I walk out of Mullion village and back to the coast path at Polurrian Cove where I meet a dog walker with the broadest smile I’ve seen for a long time. Her dog has one brown eye and one blue which I find attractive and repellent at the same time.
As I approach Poldhu Point I pass the Marconi memorial, which marks the site of the wireless station where, in 1902, the first trans-oceanic wireless telegraph was sent – all the way to Newfoundland. I have my own history of Marconi, absorbed gradually from visits to Penarth in Wales where my parents lived. On Sunday afternoon outings we would sometimes walk to the plaque at Lavernock Point from where, in 1897, Marconi supervised the transmission and receipt of the first wireless signals over open sea, between Lavernock Point and Flat Holm island.
A little later on, when the path merges with tarmac, the smiley dog walker overtakes me in her car and stops to tell me that I am very close to Poldhu Beach Cafe which has won all sorts of awards. She is not local and her enthusiasm borders on the fanatic, somewhat like people who suddenly turn to religion after a lifetime of spiritual apathy, but perhaps I’m being cruel. Anyway, I am neither hungry nor thirsty so I do not stop although it does look inviting and I like the driftwood sculpture outside.
From Poldhu, I walk through National Trust Land (donated by the Marconi company) – the sun is out, and it is a beautiful day. Soon Gunwalloe Cove comes into view, with its own church set back from the beach. The path winds down onto the sand and I seize the opportunity to take off my boots and walk barefoot. Unfortunately the sand quickly morphs into pebbles and after negotiating a little stream cutting through the beach I am forced to squeeze my feet back into hot leather. As I walk towards the church a woman in her 70’s appears, hobbling barefoot over the pebbles with her head down, obviously looking for something. As I pass her I notice she looks a little distraught and in a plaintive tone she tells me that she had taken off her sandals on the beach and now can’t remember where she left them. Her husband is over the other side of the stream looking but I get the impression that they had been searching for quite a while. I retrieve my inner girl guide and offer to help. I find the sandals almost immediately, balanced on a rock on my side of the stream. Triumphant I return them and their almost tearful gratitude makes me feel good for the rest of the day – small things.
From here there is a long stretch of golden sand but I know from reading other descriptions of this walk that once on the beach you cannot get back up onto the cliff and at some point rocks will obstruct your passage.
This golden mile leads on to Loe Bar, which is a long stretch of shingle and sand separating the coast and a large freshwater lake.
As I approach it I pass a simple white cross – another memorial to lives lost at sea.
I wonder about about the choice of the word “impressed” which must have had different connotations back then.
By now it is early afternoon and very hot – I trudge across the bar, there is no shade and I’m having difficulty seeing where the path continues. Finally I see a path leading up onto the cliff again and walk along a wide tarmac lane down into Porthleven. This is the town where Damian and I had planned to stay at New Year before storms, high winds and torrential rain stopped play.
Turning a corner on my way into Portleven I am pulled up short. The Wreckers Yard is an essentially boring pebble dash house but the yard is a work of surrealist art – no rhyme nor reason.
Portleven harbour reminds me a little of Tenby with its row of tall stern faced Victorian houses.
I check into my BnB and after a quick tea and scone revival I catch the bus to Praa Sands as I still have lots of the day left to fill. My rucksack is light on my back and I don’t even mind the mile road walk to the coast from where the bus drops me. Praa Sands is busy, children screeching, radios blaring – I am happy to turn my back on it and walk back in the direction of Porthleven.
At one point I pass one of those useless signs that warn you of something but don’t tell you how to avoid the danger. How am I supposed to recognise a mine shaft before I actually fall into one?
As it happens it is quite easy to imagine where they might be as the next half mile from Rinsey Point is littered with the spectacular ruins of disused tin mines.
Later on I spy this distinctive rock formation on Trewavas Head which has been gradually eroded by wind and rain and is now known as either the Camel or the Bishop.
……………….and another known as the Love Rock – despite some research I have no idea why………………………………
And now I am back to the hustle and bustle of Portleven, where I will spend the last night in Cornwall for at least three months – back in September.