Trewithian to Porthole 11.5.16

Owing to the complications of practically non-existent public transport and the dearth of reasonably priced Bnbs on the coast, I will first be walking east and then west today. I cross the road from Trewithian Farm and after a short walk on the road I set out east on the coast path.

It is early and very misty and I can barely make out the shape of Nare Head in the distance. I walk quickly, aware of the fact that I have a lot of ground to cover if I am to reach Falmouth today, particularly because I have to factor in the timetables of two ferries. To the right the sea is very still as I walk through drifts of wild spring flowers – daisies, harebells, dandelions, celandines, primroses, bluebells and pink campion (thank you Sharon). At one point the path turns right and upwards past what looks like an out of season hotel and then continues on the road, soon dipping down to Pendower Beach.

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On the way down I pass another group of shuttered buildings so I ask two dog walkers if they know why. I learn that the building in the photo below used to be a hotel doing great business in the summer until the owners decided to sell up. It was then bought by a city gent with ambitious plans to knock it down and build a MUCH BIGGER hotel but the locals objected – this was 8-10 years ago and it has been empty since. This story reminds me of the building opposite our house which has stood empty for more than 18 years due to a family feud – such a shame.

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I skirt Pendower Beach, climb up a few steps and carry on across the top of the cliff.

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The next hotel I come to is very much alive – the Nare Hotel overlooking Carne Beach – it looks nice but I can’t afford the time for a cup of tea.

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I am now getting close to Nare Head and making good time but the amount of screeching and squawking which reaches my ears stops me in my tracks. It is coming from Gull Island which sits just off the headland – hence its name.

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Soon I can see the roofs of Portloe peeking up out of the rocky landscape – I have made it in time to meet my taxi which will take me back to where I started 3 hours ago – I will then start walking west.

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Now walking with the sea on my left I reach Porthbean Beach where my boots touch sand briefly but are then directed up the cliff.

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From here I follow a narrow winding path which opens out onto a flat broad stretch of land and a look out post complete with coastguard.

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Beyond Porthkurnick Beach I can now see Portscatho in the distance and my mind turns to lunch.

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On reaching the village I walk down to the harbour and find a pit stop with sausage rolls and a tray of “Pata de Nata” (Cornwall has come a long way). The coffee is good but the whole experience is somewhat marred by a disturbingly loud and persistent noise coming from a generator powering an algae removal machine. The man behind the counter explains that this has to be done because STUPID PEOPLE cannot read the notices that tell them not to walk on the slipway and then do so and have accidents. His venom has such force that I feel very happy I am not one of these people.

Up on the cliff again I check my watch, worried that I am not going to make the last ferry from St. Anthony’s Head to St. Mawes – missing it would be a very long walk back with no guarantee of a room at the inn at the end of it. I quicken my pace, stopping briefly to investigate a strange wooden pole standing on its own.

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The plaque underneath tells me that it is a Wreck Pole erected by the coastguard services and constructed to look like a ship’s mast. It was once used in training exercises where a rocket and line would be fired from a ship and be attached to the pole. From there a breeches buoy would be used to practise winching people out of sinking ships.

I hurry past through swathes of pretty thrift (thank you Helen)……………IMG_2676

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………..until I reach the “cairn” of St. Anthony Head. By now I am very hot and bothered – it is getting late and I still have about an hour’s walk up the estuary to a place called Place (yes really) where I can get the ferry. I march on, which is something I don’t like to do,  past some enchanting little coves which I would have liked to have stopped to enjoy – but not today.

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Eventually I come to a sign directing me to the ferry and a sweet little church with its own medieval coffin, discovered during recent excavations – it is lined with thick moss and looks very comfortable.

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Just around the corner is the sign for the ferry but I am still not in the right place! Where I’m standing is the high water landing – I need to walk another half a mile to the low water  slipway (sigh).

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The path takes me upwards and around a very grand house and gardens and eventually to a break in the trees with steps leading down to a pontoon. There is a sign at the top which confuses me – is the last ferry 16.45 or 17.45? I ring the mobile number and get no reply and in a slight panic ring the office number where I eventually get through to a gentleman who assures me that the ferry is on its way but that I am still not standing in the right place! I am then directed right over some rocks and down a narrow, very slippery slipway covered in algae (am I now one of those STUPID PEOPLE and is that why its called a slipway I wonder?)

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……………….and here it comes, oh what a relief………………………..

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I clamber aboard and sit back and enjoy the view. St. Mawes looks lovely and I find myself wishing I had planned to stay here especially as by now I am really tired.

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But all I have to do now is enjoy a swift half outside the pub on the harbour and wait for the last ferry to Falmouth. And I don’t have to wait long ……………………………………..

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IMG_2695The Tamar Belle sails me past the warships in Falmouth Docks – I am really looking forward to supper and bed.

Distance: 17 miles

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Saundersfoot to Manorbier 25.03.16

Back again in Saundersfoot and what a difference a day makes – blue skies and sunshine, follow me down a narrow tarmac road to a sign pointing up to a beautiful stretch of woodland that I would have photographed except that my iPhone keeps telling that I don’t have enough storage to do so. I don’t really understand the message as I spent an hour yesterday deleting photos……..oh well.

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Coming out of the wood the path follows the coast, there are some steep climbs and descents and I start to wonder if I dare use my walking pole. The reason I am a little cautious is because I have a hunch that the continuous jarring of my right shoulder when using the pole, may have been what brought on the ice age (the 9 months of adhesive capsulitis or frozen shoulder to friends). Anyway, I now find myself in another patch of woodland where I walk past signs with warnings of felling. It is very quiet so maybe the foresters are on holiday – heavy trees lie uprooted around me, their roots tangled and dry.

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Out of the wood I’m back on the cliff in the sunshine and as I climb up and out of a place called Waterwynch, I start to see glimpses of Tenby in the distance. This is where I will be staying the night so the plan is to empty my rucksack and continue on to Manorbier. The best laid plans…………… a look on the map reveals that my BnB is in fact some distance past Tenby in a village called Penally…………oh well.

As I walk down into Tenby I take a few photos of the pretty little town but then my iPhone gives up again. Here is one of mine with the tide out……………..

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…….and here is one from the net with the tide in – this one may disappear after a while, something to do with copyright so enjoy it while you can. The long low white building with the red roof is the old lifeboat station which is now a home and was the subject of an episode of Grand Designs.

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Tenby has two beaches, a north and a south – before heading off east from the south beach I stop for a cup of coffee in an Italian restaurant which is doing brisk business and where they all seem to be Italian!

Refuelled I stride off down the long wide beach called The Burrows keeping an eye out for the turn off through the dunes that will take me to my accommodation. The path leads to Penally Station and where I’m heading is just up the road. I quickly empty my rucksack of all but the essentials and head up a tarmac road where the map shows a turning off to the left to take me back to the coast. I walk through a few gates and come out on the boundary of a military shooting range – it is Good Friday so no red flags flying.

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I head for the horizon and come out onto a wide grassy path that runs along the top of the cliffs – from here I can see the outline of Caldey Island.

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I will never forget the description in Robert Macfarlane’s book “The Old Ways” where he asks us to imagine the first few monks of the 6th century setting off in a coracle in the cold light of dawn, bent on finding a new home……….the Cistercians are still there.

On I walk in the late afternoon sunshine, I am making good progress with my nearly empty rucksack bobbing about on my back. Soon I start to see the serried ranks of caravans at Lydstep Haven in the distance. I am tempted to stop for refreshment in the site cafe but decide to eat a banana on the hoof as I don’t want to arrive in Manorbier too late for the bus back to Penally.

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Back up onto the cliffs I skirt another military enclosure and promptly get lost! I spend a long time walking back, forth and around two large fields of unusually curious sheep trying to find the path. The shooting range makes it difficult to just head for the sea and my only point of reference is a farm and its narrow dirt road, which I eventually decide to take all the way into Manorbier, an attractive little seaside village with its own castle.  I head for the pub which turns out to be just across the road from the bus stop, and spend the next 30 minutes deleting photos over a pint of real ale. Must remember to take my camera next time.

Distance: 12 miles

 

 

 

Saundersfoot to Laugharne 24.3.16

Billy Connelly maintains that there is no such thing as bad weather, just the wrong clothes.Weeeeelll…………………..

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The forecast is disheartening but as I set off from Saundersfoot in a light drizzle I manage to convince myself that I will get through the day. I am walking anti- clockwise today for reasons too dreary to mention, so for once the sea is on my right hand side.

Climbing up from the beach I am directed up and through two short tunnels under the cliffs – one of them is illuminated with low level red lights.  As I emerge blinking from the second one I meet a man and his dog: “Back to normal then” he says – it takes me a full 2 seconds to realise he’s talking about the weather.

IMG_2442IMG_2445I soon reach a seaside spot called Wiseman’s Bridge and from here a wide concrete path makes for easy walking in to Amroth. My map has a castle marked so I follow the signs under a stone arch past a huge caravan site to see what turns about to be a large grey turret ed mansion. It is getting more and more difficult to take photos in the persistent rain but I manage to whip out my iPhone to take a few.

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From Amroth I follow signs up onto the cliff where the wind picks up, I tighten my hood.

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Down below me massive slabs of granite pave the beach, everything is grey and wet and the only saving grace are the yellow gorse flowers set against the rich brown/red colour of winter ferns.

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IMG_2451Towards the end of Marron Sands I come across the sodden carcass of a dead lamb which has something wrapped around its hind legs – could it be after birth? Is this a still birth? Anyway, I scurry past.

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By now I am very very wet and I have a sneaking suspicion that my waterproof trousers and jacket are leaking in places. My next hope of shelter is Pendine which I think is about  a mile away.  The path now dips steeply down and up again and I realise I have reached Gilman Point. Descending slowly down the narrow stony path I spy a strange metallic structure off to the right which turns out to be nothing more interesting than a pumping station. Disappointingly there is no shelter in the cove although I do hide from the wind for a while behind the ruins of a rectangular stone structure. I have no idea what it is but even in my despondent state I manage to appreciate the energy in the iron bars struggling to escape the stone and mortar.

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Realising that I am now soaked through, I leave my shelter and come across  a sign which points up the hill to Pendine – it says 0.7.kms. Up I go until almost at the top, where there is a confusing divergence of the path. Off to the right, in the right direction, is a very narrow path which suddenly gets very narrow and turns a corner. All I can see is a steep slope downwards and a lot of loose rocks. This can’t be the way I think and retrace my steps to follow the path leading off to the left (in the wrong direction). This takes me across a trampled barbed wire fence into a field. I stumble across to where I think the path may be and lo and behold there it is – but on the other side of a high untrampled barbed wire fence. Desperate measures are needed so throwing caution to the wind I lift one leg over the fence and promptly get stuck. A horrible tearing noise tells me that the fence spike has ripped a hole in my trousers and I can even feel it sneaking into my underpants. Very carefully  I manage to lift myself off the fence and completely demoralised, make my way back down the hill where I know there is a minor road that will take me to Pendine. All these shenanigans have now added a couple of miles to my walk.

It is with huge relief that I swing open the door of the Point Cafe in Pendine and squelch my way to a table. There is only one other customer so I have plenty of space to peel off my wet clothes. The young boy serving approaches me: What can I get you? he says, unfazed by all the puffing and panting and the sight of my dripping clothes. “A towel” I reply with a grin – he does not smile. Nevertheless, when he brings me my teacake and tea he also hands me a towel. It is also him who offers me a lift to Laugharne as he will be going that way soon.  I accept, Pendine to Laugharne will have to be another day.

Distance: 8 miles

Hemmick Beach to Porthole 30.12.15

Alas, the 10 days of meticulously planned walking on the Cornish coast did not happen – rain stopped play. Here is the one and only photo of our 3 mile walk in torrential rain and howling winds – this was taken the day before.

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Our taxi drops us at Hemmick Beach which is unrecognisable. This is where I stopped last September on a soft balmy evening, rescued from a no phone signal dilemma and offered a lift by a lovely family to The Lost Gardens of Heligan.  Today a whirlwind of spume covers the beach and sea wall as we struggle to keep our balance in the howling wind and lashing rain. “Are you sure about this?” Damian shouts, as head down, we lean into the wind and crawl up onto the cliff – I can’t shout back, the wind whips away my words.

After a while the path dips down behind some bushes and a relative calm descends but it is still raining – heavily. We reach the shuttered castle at Caerhays, its carpark deserted and later the crossing from East to West Portholland and its cluster of holiday cottages. On a good day this would be lovely, today the sky is a leaden grey and the sea is angry.

At this point I make an executive decision not to walk back up onto the cliffs, but take the road back to Portloe. Sheltered by the hedges the wind is bearable, but it is still raining – heavily.

Eventually, soaked to the skin and more than a little worried about the weather report for the next 10 days, we arrive back at the car and drive off towards Falmouth. If there is to be no walking then we will visit the Eden Project and the Hepworth Sculpture Garden in St. Ives – I’ll come back in the Spring.

Distance: 3 miles!