began the descent towards Dover were the ‘hogs-back’ chalk cliffs with grassy slopes and a narrow arête like ridge. At this point I could look down onto the Samphire Hoe Country Park, hemmed in by chalk cliffs and the sea it is an unusual site. Part of this area was created in the mid-19th century to enable the Folkestone – Dover railway to pass through. The real major construction project occurred with the building of the Channel Tunnel in 1993. Closeby the Channel Tunnel at some depth below the ground turns seaward heading out across the Channel. The spoil from the tunnel was used to create Samphire Hoe with landscaping to create a Nature Reserve. Access to the Hoe is via a tunnel from the nearby A20, with cars passing through the 200 -300m tunnel governed by traffic lights, a raised footpath allows pedestrians and cyclists to pass through to the Hoe. At the far end of the Samphire is a collection of buildings and a large cooling plant for the Tunnel itself.

I climbed up and over Round Down and descended to cross over the A20 to the small village of Aycliff on the outskirts of Dover. Here I found a shop open and stocked up on drinks for the drive home. I now had the task of climbing up from sea level to the top of Western Heights. Near to the car park I passed an early 12th century church built by Knights Templar.

A thoroughly enjoyable and fascinating walk.

The old renovated Folkestone Harbour Rail station
Crossing the old Harbour rail bridge
Looking back at Folkestone Harbour
Heading towards The Warren
Looking back over Folkestone from the top of The Warren
Looking across The Warren with the Folkestone – Dover rail line emerging from a tunnel
Hawker Hurricanne replica at The Battle of Britain Memorial
The wall of names of those that fought in The Battle of Britain
Statue of airman at The Battle of Britain Memorial
Looking back along The Warren towards Folkestone
Precipitous path above Abbots Cliff
Looking back from Abbots Cliff
Sound Mirror above Abbots Cliff
Ventilation shaft for the Folkestone – Dover railway
Looking down on Samphire Hoe
Looking towards Dover along the hog’s back chalk cliffs on Round Down
Chalk cliffs above Samphire Hoe
Looking down on Samphire Hoe at the Folkestone – Dover railway and the buildings and cooling plant for the Channel Tunnel
Zoomed shot across the Channel to Calais – just visible
Heading down towards the A20 and Aycliff
Fields are easy visible in this zoomed shot across the Channel
Dropping down off Round Down, a line of 3 shafts can be seen supplying ventilation to the Folkestone – Dover railway
The access tunnel to Samphire Hoe
The Knights Templar Church on Western Heights

Distance today = 18 miles
Total distance = 6,372 miles



342. Sandwich to Dover


It was the last days of July when I was last in Kent, while in the intervening time the pressing business of completing the Scottish section of my walk had kept me busy.

With rising Covid cases across the country I am convinced it is only a matter of time before I am forced into lock-down either locally or prohibited to travel to the Kent and Sussex areas. Besides the worries about the pandemic, I have also had one eye on the Brexit trade deal situation, with plans being drawn up to counter the predicted queues around the ferry ports of Dover and Folkestone. It’s an area that I want to get as far away from as possible before the inevitable turmoil starts in January.

There was good news in that I only had to travel 247 miles down to Dover and with each completed section I will move closer to home. Another good sign is that I am now travelling south along the M40 and M25 having finished with the Dartford Crossing.

The drive down from Shropshire was uneventful and by 6:45 I was parking up at the observation car park on Western Heights above Dover. The view from the car park was amazing, with the dawn light just appearing I could pick out Calais and Dunkirk across the Channel. To get to the start of today’s walk at Sandwich, I needed to descend into Dover and make my way to Dover Priory railway station.

Most of today’s walk would be mostly on the level, although towards the end there would be a few up and downs. After leaving Sandwich railway station I walked through residential streets  towards Sandwich Haven River and the River Stour. I could have made things very easy when I joined the England Coast Path by simply walking across the golf course to the sea which would have saved about 3 miles. Instead I followed the river northwards along a levee or sea bank. I did eventually turn around and start walking south when I joined the sea and began walking alongside 3 golf courses, the most famous of which was Royal St. Georges, which occasionally hosts The Open.

Early morning at Western Heights above Dover Harbour looking across the Channel to the lights of Calais and Dunkirk
The River Stour near Sandwich
Heading north along the River Stour near Sandwich
Looking across Pegwell Bay to Ramsgate
Heading south along the shoreline
Building up sea defences near Deal

I eventually made my way into the seaside town of Deal. I decided to walk through the town itself, which was really very busy, as I struggled to socially distance myself at times, picking my way through the Saturday afternoon shoppers. I passed Deal Castle which I did not think much of, until I read the castle was actually built under the orders of Henry VIII as an artillery castle, a similar fortification to the ubiquitous Martello Towers, often seen in this part of England. By the time I reached the adjacent town of Walmer, the crowds had thinned out and the White Cliffs of Dover made an appearance.

The weather so far had been very nice with a warm breeze and excellent visibility, particularly across the Channel to France, where I could see a constant stream of ferries going back and forth. After passing through St. Margaret’s at Cliffe I arrived at the South Foreland lighthouse and the arrival of more crowds of people walking out from Dover itself.
I tried to stay on a level contour over the down land terrain and after passing around Langdon Hole I emerged high above the Dover Ferry Terminal. The terminal was very noisy and extremely busy with hundreds of articulated making their way to and from the ferries. On top of the white cliffs there was a number of footpaths available, unfortunately I chose a wide path that was well trodden and dropped down towards the terminal entrance, after losing a great deal of height I was faced with a sign saying this was a dead end. Grrrr! I climbed back up the cliffs and found the correct path and dropped down to the A20 road beside the ferry terminal. I continued along the shoreline of the Outer Harbour and passed a number of statues and memorials, dedicated to the role of certain armed services during the Second World War. There was also a memorial to  Captain Matthew Web, who hailed from Dawley (now in Telford) where I was born and still live. In fact there is a pub 400m from my home called the Captain Webb.

In Dover I passed by an M&S Food Hall where I hoped to buy some food, however, there was a long queue outside so I did not bother, instead settling for a pasty and coffee from a local Greggs. I continued through Dover town centre and climbed uphill to the Drop Redoubt along the North Military Road.

This whole area of the Kent coastline is steeped in history and you would need a few days to explore it fully. All that remained for me to do was drive the 4 miles to my Premier Inn bed for the night.

A very busy Deal High Street
Deal Castle
The appearance of the White Cliffs near Kingsdown
Looking back towards Deal
Looking back northwards near St. Margarets at Cliffe
The War Memorial at Bockell Hill
Looking down to St Margarets Bay at St. Margarets at Cliffe
Zoomed shot across the Channel to France with fields and the beach visible
A ferry departiing Dover bound for France
The harbour and ferry terminal at Dover
Looking down on the Dover ferry terminal
Approaching the end of the “dead end” path!
Dropping down into Dover
Passing under one of the main approach roads to the ferry terminal
The White Cliffs of Dover
Memorial to Captain Matthew Webb, the first person to swim the Channel
Another zoomed shot across the Channel with white cliffs now visible

Distance today = 21 miles
Total distance = 6,354 miles



Use of Ferries – Now Completed

I have had a serious re-think of my use of ferries to cross rivers and estauries on my walking route around the coast of Great Britain. When I was walking the South West Coast Path, the official path route advised on the use of ferries to cross over rivers and estauries. At the time I had no intention to walk around the whole of the coastline of Great Britain and thus made use of these ferries. Now that I have set myself the challenge of walking the entire coastline, I have had serious concerns about the ethos of using these ferries in my challenge. To this end I have decided that the sections of coastline in Dorset, Devon, Cornwall, Merseyside and Lancashire where I have taken ferries will become VOID. I will therefore walk around all rivers and estauries to their nearest bridging point to ensure I have walked a complete and full section of my walking record.

This will involve some additional 300+ additional miles which I will do as one-day walks over the next 12 month period.

The Ferries in question relate to :

Dorset: Sandbanks (Poole) to South Haven Point (26 miles COMPLETED)

Devon: Starcross – Exmouth (15 miles COMPLETED)

Devon: Teignmouth – Shaldon Beach (2 miles COMPLETED)

Devon: Kingswear to Dartmouth (24 miles COMPLETED)

Devon: East Portlemouth – Salcombe (13 miles COMPLETED)

Devon: Bantham – Bigbury-on-Sea (9 miles COMPLETED)

Devon: Wembury to Noss Mayo (11 miles COMPLETED)

Cornwall: Plymouth  – Cremyll (24 miles COMPLETED)

Cornwall: Fowey – Polruan (16 miles COMPLETED)

Cornwall: St. Anthony – St. Mawrs – Falmouth (29 miles COMPLETED)

Cornwall: Helford Passage – Helford Village (12 miles COMPLETED)

Cornwall: Rock- Padstow (15 miles COMPLETED)

Merseyside: Birkenhead – Liverpool (48 miles COMPLETED)

Lancashire: Fleetwood to Knott End (15 miles COMPLETED)

35b. Truro to Falmouth

My final days walking in Cornwall and the completion of the missing sections of walking around the estuaries that I had previously used ferries.

I had already done the first section of my walk around the Fal Estuary a few weeks before from Place to Truro. Today’s walk would be from Truro onto Falmouth. However…………………………yesterday after completing the walk around the Helford River, I saw the time was around midday. So I thought, “why not do some of tomorrows walk today?” In actual fact because the total mileage for the two days was only 24 miles, I could have done this quite easily in the single day, the feet may have complained a bit but it was doable. However, this section of the walk contained some very busy roads and a sunny Saturday afternoon was not the ideal time to walk along them.I therefore opted to drive to Truro rail station and park there. I then caught the train towards Falmouth getting off at the small station of Perranwell. The 5 mile walk back to Truro rail station would be along quiet lanes and roads, even on a Saturday afternoon. The Falmouth branch is only a single track, but it runs through some lovely Cornish scenery. I had chosen Perranwell Station because I could park my car there tomorrow when I would complete this section.

I set off from Perranwell station on a lovely sunny Saturday afternoon. I showed no signs of the exertions from the mornings walk around the Helford River. The road I would be on for most of the walk back to Truro was very quiet, although there was the odd ‘nutter’ who did not slow down. The route for this particular walk was planned using Plotaroute, a free online piece of software that plans routes for walking, horse riding and cars. Obviously I had checked the route myself and found it to be ok. I stayed on the road and followed the route of the railway most of the way back to Truro.

Perranwell Station
Heading back to Truro along leafy lanes
Typical Cornish minor lanes
Crossing underneath the Falmouth railway line
Looking towards Truro, the railway bridge in the distance has the main Penzance line running along it

After arriving back in Truro I made my way to my B&B for the night, it was only half a mile away. I contemplated the final section of the walk from Perranwell Station to Falmouth. This part of the route contained the busy A39 and I was apprehensive about walking along it even on a Sunday morning.

I arrived at Perranwell station at 06:30 and parked the car. It was still pitch black. I waited about 10 minutes before setting off in hi-vis jacket, head torch flashing and another head torch facing the rear flashing red. The first mile from the station was along quiet roads through the village of Perranwell. By the time I reached the A39, it was getting light and I did find a sort of footpath along the verge. Fortunately, I did not have to stay on the road long, before turning off down a minor road. There was very little traffic about, which meant I could relax and enjoy my stroll.

I was not hurrying because I planned to catch the first train of the day back from Falmouth to Perranwell, which was in a couple of hours’ time. While only encountering the odd car I dropped down into Penryn. The streets were almost deserted as I followed the Penryn River into Falmouth. The streets in Falmouth are quite strung out along the Fal estuary and seem to go on forever. I did manage to find a bakery that was just opening and what better way to celebrate my completion of the ‘missing gaps’ than a traditional Cornish pasty, expensive, but nice. Falmouth actually has three stations Falmouth Docks, Falmouth Town and Penmere, although to call them stations would be stretching it, more likely railway halts. Because I had time to kill I decided to walk to the furthest station at Falmouth Docks, the start of the line. None the stations have any ticket purchasing machines, so I spent the next 20 minutes working how I could purchase an online ticket through the Great Western App. The train arrived and departed on time, picking quite a number of people from the stations back to Perranwell.

So that is it. I have a single gap left to complete between Sandwich in Kent and Poole in Dorset. I have done a crude estimate that I would need about 20 days of walking to complete this. However, a large cloud looms over us all at the moment and there is no guarantee that the area I live in or the area where I intend to walk in will not be subject to future travel restrictions.

The Following Day: Old milestone near Penryn
The old National School in Penryn, National Schools were founded by the National Society for Promoting Religious Education.
Following the Penryn River
Looking across the Falmouth waterfront towards the docks
Deserted streets in Falmouth
The railway terminus at Falmouth Docks

Distance today = 12 miles
Total distance = 6,333 miles



37a. Helford Passage to Helford

My last two remaining days in Cornwall while ‘tidying up’ my previous omissions of not walking around the estuaries of the Fal and Helford Rivers. Today was a simple affair which involved driving through the night to Helford Passage, just south of Falmouth. Here I would park just above the Ferry Inn at the local Parish Trust car park at a cost of just £1 for the whole day! Fantastic value given the cost of other car parks in the area.

I had deliberately slowed down on the drive down as my Satnav had given my arrival time a lot earlier than expected and I would have to wait until it got reasonably light to start walking. The sun was due to rise at 07:15 and I set off at 06:45 with hi-vis jacket and head torch on.

Most of today’s walk would along quiet roads, green lanes and a few footpaths. My route would follow a broad sweep around the Helford River and its many creeks and tributaries including Porthavas Creek, Polwheveral Creek, Polpenrith Creek, Mawgan Creek and Frenchman’s Creek. Because my route took a wide track it was difficult to actually see many of these creeks, in the absence of footpaths it would see me walking predominantly on roads which I hoped would be largely devoid of traffic.

One of the worst things about walking in Cornwall is that many of the quiet roads and lanes are sunken and are enclosed by high hedgerows or embankments with no path or verge, thus making any encounter with a car or tractor an experience! Fortunately, the roads I passed along were clear of traffic at this early time on a Saturday morning. Besides being hemmed in by the steep hedgerows, these minor roads rose and fell as I entered each new creek tributary. The bottom of these small valleys were also quite cold, with early Autumnal frosts not far away. Needless to say it was cold walking until the sun finally rose and heated everything up.

By the time I got to the first bridging point at Gweek, the temperature had risen quite sharply. Here I popped into a small convenience store to buy a Cornish pasty, which was not bad. After passing through Gweek, I was now walking on the southern side of the Helford River. I occasionally got a view of the river and its Creeks, but any good views were masked by the trees and high hedgerows.

At Mudgeon Farm I came to my first obstacle of the day; as I left the minor road to take a footpath across fields my heart sank as the intended footpath was in a field of maize 7 to 8 foot tall. Normally, you simply cannot walk through a crop such as this, but I decided to check to see if a path had been trampled by previous walkers, it had! I followed the path through the maize to the next field. At the stile my heart sank again as it was full of young Friesian cattle and they were very curious towards me. I could see that I would have to get through the next two fields with them in tow. However, I could see all the border hedgerows of the filed were very tight and there were no bail-out options. Normally, I don’t mind cattle, but inquisitive cattle can get up a head of steam and plough into the back of each other maybe taking you out. I retreated back through the field of maize in search of another route. Two miles up the road near Tregithew I was about to follow another footpath through a field until I noticed a freshly painted sign of a bull in the field. Normally I ignore these signs as they are rarely taken down and remain forever, even though the bull had since paid a visit to MacDonald’s! However, I saw the bull and stayed on the road.

When I reached the village of Kestle I dropped down to a wooded path which led into the village of Helford. I headed for Helford Point where the ferry across to Helford Passage landed. To summon the ferry I simply opened a board to form a large yellow circle which could be seen across the river. After about 10 minutes the ferry appeared. I caught the ferry with an elderly lady who was crossing over to visit the National Trust gardens at Trebah. All that remained was to walk up the steep hill to the car park.

Typical Cornish lane early on a saturday morning
Passing around Porthnavas Creek
Looking down on Porthnavas Creek
Looking southwards down Polwheveral Creek
Crossing over the Helford River at Gweek
The Mawgan Cross an early Christian memorial stone to a man called Cnegumus
Heading through a field of maize
Frisky Friesians blocking my way
I was certainly not going to risk it with this bad boy!
Entering the village of Helford
Looking across the Helford River to Helford Passage
Looking down river towards the open sea
Summoning the ferry
On the ferry across the Helford river to Helford Passage

Distance today = 12 miles
Total distance = 6,321 miles



35a. Place to Truro

It’s been a while since I did any of my Use of Ferries walks. These are basically walks to fill in the ‘gaps’ left when I did the South West Coastal Path over 6 years ago and used local ferries to cross rivers and estuaries. Over the years I have been busy ‘filling’ in these ‘gaps’ to achieve a full walking record around the coast of Great Britain. As it stands I have two remaining rivers to complete, the Helford River and Falmouth River. I hope to get both of these walks done before the ferries stop in late September/October, as I still utilise the ferries to link the two walking points around the estuaries to the first bridging point.

The largest estuary walk would be the walk around the huge Falmouth Estuary, the third deepest harbour in the world and composed of a myriad of tributary rivers, creeks, inlets and pools. It would take two days to walk around.

Today I would do the first days walk around the estuary, although for logistical reasons, I would have to return for the second walk another time. The logistical reason being the unavailability of affordable accommodation in the area, £130 per night is not affordable in my book. This also meant a long day out from Shropshire, as the mileage to this part of Cornwall was 280 miles – one way!

The plan was to complete a very broad sweep around the numerous rivers and creeks avoiding the small peninsulas and promontories which had very few footpaths or right of way around them. I decided to make Truro, the County town of Cornwall, my end point for this walk, so that’s the place I headed for on the overnight drive down. I parked at Truro railway station, where parking was only £2.70 all day on a Saturday/Sunday; compared to a Council Car Park at £8.20 any day!

Another consideration for today’s walk was the route. Cornwall’s roads are notorious for their lack of footpaths and verges to safely walk along, in fact some of the roads have almost vertical high banks either side, with no escape or refuge from any traffic. As you can imagine, there are many tourists around at this time of the year, so avoiding the traffic was a key priority.

I decided to get the 07:22 #U1 bus to Falmouth and then pick up the water ferry to St. Mawes and then a smaller ferry onto Place, a small jetty on the end of the Roseland Peninsular. Both ferries were very busy, particularly the smaller Place ferry, where the number was restricted to 12 passengers at a time. Because this ferry was only 5 minutes either way, the ferry made a couple of trips to get the other walkers across.

After all the travel and planning I finally set off at 09:15 on a beautiful sunny morning from Place. I climbed up a well-trodden path up the hill towards the small village of Bohortha, here I joined public road. I continued undisturbed along the empty road to Porth farm. To my right, just 200m away, was the South West Coastal Path and of course the sea. From Porth farm I continued along a green lane which was also a bridle way. I met no one until I descended into the small village of Portscatho, which I walked through some 6 years ago. I retraced my steps along the SWCP a short distance through the village, but as the coastal path continued along the coast I took a minor road with only the odd car. By the time I reached the village of Curgurrell I had to turn inland away from the coast.

I continued along a series of twisting lanes through the hamlets of Treluggan, Treworthal, Trenestrall, Trelonk and Trethella before descending to the village of Ruan Lanihorne. Although I did not walk through the village but instead took a lower road alongside the River Ruan. The Ruan joined up with the River Fal, which I crossed over at the Sett Bridge. The Fal at this point was just a small river and emptied into an upper tidal estuary surrounded by wooded hills. The area was very secluded and quiet, apart from the odd walker and car; the whole area was a delight to walk through. I left the road again and took a bridle path that led to the hamlet of Gare, from there it was back to the twisty turning roads, albeit without cars.
I passed through the small hamlets of Little Tregerrick, Tregerrick and Carharthen before I started to hear the traffic coming from the A390 at Tresillian, where I was heading next. The traffic on the A390 was very heavy, but it was reassuring to have a footpath to walk along before I turned off the main road. The next mile along a minor road into Truro was horrible, as an accident on the A39 near to Truro had cars being diverted down to this small road I was trying to walk along. It was actually chaotic with cars unable to get past each other and me being unable to pass them either! At times I was actually standing in the road waiting to pass cars! I was glad to descend into Truro itself and head back to the railway station. I did not explore the City of Truro, perhaps I may do that on my next trip.

Apart from the chaos of the final bit of road into Truro, the walk had been wonderful, few people and even fewer cars made it a truly enjoyable walk and place to be.

Waiting for the St Mawes Ferry at Falmouth
Leaving Falmouth
Arriving St. Mawes
Leaving St. Mawes
Looking northwards along the coast at Porth Farm
Looking back at Portscatho
Porthcurnick Beach
Looking back at Porthcurnick Beach
Heavy going near the Tuckingmill Creek
Almost hidden from view descending into Ruan Lanihorne
The Sett Bridge over the River Fal
A Wheatear near Gare
Walking alongside the Tresillian River
Crossing the River Truro in Truro

Distance today = 17 miles
Total distance = 6,257 miles