Trebarwith Strand to Pentargon 15.9.17

A few minutes after leaving the warmth and comfort of our BnB we are hit by a sudden, unexpected deluge of rain leaving us scrabbling for waterproofs. And as we trudge silently down a narrow muddy lane to the sea, both of us are wondering whether this is a good idea.

At Trebarwith however the rain stops and after a quick hop and skip over the black slippery rocks we set off up the hill.

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The rain however, continues to haunt us so I don’t take out the camera until we are approaching Tintagel. Several Pac a Mac tourists are braving the weather to make the pilgrimage to the ruins of the monastery and the castle – we are more concerned with finding a place for a cup of coffee.

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After a coffee and a particularly good carrot cake, we join the path again and dally for a while to brush up on our history. It is remarkable how, through the centuries, the Arthurian legend has captured the imagination of people in Britain and abroad, particularly when you consider that the details of the story are mainly composed of folklore and literary invention.

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From Tintagel the walk to Boscastle is easy, we follow a wide path across the top of the cliffs past Bossiney Haven and Benoath Cove, until we reach a deep descent down into Rocky Valley.

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Coming up out of the valley, the rain starts but thankfully doesn’t last long. When the camera comes out again the map shows we are walking through Western Blackapit, an area littered with ruined slate structures. These are the remains of the quarries that produced slate here to be shipped out of Boscastle in return for coal and timber from other parts of the country.

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Around the next corner we look down on the narrow approach to Boscastle Harbour. Apparently, in the days when this was a busy port, it was never safe for ships to enter under their own sail, so on their arrival, a boat with nine men called “hobblers” would go out to meet them and tow them in to their berth.

Here we meet people for the first time…….

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Boscastle Harbour is very pretty and even on such a dull day the National Trust cafe is packed with visitors. It has an interesting display of photographs showing the damage done to the harbour by a flash flood on the 16th August 2004. On just that one afternoon, 75 cars, 5 caravans, 6 buildings and several boats were washed into the sea. Approximately 100 homes and businesses were destroyed, including this one which has now been rebuilt, complete with its original sagging roof!

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By this time the weather is picking up so we decide to walk on to Pentagon, where a footpath across fields will take us to the road and then back on the road to Boscastle.

Distance: 10 miles

 

Port Isaac to Trebarwith Strand 14.9.17

Another day of strong winds, roaring in the ears, trying to keep my balance – everyone’s complaining – keeps the flags flying though…………

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I walk up the steep coast road incline out of Port Isaac and down into Port Gaverne. Across the bay is a small inlet with a bridge connecting two sections of cliff but the path is closed.

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From the top of the cliffs there is a lovely view of my walk today………

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………and as I wobble along the path, fighting the wind I am very glad to have these stone slabs protecting me from the precipitous drops on the other side.

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At the top of the next drop I pass a couple huddling into the bank – the girl looks very scared.

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…..and I myself am a little apprehensive about the wind, the narrow path and its proximity to the edge.

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……………and then it starts to rain………………..heavily. I tuck all my precious electronics away and take stock. And what I come up with is RETREAT – this is not an endurance test and I don’t want to die.

So, at the very next opportunity I turn off on a footpath that leads me over fields to the road running parallel to the coast. Here, the wind is not as bad and there is very little traffic. I walk for a couple of miles, the rain stops and the sun comes out – I decide to go back to the coast path.

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This of course is not without its challenges – a field full of frisky bullocks sets my heart racing but they’re not blocking the path and as advised, I make no eye contact.

The footpath takes me through the ruined farm buildings of Dannonchapel, first recorded in the Doomsday Survey of 1086 as housing 1 villager and 4 slaves.

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Climbing up to Crookmoyle Rock I look down into the deep gorge beyond and take it very slowly.

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At the bottom is a lovely wooden bridge to take me over the stream…….

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…………..and another one to take me across the ravine at the top …………..

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In the distance is Gull Rock which marks my destination……………

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…………..and then I find this – too late in the year for cuckoo spit but I am about to find out.

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Just before the next steep descent I look down on a little cove of foam, whirling up from the rocks and settling on the path ahead. I realise this is spume, which is when the waves are whipped into foam or froth by a strong wind. I have only seen it once before and that was many years ago when Damian and I tried to walk a section of the Pembroke Way in a 30mph wind.

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I walk down this winding narrow path to the bottom of the valley and give myself a rest and a banana by the side of this pretty little stone bridge.

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And from here on the walk is easy, along the top of the cliffs, although there is one last steep drop down into Trebarwith Strand.

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The beach here is a large area of layered flat stones with a stream running through them. There are quite a few people milling about staring out to sea or messing about by the stream – Gull Rock stands to attention out to sea. The village amenities are one fairly big hotel, public toilets and a cafe. I am also surprised to see two surf shops but the shop assistant tells me that when the tide is out there is a wide, long sandy beach and plenty of opportunities for surfing.

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I sit on one of the large stones and finish off my lunch thinking about how I’m going to get out of here – there is no telephone signal and no bus service. In the cafe I ask the owners if they would call a taxi, which they do, but I will have to wait an hour – it is school run time of day and there are none available. Ah well………

Later, from talking to other walkers I discover that the walk I did today is considered the most dangerous section of the South West Coast Path and is labelled “severe” – even without the wind!

Distance: 7 looooong miles

 

 

Padstow to Port Isaac 13.9.17

Padstow is gently waking up as I arrive. Stripped of the blanket cover of tourists you can see it for what it is – not Rick Steinsville but a Cornish fishing port.

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I stand and wait for the ferry to take me to the other side of the estuary – there is a small patch of blue sky ahead.

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………………and here it is………….I love a ferry in the same way I love stepping stones.

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On the way across I ask the ferryman about cafes on the other side – he grins and tells me there is one but you’d have to mortgage your house to get breakfast in Rock. I decide to wait for my morning coffee.

On the ferry are a Dutch couple who I chat with for a while. They tell me they come every year to do a section of the South West Coast Path – sleeping in tents. The woman tells me she is suffering from a lack of sleep due to the recent storms and that tonight they are treating themselves to a BnB – hardcore.

On landing at Rock I set off at a fast pace not wanting to chat all the way to Port Quin but I needn’t have worried. When I look round to take a photo of Padstow I see that the poor woman is struggling to keep up with her partner who keeps having to wait for her.

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The path from Rock crosses an area of dunes and passes some beautiful stretches of golden sand, which I think was where Damian and I went for a swim many years ago on a weekend break with his sister and husband.

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IMG_3502A piece of beach art catches my eye……………..

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At Trebetherick the shore becomes rocky until I come to Hayle Bay, the surfing beach at Polzeath. I do wish surfing had been part of my childhood, although I hate to say it I think I may be too old to learn now.

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Here, I find myself a cup of coffee and bun which will help me on my way up to Pentire Point and around the headland.

Walking out of Hayle Bay I pass a patch of succulent plants that I recognise from a visit to  the coast of Portugal. Anybody recognise them?

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It is a lovely walk up and around the headland and down along the edge of Port Quin Bay.

 

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Rumps Point with its spiky spine stretches out into the sea……………………………

 

 

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A mile to two later I come to what the map calls Lundy Hole, where a narrow wooden bridge has been constructed to take walkers over a steep ravine into which the waves  heave and smack against the rocks.

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The path now becomes a little more challenging, steep and uneven, I walk past disused mining shafts, fenced in with flat stones – they look a little mystical.

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I am now heading for Doydon Point where the landscape opens up to a wide stretch of green, overlooked by a grand house.

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And opposite the house, perched on the cliff is what looks a little castle – even though I have to leave the path to investigate I am curious as what it might be.

This is Doydon Castle, which is locked and let out for short term breaks. It is a very isolated spot, and taking the full brunt of the strong wind from the sea. You would have to stock up well, there is no twenty four hour corner shop.

By the way, the coloured bubbles from the top window are just reflections on the camera lens – quite pretty though.

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From here it looks like there are two paths to Port Quin – I take the low road which winds down, joins the high road and follows the bank of the inlet down into the hamlet. There is no refreshment to be had here and I am now quite hungry. There is also no phone signal – what to do? Keep walking.

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The next three miles are quite strenuous and I have very little energy left. In desperation I search all the small corners of my rucksack and find a small wrapped biscuit which must have been an unwanted accompaniment to a coffee in a more satiated moment – I gobble it down.

This lovely little calf is unfazed by my pitiful condition………………..

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And at last I top the last hill and look down on the Garden of Eden ………………….

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Port Isaac…..

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From here I check the buses – there is one in 40 minutes which will take me back to my Bnb. I make straight for the nearest pub where I claim a corner seat overlooking the harbour, two packets of crisps and a pint of Proper Job – heaven!

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Distance: 12 miles

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Trevone to Padstow 12.9.17

Arriving on the Newquay plane today means I can manage a half day of walking. I’m staying at the place I finished last time, a crumbling family hotel with board games, quiz nights and an ancient labrador. On the beach a couple of good citizens are picking up litter – wish there were a few of those where I live (including myself of course).

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I haven’t been walking for about six weeks and I can feel it in my legs on the steep pull up out of the bay. The sky is overcast but there’s no mention of rain in the forecast.

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Down in the valley I cross a little wooden bridge and then up the other side from where I can see what looks like a lighthouse on Stepper Point. From here it looks all downhill on the map into Padstow – but more of that later.

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One of the stiles is offering refreshments but it is much too early – I have to earn them.

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I walk high up above a cove called Butter Hole – must be the colour of the sand?

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…..and later the sky starts to darken ………..here we go again. Off to the left is a tall grey brick chimney and as the rain starts to get heavy I head towards it to see if it can provide any shelter – the wind picks up, practically throwing me through the arched entrance.

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Inside it is fairly dry and I prepare myself for a wait. There are two arched windows looking out to the sea – maybe this was a look out tower.

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Half way through the remains of my ham sandwich, I am startled by the sudden appearance of a young girl in the entrance. She is dressed unsuitably in a skimpy top and long gypsy skirt, a handbag over her shoulder. Both her hair and clothes are drenched.

“Just my luck” she says in a strong Cornish accent, “always happens on my day off”. I shrug and mumble something about it soon clearing up, wondering how else I can continue this conversation in such a confined space. There is a few minutes of silence.

“Ah well, no peace for the wicked” she says over her shoulder and lowering her head into the driving wind and rain, disappears. I am left with a feeling I have just witnessed a visitation from another century.

It looks like the rain has set in so resigned to my fate I too set out to rejoin the path which leads me down the side of the estuary into Padstow but there is still a way to go.

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Across the bay I can see what must be Rock where I will be starting my walk tomorrow.

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I pass the coastguard station and a little hamlet called Hawkers Cove. Here, I mistakenly walk some way up a minor road thinking it would lead to Padstow but a quick look at my online mapping app tells me I’m wrong…………..sigh. I turn round and find the path again which leads to the edge of an area of dunes – and then get lost again.  This time it is really not my fault – I consider the options, look at my map and cannot see where I should be heading unless it’s right into the middle of a copse of drowned trees. Panicking only slightly I try walking up a narrow tarmac lane and there it is – the sign! In completely the wrong place………I will write a letter……………..

After all this excitement I arrive at the war memorial which marks St. Saviour’s Point.

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….and from here on it IS downhill into Padstow……………………………

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Distance: 6 miles

 

 

Constantine Bay to Trevone 22.7.17

It is a better day today as I set off in the opposite direction from yesterday, heading for a wooden stairway at the end of the beach which leads up into the dunes.

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The path runs inland a little, passes the golf course and then on to Trevose Head.

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From the cliffs I can see two men standing on a rock looking out to sea, I wonder how they got there as I can see no obvious path.

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…….I also wonder why almost all the lighthouses I pass use the exact same bright green colour for their doors and window frames – is this dictated by the National Trust? It reminds me of the houses I saw on Lanzarote many years ago. Here there are tight building restrictions to prevent the kind of overdevelopment seen on sister islands like Gran Canaria and Tenerife and even the colour of the houses is tightly controlled. All buildings are painted white, with green shutters in the countryside (for farmers) and blue by the sea (for the fishermen).

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I walk around the headland and back down the other side where the path now takes me past fields.

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The path narrows and right beside it I come across this memorial – it is a strange place to scatter ashes as it has no real sense of “place” – the view of the sea is obscured and behind the plaque is just an anonymous field. Perhaps the landscape has changed since 1986 – I do hope the sleep of a labouring man IS sweet.

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The path now winds its way down, past a lifeboat station and into Mother Ivey’s Bay (I wonder who she was?)

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Here, the cliffs are crumbling into the sea (like so many other places on the coast) and there is a diversion which leads me into a large sprawling campsite.

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I ask for directions to the campsite toilet and a mother and her two small daughters show me the way. They have been collecting mussels and I am just about to tell my mussel poisoning story when I think better of it. The campsite facilities are immaculate, enough to make me think about taking up camping again, but not quite.

After what seems like an eternity trying to find the way out of the site I am directed towards a gate and back on to the cliff path.

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From here I walk down to the beach and take a few photos of what had been obscured by the high hedge of the camping site. I love the colours of the different rock strata.

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Around the next headland is Harlyn Bay – I am tempted to stop but I don’t want to miss the bus at Trevone (would have to wait two hours for the next one) and the skies are darkening.

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I practically run up onto the cliff path and round to Trevone Bay but I am not quick enough – soaked. Fortunately, I have plenty of time for the bus so I pop into a hotel in the village and lick my wounds over a shandy (it is still quite early in the day).

 

It is a strange coincidence that I finally have found time to write this blog just before I discover the podcast of Claire Balding reporting on the same walk in her Radio 4 series “Ramblings”. I will listen to it later.

Distance: 6 miles

 

 

 

 

 

Constantine Bay to Porthcothan 21.7.17

I wake up to the sound of rain and my heart sinks – a quick look at the forecast confirms my fears, heavy rain for the next few hours. A new plan is needed so I decide to go to the cinema in Newquay and try for a shorter walk later. The lovely couple who run the BnB offer me a lift – it’s a 20 minute drive. Waving goodbye I head into the cinema only to be told that the film is sold out – there is only one cinema in the town and every holidaymaker in the area is hiding from the rain – oh well……..

Dispirited I walk back through the town and duck into a cafe to make another plan. The rain actually looks like it might be easing but it’s a 45 minute bus ride to where I could start my walk – oh well….

By the time I arrive at Constantine Bay the owners of the beach cafe are tipping up the seats to let the rain run off and there is the occasional glimpse of weak sunshine. I fortify myself with a cup of very good coffee and start walking south along the beach (Porthcothan Bridge is undergoing repairs and no busses are running in the area – this means I will do a circular walk, coming back on the road)

IMG_3448At the end of the beach is a beautiful house with what the Scots call a “sitootery” overlooking the beach……………

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……and further up the hill another dream house…………………………………………………………………

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I am now crossing a wide flat area, fenced off in places and this is why……………………………..

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…………..evidence of recent rainfall…………………………………………………………………………………………..

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I then walk along the top of the cliffs and down into Porthcothan.

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By this time I am getting  little peckish so before I set out on the road back to the bus stop in Clementine Bay I stop for a cream tea – one of the many Cornish delights. This has been a short walk but I’m glad the weather didn’t keep me in all day.

Distance: 3 miles (and 3 miles back)

Newquay to Porthcothan 20.7.17

Almost two months has passed since I was in Cornwall last and I can barely remember the details of the next three walks so they will be short.

I’m up bright and early this morning and certainly not the only one. Large groups of young children and teenagers are being herded across the beaches leading out of Newquay (how many beaches can a coastal town have?). Rallying cries fill the air for kayaking, surfing and sandcastle competitions – screams of excitement follow me up the road.

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……..and a little later on the cliffs need shoring up ……………………………………………………………..

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…………another beautiful beach…………still not out of Newquay yet………………………………………

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…..but all is not perfect in paradise – what the hell CAN you do?!!

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Eventually I feel I’m out of Newquay and on my way to somewhere else…………I walk out to the head, round it and back down to yet another beach (am I beginning to sound weary?)

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I am now looking back at Tregurrian Beach, – a glorious sweep of golden sand leading up to the village of Mawgan Porth. I haven’t been able to walk on the sand as it’s difficult to climb back up the cliffs at the northern end but instead taken the path across the top of the cliffs.

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The path now winds up and down passing through Fox Hole, around Stem and Griffen Point followed by the more prosaic Berryl’s Point.

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A plane from Newquay Airport appears in the sky, breaking the silence…………………………

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…………and a throne for some ancient Celtic King …………………………………

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…………….and in the distance, the coastal village of Mawgan Porth where I hope to get some lunch.

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Finding a cafe I am joined by someone equally hungry who, despite my protestations  continues to glare enviously at my sandwich. I remember the recent story of a little boy losing his ice-cream to a seagull.

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Leaving Mawgan Porth I head up onto the cliffs – for such a beautiful day, the path is strangely deserted. Sea stacks tower above the waves.

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It is an easy walk along the top of the cliffs until I reach Parc Head……………………………….

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This beautiful herringbone wall catches my eye and I meet walkers for the first time.

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From the top of the next descent I see a group of people busily re-arranging stones on a grassy mound raised up from the beach – I am curious.

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As I get closer I realise it is a stage for small cairns that people have built………………………

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It’s a small sculpture park – some of them are quite ingenious………………………………………

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I add my own…………………

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Like sentries guarding the cove – what a lovely idea…………………………………………………………..

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I am by now getting a little tired but I don’t have that far to go – I pass a collection of large black rocks, the waves blasting the tops of them and cascading down ………………..it is mesmerising.

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……..and around the next corner is Porthcothan Beach, my destination, and where the real trouble starts.

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After a well-earned ice-cream in the only cafe on the beach I pay my 20p for the toilet and head up the road to where I believe I can get a bus to take me back to my BnB six miles away.

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At the top of the hill (strange no-one waiting at the bus stop?) I am told that because the bridge at Porthcothan has collapsed there are no buses and I have no signal on my phone to call a taxi.

Soooooooo……what to do? As luck would have it, there is a car parked nearby whose owner now returns and asks if I would like a lift! This lovely young girl is an aspiring marine biologist who goes out of her way to drive me back to Mawgan Porth where I believe I can get another bus to take me home.  Arriving back in the village I walk back and forth between two bus stops, neither of which convince me that there is a bus at all and after a few fruitless enquiries I am beginning to feel a little despondent. But lo and behold I am rescued again when a black 4×4 pulls up and a woman jumps out asking if I would like a lift. She had apparently been watching my progress and taken pity on me. Hurrah! I spend the journey learning about surfing from her chatty (pretty unusual) teenage son and daughter.

All’s well that ends well……

Distance: 12 miles