Day 30 – Whitsand Bay Hotel to Cremyll

This was to be our last day of walking the Cornish leg of the South West Coast Path and we managed our earliest start ever at 9am. Whitsand Bay Hotel was looking beautiful in the fresh morning light…

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…as was the sea and the coastline…

…with Rame Head in the distance – a well-known local landmark which we would reach about halfway along our walk today

The air was fresh with dew on the ground and the sun glistening on the water.

From Whitsand Bay the path took us alongside the golf course and we just managed to avoid a golf ball in the rough which was being eagerly saught by a hapless golfer. We moved along smartly before he could accuse us of disturbing it!

This odd flock of sheep caught our eye because of their motley collection of mis-shaped horns.

There was a sharp northerly wind as we crossed fields which are sometimes used as a practice firing range at Tregantle – although not today.

 

Beyond Tregantle and this very informative noticeboard drew our attention to the wildlife of the area…

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.. as the path now took us along the road for quite a bit, walking through Freathy and Tregonhawke. We kept catching glimpses of an off road path below us but there were numerous signs warning of the path being unstable and should only be used at our own risk etc. So we erred on the side of caution and continued along the road until directed otherwise. Locals must be using  some bits of the path to access the many chalets which are dotted all along the cliff edge above Whitsand Bay which stretches for about 5 miles.

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Back on the path at last and we passed this pretty Campion still in flower :

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Right on the path about half way between Tregonhawke and Rame Head this solidly built, but incredibly run down, building is a bit of an eye-sore! We were curious as to its origins.

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At around 11.15 with the tide in and some real warmth from the sun, the sea was looking calm and benign. We were nearly at Polhawn Fort – well known in the area as a venue for weddings and events. I’ve used a library photo here as it’s almost impossible to get decent shots of it from the coast path .

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Looking back along the bay the sunlight was playing on the bracken which, in its autumn colours, appeared brilliant orange. Unfortunately my photos don’t reflect the glorious burnt sienna tones that I was trying to capture.

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Although the views back across the bay were impressive.

Reaching Rame Head at about 11.45 we pressed smartly on with the NCI lookout above us on our left..

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and the chapel on our right ..

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The path was mercifully dry and easygoing and we reached Penlee Point at 12.25.

From Penlee Point to Cawsand there is a long woody section and we found ourselves accompanied by the rustling sound of the autumn leaf fall underfoot. This small poignant memorial was discretely leaning against a tree by the side of the path.

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Cawsand was looking clean, bright and fresh on this beautiful day – although it was much more windy on this side of the Rame Peninsula and this intrepid sailer was trying to make their way out from the beach at Cawsand, with some difficulty.

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This mosaic in Cawsand shows a tiny representation of the awful impact that Man makes to the waters around our coastlines.

And this marker on one of the buildings in the town shows where the border between Devon and Cornwall used to lie in the town of Cawsand itself.

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Approaching the Mount Edgcombe estate another woodland stretch was marked by the numerous fallen trees and scrub…

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..forcing the path to be diverted in places.

Reaching the more landscaped areas of the Mount Edgcombe Country Park we passed these various ‘follies’ which are very well-maintained and proved a popular attraction on this lovely autumn day.

 

We were well inside the Plymouth Sound by now where there were many little sails as well as a huge warship.

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The last stretch of the path took us alongside this pretty landscaped lake and through the gardens past their beautiful fountain which was sparkling in the sunlight.

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Finally we reached Cremyll at about 2.30pm where we celebrated with hot drinks from the garden cafe while we waited for our pick up.

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Over 13 miles today making our total for all the walks over 300 miles.

So after 30 walks and 300 miles we are hanging up our boots for a while as we work out what our next ‘challenge’ is going to be. Millie and Zymba are perhaps breathing a sigh of relief – as for every one of our miles they have probably bounded at least 3 times as far! but they have certainly added to our adventures along the way.

And what an excellent adventure it has certainly been!

We have had such fun, and been stronger and more determined than I think we realised we would have to be. For the most part we have had spectacular weather and seen such beautiful scenery that it would be impossible to do it justice in these bloggs. We have discovered hidden gems of coves and harbours which only the locals are lucky enough to enjoy.  And we have shared ups and downs throughout that have been a special pleasure to me and I hope Hilary as well which we could not have anticipated when we first started out. It is going to be difficult to match the huge unadulterated joy that we have experienced, with whatever exploits come next.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 29 -Lizzen (Lansallos) to Whitsand Bay Hotel

With another early start at 9.15 amongst some sheep being herded past alongside us as we donned walking boots, we found our start point (with no help from my poor directions!) and set off on another beautiful morning to walk the 3/4 mile or so from nearby Lansallos, back to the Coast Path, where we had branched off at the end of our last walk.

By 9.30am we were back on track and quickly reached this day mark..

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..referencing the bell buoy out at sea marking the Udder Rock which is exposed at low tide.

This day mark lies on a really steep stretch and, including the steps below it, we counted 100 steps from the day mark up – a pretty tough call so early in the walk.

With the few steps down in between there were 92 mean steps further up. It felt like (literally) 2 steps up and 1 step down along this stretch. Then at Raphael Cliff a hefty 159 steps took us down again – although these steps were placed at really comfortable intervals so we made short work of them. Those contour lines certainly worked us hard along here and we hadn’t really got going!

At Chapel (pronounced Chaypel) Point we took a short diversion reaching this odd little shed which looked out to sea, but served no other discernable purpose.

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Reaching the outskirts of Polperro at 10.40 we came across the restored Net Loft…

..which has long been a local landmark. On our last walk we had considered trying to reach Polperro , but we now realised that would have been way too optimistic, given how challenging these few miles had been.

Polperro is a pretty little fishing harbour and we felt very much on familiar territory as we have both walked this bit of the coast at various times.

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Making sure not to take the Reubens Walk path, named after a popular local who loved to walk these parts, we soon came to the diversion which takes you inland away from a badly damaged stretch of the path. This involves a really steep road down in to Talland and we couldn’t decide which direction would be worse to walk this, given how steep it was.

Beyond Talland the going became dry and easygoing, so we pressed on at a fair old rate of knots reaching the Hore Stone at 11.55.

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Hore Stone with Looe Island in the background (library picture).

It’s quite steep going after the Hore Stone, but with Looe Island now in our sights and Hannafore and even Seaton beyond, we moved smartly on.

 

The tide was well out at Hannafore and the view of the island was peachy on this beautiful day.

Passing the popular statue of Nelson, the seal who regularly used to swim up the Looe River…

… we crossed Looe Bridge at just on 1pm.

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On Looe beach the sea was so calm and inviting there were people enjoying a swim, without wet suites! and after 145 killer steps up from Looe beach, which looked amazing today..

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..we made our way on through Plaidy which took us on the road for a bit.

On reaching Millendreath at 1.30pm or so we were pleasantly surprised by its appearance. It used to look quite drab and run down, but  now it’s had a bit of a face lift and looks lovely compared to what it used to be.

This novel charity collection point on the way up out of Millendreath caught my eye!

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Then the path continues inland through a pretty woodland avoiding the Monkey Sanctuary.

At this point, as Seaton came in to view..

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..I made the rather reckless decision to extend the end point of our walk. Our original finish point had been Downderry, only about 1 mile on from Seaton and which we were likely to reach at about 3pm. So without even consulting Hilary, I phoned ahead and instructed our support vehicle to meet us at Whistand Bay Hotel instead.

Almost as soon as I had made this decision the path started to play tricks on us by turning East to West, ie. the wrong direction, I assume to graduate what would otherwise have been very steep . Nevertheless it was unnerving walking with the sea on our left and apparently away from our destination. Thankfully these couple of stretches were few and very soon we had the sea on our right again as it should be. Hilary found this whole thing rather amusing because not long before I had been moaning about how tired I was! But we had been talking about how far we still had to go to finish the whole of the Cornish part of the Coast Path and it was looking hopeful that we would be able to complete it in just one more day, so I was keen to get some more miles behind us if we had the time.

 

We made quick work of the walk along the beach from Seaton to Downderry, but curiously, from Downderry onwards we shared the path with this motley collection of sheep which seemed bemused by us interlopers.

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From here on we kept getting glimpses of Plymouth in the distance which was both reassuring but also tinged with sadness, as that definitely means we are nearly at the end of this adventure.

 

On reaching the outskirts of Portwrinkle we just had to find our way through the back streets to the hotel where we were greeted by very welcome cool drinks and our lift home.

Well over 16 miles again and the end of another beautiful day. We’re going to miss this!

 

 

 

 

 

Day 28 – Charlestown to East Coombe

This was really a walk of two halves with most of my record of the walk, photos and recordings, occurring between our start at Charlestown and the ferry quay at Fowey. From Polruan to the end I think we were distracted by events and so I took few photos of that stretch and recorded little of our progress.

We had a world record start time of 9.15am as we are so much closer to home. We had finished the last walk by exploring the NCI lookout ..

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…and visitor centre, so we headed straight off.

The day started beautifully warm as we worked our way through the Carlyon Bay complex. This involves the hotel itself with the golf course and beach facilities (if you can call them that).

It’s difficult to tell what’s happening on the beach. It’s a beautiful stretch of golden sands marred by abandoned containers, areas cordoned off by Herris fencing and half finished brick walls.

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It’s well-known that there has been huge controversy about the Carlyon Bay development over the years which has delayed the plans for some sort of sophisticated hotel and leisure park all along this beach. The Carlyon Bay web site implies that it is much further ahead than the reality suggests. We were surprised that the nearby car park would give people easy access to the beach which is just an eyesore at the moment.

The coast path takes you right alongside, in and out of, the Carlyon Bay golf course ( which looks like a good course – but what do we know!) and continues right up to the start of the old china clay workings in Par.

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A sharp left at Spit Point at 10am, and with the china clay works on our right, we continued along an enclosed tarmac footpath around the works with the  railway on our left. The works seem to have been left to go to rack and ruin – they are a pretty dismal sight.

Once in Par we came out on to the road trying to find our way through the back streets ….

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….looking out for ‘house no 52’ where we would turn right to get off the road again. This became a bit of a trial as we ended up on the wrong road through Par and had to back-track when we realised we had missed our turn.

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The path from house No 52!

Eventually we found our way through the dunes at the back of Par beach which is also not the most inspiring stretch of sand…

 

… with an overwhelming drone in the background coming from the works, now behind us, where loads of smoke was billowing out of one of the chimneys – not a very inviting scene.

As we crossed the sands the grey sky darkened and we could see a squall heading our way. It blew past drenching us in just a few minutes. In typical English weather fashion, it was there and gone and once the clouds cleared it was followed by blue skies and a beautiful rainbow.

Thank goodness for Hilary’s book today – it was only with its help that we had managed to negotiate the ins and outs of Par.

Now back on the path away from Par we saw this intrepid fisherman on the rocks just off the coast path on the far side of Par sands.

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By 11.15 we were above the hidden gem that is Polkerris…

…and after a short woodland walk with 115 steps going down in to the village we then encountered more steps and a very steep path up through some woods and out of Polkerris.

Heading in to Autumn in places we were surrounded with colour from berries rather than flowers. Even Zymba was tempted to try!

Just at the outcrop called Little Gribbin we caught our first glimpse of the very distinctive daymark on well known Gribbin Head.

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Following this we headed towards Poldridmouth Cove at Menabilly which we approached on a very civilised short stretch of board walk. It’s a pretty setting where Poldridmouth Beach house can be seen which is one of the author Daphne du Maurier’s favourite settings.

After Menabilly we came across a field of cattle with loads of young and we weren’t sure how they would react to the dogs, so just to be on the safe side, we cut inland through Coombe and rejoined the coast path just before reaching Readymoney beach at a little woody section on the outskirts of Fowey, just at the sign for St Catherine’s Castle.

We reached Readymoney beach at 1.25pm and from here we knew it would be a short spell to the road as we headed in to Fowey town to catch the ferry to Polruan. We had a little further to go than expected as, at this time of year in the off season, the ferry goes from the Town Quay and not its summer departure point at the Whitehouse slipway. However as we reached the Town Quay the ferry was just arriving so our timing was good and we hopped aboard.

The ferry crossing only takes a few minutes and we were soon wending our way up out of Polruan,  with the help of this very clear marker showing our path through the town.

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Stopping in at NCI Polruan for a brief visit before pressing on, the day was now bright and beautiful and the lookout was very warm for the watchkeeper who had an amazing view out over Polruan and the Fowey harbours.

Blackbottle Rock stands out as a major landmark in the area.

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And it’s not difficult to see which way the wind blows around these parts!

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At the far side of Lantic Bay at the ‘neck’ of  Pencarrow Head we were hugely grateful to ‘Martha’ whose bench gave us a place to rest while we caught our breath after negotiating the really steep slope up to this point. Thankfully it hadn’t been steps as these can often make the going far harder.

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At this point the Coast Path was not obviously signed so we walked out on to Pencarrow Head for a short distance and then cut down to rejoin the path on the far side.

At about 3.30pm we passed the path signed for Lansallos and pressed on to our agreed destination at East Coombe, although we knew we were running a bit late by now.

The path up to East Coombe is signposted from the Coast Path, but our attempts at finding our way to meet our support driver became fraught with obstacles. The path took us through another field of cattle which we weren’t happy about so we attempted a detour which proved trickier than it first looked. Skirting a field being ploughed (probably trespassing!), slipping and sliding down a scrubby stream, clambering over fencing and traipsing over farmland to get back onto a decent track – we ended up slightly off target, but managed to meet up nonetheless.

At over 16.5 miles this was our longest walk to date, but we felt very grateful to arrive intact and well on the way to completing our stated objective! We calculate just 2 more days of walking to the finish – and then what are we going to do!