Another beautiful, clear day. Up at 7:00, down to breakfast. Our cheerful waitress showered us with endearments, “What you want dearie?” “That’s all right then my darling’” Will that be all mi luv?” etc. etc. Set off by 9:30. Passed the war memorial from the First and Second World Wars. So many names from such a small village.
South West Path stretches high above the Camel estuary as it makes its way to the ocean. This part of the coast is where they filmed the shipwreck scenes in the Masterpiece series, Poldark. Easy to imagine smugglers and shipwrecks, and all sorts of goings on. These are deserted coasts with many hidden coves.
After two miles we came to Steppes Point, the headland that reaches out into the ocean side. Looking to our right, the cliffs, with the ocean in gorgeous shades of blue green and turquoise with the waves crashing and foaming against the rocks far below. To the east, pastures, and hundreds of sheep as far as you can see. No commercial property, no condominiums cutting off the view, just open sky and space.
The path narrows as you dip and turn and becomes a shallow stony ditch, no wider that two boot widths. We clamber down, and around, and over stiles, and through pasture gates. Jennifer has brought her walking sticks, and soon we each take one to help with balance and in my case to lighten the load on my left hip, which has been giving me some trouble. But not today!
At Trevone Bay we look down on a lovely beach. nestled between the rocks. Surfers in the water, and sun worshipers on the beach. At the little café we eat lunch. We have walked 4.5 miles in three hours. Not exactly fleet of foot. I have my fit bit, so there is no mistake. It’s 12:30 and we need to go another nine plus miles. Jennifer estimates we’ll get to Porthcothan about 6:30.
After lunch we walk across a half mile of hard, wet, sandy beach, avoiding rivulets and puddles when possible, but my boots seem pretty waterproof. The coastal path starts again and leads back up onto the cliffs. Around a blunt headland and a couple more sharp descents to the beach and back up to the cliffs. Looking at our map we see how little progress we have made. We round a grassy headland at Cataclews Point and it so inviting we lie down on the soft grass for a short nap. Looking at my fit bit, I see we’ve gone 7 miles. We decide to take a chance and circumvent the next prominent headland, Trevose Point. So with some trepidation, as our map only shows the coastal path, we head inland, down a dirt road just north of Mother Ivy’s Bay. After a few twists and turns we see signs for Booby’s Bay, and find the sea again, and the path comes along to greet us like an old friend. Here the waves are really big. Surfers and life guards are all along the beach. The good news is we’ve cut off about a mile and a half of walking. The bad news is we have four more miles to go.
At Constatine Bay the beach is covered with small polished pieces of slate. We move on, as the afternoon is moving on. There is another rest stop and some accommodations at Treyarnon Bay. But after trudging across the sand we find the café is closed, although there is a little shop by the parking lot for beach stuff, and cold drinks. I sit down under a bush beside the car park and take off my boots. The bottoms of my feet feel like grilled sausages. That’s the neuropathy complaining, a condition of jangling burning nerves that is not pleasant in the best of circumstances. Jennifer goes into the little store and buys a Dandelion and Burdock soda. Mostly sugar!
Up we get, and on we walk, back up onto the cliffs, past the Minnow Islands, which in my view should be called Whale Islands. They are big, and hump-backed. We round several deep cuts in the cliff where we look looking down, down, hundreds of feet to the brightest sea green water, and the waves crashing and foaming and shooting spray high up on the rock face, ghosts dancing against the cliffs.
On we go, past a bird sanctuary for sky larks, and corn buntings. Then the path turns inland, and finally, finally, at last, we are looking down at the village of Porthcothan, a few dozen houses clustered at the end of the Porthcathon bay. Down we climb, using our poles for balance and purchase on the stony, steep path. Down onto a paved road, across a stone bridge, and after asking for directions to our B&B, along a dirt road to our B&B Penlan. Mary Neale, our hostess, is waiting at the end of her walk. How did she know it was us? “Well.” she said, “the others are already here.” We had walked 14.6 miles according to my fit bit, and it was 5:30. So our speed was not quite 2 miles an hour.
I had developed a nice blister on the knuckle of my right big toe. So Tim, Mary’s very nice husband drove us up to the hill to the pub. More Cornish cider and a BLT for me. Jennifer had a ham and cheese and Ale. We had glorious view from the deck of the little cove and the hills surrounding. Mary and Tim arrived after we had eaten. Sat and talked awhile. He is into computers, videos, and websites. He and his son have a business some miles away. She is the B&B hostess, a beautiful woman, white hair softly pulled back from her face, charming, probably in her forties or early fifties, with a wry sense of humor. They raise a few sheep, a few chickens, and a dog. Two or three grown children. One in Washington D.C. It’s a rural life. They love Cornwall, have lived in the area for thirty years.
We walk back down a very narrow road, bending, turning, on a steep hill. Back over the bridge and to our B&B. It’s 8:30, but still a bright sky. As evening descends, It turns really chilly. We turn on the heater. This is where the I-Pad comes to our rescue. We decide not to walk all the way to Newquay, which is 11.25 miles away, (pronounced Newkey) the next day. Jennifer researches buses lines and bus stops, and where the path comes close to a bus stop. While she does that, I take an ibuprofen for hip, just a precaution, put a Salinpas patch on my hip, just a precaution. Put on a band aid, and cut out a piece of moleskin for my blister, and fall into bed.
The word for the day:: Knackered, as in “What you get here are walkers, and they are knackered, and that kind of puts me off.” (The answer we got from our B&B host at Simply Padstow when we asked him whether he had ever walked the South West Coast Path. Today I understood.)