The walk up and out of Portwrinkle is very steep and there is a slight drizzle – I stop to ask directions of an old lady who looks a lot like my Welsh grandmother and we have a little moan about the weather. At the top the path levels out and the rain stops – I have time to look around me. I don’t know what this plant is but the small creamy bell like petals catch my eye.A while later I can see the village of Downderry below me and in the distance what I believe is my destination for today – Looe complete with island.The path winds around the back of Downderry and then runs alongside a few houses – I turn left at this signpost and make for the beach where I stop for a drink at the beach cafe. The tide is way out so I make a few enquiries about the feasibility of walking all the way along the beach to Looe. One remark is enough to stop me worrying “Well it can get a bit rocky, but if my mother can do it so can you” says a woman in her thirties. I set off.I soon leave the dog walkers and day trippers behind and find myself alone.The beach reminds me of the one between Penarth (where my parents used to live) and Cardiff. There is a lot of pink and grey stone…….
…..and a little later I am forced to scramble over some very large boulders, keeping a wary eye on the advancing tide. After what seems like an eternity the beach levels out and I start hearing voices of children playing – I have arrived at Millendreath Beach. One little girl is trying to bury her brother in what can only be called mud now – up to his neck in it. They are having such fun but I don’t feel comfortable taking close-up photos of other people’s children. It is very hot and the water looks so tempting that I lean my walking pole against a rock, take off my boots and paddle. I then walk about 100 yards up the beach before realising that my pole is missing – back I go. I really must get into the habit of looking behind me every time I make a move – I am getting a little forgetful.
As I move onto the terrace of the beach cafe a young girl is coming out on her own with quite a large pack on her back. I ask her if she’s doing the South West Coast Path, which she is, and yet again I’m told that I’m doing it the wrong way round – most people do it anti-clockwise but I have another agenda. Anyway, we exchange bits of information about paths and ferries and say goodbye. She gathers her poles and sets off slowly and purposefully up the steep hill – not as lucky as me, as the tide is now in, cutting off the beach. She is the third woman I have met out walking alone since I started back in 2011. Climbing steeply up the other side it doesn’t take long walking along the top of the cliffs before I can see East Looe below me.The path winds down into the town and spits me out onto a bustling high street full of tourists. I stand blinking in confusion feeling like an alien just landed from another planet but quickly adjust – enough to head straight into the Oxfam shop for a pair of shorts and a swimming costume, both of which I did not pack. I then find the ferry over to West Looe and my B&B where I equip myself more appropriately for the hot day and set off towards Hannafore Point and Talland Bay.Walking up to Hannofore Point involves a narrow very busy tarmac road – I spend my time dodging pedestrians and cars.At the top people are flopped in deck chairs taking in the view across to the island – or having an afternoon snooze. I am tempted to join them but it’s too early to stop now.
The rest of the walk along the top of the cliffs is very pleasant but very hot – and I have no water with me. By the time I get to Talland Bay and the very welcome beach cafe I am parched. As I stand waiting my turn, the man in front of me is served what looks like a very cold shandy – bubbles gently rise to the surface, the glass is frosty, I pant. When asked I find myself replying with the classic “I’ll have what he’s having” “Bless you” the lady behind the bar says, “You look like like you need it” “Bless you” I think.
Distance: 13 miles