Saturday, 20 December 2014

A Grand Day Out to Padstow

Day Thirteen - Port Isaac to Padstow 18.9km (11.7 miles).
Time on route 5:00hrs, walking time 4:45hrs.

Saturday 20 December 2014
Day 13 route
It was my an ambition to reach Padstow before the end of 2014.  The Ordnance Survey guide book one runs from Minehead to Padstow so it's a neat ending.  It is much harder to walk the coast path at this time of year: the hours of daylight are shorter, the weather more inclement and the public transport curtailed.  I had one last leg to do and I brigaded the family to help me out.

So Rog and Caitlin dropped us (Riona and me) at Port Isaac before driving round to Rock where they left the car.  They then headed up the coast path to meet us.  Riona and I had a 45 min head start on them, leaving Port Isaac at a prompt 0845.
14 12 20 Port Isaac to Padstow - 1 Port Isaac
We nearly didn't walk today as the weather forecast was for strong winds.  At the beginning of the week the prediction was for winds up to 28mph which was outside of my comfort zone.  I even had a moan to my Met Office colleagues about their forecast (like there is anything they can do about a low pressure over England).  Anyway, by yesterday the forecast was only 20mph winds which although breezy, was do-able.

The first stretch is quite strenuous with steep descents and climbs.  Nothing unusual for the SWCP but a tad more challenging due to the wind in our faces.
14 12 20 Port Isaac to Padstow - 2 Pine Haven (5)
There's not much at Port Quin.  Not even sea.
14 12 20 Port Isaac to Padstow - 3 Port Quin
Just out of Port Quin is Doyden Castle.
14 12 20 Port Isaac to Padstow - 4 Doyde Castle (2)
14 12 20 Port Isaac to Padstow - 4 Doyde Castle (1)
We had a quick coffee stop at the delightful Lundy Hole.
14 12 20 Port Isaac to Padstow - 5 Lundy Hole
We eventually met up with Rog and Caitlin by Pentire Point.
14 12 20 Port Isaac to Padstow - 6 Pentire Point (2)
We were a tad concerned when we met them.  We knew they'd started out at 0930, and meeting them at 1145 meant we still had 2 hours 15 mins to walk.  This didn't seem right according to the distance left on the map.  And it wasn't.  Apparently they'd had an enjoyable coffee stop for 30 minutes in Polzeath!

This part of the walk, into Rock, was far flatter (you can't get much flatter than a beach) and our route initially undulated over fields, then increasingly dunes.
14 12 20 Port Isaac to Padstow - 7 Daymer Bay
Once in Rock we realised we had time to hop across to Padstow.  This means that I can pick up the next leg from the west side of the Camel Estuary in 2015.  To hail the ferry you have to wave a flag.
14 12 20 Port Isaac to Padstow - 8 Rock Ferry (1)
And this would have worked if we hadn't coincided with their lunch break (timing is everything). However, we waited another 15 mins and were duly transported across to Padstow for tea and chips.
14 12 20 Port Isaac to Padstow - 8 Rock Ferry (3)
14 12 20 Port Isaac to Padstow  - 9 Padstow (1)
This is a bit sad - a little benchmark peeping out from under a shop sign.
14 12 20 Port Isaac to Padstow (25)
All in, a great day on the path with the family.  Shame they can't all be like that. 

Sunday, 5 October 2014

Short and Sweet to Port Isaac

Day Twelve - Tregatta to Port Isaac 12.4km (7.7 miles).
Time on route 3:15hrs, walking time 3:15hrs.

Saturday 04 October 2014
Day 12 map
Logistics were a bit tricky for this leg.  I left the car at Camelford and took a bus to Tregatta.  It was only a few 100 metres to rejoin the coast path.  As I neared it I broke into a smile - "I'm back" I grinned.  I am hooked by this walk; I adore being by the sea and this path gives me both that and an adventure to be part of.  But each time I start a leg, the first glimpse of the sea, and the first footsteps on the path are the best.
14 10 04 Day 12 1 Trebarwith Strand (1)
The weather forecast heavy showers until midday with strong winds easing off in the afternoon.  I was fortunate that by the time I stepped on the path, at 1005, the rain had passed.  I was togged up with waterproof coat and gaiters which felt odd after months of lighter clothing.  My gloves stayed on all day.  The path was a tad skiddy under foot in places but not significantly as it's been dry for so many weeks.  The snails and slugs were scooting around enjoying the damp ground.
14 10 04 Day 12 1 Trebarwith Strand (2)
For the first time I looked towards the next headline.  This is Rumps and Pentire Point which I'll round on my next stage.

I had once again chosen a short stage to walk.  The guide book suggested that this short leg, circa 13km, would take quite some time due to 8 valleys in which to descend/climb out of.  Indeed the book said it could take up to 5 hours from Trebarwith Strand which was my first climb.
14 10 04 Day 12 1 Trebarwith Strand (3)
Similar to the leg south of Crackington Haven, this was a remote section of the path and the type of route I prefer.  Due to the inclement forecast I actually only passed one couple on the course of the route: most unusual.

The valleys were beautiful to traverse.
14 10 04 Day 12 2 Backways Valley (1)
Part of the route was described as "precarious" and not to be undertaken by those suffering from vertigo.  Sounds like my sort of thing then.
14 10 04 Day 12 3 Tregardock Cliff (1)
And it's not remotely scary.  This actually is only Cornwall, not Striding Edge or anything really nerve wracking.  Not that I am foolhardy.  You can fall off anything.
14 10 04 Day 12 3 Tregardock Cliff (2)
I liked this wee bridge.
14 10 04 Day 12 3 Tregardock Cliff (4)
Unlike previous walks, as the winds were strong the waves were crashing rather than lapping at the shore.  I much prefer it that way.
14 10 04 Day 12 4 Nr Delabole Point
A collapsed tunnel.
14 10 04 Day 12 5 Collapsed Tunner at Delabole Point
Cormorants on a windy promontory.
14 10 04 Day 12 6 Clifff Top (2)
Before I knew it Port Isaac came into sight.
14 10 04 Day 12 7 Port Isaac and Port Gaverne
And I strolled up through Port Gaverne.
14 10 04 Day 12 8 Port Gaverne
I arrived in Port Isaac in under 3 hours from Trebarwith Strand.  I suspect that because I hadn't walked on the Friday I was fresh and hence faster once again.  I had missed the 1305 bus to Camelford by 15 minutes and the next one was at 1620.  How annoying.  I considered pressing on but (a) the wind was still very fierce (b) the bus route I needed passed the coastpath a few km off the route so I would have to walk 5km then an extra 2km to a remote bus stop by a road.  At the end of the day I knew that I could stay warm and get home if I flopped in Port Isaac for the few hours.  So I did.
14 10 04 Day 12 9 Port Isaac (3)
Port Isaac is a lovely place to wander for a couple of windy hours.
14 10 04 Day 12 9 Port Isaac (5)
I walked through the smallest passage in the world (? - or so the local noticeboard declared) locally known as Squeeze-ee Belly Alley.
14 10 04 Day 12 9 Port Isaac (4)
I also found a benchmark on the old school.
14 10 04 Day 12 9 Port Isaac (2)
A few shops and cups of tea/coffee later I caught the bus back to Camelford. I was glad I hadn't pushed on; I'd recommend a few hours wandering in Port Isaac to anyone.

Saturday, 27 September 2014

Remote Cornwall

Day Eleven - Crackington Haven to Tregatta 20.6km (12.8 miles).
Time on route 6:35hrs, walking time 6:00hrs.

Tuesday 23 September 2014
Day 11 map
I left my car at my Tregetta B&B and caught the bus to Crackington Haven to pick up from where I finished on Monday.
14 09 23 Day 11 1 Crackington Haven (2)
It was another hot day and my legs were a bit sore from the walking yesterday so my speed was certainly slower. The route south of Crackington Haven is wonderful though. Majestic hills with steep climbs and sweeping descents into valleys. Quite a wilderness feel to it and I revelled in its remoteness.
14 09 23 Day 11 2 Cambeak
The photos don't really do this coastline justice.
14 09 23 Day 11 4 High Cliff
A steep downhill to cross a slate lined stream.
14 09 23 Day 11 6 Beeny
I stopped to watch some kestrels hunt before descending into Boscastle for a quick lunch stop.
14 09 23 Day 11 7 Boscastle (2)
14 09 23 Day 11 7 Boscastle (1)
The stretch south of Boscastle is far more popular than the route I'd just completed. I climbed out up to Willapark passing the former coast guard station (originally a summer house).
14 09 23 Day 11 8 Willapark
The guide book suggested I may see seals along this stretch but despite keeping my eyes peeled there were none around. The islands north of this coast used to host the largest colony of puffins in Cornwall but they were decimated once rats got onto the island.

After a few kms the path drops into the aptly named Rocky Valley.
14 09 23 Day 11 9 Rocky Valley
Beautiful views looking back along my route - a deep aqua coloured sea.
14 09 23 Day 11 10 Sea and ponies (1)
More ponies.
14 09 23 Day 11 10 Sea and ponies (2)
I muddled myself as I entered Tintagel walking along the 'out' path on the way 'in' by Tintagel Castle. Never mind, I strolled into Tintagel whichever way, had a gloriously much needed pot of tea, and left by the same route.

Not much to see of the castle now.
14 09 23 Day 11 11 Tintagel Castle
The route heads south past many old quarries. Just before I reached Lanterdan I left the path walking back to the B&B and my car.
14 09 23 Day 11 12 Quarry by Treknow

A Little Bit of Everything South of Bude

Day Ten - Bude to Crackington Haven 16.4km (10.2 miles).
Time on route 4:10hrs, walking time 4:00hrs.

Monday 22 September 2014
Day 10 map
On Monday I started a two dayer on the trail.  Up until now I've only ever walked one day at a stretch.  The advantage of this is that I can pretty much run at the route not caring if I expend all my energy as I'm not walking the next day.  The obvious disadvantage is that it isn't efficient on the travel and staying over near the trail saves time travelling to/from the start/finish.  During the planning stages I dithered over how far to extend south from Bude for my first day.  Although the guide book tempted me to push onto Boscastle this day (a total of 26km), I deemed that the extra 10km of pretty steep ups and downs would be too much for me.  My leg still gets sore after 10km or so and I wanted to ensure I could walk on Tuesday too.

I parked at Crackington Haveon and caught the bus up to Bude.
14 09 22 Day 10 1 Bude (1)
The weather was perfect, sun and little wind, and the stroll by the Bude Canal was pleasant.
14 09 22 Day 10 1 Bude (2)
Low water level in the canal.
14 09 22 Day 10 1 Bude (4)
Looking back towards Bude as I climbed out of the estuary.
14 09 22 Day 10 1 Bude (6)
The first climb takes you up onto Compass Point where there is an octagonal tower adorned with compass directions.
14 09 22 Day 10 2 Compass Point Tower (1)
14 09 22 Day 10 2 Compass Point Tower (2)
A few steps further on is the trig at Efford Beacon. I couldn't fathom out what the brick construction next to it was. The lid didn't lift and there were no other markings on it.
14 09 22 Day 10 3 TP3025 - Efford Beacon (1)
The route undulates along fields with blackberry edged footpaths. I'm not sure how helpful this sign to bikers really is. Snails on the path? Really? You'll be putting up signs next saying "stones on path" or "beware, puddles."
14 09 22 Day 10 4 Erosion and sign (2)
[Note - my family have pointed out that I'm quite a dunce.  It actually says nails on path but some wag has added the s.  Well, fooled me eh?].

The path turned to sand and I walked amongst the dunes which traverse the back of Widemouth Sand. Not my favourite walking surface - tssk sand in boots :-(
14 09 22 Day 10 5 Widemouth Bay (2)
This expansive bay is heavily populated by surfers catching the Atlantic Surf.
14 09 22 Day 10 5 Widemouth Bay (6)
The route follows road for a km or so south of the bay. And I came across another 'helpful' sign.
14 09 22 Day 10 5 Widemouth Bay (5)
It was a steep downhill into Millook, a pretty hamlet.
14 09 22 Day 10 6 Millook
Today's wildlife was in the form of Cornish ponies. Weathered, tough little things.
14 09 22 Day 10 7 Ponies
The scenery was a little bit everything; fields, sand, tarmac and now woodlands, which offered some welcome shade.
14 09 22 Day 10 8 Dizzard Woods (1)
Dizzard Woods contain dwarf oaks and, according to the guide book, "nationally important lichens" reminding me of Wistman's Wood on Dartmoor.
14 09 22 Day 10 8 Dizzard Woods (2)
I came across my second trig on the path whilst traversing the woods. Sad poor thing isn't it? And no surveyor would need to unpacked their plumb bob to see if this was out of true.
14 09 22 Day 10 9 TP2791 - Dizzard Point (1)
After the woods it was into gorse lined paths.
14 09 22 Day 10 10 Castle Point (1)
Heading off into space at Castle Point.
14 09 22 Day 10 10 Castle Point (3)
A short descent into Crackington Haven finished my walking for the day. I seriously considered pushing on for another few km, but the route ahead was somewhat "all or nothing" for 7km (I had to factor in walking back to the car which was in the Haven) so I called it quits and headed to Tintagel for a cup of tea and then onto my B&B, Trenowan at Tregatta, Tintagel. I have stayed at this B&B before and strongly recommend it. It is within walking distance of the lovely Port William pub at which I dined later that evening, accompanied by a wonderful sunset.
14 09 22 Day 10 12 Sunset over Trebarwith Strand