Day 12 – St Ives to Long Carn

If you have been following our progress you will know that our last walk was dedicated to raising funds for BBC Children in Need. Thanks to all who have supported us in this venture, we have increased our sponsorship to £250. So thank you all of you – you know who you are!

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Of course there is still plenty of time to support this excellent cause and you can do so by going to their web site https://www.bbcchildreninneed.co.uk/fundraisinghub to find out how to raise even more money.

Today’s walk, beginning at St Ives, got off to a tricky start when there was no space in the Island Car park, where we had finished last time, even at 9.30 in the morning! So we spent quite a little while driving around the tiny little back streets of St Ives, trying to find a Long Stay car park that was not full! At last we went a little out of town to the St Ives RFC Car Park where there was plenty of space, thank goodness. So at 10am we started off, initially to find our way back on to the Coast Path, as close to our proper start point as we could.

Hilary’s book advised that this leg of the walk would be tough and hard going underfoot, so we should plan to aim for Zennor, a distance of approx. 7 miles. However we felt confident that we ought to do better than that and targetted the Car Park at Rosemergy, along the B3306, a good few miles further on. Although best laid plans etc!!

In many respects, Hilary’s book was not wrong. This part of the Coast Path is a true ‘coast path’ as it hugs the coastline very closely, which involves lots of ins and outs and negotiating boulders and bogs along the way. We spent a lot of time clambouring across rocks and slipping and sliding through mud baths, and even with my sturdy walking pole I managed to end up with both feet up to my ankles in a quagmire at different times!

But once again we were really fortunate with the weather, sandwiched as the day was, between two days of wind and rain. We had blue sky, with a light breeze and a few clouds. Although chillier than we have had up to now, the only thing we had to watch out for was losing the light at the end of the day, with the change of the clocks.

So as we set out from St Ives the first part of the walk was well defined and tarmacced. It’s funny how on some of our walks there has been a particular type of landmark which has prevailed on the day. We have had the picnic tables at Perranporth (Day 9), the benches at Treyarnon (Day 7) and the seals at Godrevy (Day 11). Today it was the turn of the bridges! Where we cross at the streams that cascade down to the sea, we found some striking bridges, small but perfectly formed! See later.

So we pressed on away from St Ives and the tarmac gave way to what came to be the standard going underfoot – rocks and boulders interspersed with caked mud and in some cases the aforementioned quagmire! This digger was evidence of the ongoing work to improve the coast path, although, being Sunday, there was no actual activity in progress.

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Just beyond an aptly named (given the conditions on the path!) Clodgy Point, we noticed the sea which was broiling and noisy with quite a swell. We both tried (unsuccessfully) to capture the spray which rose from the sea as it crashed onto the rocks below.

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Very soon we came to this series of marker posts which had imaginitively added interest to a local walk which had been devised by owners of a nearby holiday destination.

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The boardwalk mentioned in the local walk.

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This ‘modern’ stone circle was referenced in Hilary’s book and was a feature that you would find on the local walk.

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At trig point 97 Hilary rested against the marker while I removed clumps of mud from my boot which was the result of my first ankle-deep step into the quagmire. Much more comfortable afterwards!

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Between Carn Naun point and the Carracks we crossed our first striking bridge. Two huge slabs of granite resting on rocks at either end and supported by a massive granite pillar in the middle.

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Moving on we were struck again by the power of the sea with the waves again crashing against the rocks and estimating the spray to be 30 foot high. We tried to capture it – but you have got to get the timing just right and we didn’t quite manage it.

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You could see where the current below the surface would easily catch you out and I comment in my voice recording that I would not want to be kayakking in these conditions, let alone so near to the rocks.

For most of today’s walk we didn’t really pass any obvious signs of habitation. It’s a remote, menacing landscape with little access to the water’s edge. No beaches for the dogs! Although a few streams for them  to enjoy. However we did comment on the golden bracken which has gone over but which was glowing in the afternoon sunshine.

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We reached Zennor Head just after 1pm so we knew we could easily press on.

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The sea in this area was again showing its power and we were struck by this particular wave formation which kept coming back and would be unforgiving to anyone caught in it.

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We did a slight detour to the ruined chapel at the base of Gurnard’s Head.

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Ruined Chapel at the base of Gurnard’s Head.

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Just beyond the chapel are the remains of the tin mine above Lean Point.

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And then we spotted some little granite steps down to a granite bench so we thought it was time for a selfie!

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Just as we had taken the selfie we then became slightly distracted by a rescue helicopter circling in the area. Once again we tried to get good close-ups of the helicopter but with only minimal success.

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It circled a few times and then moved away. It was difficult to tell whether it was on a genuine shout or just a training exercise.

Then we ventured on to Gurnard’s Head …

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…attempting (unsuccessfully, again!) to spot the ancient roundhouses mentioned in Hilary’s book. I think I have seen them on the Isles of Scilly years ago, so was really keen to see if we could spot them, but it was not to be. Gurnard’s Head is very rocky and treacherous and we were not inclined to risk venturing any further on to it, so cut our losses and pressed on.

We passed some mooreland ponies grazing in the area. They were quite cautious and we kept a wide berth.

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Next milestone was another interesting bridge at Porthmear Cove.

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This time it seemed to be a single slab of granite with a lovely handrail, quite new and making an easy crossing. Our next hurdle were some belted Galloway cattle which were on the path and needed to be negotiated.

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We skirted them cautiously and thankfully, even with the dogs, they didn’t really show much interest. Even so, we were pleased to get past them without incident.

I managed to drop down into another bog, with my right foot this time. These boots may be for walking, but they are definitely on their last legs!

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By now, were starting to look out for our finishing point at the car park at Rosemergy. We could see some walkers making their way back to a couple of people carriers apparently parked at the road, but felt that we had a few more yards in us and pressed on hoping to get to Long Carn, which, on Hilary’s map, showed as another car park. At this point we crossed our last interesting bridge of the day – beautifully constructed – small but perfectly formed!

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I checked my phone for a signal and was hopeful that I could warn Mike that we had a change of final destination, unfortunately I couldn’t make contact and had to leave a voicemail. We had a sense that the light was starting to fade and with the sun starting to go down we decided to follow a sign for Watch Croft, which we we felt sure would get us to the nearby road.

At this point we pressed on to Long Carn on the road and, once again tried to get hold of Mike without success! So we decided to start walking back towards where we thought we had seen the people carriers parked on the road, thinking this was the other (original) car park. with the sun going down and narrow roads, we felt a little vulnerable on the road, but very soon saw Mike parked in a lay-by. Unaware of our (slight) change of plan he had been coursing the road to and fro, a little further each time, and it was pure chance that we spotted him turning around for his next attempt at finding us. We need to manage our finish points better!

On the drive back to pick Hilary’s car we had to pause and wait for this long line of cattle randomly walking towards us with no apparent supervision in sight!

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Today’s walk was really challenging in a way that others hadn’t been. We think it was a combination of the remoteness of this stretch of the path, the very rocky, uneven surface coupled with the autumnal feel to the air, making the landscape more bleak and desolate in places. But once again we felt a huge sense of achievement by the end and we are hopeful of reaching Lands End on our next walk, via NCI Cape Cornwall!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Day 11 – Car Park 4 (Hell’s Mouth) to St Ives

For the first time since we started out on this adventure the weather was changeable, although still dry. This was hardly surprising, given that we are now well in to Autumn. So we found ‘Car Park 4’ at Hell’s Mouth and the path from it that leads back to the Coast Path, very easily, and started off again.

One of the first things we saw was this dreadful white claggy substance in the water which had been a problem on some beaches earlier in the summer. Thought to be some palm oil residue washing up and dangerous to dogs.

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Then almost immediately we sighted the famous Godrevy Lighthouse and that remained in view for much of the rest of our walk that day.

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Our first sighting of Godrevy

It was at this point that I realised I had not charged my camera, but thankfully Hilary’s was OK and she was able to keep our visual record for the day. I still had my trusty voice recorder.

We were starting to look out for seals early in our walk as this area is known to be home to a family, and very soon we were not disappointed.

P1010274 We were quite high up and really only happened to notice some people looking down on to the beach. What at first appeared to be a rocky beach exposed by the tide going out, as our eyes adjusted, we realised that the beach was gradually coming alive with upwards of 40 seals of varying ages all basking on the rocks.

P1010284 Having set out early to allow ourselves time to find and observe them, we settled down to watch in awe and wonder.

Now and again one or two would waddle on down the beach or across the rocks towards the water’s edge. There always seemed to be at least one in the water on ‘lookout’ like a meercat! A few were frolicking in a largish rock pool having a high old time. P1010280
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We could have stayed all day as it was so awe-inspiring. But we allowed ourselves about 20 minutes just watching and then decided to move on.

As we rounded the top of Godrevy point we got a fabulous view of the Lighthouse which is a popular subject with local artists.

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And a little further on we came to this extraordinary stone stile. The weathering on the stone gave the appearance of a tree trunk riddled with worm! But the indentations were smooth and uneven, and some were quite large.

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Then we embarked on the trek across the beautiful sandy beach from Gwithian down to Hayle. We dropped down on to the beach as soon as we could, and initially we were intrigued to see a swimmer with a dog in tow, trying to attract a couple of seals that were keeping their distance from the water’s edge and the girl. The seals were bobbing about, but never braved a close encounter.

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We weren’t quick enough to capture them on camera!

The first part of the walk along the beach was relatively easy as the sand was nice and firm, but as we neared the far end it got softer and therefore harder to negotiate, although it presented some interesting natural landscapes, almost like a low level mountain-range.

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We estimated the beach to be about 2.5 miles long and so we hoped beyond hope that we would be able to avoid the long route through Hayle to continue on our way, by somehow wading across the Hayle estuary. But it was not to be. As we got closer to the water’s edge of the estuary, even with the tide out, we could see that there was a deep channel which would catch us out if we had attempted it. At this point the sand was really hard-going, soft and wet, so we had probably added to our efforts and distance. Ho-hum!

As we wound our way through Hayle, it proved to be more interesting than we might have expected. It must be a hive of activity when the fishing boats return, judging by the lobster pots stacked up by the quayside.

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There seems to have been a substantial amount of regeneration work to the harbour area and the result it quite attractive, although there’s clearly much more to do. Using some of the dockside space was this massive trailer, with RNLI branding, which looked like it was in readiness for ferrying a Lifeboat, although there were none in sight.

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Finding our way through Hayle we passed some interesting historical landmarks, the first being this swingle bridge which is the oldest with its machinery, left in Britain, and is very wide having been built for the Great Western Railway’s broad guage.

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We were amazed to see a sign that it costs £15 to launch your boat off the slipway here. Although this charge includes parking, we thought this was a bit steep! It was also a surprise to us to find that Hayle considers itself to be the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution.

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It certainly puts up a convincing argument!

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On most of our trek through Hayle the viaduct was visible.

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In the middle of Hayle we were amused to see a huge queue of people at an outlet for Philps pasties, on a Sunday lunchtime in Cornwall. They pride themselves on being ‘Famous pasties from Cornwall’ although we had never heard of them!

The downside of Hayle for us was the approx. 4 miles of road-walking, much of it along the B3301 which was not particularly pleasant and quite hard going despite being a more even surface. We also saw this obviously man-made area which seems to be some kind of flood plain. But so far we have not been able to discover its true purpose – so if you know…..

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As well, we had to cross the busy road at a tricky point, which is not ideal. However eventually we were on the outward leg and passed some bird-watchers looking towards the flats revealed by the low tide. This area is well-known for our feathered friends is and owned and managed by the RSPB. Over 270 species of bird have been recorded in the intertidal flats of the Hayle Estuary. One of the bird-watchers was kind enough to explain some of the winged wildlife we could see : teal, herring gulls, pin tales. Hilary identified a curlew and our bird-watcher commented ‘you never know what you’re gonna see!’.

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Down the western side of the estuary we started to follow the line of the local railway. Hilary identified loads of Old Man’s Beard which apparently is not so evident elsewhere in Cornwall, but which she remembers from her childhood. 

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We also saw this beautiful lilly apparently growing wild by the roadside.

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It was in full bloom and there were others nearby enjoying their habitat, looking equally at home in the wild.

We passed the small local, unmanned stations on route as well as being passed by the two-carriage train which seemed to run a very regular service even on a Sunday.

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Hugging the local railway line between Hayle and St Ives we seemed to cross under and over the railway line at various times.P1010345

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We passed Lelant Bay and then Carbis Bay.

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Carbis Bay

Carbis Bay Hotel seems to have built a special coastal path diversion which takes visitors through the grounds of the hotel, but keeps them away from the guest areas. We felt the diversion had been built especially for us as it was very new and a treat to be allowed to pass so close the their plush facilities.

We also passed this plaque referencing the residence of these artists who had lived in the area. They are both very well-known to the locals and beyond, and it was exciting to get a glimpse of their home at that time.

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We eventually arrived at Porthminster beach on the outskirts of St Ives.

St Ives was a bustle of activity with plenty of visitors and tourists. The weather had been cool and overcast for most of the day but this had not deterred anyone and by the end of the day it was starting to clear and everyone seemed to be enjoying the fine autumn weather.

Our destination was the NCI lookout on ‘the Island ‘ on the far side of St Ives. The lookout was unfortunately closed to visitors that day, so we had to make do with an external only shot.

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NCI St Ives

While we waited for our trusty support driver Mike to find us, I used the last of my camera battery to catch a quick selfie to round off the day.

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After giving the dogs a runaround, we tried to hurry on back to Hilary’s car in time to be able to catch a quick cup of coffee at the lovely Hell’s Mouth café, but we were just too late. Never mind.

We had asked for sponsorship for our walk, to support Countryfile Ramble for BBC Children in Need who were doing various walks that day. Thanks to many of our loyal supporters we have raised around £100 for this fantastic cause. It is still not too late to donate to BBC Children in Need if you would like to.

So we completed 13.5 miles today and felt privileged to have seen the seals, which was a real highlight. We felt this walk was tiring but not tough. The next leg, on the other hand is going to be both tiring and tough!!

However we have managed over 120 miles so far and it has been such fun. Now that the nights are drawing in, I suspect that we will find it to be quite a different experience, not least being able to get through the miles in daylight!

Watch this space!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 10 Trevaunance Cove to Car Park 4! (Nr Hell’s Mouth)

Setting off from Trevaunance Cove we could see that the path has been recently relaid with lovely Cornish granite (we assumed) which made the stretch an easy walk albeit upwards. I recorded that the sea was calm, there was a slight breeze and we could see some paddle-boarders making their way towards Trevaunance.

Almost immediately Hilary spotted this cluster of the delicate Sea Campion.

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Above us we came to St Agnes Head. The next National Coastwatch lookout on our adventure.

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St Agnes Head NCI Lookout

P1010214Watchkeeper on duty was Mike who gave us a warm welcome and a brief tour of the technology available to the watchkeepers and the scope of their view from this spot. Inside the lookout he showed off this remote controlled airplane which had recently been found nearby.

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I wonder whether it has been collected yet?

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St Agnes Head has another interesting collection box!

Our next milestone was Wheal Coates – a fantastic specimen of a mining engine house, well-preserved and popular with visitors.

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The sea along the coast from Chapel Porth towards Porth Towan showed an interestingly uniform pattern at the water’s edge.

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We were hopeful of covering the next distance along the beach with the dogs. However when we dropped down in to Chapel Porth we found we were out of luck. No dogs on the beach until 1 October! The young ladies managing the bookings for the Buntabout Surfing competition were enthusiastic in their support for the beauty of this coastline, even though we could not go on the beach with the dogs.

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We made our way up and out of Chapel Porth and as we looked down on the beautiful stretch of sandy beach we noticed that, in fact, there were dogs on the beach down there, so maybe we could have had our beach walk after all. Never mind. On my voice recording I commented on the long stretches of the low lying gorse and last knockings of the heather in flower. We passed huge stretches of it on our walk this time.

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The next milestone was Porth Towan and as we made our way up and away from the beach we spied this unfortunate casualty by the side of the track.

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We identified it as a young cormorant, but it may have been a shag, which would be a more unusual finding.

Next we came across this strange ‘chimney’ which seemed out of character with the other mining evidence in the area.

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Beyond this we came to a small sandy cove referred to as Sally’s Bottom. There are a few ‘bottoms’  in this area, Sally’s Bottom is a reference to Sally’s Mine which lay inland from the cove, although there is little evidence now remaining. We reached her via a number of steps and counted 54 steps back up away from the cove. There were a number of occasions today when those pesky contour lines gave us a real workout! It was getting on for the difficulty rating of Day 1, although nothing has quite come close to that yet.

As we skirted the Airfield at Nancekuke Common we passed a bank of the ‘thug’ Montbretia which was past its best but must have been spectacular in full bloom.

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Periodically we would pass another ‘Bat Castle’ or two (see Day 9). Continuing evidence of the amount of mining heritage in the area.

Portreath gave us the impression of serious investment going on in the form of extensive new build work recently completed and ongoing. Although the same could not be said of this disused hut that we had passed on the outskirts of Nancekuke Common.

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We thought that it would be stretching the imagination to see this as a possible NCI lookout of the future, however usefully positioned!

Porttreath gave us a bit of a headache finding our way through it and back out again. Thank goodness for Hilary’s book describing the route!

Leading up to Portreath, and walking onwards away from it, we kept getting glimpses of a strange ‘bubble’ structure on the edge of the aforementioned airfield, which was being given a coat of paint from a versatile cherry-picker which was being manoevered around the ‘bubble’. Initially we had difficulty deciding whether it was being painted green from white or the other way around. Eventually the ‘green’ colour was completely covered and the white camoflage resulted in the ‘bubble’ almost completely blending in to the background sky.

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This beautiful waterfall revealed itself around Ralph’s Cupboard!

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And the path leading towards the cove by Samphire Island was a great example of the Coast Path at its best.

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Samphire Island – the nearer ‘lump’ appears to be joined to the mainland. We decided that the smaller further chunk is the actual island.

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Samphire Island

We saw 3 seals from the cliff top here and met a lad who said he had been paddling in the shadows amongst 10s of them that morning. Unfortunately we weren’t quick enough off the mark to get any photos. Next time!

Our plan was to meet support man, Mike, somewhere soon to pick up Danny the dog and Sophie, who would not have coped with the full walk. Along the next stretch there seemed to be about 4 different car parks according to the map, and we identified the car parks as 1,2,3 & 4. So we met Mike at car park 1, picked up the dogs and trundled on the couple of kilometers until we finally finished our walk at car park 4, just above Hell’s Mouth. There was a little potential for missing each other as Hilary’s book had one more car park on this stretch than my OS map. However we kept our eyes open and successfully met up. Even in that short stretch, Danny had managed to immerse himself in the smallest muddy puddle, in an attempt to cool himself down. What a mess!

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Danny wallowing!

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Thank goodness we had time for a fantastic ice cream and drink at lovely Hell’s Mouth Cafe, which gave Danny time to dry off before the journey home.

Once again, just over 13 miles covered and during this walk we had passed the magic 100 mile point since the start of our adventure, probably around Portreath. Well done us! Next time we are hoping to get as far as St Ives, where we will hopefully visit our next NCI lookout.

On Sunday 11 October we are going to participate in the

Countryfile Ramble for BBC Children in Need

and dedicate our day of walking the coast path to raising money for this worthy cause. We hope that all our loyal followers will support us by using the link to the web site where you can find out more about their venture and how to pay your sponsorship money.