Following directions from a couple of locals I find the narrow opening which leads to the beginning of the coast path – right bang smack next to the entrance to the caravan site. The path runs parallel to the road but is well camouflaged and I can hardly hear the cars. It’s a steep climb for first thing in the morning so when I get to the top I stop to catch my breath and look back at the golden mile which is Pentewan Beach.The path runs off into the distance and at intervals I am warned of the dangers of badger holes – but they are so big and obvious I cannot imagine anyone accidentally putting a foot wrong down one of these.
It is a lovely morning and I make good progress, the cliffs are steep – ridges of sharp rock plummet down to the sea – I feel very small and vulnerable in their presence. In the distance I can see Mevagissey and before long I am looking down onto its busy harbour.
More suitably attired I walk along the edge of the harbour and up some stone steps on to the road. I then have to follow the road, through Portmellon, until it turns into a grit track. The turn off to the left appears and I am suddenly plunged into a thicket of ferns following a narrow path out to a promontory of land known as Chapel Point.
Out on the rocks sit a cluster of white houses sparkling in the sunshine. One of these is a five bedroomed house up for sale for nearly three million – not surprising, the views from the house must be amazing and down to the right is a sweet little cove with a sandy beach.
The path from now on is a bit of a roller coaster as it follows the contours of the coast – I am very glad I have my pole with me as my right knee is starting to grumble. I am reminded of the wonderful line from Baz Luhrman’s 1999 hit “The Sunscreen Song” – “be kind to your knees, you’ll miss them when they’re gone”.
By this time I am very hungry and pleased to see that I am approaching Gorran Haven, an attractive coastal village with a church dedicated to St.Just – an early Christian saint about which not much is known.
I walk down into the village and end up right in front of a beach cafe. There are not too many people about but enough to provide some entertainment while I sit and munch my sandwich – I also discover that I have no signal on my phone.
Climbing out of the village onto the cliffs again I start what is perhaps the wildest stretch of coast walking that I have done so far. The beaches, cliffs and woods stretch out before me with nothing to break the view – it almost makes me feel dizzy. I meet no one on this stretch apart from another woman walking on her own. It’s always a pleasant surprise to meet another lone female – we stop to exchange bits of information about the path.
“Where have you walked from? I ask “Portloe” she replies. “Oh then you must have walked past Caerhays Castle” I say, “How long will it take from here?” With a bit of effort she manages “two hours” with an uncertain uplift at the end of the words. She then asks me how long it would take to get to Mevagissey, I concentrate and then give up – “two hours” I say with a grin – we both laugh and turn to go. It is sometimes difficult when you’re walking at a regular uninterrupted pace, to keep track of time……..
At one point I see a large house off to the right, standing guard over the coast – what a place to live……
This is their view…….anyway……….
By now the wind is freshening and dark clouds have appeared on the horizon. I am approaching Dodman Point with its iconic cross, erected in 1899 as a guide for shipping. Coming down the path towards me are a couple, a little older than me, who warn me that it is very windy on the point – “bit exposed” says the man. I start to feel a little apprehensive. When someone says “exposed” it takes me back to the few times Damian has managed to get me up a Monroe in Scotland and ended up talking me through some scary moments.
As it happens, there is no narrow path carved into a vertical cliff face with the prospect of being blown off in a high wind, but it is nevertheless a bit eerie. The large granite cross has an inscription that makes me think it was erected not so much as a navigational aid for shipping but rather for the second coming.
Coming off the point the wind lessens and after a few dips and climbs I arrive at Hemmick Beach. I am now tired and can see that Caerhays Castle, which is where I am heading, is still two bays away. Another problem is that I have no signal on my phone and have been told that there will be none at the castle. My only hope of calling a taxi is if the beach cafe is open and as I have no signal I cannot check. As I stand on the sand dithering, a family walks by and I ask them whether they know about the beach cafe’s opening hours. We start chatting and they soon come to the conclusion that I should stop my walk and come with them in the car to the Lost Gardens of Heligan, where I can get a cup of tea and a short bus ride to Mevagissey. Again, the kindness of strangers makes me want to cry.
The Lost Gardens are beautiful but I don’t have enough time to do them justice – here are a few shots. I will come back.
…..the wonderful Mud Maiden……
Distance: 12 miles