For some strange reason the coast path leaves the coast at Porthallow and follows a winding minor road down to Porthoustock – I walk past a sign on the way that makes me smile……..
Porthoustock itself is rather uninspiring, the dull weather and grey hulk of a huge concrete silo contributing to the general air of gloom – saved a little by the pretty cottage up on the cliff to the left.
I cannot follow the coast path here either as the headland is quarried so I walk back up the hill and follow signs which bring me back to the sea.
I walk up onto the cliff, noticing that the bushes are decorated with knots of startlingly white wool – I pick one up and roll it through my fingers. In days gone by, when I rejoiced in rejecting technology for traditional crafts, I was, along with two other women in the “commune”, the proud owner of a spinning wheel. I still remember the wonderful smell and oily feel of the fleece before it is carded, ready for spinning. We spent hours carding, spinning, dying with natural dyes and knitting sweaters – the boys rode old Norton and Enfield motorbikes. ……..
This clump of wool is devoid of oil and almost feels artificial – it must have been too long out in the salty sea air and rain. My mind then turns to a book I have just finished “The Shepherd’s Life” by James Rebanks, which is a vivid account of the rigours of life for sheep and their owners in the Lake District. I now look at sheep quite differently.
Lost in my reverie I round the headland and come to a halt on the edge of what looks like a disused quarry but there are signs everywhere warning of heavy traffic – today it is silent and slightly creepy. I am also acutely aware that a kilometre out to sea lie the group of submerged rocks known as The Manacles on which hundred of ships have come to grief over the years.
I scurry up the path which then opens up into an area of flat boggy land known as Lowland Point.
Fortunately, the ever considerate National Trust have laid slabs down to save walkers from sinking in the mud – I am regularly moved to tears by the thoughtful construction of this coastal path with its beautiful wooden and stone stiles, strategically placed posts for getting over them, boardwalks, bridges and stepping stones.
Quite soon Coverack comes into view in the distance where I will be sleeping tonight. My plan is to have some lunch and then walk on a few more miles with a considerably lighter pack on my back. Entering the village I head for the Paris Hotel, not named after the French capital but after the stranding of the luxury liner SS Paris on Lowland Point in 1899. No life lost this time, thanks to a chance sighting of the ship and prompt action to divert its course. It is said that the SS Paris was a favourite with the seagulls due to the quality of the pickings it left in its wake.
After lunch and much deliberation I decide to continue along the coast path as far as Lankidden Cove but as there are no busses to bring me back I will have to walk back along the road. One of the last gardens before leaving the village has a wonderful display of these alien succulents – I used to have one myself but as a house plant it soon withered and died but a friend of mine has them growing in a sheltered part of her garden.
Further on the path gets very rocky and steep, I am glad I only have the barest minimum on my back.
……………………..and again the National Trust comes to the rescue on the way up to Black Head.
On the way up to Beagles Point I come to a sign which rings a few alarm bells – what kind if cattle? Cows or bulls? I meet neither.
The path gets wilder and wilder and I am very much alone in the late afternoon sunshine.
Across the bridge I go and up the steep hill on the other side, scorning a bench at the top of the climb – but as we all know pride comes before a …………………………shooting pains in my lower back take my breath away and my legs crumble in shock. Gingerly I tip- toe back to the previously rejected bench murmuring apologies and sit down very carefully. I wait, will I be able to continue or will the pain be too bad? Don’t know yet……….Is there anyone around? No………. Do I have a couple of miles left to walk? Yes ……….Oh dear……
After a long 10 minutes I try standing up and walking a few paces – there are twinges but I can walk, slowly. So that’s what I do, until I reach the Cove (which I will save for another day) and turn off right, up a farm track and then the road back through Ponsongath to Coverack.
I sit in the fish and chip shop later, vowing to myself to go back to yoga classes.
Tomorrow is Sunday and there are no busses out of Coverack. I ask a few local lads in the bar about taxis and one of them recommends “Nutty Noah” an ex-fisherman from Cadgwith Cove who is ” a bit strange but a good lad” Hmmmmm.
Sunday dawns and the taxi arrives, driven by a jovial character with a real “out in all weathers” face. At one point he answers my questions about why he has given up fishing with his own question to me. “Would you like to hear the song of my life my dear?” I giggle nervously as he launches into the first few notes of a sea shanty. I am amazed and curse the fact that my iPhone to record him lies buried deep in my rucksack. As the last notes of his ballad are dying away we reach my destination and he lets me out – how wonderful! It is only later in the train that I notice the Utube url on his card. So here is the song…………………
Distance: 11 miles