SWCP #31b, 32, 33a Penzance to Predannack Wallas

When planning this walk, I began to ask myself whether it was worth the hassle. Could I justify dragging people out to the end of Cornwall to traipse along the coast path, come what may? I was constantly reviewing weather reports, monitoring other people’s comments, trying to find accommodation and checking transport options, and in the end, I pulled it all together, along with the usual suspects RS, LN and JC for us to do probably the toughest, most awful yet most memorable walk to date. I now refer to it as the walk of horrors, and from this day on, my weather understanding and walk planning has been totally revised.

It went something like this:

IMG_20190928_102932

Date 28/29th September 2019

  • Start: Penzance, Cornwall
  • Finish: Predannack Wallas, Cornwall
  • Mileage: 24 m
  • Guide book timing: 10ish hr
  • Actual timing: 10 ish
  • Grading: easy to strenuous to moderate,
  • Weather: 14 deg, heavy rain, strong winds, then sunshine and clouds
  • Walkers: me, RS, LN, JC
  • Miles to date: 298 m

We started in Porthleven, bought provisions from Philps pasties, chatted to this beautiful feline and then got the bus to Penzance, from where we would walk back to Porthleven. If memory serves, the busdriver made a comment about the weather, which we chose to ignore, whilst handing over a small mortgage to travel less than 10 miles…

IMG_20190928_140633

From Penzance to Marazion, was a very easy stroll with St Micheal’s mount in view. The rain was due to arrive at about 3pm, if I remember right, when I thought we would have an hour to go. It came early. and it poured and poured and poured. And then it stopped for a bit, slowing to a drizzle and then the heavens opened again, and it came at us from every angle, wetting every single item of clothing. We walked in silence, in secret (or not so secret) disdain for the planner of this walk) for making us do such a thing. Our feet were wet from walking up rivers; underwear was soaked; rain so sharp you couldn’t see. And then it was windy. It dried us off a bit, but was bloody blustery! We lost the path and found it again. We lost a bag cover and chased after it, and I can’t even remember having lunch. It was impossible to take photos. And RS actually lost his phone to the rain. It was, in short, horrendous.

IMG_20190928_174137Porthleven arrived in sight after what honestly seemed like hours walking upstream. We were cold, tired and grateful to dive into the warmth of The Harbour Inn, taking it in turns to get changed (mericlessly our cars were full of warm dry clothes!IMG_20190928_174152

 

 

After a hearty meal and a pint, no one wanted to leave the sanctuary of the pub. The wind was picking up again and we needed to find the campsite (camping, you gasp?!!).

Again, the previously mentioned title lends itself well to 2 cars driving in the pitch dark, driving rain and strong winds, trying to find a campsite in the middle of nowhere. By some miracle we located it. Getting out of the car was challening: nearly losing both my car doors and the contents of the boot, to the wind. Long story short, a gratefully warm and cosy night was spent in two wooden, heated camping pods, drinking wine, playing cards and drying off. We began to laugh again and crawled out of bed to a sunnier, slightly breezy day to finish the walk the follwing morning…

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

From Porthleven, we passed through Loe Bar, Church Cove, Poldhu Cove, Polurrian Cove, near Mullion, Mullion Cove and then up Mullion Cliff to Predannack Wallas where we had left the cars near the campsite at Teneriffe Farm.

Thank yous and mentions

  • I should mention that the universe was telling us not to walk that weekend: LN arrived at ours to annouce that her engine light had come on driving to collect us that morning. After frantic deliberation, we decided probability of having a car breakdown in signal-less Cornwall and an impending storm was likely, so RS started emptying his car, as I raced off to collect JC, in which something fell off my car, causing me to pull over, crawl under the car and clip it back on. ( nothing structural!) So perhaps the signs were were…
  • Thank you to JC, LN and RS who have continued to walk with me after this!
  • Teneriffe Farm campsite – we cannot recommend it enough! We hired 2 pods with IMG_20190929_161424electricity and heating for £10 pp. Although running to the loo in the middle of the night was so scary it meant I slept with my legs tightly crossed, it was a very comfortable night!
  • The Harbour Inn in Porthleven, a St Austell pub with a good range of food, ale and cider and live music on that particular evening, that we wished we could have stayed for…
  • The Old Inn in Mullion served us on the way home, for a much needed “we survived” pint on the other side…

learnings

  • There IS such as thing has bad weather. And it wasn’t due to inappropriate clothings… There is no way we could have kept ourselves dry, and it is very very unpleasant to walk when there is a <95% chance of heavy rain.
  • When you start walking, you have to keep going. We literally had no choice but to continue. We couldn’t turn back because our cars were at the end. There are sections of the path that have nowhere in between… you just have to keep walking. And we did.
  • It actually wasn’t that bad! Perhaps it’s because I have written this post nearly 5 months after doing it, that I can look back with perspective and gratitude…. that people still talk to me.

The charity bit

Is it worth the hassle? Abso-fucking-lutely. I would do it all again, with more rain, if what I can raise will offer just one person the stem cell transplant they need. Enough said. See what I have raised so far here, find out why I am doing it So what’s this coast path walk all about? and find out what Anthony Nolan do here.

Posted in The South West Coast Path | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

SWCP #30 & 31a Porthcurno to Penzance

IMG_20190921_151335

And then the weather changed. This was a walk that nearly wasn’t, because we only did one day of what should have been a two-day camping weekend, and even then, we nearly didn’t…

I guess we’d had it to too good! In anycase, 3 of us: LN, RS and I drove out to Penzance on a grey Saturday morning, sat on an (expensive) open-top bus to Porthcurno and walked back to to where we’d parked.

It went a bit like this…

IMG_20190921_105610

Saturday 21st September 2019

  • Start: Porthcurno, Cornwall
  • Finish: Penzance, Cornwall
  • Mileage: 12 m
  • Guide book timing: 6 hr
  • Actual timing: 6 ish
  • Grading: strenuous to moderate,
  • Weather: 14 deg, cloud and rain
  • Walkers: me, RS, LN
  • Miles to date: 274 m

From the outset, there were a few issues. LN kicking over her ‘just purchased’ coffee as she put on her walking boots wasn’t a good omen, and then us Devon folk being confused about Cornish bus timetables made it harder than it should have been, but we made it to the bus stop in Porthcurno, and trekked up the hill to the Minack, just so we could start from the Minack…

IMG_20190921_115653Down a very steep set of steps from the theatre: even on a dull, grey day the sea was a beautiful shade of turquoise.

The across the beach and up the other side to Treen where, despite the overcast sky we had incredible views of Pedn Vouder Beach, Logan Rock and Cribba Head until we dipped down to Penberth Cove, crossed a fjord and worked our way steeply up again.

From here the landscape continued in much the same fashion. We walked together along the clifftops hoping the impending rain would hold back, and putting hoods up when it didn’t. When we reached Lamorna Cove, the end of walk #30, we stopped for the necessaries and imagined the place heaving in sunnier times…

It got pretty muddy at one point, and felt pretty remote – reminding me of a walk a long time ago in North Devon. Punctuated with Cornish colours – I love the way fuscia grows seemingly wild in the hedgerows here: why doesn’t mine flourish like that?!

IMG_20190921_165032We entered Mousehole, which was by now a grey dreary day. I have heard that the Christmas lights display here is incredible, and that it’s also a lovely place in the sunshine. Another one to add to the “return” list!

From Mousehole to Penzance was fairly easy, along the road to Newlyn and then following the seafront to Penzance. I didn’t take a lot of photos throughout the walk, thanks to the drizzle, but you should get the gist!

We found ourselves in the Alexandra Inn, just off the promenade in Penzance, each checking the Met office, the BBC, google maps and generally finding a way to talk ourselves out of camping that night. The rain had been imminent all day, but it never came. We got in the car, somewhat guiltily and drove home. Once home, we fell into a tired heap and cancelled the following day’s walk… Turns out we should have walked, cos what we went through the following weekend, was and always will be knows as the walk of horrors… more to come on that one…

Thankyous and mentions

  • Thanks to LN for doing all the driving today – geographically it was a long way from Exeter, not that it had been close for some time! But using the bus meant only one car was necessary.
  • Cornish buses are stupidly expensive for not going very far
  • The Alexandra Inn in Penzance was a great place to have our end of walk pint and talk ourselves out of camping that night. Two cool things about this pub: you literally have to “spend a penny” to use their loo. And we discovered on our way out that they have a mini crazy golf in their garden!

Learnings

  • Much as I wanted to race along the path and get to certain point before the weather set in for the season and ruined it for us… I realised that it’s OK to say no, thanks, not today.

The Charity Bit

For every mile I walk, I aim to raise £1 for Anthony Nolan, a charity set up in the name of the three-year-old whose mother created the world’s first register to match bone marrow donors. Today the charity’s work and research has saved and helped the lives of thousands of people with blood cancers. One of whom, is very close to me. If you have either walked with me, or enjoyed reading my posts, or looking at my pictures, then please consider helping out here.

 

 

Posted in Out and about, The South West Coast Path | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

SWCP #27.5, 28, 29 Zennor Head to Porthcurno – Day 2

Oh what a weekend! Another camping delight that saw us get round the corner (Land’s End) and past what I believe to be the furthest point (as the crow flies) from Exeter. The usual suspects walked for the weekend: JC and RS, covering 2.5 book walks in total, with a rewarding walk “around the corner” on day two – finally getting around Land’s End which is the end for a lot of walkers only doing the first couple of hundred miles…

DSC02366September 8th

  • Start: Porth Nanven, Cornwall 2
  • Finish: Porthcurno, Cornwall
  • Mileage: 10 m
  • Guide book timing: 5 hr
  • Actual timing: 5 ish
  • Grading: Moderate,
  • Weather: 18 deg, sunshine,
  • Walkers: me, RS, JC
  • Miles to date: 262 m

We started the day in sunshine, leaving Porth Naven up a steep climb and then following the cliff edge towards Whitesand bay.

22

24

Gwynver Beach was one of my favourite sections so far, a stunning stretch of white sand in a blissful turquoise cove. A feast for the eyes, with Land’s End around the next corner. This is truly one to go back to on my return lap.

To get to it involves a rocky scramble preceeded by a narrow footpath, where we saw our first chough too. Photos don’t do the chough justice, and I couldn’t quite capture the footpath as all hands and feet were needed for some tricky boulder negotiation.

DSC02357

Beyond here, we entered Sennon Cove, another place I would like to revisit. We paused for lunch on the headland of Pedn-men-du, with Lands End in its view. And joined quite a busy, grassy section of path as people were making their way towards the “end of England”.

DSC02361

Once you reach Land’s End, you might be surprised to see frankly not very much there… Approaching it from the South West Coast Path is by far the best way to do so, because driving to the end of the A30, to a turning circle and a hotel where you can get an iconic photo taken for a tenner, might (in my humble opinion) not really seem worth it. However, approaching it from the north side of Cornwall and leaving it over the clifftops to its east, and as a bonus on a sunny day, you really do get a sense of the end of the land. That said, I have now rounded so many iconic headlands, I would say, this one is far less impressive. Cape Cornwall, to the north is far more spectacular – and one that you can actually go to the “end” of. Land’s end is actually viewed from afar!

Here you go, some info about what you can find!

394143

Beyond this, we continued another 5 miles towards Porthcurno. It took a few more hours, spent mostly up high on the clifftops: a stunning colour palette again of green grass, turquoise water, bright blue sky and various heather adding warmth to the greenery.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

We were met at St Levan carpark, just outside Porthcurno by JCs family, meeting us from Wadebridge and Exeter. Once we’d caught our breath, we drove in convoy back to St Just for a pint. The perfect and only way to finish a truly stunning two day walk!

Thank yous and mentions

  • As always, these walks are not possible without RS and JC, whose company, cars, camping expertise and more are priceless.
  • Parking – if you are walking the path, rather than visiting Porthcurno, or the Minack, then it’s worth driving a mile or so on from the theatre and parking at St Levan. It cost us £3 for the whole day, and if you’ve done any walking in Cornwall, you’ll know this is a bargain!
  • The King’s Arms in St Just was our end point pint, as we had to return to Porth Nanven to collect a car. A quaint, cosy pub, where tall folk have to duck. I was taken by the maps of Cornwall on the walls, which I realised smugly I had walked a huge chunk of!

Learnings

  • Land’s End itself isn’t worth the day trip, but the two days of walking I did to get there and go beyond, totally are! To read about the previous day’s walk: SWCP # 27.5, 28 & 29 Zennor Head to Porthcurno – DAY 1
  • Cape Cornwall, if you want to experience the “end” of something, is far more satisfying!
  • Walking poles are good, but when you need both hands to scramble: a stick and a camera around your neck are rather cumbersome!

The charity bit

If you don’t know by now – then just go here.

 

 

Posted in The South West Coast Path | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

SWCP # 27.5, 28 & 29 Zennor Head to Porthcurno – DAY 1

11Oh what a weekend! Another camping delight that saw us get round the corner (Land’s End) and past what I believe to be the furthest point (as the crow flies) from Exeter. The usual suspects walked for the weekend: JC and RS, covering 2.5 book walks in total, with beautiful sunshine to accompany us on day 1.

September 7th

  • Start: Zennor Head, Cornwall3
  • Finish: Porth Nanven, Cornwall
  • Mileage: 14 m
  • Guide book timing: 6.5 hr
  • Actual timing: 6.5 ish
  • Grading: Moderate,  then easy
  • Weather: 19 deg, sunshine, cloud,
  • Walkers: me, RS, JC, JC2
  • Miles to date: 229 m

We set off from the car park at Zennor, out to Zennor Head and towards Pendeen Watch, where the Severe walk #27 should have finished.

The views didn’t disappoint, and challenging though the walk was, it was as always rewarding. After Gurnard’s Head, we passed Porthmeor Cove, Bosigran Castle (another Iron Age fortification) and then Portheras Cove, all before reaching Pendeen Watch, which was a long 7 miles.

2527383940454648

And the onto Pendeen Lighthouse, which considering how long it took to get there, was fairly uninteresting. So much so, it appears I didn’t photograph it!

So, once here, we had quite a bit further to go. We were camping at Botallack, near St Just that evening, and had tents to put up and another 5 miles to go.

The second half of this walk was very different to the first, via Levant Mine, Crown Mines, Botallack Mine and Wheal Oates.

545260

57  61

62

As the sun was starting to dip we got closer to Cape Cornwall, which we rounded, finishing at Porth Nanven.

66

Thank yous and mentions

  • Trevaylor Caravan and Camping Park in Botallack, near St Just was a very reasonably priced campsite, with good facilites and an onsite bar and restaurant. I would stay there again, if were in the area, although we didn’t walk any further than the pub, so can’t comment on walking proximity to the coast path.
  • The Queens Arms – Botallack. A busy pub that managed to squeeze 3 tired and hungry walkers for dinner. Walking distance from the tent, albeit along a road with no pavement.

Learnings

  • things are further away than they seem. No really, they are. We seem to have chased so many light houses that get further and further away!
  • September is still warm in the day, but it’s getting chilly for camping.

Charity Bit

I felt proud to be walking, and I feel proud to be writing. Because if ONE person clicks on Anthony Nolan  to find out more about it, then writing this blog and walking this walk will be worth it. It will be so worth it. Mileage means money. Read about or donate to that here.

I would love to hear your views and read your comments on this blog/walk/journey…

 

Posted in The South West Coast Path, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

SWCP #26 & 27 Portreath to Zennor Head part 2

Following on from our previous day’s walk, the 3 of us continued on a walk of stark contrasts. The luscious colours and glitzy feel of Carbis Bay, followed by the tourist mecca and artistic hub of St Ives, and then out into the winderness of Zennor Headland had us scrambling and rock climbing, losing the path, dodging bogs and spotting seals.

Another fabulous day to be on the path when the rest of the UK were probably a bit disappointed with the weather…

Carbis Bay

Carbis Bay

Day 2 – 26th August 2019

  • Start: Lelant, Cornwall

    DSC02304

    Porth Kidney Beach, Godrevy in the distance

  • Finish: Zennor Head, Cornwall
  • Mileage: 10 m
  • Guide book timing: 5.5 hr
  • Actual timing: 5.5 ish hrs
  • Grading: easy,  then severe!
  • Weather: 18 deg, cloud and some sun
  • Walkers: me, RS, JC,
  • Miles to date: 239 m

We left one car in Zennor, drove another back to Lelant, such is that Cornish buses rarely make it possible to walk, and begain our walk out of the village and across the golf course. Rejoining the estuary from yesterday, from which we could see back as far as Godrevy Point that we had rounded the day before. Our walk was graced with views of Hayle Beach, Porthkidney Beach, and then into Carbis Bay, and Porthminster beach before joining the throng of tourists in St Ives. There was a threat of rain – a gun metal smear across the sky for most of the day, but moments of clarity when the scene was glossy-brochure-perfect. As above! 

In St Ives, we sniffed out a couple of bakeries, desperate to find some local delights for elevenses. Eating them of course was a stealth mission against the well-trained seagulls! No pastry casualties occured fortunately and we left the madness and went out onto much wilder clifftops.

Rugged moorland followed, and my camera went back in my bag as threatening rain turned into light showers and both hands were needed for some aspects of the walk. I wish I could have photographed it better… The severe part of the walk was fairly tough to capture, as it involed literal rock climbing and scrambling (great fun but not photographable without corny posing). At one point a family of three generations passed us – they looked German or Dutch: VERY CAPABLE! A tiny baby strapped to a mother, a father with a toddler on his back and then some parents/in-laws behind.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Along this section of the path, we also passed a lady and her dog, who passed us later, who we passed again a bit later, until we fell in sync and walked together for a few miles. P and Beans (the dog) were walking the path at their own pace and managing to do it mostly with one car and a bus: a remarkable feat that we hadn’t managed to do very often.

IMG_20190826_162838

At Zennor Head we took photos of her and Beans for her, and wished her well having learned a bit of her story along the way. She had a fair bit to do still, with darkness only a couple of hours away and her car some 7 miles further on. I often think about her, and as my blog is so far behind I imagine she has long finished the path: I hope it did what she needed it to do for her…

IMG_20190826_162853IMG_20190826_162908

Learnings

  • On this walk, I really did understand that you can do or achieve anything with the right determination. I learned that the SWCP can, had and really will change people’s lives and help them to achieve goals they never imagined possible.
  • Leaving your tent up, to dry after the morning shower, rather than packing it up before you walk… is a great idea, unless it rains at the end of your walk too – meaning we had to pack down the tent in the rain… boo hoo.

Thank yous and Mentions

  • Our campsite gets a mention again: The Old Stables just outside Hayle, near Connor Downs. If you want a no-frills campsite run by good people at an honest price – head here!
  • St Ives Bakery – a place to be visited: serves fabulous pasties and baked goods with a smile. Try a Bruffin – kind of brioche muffin.
  • S H Ferrells & Son – a smaller, family-run bakery where we got the ever-famous Saffron Bun from for our St Ives elevenses!
  • The Tinners Arms at Zennor Head had a festival on when we arrived. Live music and food – if only we could have stayed longer!

The Charity Bit

Perhaps it’s thanks to this blog, or just kindness in general, but at the time of writing, my donations have exceeded my miles! Fabulous news! If you would like to donate, please do so here and read about the life-changing work that Anthony Nolan do too.

More about why I am doing this is in this post So what’s this coast path walk all about?

Posted in The South West Coast Path | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

SWCP #25, 26 & 27 Portreath to Zennor Head – Day 1

Bank holiday weekend in August saw us back on the path, and enjoying camping too. We managed to chuck a few walks together and get from Portreath through Hayle to Lelant on the first day, and then from Lelant to St Ives via Carbis Bay and out to Zennor Head. A walk of total contrasts from sand dunes, beaches and estuary to the arty/tourist mecca of St Ives and out to rock climbing wilderness of Zennor Head the following day. This could be a really long post, but I will keep it mainly photographic. Happy to answer questions. 5DSC02270

Day 1 25th August 2019

  • Start: Portreath, Cornwall IMG_20190825_112524
  • Finish: Lelant, Cornwall
  • Mileage: 14 m
  • Guide book timing: 6.5 hr
  • Actual timing: 6.5 ish
  • Grading: Moderate,  then easy
  • Weather: 19 deg, sunshine, cloud,
  • Walkers: me, RS, JC, JC2
  • Miles to date: 229 m

Portreath was heaving, as you would expect on BH Monday. We parked in the same street as last time, met JC2 and headed up to Western Hill. From here, we stayed up high, admiring spectacular views, sheer drops, a paintbox colour selection of Cornish flowers, and best of all, we saw our second group of seals in Hell’s Mouth, and then more near Godrevy point. Until that day, I honestly believed that seeing seals in the sea was really just something other people would get to experience… not me!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

28DSC02292From Godrevy lighthouse, the path flattened out as we entered the dunes at St Gothian Sands. We meandered through the dunes towards Gwithian Towans, which had been in bright sunshine the previous afternoon when we arrived. This was looking a bit grey and threatening rain, but it held off. Walking through soft sand, as you may be aware, is not easy!

We went through several towans, the Cornish word for dunes, on this stretch of the walk: Upton, Phillack, Common, Hayle, Mexican, Riviere… Once we entered Hayle, we had to go a fairly long way around the harbour, and the Hayle Estuary Nature Reserve to get to Lelant, where we had parked that morning. Although we walked a long way this day, close to 15 miles, we had cut off a decent chunk for the following morning: Lelant to Zennor Head.

Learnings

  • Sand might look clean, but it’s actually rather dusty – see evidence below!IMG_20190825_191214
  • Godrevy Lighthouse seemed to be in sight for some time and not get any closer.
  • Making a reservation on a BH weekend for somewhere to eat would probably have been a good idea, as we weren’t able to find anywhere and ended up with a candle-lit takeaway back at the tent!

Thank yous and mentions

  • As always to RS.
  • Thank you to JC for driving out and meeting us in Hayle for a night of camping, and for JC2 for joining us again.
  • The Old Stables Camping provided VERY REASONABLE camping for us for 2 nights over Bank Holiday. It is basic, but they refer to themselves as a “back to basics campsite”, and they have all that you could need. Clean showers, with hot water and friendly, helpful owners. It’s a bit of a trek to the beach, but all we needed for our walk. And you pay per night, not day, so we were able to leave tents up to dry and put down after our walk.
  • Chilli Chinese Takeaway is a fairly decent Chinese in the centre of Hayle, which fed us at a reasonable price, along with chilled wine from Co-op which is almost next door.

The Charity Bit

I am walking to raise money for Anthony Nolan, donations can be made here.

At the time of walking, I had raised pretty much £1/mile, and today it stands at £382. Absolutely fantastic – so thank you to everyone who has been part of this journey so far!

 

Posted in The South West Coast Path | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

SWCP # 24 Perranporth to Portreath

After a break of a few weeks whilst RS and I were road-tripping through Europe, we got back on the path, despite very very much not feeling up to it. But as always, I have never been disappointed on the path and today was no exception. A walk through Cornish mining history with a stunning backdrop of coast and colourful array of heather and gorse. A small smattering of rain didn’t dampen spirits: the walk was superb.

DSC02240

Date: August 11th 2019

  • Start: Perranporth, CornwallIMG_20190811_123424
  • Finish: Portreath, Cornwall
  • Mileage: 12.4 m
  • Guide book timing: 5.75 hr
  • Actual timing: 6 ish
  • Grading: Moderate, then strenuous
  • Weather: 18 deg, sunshine, cloud, showers
  • Walkers: me, R, JC, AR
  • Miles to date: 214.8M

Parking on a busy Sunday in August took a little time: we left one car in Portreath, on a side road, as car parks there were extortionately priced. A temporary car park in a field in Perranporth, behind Co-op, was where we left the second car for a more reasonable £6. We spent some time deliberating over footwear for this walk: we had coerced AR into joining us again the night before, but the footwear choices he had were uncomfortable trainers or flip-flops. I spent the following 6 hours in fear that a toe would get broken, but he proved me (and everyone else) wrong, completing the entire walk without complaint in some trusty Havaianas. I’m not sure I would recommend this for those thinking about going on a walk…

We left the throngs of foam-bodyboard-wielding-non-locals behind and headed out of Perranporth past the Millenium Sundial on the south side of the town, and headed out towards Cligga Head.

We stayed up high for a while, skirting around Perranporth airfield and down towards Blue Hills tin mines. From there, an up and a down into Trevaunance Cove, where I’d  had a birthday swim the previous month. From here, we headed out around St Agnes Head and stayed up high until we dropped down in Chapel Porth.

Colours:

Mines

And from there, up high with the mines until we dropped into Porthtowan, and then the weather changed: it rained, it got a bit miserable, but we carried on. The sun came out again just as we landed in Portreath.

IMG_20190811_182135

Learnings

  • Apparently you can walk in flip-flops. I wouldn’t, but it has been proven.
  • Follow instructions, and stop to look at the map, or you could do what we did and head out of Trevaunance Cove, missing the path.

Thank yous and mentions

  • Thank you to RS, JC and AR for not bailing on a walk that all of us really wanted to, but I think are glad they didn’t!
  • We earned our liquid refreshments at the Portreath Arms Hotel at the end of the walk. It was warm enough to sit outside, the sun having come back out.

The Charity Bit

I am raising money for Anthony Nolan via my Just Giving page.

I aim to raise at least £1/mile I walk, and I would love some help and encouragement to put my boots on, and to sit at my computer and write about the wonderful walk I am doing!

 

 

Posted in The South West Coast Path | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

SWCP – notes on the path

IMG_20190419_193527Notes on equipment

Having now walked 4 seasons, I feel I have a good sense of what is needed on your feet, head and back to get this walk done. That said, I have walked with 19 different people who have done it in different gear. R wears shorts every day, AR has done a stretch in flipflops, C has done it in jeans, some carry buckets of water (me) and others far less. Some can’t do it without tea or coffee, some don’t need much at all. There are no rules, but here are my suggestions:

footwear

  • I bought a pair of LOWA walking boots that fitted my budget and my feet back in January. In all honesty, I am not that enamoured with them. I have slipped and skidded a number of times, and blamed the poor grip on the sole. I have had sore toes and aching feet on some walks and laced and re-laced to relieve or increase pressure, although not suffered from blisters yet. They are only as waterproof as you keep them. Maintenance is key, which means drying them out properly, cleaning and re-proofing them regularly.
  • Decent socks are a must, and in colder weather, I wear two pairs – and inner and outer layer. It’s worth spending a bit on getting this right, and be prepared to make changes half way through a walk. Merino wool are a sock most walkers favour, and some wear an inner/liner sock. I wear a thin pair of running socks that I got from a fun run earlier this year!
  • Over the summer, when it was dry and the days were hot, I wore a cheap Karrimor pair of trail running shoes. These feel weird on concrete (very grippy) but are great for tough days on the path. Some would argue these don’t provide ankle support, but I haven’t had any issues yet.

head gear

No one wants a cold, or sweaty head. Most walks find me in a head band/snood. I wear the same gear for running: something to stop the sweat going into my eyes, and keep my ears warm, when I don’t want a hat.

  • snoods
  • woolly/acrylic hat

layers

  • base layers. Once you have sweated and then got cold on the path, you’ll understand the importance of this. I wear a wicking running vest or t-shirt under anything, or on its own in the summer.
  • microfleece – on top of that I wear a Regatta Microfleece, purchased very cheaply from Go Outdoors. It does the warmth without the bulk, folds up small and is quick drying.
  • Outer layer – This is either a light weight running jacket for the cooler end of a hot day, or a waterproof jacket over my fleece or other layers.
  • Anthony Nolan T-Shirt. I was sent this when a Community fundraiser contacted me from Anthony Nolan to ask how she could help. She keeps up to date with my walks and social media posts and sent me a T-Shirt to wear on my walks.

leg wear

  • insulated trousers – made by Hi-Gear, these were my first and best purchase! Waterproof (to an extent), fleece-lined, belted and with decent pockets. I wear these up to about 12 degrees, although it gets a little toasty in there on those days!
  • Kiwi-pro stretch trousers by Craghoppers – these lightweight, comfortable trousers are a must. They are quick-drying for showery weather and keep out windchill and UV. They have a glasses wipe attached to the inside of one of the pockets. They don’t come with a belt, so I have to remember to switch it from my insulated ones.
  • Leggings – over the summer I switched between two pairs of leggings that I use for running – Karrimor and a charity shop pair. Honestly – comfort is key here. You don’t want a wedgie and you don’t want to be hot or cold. This can be done cheaply.

day pack 

  • backpack – I spent about £25 on a bag from Mountain Warehouse that has an air-flow back, space for a water bladder, multiple pockets for car keys, money and first aid, a separate section for a jacket or fleece, a waterproof bag cover and waist and chest straps. The bag cover is nothing special – as in our experience rain has come with strong wind, so it blows off. I’ve just bought some press studs so I can attach it to the top of the bag. IMG_20190825_123909
  • water bladder – I have a Camel Bak that Big Brother lent me. Carrying 2+ litres of water takes some getting used to, but it’s worth it. I have run out of water twice on hot days, but most villages have somewhere you can top up.
  • tea – enough said. Bought a flask for £5 that carries enough tea for RS and I
  • elevenses – not worth walking without!

other things

  • I use a walking pole on walks of moderate grading and above. I find it steadies my on downhills and comforts me on uphills! There are few times when it’s been a hindrance, as the climbs have needed two hands. A back with straps to attach your poles would be useful, or at the very least a pole with a wrist strap. JC uses two sometimes, and then we can’t keep up with her!
  • A first aid kit – doesn’t take much space. Mine has antihistamine cream and tablets, as well as obvious things like plasters and paracetamol.
  • sweets – can’t walk without sweets!

notes on costs

I have tried not to think about what is has cost me to do this walk. I bought a car, so that was a pretty big outlay…

Apart from that, things to think about are buses vs petrol/car park costs.

  • From April 1st – October 31st you will pay to park pretty much anywhere. This has cost up to £7 a day in Cornwall, if we weren’t able to find a residential parking space.
  • Toilets – most public toilets in North Cornwall require 20-50p to use. This can be via donation, or you may need to use a coin to operate the door.
  • Buses – in North Devon we were able to buy a group ticket when there were more than 3 of us, which made using buses far more reasonable. In Cornwall however, we have paid up to £7 each, for a short one-way journey. It’s a crying shame that to my knowledge there is no agreement with the SWCP association to make using buses more reasonable.
  • trains – as of yet, we’ve not found the train to be a useful mode of transport on the SWCP. I think we’ll be able to use us when we are west of Exeter and walking back towards it.

notes on the other stuff

IMG_20190826_170134

pubs, cafes and watering holes

No walk is complete without a pint at the end and we have certainly supported local business in this respect. Each walk has ended with a well-earned pint in a pub, more if we are camping! In an ideal world I would love to be dining at the end or stopping for a leisurely lunch, but this isn’t cost effective or time -permitted. Perhaps we’ll do this when we do in the other direction, in our retirement!

We’re getting back on the path this weekend after a Christmas break. Hopefully my legs will still work and my body hasn’t relaxed too much over the festive period!

Watch this space for reviews of the summer walks coming up!

 

 

Posted in Out and about, The South West Coast Path | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

SWCP – half way…

I’ve done it! I have reached (over) half way and am now on the home straight. Nearly 11 months after starting, and nowhere near finishing, here’s a reflection on what it is to walk the South West Coast Path…

IMG_20191214_105417

The challenges

There have been many. Not least is the logistical feat of working out how to get people from start to finish, to and from Exeter and where to start and finish walks when we’ve gone off-book.

I have asked myself a number of times whether it was worth all the stress; and have always reminded myself, once on the path, that yes, absolutely yes.

The planning, tiresome though it sometimes is when I just can’t see an easy way to make it happen, is part of the achievement. Doing it in order, despite so many people suggesting otherwise, is the point of the challenge. Yes, it is a very long way and not terribly convenient to drive two cars 100+ miles “just to do a walk”. And no, it isn’t very easy to find public transport or willing drivers to help out, but a challenge isn’t a challenge if it’s easy.

Up until about 50 miles ago, we had only once walked in the rain which was out first leg. It was torrential for about half an hour and then it stopped. After that, I never thought rain would stop us and it didn’t. Not until we had the walk of horrors that took us from Penzance to Porthleven (yet to be written about). Never had I imagined you could get so wet. I had been a long believer that with the right equipment, no weather could be an issue. But I was wrong: very wrong. It was miserable, a little concerning at times, but we came out laughing.

The windiest walk we did was from Combe Martin to Ilfracombe. I spent a long time researching things like “what’s the strongest wind you can safely walk in” and decided that we could manage it. Lesson learned: I won’t ever walk in wind of that strength again!

The achievement

To date, I have walked 334 miles, and have 296 miles to go. I have completed 37 out of 70 stages in The Complete Guide to The South West Coast Path. 19 people have joined me for one, some or most of it. As I write, my Just Giving page has raised over £330, matching my aim of raising £1/mile. I have received lovely emails from a community fundraiser at Anthony Nolan, thanking me for my achievement, miles walked and money raised so far.

I am just getting in touch to check in to see how everything is going and to say a huge congratulations for reaching the half way point of your epic coastal challenge!

You’ve now walked over 300 miles and raised an incredible £320 in support of your brother – thank you so much! The wonderful funds that you have raised so far are enough to help fund an incredible 8 new potential donors on the register, who could go on to be a match for someone.

I imagine that lots of your walks are getting colder and darker, and it’s so incredible that you have now walked such an impressive distance of the south west coast path. You should be really proud of every step you’ve taken and every pound you’ve raised, and please pass on our thanks to everyone who has walked with you, joined the register and sponsored you.

The highlights

Rather to write about the highlights I may have already mentioned, or have yet to write about, here’s one picture to illustrate each walk we have done so far, just to share the beauty of it all.

 

Thank you as always for reading, following and enjoying this journey with me. Do leave a comment below, and feel free to share. More blogs posts coming, promise!

 

 

Posted in The South West Coast Path, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

SWCP #22 & 23 Newquay to Perranporth

This was undoubtedly one of my favourite walks – not least because we walked on my birthday weekend but we were lucky to have had wall to wall sunshine, fabulous camping and great friends. I have set the bar very high for next year, although I’m sure I will still be on the path – hopefully somewhere in Dorset…

DSC01849

Date: July 6th 2019

  • Start: Newquay, Cornwall
  • Finish: Perranporth, Cornwall
  • Mileage: 12.6 m
  • Guide book timing: 5.5 hr
  • Actual timing: 4.5 ish
  • Grading: Moderate.
  • Weather: 20 deg, sunshine
  • Walkers: me, R, JC, LN. LR, JF
  • Miles to date: 202.4m

We set off from our parking spot near Fistral Beach in Newquay. We missed the sign for the path that goes around Pentire, and as we’d faffed about in our usual fashion we were setting off later than planned, so we cut through the residental area and headed down to the crossing at The Gannel. I had read my tide times, knew we’d be a little off and we were: the tide was high and the water flowing fast out to sea. We sat down on rocks at the waters’ edge, watching others wade across Penpol Footbridge. Once we deemed the water safe enough to pass, shoes and socks game off, shorts rolled up and we sent the tallest one first. Thanks R! Photos would have been wonderful but the water either side of the footbridge was deep enough to make us swim, so all wits were needed!

DSC01852From here we headed out of the estuary to Crantock Beach, and not for the last time I wanted to just sit down on the beach all day! Cornwall really is stunning, and we weren’t the only ones to think so.

Beyond Crantock Beach, we rounded a headland and into the little inlet of Porth Joke, before rounding another impressive headland: Kelsey Head IMG_20190706_131142and then into the long sweep of Holywell Bay: over and down the sand dunes and along the beach, where we parked ourselves for lunch and a second paddle.

This marked the end of walk #23: Newquay to Holywell Bay, and with that we left the sand and headed up over the headland of Penhale Point, round disused mineshafts and the former Penhale army camp, which had an eerie presence to it, a lot of barbed wire and led to a few questions of what went on behind the broken fences. It’s curious when you consider homelessness in this country: there are vast places like this that could house so many folk – and what a view they would have.  Raynor Winn in The Salt Path muses over the exact thought when her and Moth walk along this part. I am surprised it’s not been developed into some awful holiday park yet either…


Once around Ligger Point, there is nothing but sea and sand as far as you can see. And with the promise of a pint, the hope of a swim and an air of happiness that walking in the sunshine on the coast path is sure to bring, we pressed onward and descended onto the beach.

IMG_20190706_161234Perranporth welcomed us with a hazy view as far as we could see as we walked the length of Perran Sands. With the tide so far out, the choice was a swim or a pint, and if you’ve read anything you’ll know how thirsty we get on these walks.

It was possibly one of the easiest walks in terms of effort and the constant reward of endless sea and sand. Nothing beats a Cornish ale at the end of a walk. From here, we made our way to Trevellas Manor Farm Campsite, where R and I spent our second night, having set up camp the night before and the 6 of us enjoyed freshly cooked pizza, cider and a stunning sunset to finish it off!

Thank yous and mentions

  • Thank you to the drivers: RS, LN and JC, without whom this walk would continue to be a challenge.
  • Thank you also to JC2 and G who joined us on Perran Sands for a pint at the end of the walk – this is their second appearance.
  • The Watering Hole is the closest I have been to returning to Australia since leaving over 5 years ago. An open plan bar with huge beach seating area, sand on the floor and a good variety of cold beverages: thank you!
  • Cannot thank Trevellas Manor Farm Campsite enough for their hospitality, flexibility and wonderful campsite, just outside Perranporth. They were the ONLY campsite willing to accept a group of campers/walkers at a very reasonable price. Having the pizza oven arrive on Saturday night was exactly what we all needed, and I couldn’t have asked for a better place to spend the weekend – and my birthday! The facilities made everywhere else we’ve stayed in Cornwall pale in comparison: I can’t recommend it enough.

Learnings

  • I was surprised and frustrated to learn that very few campsites will accept group bookings in Perranporth: this is no doubt thanks to the hoards of irresponsible first-time camping groups of rowdy party-goers looking for an all night party and not knowing how to clean up after themselves. Additionally it’s nigh on impossible to make a booking for only one night during July and August, so once again – thank you to Trevellas for being so flexible.
  • Check the tide times, and don’t risk crossing The Gannel if it’s very deep. I am sure we were safe, as the tide was on its way out, and it wasn’t too far above the knees, but I have since read about a number of people who got it very very wrong…

The Charity Bit

Bearing in mind that my blog is now several months behind my legs (and I was supposed to be writing shorter posts to catch myself up)… I have now done over 300 miles and raised £320 so far! This is wonderful in every sense: It makes me get out my laptop and write, and it makes me push further, walk more and get on with it. Win all round. £320 means 8 people could be tested and put on the stem cell register: 8 more lives could be saved. Read about it here or donate at Just Giving

 

Posted in The South West Coast Path | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment