My first walk of 2015 and I needed to do a simple quick one day walk, so it was down to Barnstaple to carry on from my previous visit. I parked in Barnstaple taking advantage of free street parking close to the Bus Station. I caught the 21A bus to Croyde Bay at a cost of £2.40. Today was a wonderfully sunny winters day, with a stiff breeze blowing.
The bus stop at Croyde Bay is very close to the beach and in less than a minute of leaving the bus I was making my over Croyde Sand towards the far headland. Here I climbed up off the beach and continued around the headland below the main road for 400m. The path then ascended the small hill to join up with the main road. I slightly back tracked along the road to join the path on the far side of the road. The path continued above the road for the next 2 miles, contouring below Saunton Down.
Lundy was slightly hazy in the far distance, but I had a spectacular view of Braunton Burrows, a vast Nature Reserve of dunes and sands. I seemed to have lost the official path in the Burrows somewhere so I made my own route through the area. Eventually, the MOD warning signs shepherded me towards the official path, which I eventually picked up. The path emerged at the shores of the Taw and Torridge estuaries. I followed the path around Horsey island and up the minor tributary of the River Caen. The first crossing point of this river is at Braunton and onto the Tarka Trail. For the next two miles I have RAF Chivenor on my right. I have been walking on the old railway route from Barnstaple to Ilfracombe and I make good progress along the route.
When I reach Barnstaple I have a quick look around the town, it’s a saturday afternoon and quite busy. I note with some amusement a building undergoing restoration with scaffolding all around it bedecked with bras and other undergarments, I believe in aid of charity. Great idea, but I kept my pants well and truly on! I take 4.5 hrs for the walk.
Distance today = 15.5 miles
Total distance = 691 miles
My last walk of 2014! I wanted to do a walk along the SWCP that I could drive to and complete in a single day. I therefore started looking at some of the north Devon sections. I opted for a very flat walk from Westward Ho! to Barnstaple. I had been many years ago, for work related purposes, to Barnstaple. However, I had never been to Bideford or the wonderfully named Westward Ho! The only town in the UK with a punctuation mark in its name.
I drove very early to and parked in Barnstaple. I walked to the bus station and caught the 5:45 to Westward Ho! Needless to say I was the only passenger on the bus and the only person on the deserted seafront, well it was still dark at this time of the year! I set off along the cobbly shore with my head-torch on. The sky was lovely and clear and promised to be a lovely sunrise in about an hour or so. I rounded Northam Burrows and walked along a dirt track towards the twinkling lights of Appledore. By the time I reached Appledore, I no longer needed my head-torch.
I was now walking inland to the first (actually second bridging point) of the River Torridge at Bideford. The first bridging point is the new Torridge bridge which carries the main trunk road high over the river. As I head into the small town of Bideford, I pop into a local cafe and get a coffee to take away. I walk along the quay at Bideford aiming for the old bridge of over the Torridge. I am now walking back out along the opposite bank of the river. I am also on the route of the old railway line which will take me all the way to Barnstaple.
After chatting to a local man I met on the path about football and this and that I continue on through Instow, which directly opposite Appledore across the River Torridge, where I had been a few hours before. I make a couple of excursions out to what is now the River Taw, before the marsh forces me to rejoin the railway route, which is now called The Tarka Trail, after the otter of the same name in the story Henry Williamson, which was set in this area of Devon.
The walking along the Tarka Trail is mainly composed of very long and straight tarmac path, with few walkers but plenty of cyclists. I pass through another station halt at Fremington whose station and platform still exists, but is now a cafe.
The final walk into Barnstaple is across the 15th century Long Bridge in which I find the town very busy on this saturday afternoon, with lots of people out and about. The walk has taken me just 6hrs.
Distance today = 18.5 miles
Total distance = 675.5 miles
The last of my three day trip to North Cornwall. I have a small gap to complete, which although only 9 miles has quite an interesting section. I shall be walking through perhaps the best preserved area of Cornish tin mining surviving today.
I drive early to Cape Cornwall and park in the National Trust car park, like the other occasions I have used this car park there is no one there at the hut. There again being an NT Member I get free parking anyway. I walk into St Just and get the early morning bus bound for St. Ives. I get off at Treen, just by the Gurnards Head pub, where I finished yesterdays walk.
I walk through Treen again and follow the footpath directly towards Gurnards Head and the coast. The walking is very easy and I make excellent time. As I walk over Chypraze Cliff I am able to see Pendeen Lighthouse. As a lighthouse Pendeen is relatively new, being built in 1900, but becoming automated in 1995. I pass by the lighthouse and walk down a small lane.
I can now see much evidence of mine workings, with numerous chimneys and building on the horizon. I am now entering the area containing the Geevor, Botallack and Levant mines. This whole area can be accessed by the SWCP and is a fantastic and interesting site. Although all closed down today, the Geevor mine operates as a tourist site offering mine tours and telling the story of the Cornish Tin Mining in the area. There are a number of information boards, scattered about. But you would probably need a guided tour to understand the whole process of tin mining and the functions of the many derelict buildings over the huge site. I espy the Crowns, a set of engine houses perched precariously on cliffs above the sea and probably the most photographed of all Cornish Tin Mines. I pass by the Levant Mine famous for its tunnels stretching out deep beneath the sea, where miners dug for copper and tin. This industrial area continues to Kenidjack Valley, where the path descends and follows a water course for a short distance before rising again out of the valley. Most the industrial buildings appear to be covered by vegetation, which hides many water stamps buildings to crush the ore mined nearby.
Although, I am now away from the main mine area, there are still numerous tin and copper mines close by. I descend to Cape Cornwall once thought to be the most southerly point of the UK, but that honour has since been passed to Lands End.
Distance today = 9 miles
Total distance = 657 miles
Quite a busy and complex day today, due to the timings of public transport. Although I have this section titled Hayle to Gurnards Head, my first section will be Carbis Bay to Hayle. I leave the hotel very early and join the SWCP at the bottom of the garden from the hotel. I walk in the early morning light behind the large houses and cross the railway line via a footbridge onto the seaward side.
I enter a small dune system, Port Kidney Sands as the shoreline swings around and enters the Hayle estuary. I recross the railway line and walk alongside a golf course to a small church. I notice some new way signs that point to St. Michaels Way, a footpath that runs all the way to St. Michaels Mount on the south coast. The road rejoins the railway running alongside the estuary. I pass by the small railway halt of Lelant. I join the busy BB3301 all the way to Hayle. At the head of the Estuary I am walking along a well-trodden grass verge, where I pass a granite stone that tells me I am entering Hayle District. I stop close to the new Asda store in Hayle and get a bus back to Carbis Bay.
At Carbis Bay, I walk into the centre of St. Ives with the intention of getting a bus out to Zennor. The bus is not going for a few hours so I opt to start walking to Zennor instead. The path is along low clifs and is fairly level with easy walking. I am soon at Zennor and the sun is very bright, amazing for late November! I walk into the village and find I have about one and a half hours to wait until the next bus back to St. Ives. So I opt to walk along the B3306 as far as Treen. At Treen is the Gurnards Head Pub, as I have made good time I decide to nip in for a pint. I order a pint of shandy which costs £3.62!!! I did not order a second. I drop down onto the SWCP and make my way back along the cost to Zennor, passing a few ruined engine Houses on the way.
I joined other walkers on the #14 bus back to St. Ives
Distance today = 14.5 miles
Total distance = 648 miles
Quite a short distance today, which was dictated by the difficulty of getting to Portreath from Hayle, where I had parked on a sunday morning. Because of engineering works, the train to Camborne was not running, instead a bus service was operating which I just managed to catch. I caught another bus down to Portreath, where I was the only passenger, well apart from the drivers son, who was accompanying his driver dad on this mornings run.
I arrived in Porteath to a very chilly, but sunny and breezy day. I head across the car park and begin the climb up onto Western Hill and across to Carvannel Downs with its fine collection of Exmoor ponies. The walking is very easy and I make good time. I pass the Iron Age Cliff top castle of Crane castle, barely recognising any visible remains. The B3301 road now joins the path, running quite close. At Derrick Cove, I pass the nice viewing area built by the National Trust for people in wheelchairs. A lttle further on the road is now right alongside the path and offers a superb view down into Hells Mouth and spectacular views down to the beach. I see people enjoying an early morning cuppa at the famous cafe with the same name.
As I walk to Navax Point, I can see many Grey Seals far below me. I read on an info board that this is a popular breeding site and an area that the seals congregate in large numbers between October to April. At Godrevy Point I can now look out across to the small island of Godrevy with its lighthouse and further to my left, in the distance, the popular seaside town of St. Ives. The glorious beach of Gwithian stretches ahead of me for a few miles. I can see that it is very busy with surfers and dog walkers alike.
I cross over the Red River, so named after its appearance from the red iron oxide disacharged from the local tin miles. I am now walking in a straight line on the flat Gwithian Beach heading for a lifeguard hut two miles away which will be the place I leave the beach .
I walk through the numerous holiday homes at Hayle Towans and alongside the narrow River Hayle. There has been some quayside development of recent years, which has tidied this area up. I cross over the swing bridge and proceed into Hayle itself. It has been a short but very interesting walk
Distance today = 12 miles
Total distance = 633.5 miles
I parked at Cape Cornwall in the NT car park and walked the mile into St Just. I had to make use of two buses today to get me back to Porthcurno. The first was the West Penwith Community Bus which took me to Lands End. As the only passenger I had a nice chat with the driver on the short journey. My second bus was the stagecoach #1 bus which was heading back to Penzance via Porthcurno.
It was quite a breezy and chilly start to the walk as I ascended out of the small valley up towards the Minack theatre. The theater was not open this morning and I was unable to catch a glimpse inside. The first settlement I come to is Portgwarra which sits in a small valley, there is a not a great deal there and I do not linger as the wind is very chilly. I ascend onto a fairly flat area. Although there are a few ups and downs, it is quite easy underfoot. I note two large day marks, which identify the position of the Runnel Stone, a scene of many wrecks.
This whole part of the coast is famous for its blocky granite coastline with a number of impressive sea-cliffs and caves. In the far distance I can make out the buildings of Lands End. The drops and ascends a number of steep valleys, but I happy that I will soon pass around, what I would describe a milestone in the shape of Lands End.
Although I had been a number of times to Cornwall, this would be my first visit to Lands End. But before I reach Lands End I pass a small farm/small holding with a small number of Vietnamese Pot-bellied pigs which I always find amusing. Land’s End does not offer a great deal, but I do get a good view out towards the Longships lighthouse and a photograph opportunity of perhaps one of the most photographed places in the UK, the finger-post pointing to John O’Groats.
I quickly walk over to Sennen Cove and can now make out Cape Cornwall in the distance, it does not look that far away, but is still some 4 -5 miles. I descend the steep slopes into Sennen Cove, there are a few hardy souls out on the surf as I also drop onto the beach of Whitesands Bay. At this point a heavy rain shower arrives, which is with me all the way to Cape Cornwall. As I approach the Cape, Cornwall’s industrial heritage makes a re-appearance with a number of fenced-off mine shafts and the odd chimney. I complete the walk in a leisurely 3hrs and 50mins.
Distance today = 11.5 miles
Total distance = 621.5 miles
I am away quite early from my B&B on the seafront in Penzance. Its a chilly sunny start, with rain showers forecast for the rest of the day. I make my way to the bus stop to catch the bus to Porthcurno. However, I can see no bus listed for this time. Grrr! I decide to carry on walking towards Porthcurno and get a bus back from there to Penzance. I don’t have any idea what time the buses go from there, so I decide to take a risk and see how it goes.
The long walk along the promenade towards Newlyn is obstructed by a series of construction projects on the promenade itself. In no time I have entered Newlyn and walked around the harbour. I pass the large fish market and the impressive new harbour specifically built for the fishing fleet. I can see St Michaels Mount across the bay, soon I will turn south and lose sight of it. Not long after I get caught in a short sharp rain shower. I take shelter under a small tree which keeps me dry.
Just as approach Mousehole, I pass the memorial and site of the Penlee Lifeboat, which was tragically lost in 1981 while attempting to rescue crew from the coaster Union Star. I enter the charming and typical Cornish village of Mousehole with its tight and closely packed streets. I climb up a steep hill out of Mousehole. I pass the small hamlet of Lamorna and continue towards the oddly named Tater-du lighthouse. The cliffs are now composed of typical granite blocks.
At Paynters Cove the path drops down to the cobble beach and I walk over the large cobbles for about 60 metres. There are a number of rusty wrecks and other debris from shipwrecks on the beach. I arrive at Penberth Cove, with its large 19th century capstan and fishing boats. The hamlet is often painted because of its unspoilt beauty. I round Cribba Head and walk above large granite cliffs down to Porthcurno. I see where the old cables from the late 19th century come ashore. I want to explore the area, however, just as I arrive in the car park so does a bus. The bus is going back to Penzance and I don’t know when the next will be. So I hop on and enjoy a lovely ride back to Penzance on the top deck. The walk has taken 4.25 hrs.
Distance today = 11.5 miles
Total distance = 610 miles