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 ..


…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.


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 ….


….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.


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.


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.


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.


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


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.


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!


Day 27 – Gorran Haven to Charlestown

Before setting off we recorded our prompt start with the photo we forgot to get on our last walk. This time there was no need for a selfie as our trusty support driver could do the honours before leaving us to it on beautiful secluded Gorran Haven beach with its inviting cafe.


There was a little bit of road walking up out of Gorran Haven and over a style into a field full of sheep. Many of the ewes had clearly been covered by the ram judging by their yellow markings.


The brief sunlight on the water caught my eye.


Just before reaching Chapel Point we passed a small plaque marking the spot as Bodrugan’s Leap, followed by these beautiful cairns on Colona Beach.

Our first landmark of note, Chapel Point, is the location of 3 houses all designed by John Campbell using stone taken from the area.


The 3 remarkable properties on Chapel Point.

Shortly afterwards we ‘hit the road’ for a bit down in to Portmellon….


… where these remnants of tracks going down to shore at Portmellon have been left for posterity to remind us of when Lifeboats used to launch from here.

Portmellon has almost now merged with Mevagissey. The join is seamless! So we worked our way through the streets of both towns, past Mevagissey harbour…

…with its excellent fish and chips cabin, the shops and museum, and up through the lanes back out of the town.

From here on, our way started to be tougher – we hadn’t really noticed the increasingly close contour lines! – leading to challenging ups and downs. Little did we know what was ahead of us- starting with the 89 steps up out Mevagissey.

A slight lull in the going saw us heading towards Pentewan campsite and beach at around 11.45. I had visited it less than a month ago and it was much emptier now that the schools are back.


Along the path adjacent to the road to Pentewan we passed this clump of Himalayan Balsam (thanks to Hilary’s expert knowledge!).


Not unattractive, unfortunately it is another invasive thug of a species similar to the Japanese Knotweed everyone is familiar with.

Coming up out of Pentewan we passed its curious little church..


..with opposite, this hidden little monument – we think the inscription must be Cornish….

…marking the Millenium.

After a very steep walk up out of Pentewan, and past this very dilapidated signpost..


…we stopped briefly for a picnic lunch by a maize field. Just as we were galvanising ourselves to continue on our way, a couple came towards us looking dead on their feet having just come from Charlestown. They had just about enough breath to describe the terrain facing us that they had just negotiated, filling us with dread when they talked about the 168 steps that we would have to climb on our route.

Of course all their ‘ups’ would be our ‘downs’ the first of which proved to be 109 steps down. Manageable – but of course we knew what that meant!

The first serious up which we counted to be 51 steps, seemed insignificant. Was it all going to be this easy after all?

Through a short stretch of pine trees we saw these amazing pine cones on the trees.

Glancing down to the water we could see a group of black and white birds basking on the rocks. They were pretty motionless and with the sunlight reflecting on them it was difficult to tell whether the ‘white’ was just the reflected sunlight or their actual colouring.

Hilary speculated that they might be Oyster Catchers….


…and some subsequent detective work has supported this view.


From here to Black Head we met some of the steep terraine we had been warned about.


We counted 107 steps on this’up’.

This was followed by some serious woodland walking, with 93 steps down to the bottom.

Coming up out of Hallane was the next ascent.


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Counting steps had now become a crucial part of our progress!

At Black Head this huge granite monument to A.L.Rowse stands in recognition of his contribution to our literary landscape.


Coming away from Black Head we were very soon faced with what looked to be our most challenging ‘up’ today. And we had been thinking the worst was over!



To reach the ‘up’ we first had a ‘down’ of 166 steps, our longest so far.

And now for that ‘up’ – although a mere 90 steps – it was an absolute killer!

At Porthpean beach there were lots of people enjoying beautiful conditions. The 93 proper steps up from the beach caught us unawares and just added insult to injury!

This 2nd World War lookout just above the beach can still be climbed today (although not quite the way this young lad was tackling it!) and is in relatively good condition. We took a quick detour to the top and enjoyed the view, which these days is probably not as extensive due to the trees and shrubs blocking some of the vista.


This sign marks the site of the Criniss Cliff Battery. A small gate leads in to the area, although we did not explore it today as we were so close to our destination at Charlestown.


Reaching Charlestown at around 3pm Hilary treated us to delicious Kelly’s ice creams. So it seemed the right moment for today’s selfie!


Our final destination in Charlestown was the NCI lookout just on the eastern headland..

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…and just as we reached it we also found our support driver waiting for us nearby. Well over 10 miles covered, although it had seemed longer with all those steps!



Day 26 – Nare Head to Gorran Haven

At last our support driver was back in the driver’s seat so we made a prompt start at 9.45, with the weather clear and the sea looking beautiful and calm with no wind.


From the start the path had been cleared by lots of strimming and this can make quite a difference because you can see where you are stepping and the damp undergrowth can’t make your gear all wet! In the distance we could see our destination – Dodman Point.


However the conditions started to deteriorate and very soon we were walking through rain – or possibly the clouds? Although it wasn’t cold and there was little wind. Also, unusually, there was absolutely no activity out at sea.

Just 1 hour in and we had reached Portloe which purports to be the prettiest most unspoilt harbour in the whole of the  British Isles. It certainly seemed to live up to this accolade.

A lone fisherman was making his way out.


Looking for waymarkers to find our way out of Portloe, we were amused to see this helpful sign – spot the (deliberate!?) mistake :


The more observant amongst you will notice that the acorn is upside down!

Soon we came across this possible old coastguard lookout. There were remnants of an old stone structure nearby which may have been the lookout referred to in Hilary’s book. However this wooden ‘shed’ is clearly not currently in use although the poster suggested it might have served as Portloe’s Pop up refreshments cafe – it’s definitely seen better days


Compared to some of our walks, this one did prove to be quite challenging with lots of steep terrain. But we seasoned walkers took it all in our stride! And by 11.20 we reckoned to be about half way to Dodman Point.

Towards Portholland we came across a poster declaring the area to be a Japanese Knotweed control site. We could certainly see some patches around and then as we reached West Portholland we passed this huge clump of it right on the beach.


East Portholland was very different from West. The sea was rougher, the beach much bigger and some repair work has been done where the area seems to have suffered in the dreadful storms.

Just off the path between East Portholland and Caerhays Castle we came across this really well-preserved old Coastguard lookout. It is now used for weddings with confetti still on the ground here and there.

Just a few minutes further, after a bit of road walking,  Caerhays Castle came in to view, looking spectacular. We got the impression that it might be used for wedding receptions after the weddings having taken place at the previously mentioned disused Coastguard lookout. Even in the rain it was impossible not to be impressed.

Porthluney Cove sits just below the castle and is in a beautiful setting. Lovely though it is, we struggled up the 133 steps from the cove on to the Dodman – our toughest challenge today.



The beautiful view from the Dodman back towards our start point.

For much of our walk we had been able to see this enormous cross on Dodman Point in the distance without realising what we were seeing.

Because we had made good progress through the day we decided to press on towards Gorran Haven – with the benefit of our trusty support driver we had the flexibility to make this late change to our plans.

The dogs took advantage of this trough – wallowing in the water to help cool themselves off.

Later we had to back track to the trough after Zymba had rolled in something dubious and we needed to clean her off!

We reached Gorran Haven car park at 3.25 still beating the support vehicle by a few minutes despite backtracking to clean off the smelly dog!

After well over 11 miles and in the car on the way home we realised we had forgotten our selfie!!!!  Next time!

Day 25 – Head to Head!

Otherwise known as St Anthony Head to Nare Head.

We set off from St Anthony Head at 9.45 – our earliest start yet. We’d struggled to even find the car park at our end point at Nare Head, because the signposting was a bit intermittent, and then we’d had trouble navigating  back to St Anthony Head. So it was quite a surprise to be setting off so promptly.

Passing above Porthbeor and along Towan beaches we felt very lucky to be walking again along these particularly beautiful beaches, both looking their best with the tide out.

This wooden post just before we dropped down onto Towan beach is known as the Wreck Post used by the coastguard in the past as a replica ship’s mast for training. Find out more here Wreck Post.



And the weather was turning peachy!

After Towan the path was steady walking with good views of the sparkling sea. The going was very dry underfoot and the way had been strimmed clear in places.  We made good progress.

The land towards Portscatho was covered in acres of young tree plantings. What seemed to be blackthorn, mountain ash and oak, to name a few that we could identify, were just saplings with bark protection. There must be an initiative in the area to restock these types of tree, however I haven’t managed to find out anything about it.

Coming in to Portscatho at around 11.30..

..we were greeted by these wonderfully pungent wild garlic flowers..



.. as well as these lush Agapanthus.

The path continues on past a lovely ‘wild’ flower garden.

This monument, named the Burma Star is ‘Dedicated to 26,380 men killed in the Burma war 1942 – 45 who have no known grave being denied the rights according to their comrades in death they died for all free men’.DSCF5156

Small but perfectly formed!

At just on mid-day we arrived at the tiny NCI Portscatho lookout …

…where watchkeeper on duty, John, was very welcoming, informative and interesting. We felt he must be a great asset to his lookout and the National Coastwatch organisation.

Just at the end of Porthbean beach was this pretty waterfall.


At lunch time the weather turned really hot and we were glad of the lovely sea breeze.

We reached Carne beach at 1.15, where the signpost suggested we had just 1.5 miles to our destination at Nare Head and sure enough we made good time passing the National Trust marker at about 2.15pm


and reaching the Nare Head car park about half an hour later.


A steady walk, by no means our toughest, completing well over 9.5 miles this time.

Day 24 – Falmouth Quay to Place and St Anthony Head


Having finished at Falmouth Quay at the end of our last stretch we had decided to have a day out riding the Falmouth Ferries in order to end up at the start point for our next walking day across the water at St Anthony Head.

Hilary had taken on the challenge of working out the best combination of timetables for the ferries, buses and trains so that we would travel as far as we could up river and down again in the day and ensuring that we had also included the ferry crossing to Place which we would need to use to continue the short distance to St Anthony Head.

So starting with the  10.05 ferry out of St Mawes


– having had extra breakfast sustainance! – we enjoyed the ride to Falmouth and then on towards Truro. Because of the tide times, the ferry would only be able to take us as far as Malpas, where they lay on a bus for the ferry passengers, to reach Truro.

This would be our longest ferry trip of the day and because we were the first passengers on board, the ferrymen seemed to take a shine to us and made a special effort to do a brilliant commentary which we thoroughly enjoyed.


Although the weather was generally good, we went through a spell of drizzle which sent all the other passengers scurrying down below for cover. However we determindely sat it out on the open deck and between waterproofs and brollies, continued the journey without getting too damp! The rain passed and the sun came out and we soon dried off. One of the stops on the River Fal is at Trelissick from where you can see the King Harry Ferry crossing.


This is a popular stop with tourists visiting the National Trust Trelissick Estate.

Along this part of the river native scrub oaks line the river banks on both sides, and you can see the evidence of the incredibly high tides that occur in this area – apparently the tide can rise and fall by as much as 19 foot.

Beyond the King Harry Ferry, our ferry continued on along the River Truro and we passed the Tregonian estate which, we were told, is the only place in the British Isles with the right climate for growing tea – and we could see the tea plantations in the fields around and about.

Picking up the connecting bus from Malpas we arrived in Truro and did a bit of a route march to Truro station (about 10 minutes) where we arrived well in time for the 12.20 Maritime Line train back to Falmouth.

Arriving back in Falmouth we made our way to the Prince of Wales Pier from where we planned to catch the ferry back to St Mawes and then on to Place. The Prince of Wales pier proved to be a much longer walk along the main drag in Falmouth than we were expecting. This caught us on the hop a bit when we were trying to get a bit of lunch using some vouchers from Rowes Bakers, but in the end we managed to grab a scrumptious pasty and roll followed by double chocolate muffins along with hot drinks and just about made the 2pm ferry to St Mawes.

Here we pottered around waiting for the tiny ferry to Place.


From Place we walked around to St Anthony Head where we finished our lunch. We arrived at the lighthouse at about 3pm …


..taking care to prepare ourselves for a possible fog warning!!


Thank goodness there were no signs of fog today.

After nosing around the St Anthony Battery..


… we made sure we knew where the car park is situated for the start of our next day’s walking and then walked back to Place where the ferry was just pulling in as we got to quay.

We got back to the car at about 4.30pm having had a brilliant day out using the very convenient FalRiver Mussel card and all ready for being back on the (walking) road next time.

Day 23 – Durgan to Falmouth Quay

We were hopeful for good weather as we parked up at the Durgan Car Park. The previous day had been one of the most ‘mizzley’ either of us could ever remember. Drizzle and cool mist hadn’t lifted all day and one could be forgiven for feeling hard done by on that mid summer’s day.

Today, however, was looking up and our plan was to get down to the shoreline from Durgan car park, so we could honestly say that we had covered the full Coast Path.

This interesting ‘dunny’ in Durgan caught our eye just as we set off at 10.25am. We weren’t sure whether it is actually still in use!


As we looked back towards the Helford Passage we could see this collection of yachts at their moorings. Presumably yesterday’s weather had been so bad that no-one had sailed off and they were all still there today. However it was still looking as spectacular as last time.

Much of the next stretch is through light woodland with dappled shade, from where we could still see the glistening waters of the Helford River.

At around 12 we were coming in to Maenporth where there were a few people on this lovely sandy beach. The wind was getting up but this didn’t seem to deter a few hardy souls braving the sea, and there was still plenty of warmth in the sun when it broke through. This funny cafe name gave us a smile.


For most of our walk we could see this bulk carrier moored out in the bay.

There were not too many highlights on our walk this time, but this sign intrigued us as we continued on through another woodland section.

As we approached Swanpool the wind really whipped up and on the outskirts of Falmouth we could see Pendennis Castle in the distance.


We reached Queen Mary gardens at 1pm and continued on along the main drag towards Falmouth proper. On the road there is this curious miniature gatehouse which you walk under as it lies across the pedestrian footpath. It seems too small to serve any practical purpose but it is perfectly formed!


Reaching the car at Pendennis Point this elegant cruiser could still be seen in the bay – it seems to have been there all day – perhaps it is a floating advertisement for Pendennis luxury yachts which are made in the nearby docklands area.


We pressed on past Falmouth Docks heading towards the quayside from where we would pick up the ferry across to St Maws and then Place, next time….

…and we chose this spot for our selfie, with the RFA Cardigan Bay in the background.


A really helpful lady at Custom House Quay gave us lots of useful information regarding the various ferries, costs, times etc. So armed with timetables, leaflets and local maps, our plan is to have a jolly day out taking in as many of the Falmouth ferries as possible including the ones that connect us to the next bit of the Coast Path. So when we start walking again we only have to go from the ferry stop at Place on the other side.

At 3.10pm we were back at Pendennis Car Park ready to retrace our convoluted route back to Durgan and the other car. Another successful day having done well over 11.5 miles including our various extra bits.



Day 22 – Porthoustock to Durgan

We set off at about 10am from Porthoustock on a dull and gloomy morning but hopeful that the weather could only improve. Interestingly, even though Porthoustock does not seem to have a lot going for it, we, nonetheless loved these pretty thatched cottages at the beginning of our walk which were beautifully garlanded by climbing roses.


From Porthoustock the Coast Path took us inland away from the sea, along local roads and across country for a bit. We passed a vineyard which we determined must be making cider given the apple orchards and the signs we saw celebrating cider apples.

As the coast path rejoined the sea at Porthwallow the sun started to break through and we both felt that we were overdressed for the conditions, but whereas I was wearing layers and could strip down a bit, Hilary had to press on regardless. It’s always difficult to know what layers to wear when the temperature has been so unpredictable. Still, we could see the sea at last and everything was looking brighter.

Hilary’s book informed us that locally Porthallow is pronounced P’raalla, which made us wonder whether Porthoustock is known as P’roustock.

We came across these funny little yellow flowers which we couldn’t identify.


They were a little past their best, but maybe someone out there has an idea of what they might be.

In Porthallow the local pub, The Five Pilchard Inn, has these paint samples on the side as if they are looking for input from the locals as to what colour to repaint it.

DSCF5009It’ll be interesting to see what colour they go for. Hopefully not the pink!

In P’raalla there is a striking monument marking this place as being the mid point of the whole of the South West Coast Path.

Not strictly relevant to us, but worthy of a mention as it is so beautiful.

As we rose up and away from P’raalla the blue sky cleared and we started to feel how mild it had become and how overdressed we both were!

At around 10.45 with the sun breaking through the heady scent from the meadowsweet was all around us and the sea was looking more like the Mediterranean.

From here to Nare Point which we reached at around 11.30 we enjoyed beautiful sea views and easy walking.

We popped in to the NCI lookout at Nare Point and spent a few minutes chatting to James the watchkeeper on duty. NCI Nare Point is normally a two man watch, but they are short of watchkeepers at the moment and so carry out single man watches. It is probably one of the lowest lying lookouts that we have visited on our walks.


Reaching Gillan Harbour we started to look out for the stepping stones which we believed to be our way across to St Anthony in Meneage. In fact the signposts directed us across at the appropriate place and because the tide was out, we could see the stepping stones which marked our way. Unfortunately they looked too slippery to be safe to use, so we doffed walking boots and socks, rolled trousers up and waded across through seaweeed and rocks to the other side. What an adventure!

Beady-eyed Hilary spotted hundreds of these weird tiny (each about 3mm) blue/grey organisms in one of the rockpools. They were moving around in a mass within the confines of the little puddles.


They turn out to be Seashore springtail.

St Anthony in Meneage is a pretty, isolated little village where sailing seems to be a very popular past-time. There were plenty of vessels being cleaned up ready for the summer season.

We were a bit confused by the following signeage.

We opted for the Dennis Head loop but it proved to be just that – a loop! Following a maze-like path with no views, before long we found ourselves back at the beginning again and none the wiser. Hilary’s book informed us that we should have discovered a prehistoric earthwork with a square royalist fortification with gun emplacements at the corners, making the loop worth the extra effort. Chuckling at our obvious lack of observation skills, we put it down to experience and pressed on.

From here on we lost our view of the sea and at 1pm through fields and woodland we headed for Helford and the car.

Just coming into Helford we passed this little collection of bottles and shells which have been gathered together, presumably from the seashore and have been put imaginatively on display in the hope of making a few pence from passers by.


We arrived at the car park at Helford at 1.45pm. Our plan was to take a return ferry crossing so that the start of our next walk would be the north side of the Helford River. At Helford we waited with others for the little ferry which crosses to and fro – beckoned by the big orange marker which calls it from the other side.


It’s only a few minutes on the ferry, but great fun.

Because we were so early we checked out the map and decided to walk on a bit on the other side until we reached Durgan where there is a car park for next time.

At Durgan we rested a bit waiting for our hot drinks to cool down and enjoyed the sunshine. It’s not far to Durgan, but with the ferry crossing as well we added nearly 2 miles to our day and altogether clocked up about 10.5 miles.

At 3.55 we were back on the ferry to Helford and home.


The day had become sparkling and clear showing the Helford River at its absolute best.