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…
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!
From 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 and 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.
Perranporth 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.
- 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