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!