Stage 19, 12th March: Portloe to Maenporth
A chilly yet perfect day for walking if very hazy and thus the views were fairly naff. As the road access into Portloe was a little challenging, Sharpie dropped me at the top of the village and I retraced a few yards to start the day.
Everything was very quiet all morning with signs of human life very scant. I found an old cold war military bunker lurking menacingly at the top of a cliff. I managed to ascertain that it was more than a single room by the number of vents and pipes poking out at ground level, but unfortunately the entrance was gated and locked so I couldn’t poke my nose in to see what lurked beneath.
I lunched alone on a small beach near Carne and spent a few minutes combing for shells before heading inland at Portscatho to head for St Mawes and a ferry over to Falmouth. The road down to St Mawes was probably the most dangerous part of my trip so far. High banks edged the road and I had nowhere to go if the cars didn’t give me a wide berth. A few cut it a bit fine and with each approaching car I tried to catch the drivers eye through a tinted windscreen just to check that they had seen me and weren’t in a world of their own on their mobile phone.
Falmouth seemed refreshingly unspoilt with its cobbled high street not solely reserved for pedestrians. It had the usual set of chain shops but also a healthy set of independents with a great old record shop selling vinyl which was very tempting to my wallet. To the east of the town a small working docks and industrial estate took me round to Pendennis Point and a 99 cone with flake beckoned at my loose change. After checking for marauding sky rats, I bought one and strolled down the road happily lapping away. Though by no means high summer, I came across a small beach full of students playing a variety of games or idly gossiping and arranging their next social event. One girl sat in the middle clearly wrapped up in her own world and, to me, looking a little sad. She watched me pass by and I wondered what was going on in her head with a little worry.
Stage 20, 13th March: Maenporth to Gillan Creek
Another estuary day! This time the Helford river had to be walked around as the only ferry is seasonal and I can’t afford to wait for 2 weeks. I tried my luck with the ferryman painting his boathouse at Helford Passage, but there wasn’t vague flicker of acknowledgement in his voice and he was clearly more concerned about finishing his gloss work.
Heading away from the coast path, I had plenty of road walking to endure with the odd daffodil field (photo) in full bloom to brighten the tarmac vista. It was up hill, down dale all the way and I admit to getting a little bored but nowhere near as bored as the woman behind the counter at Gweek post office who took my money for a mint Magnum with barely any acknowledgement.
More roads and then a brief yet spirit lifting walk across country through fields so deep in mud that they would have been impassable a week ago. With a week of dry weather they now had a crusty top which kept me from sinking more than ankle-deep. A lovely woodland walk followed with an assault course of fallen trees to negotiate. These kept me entertained and with the added bonus of discovering the odd hidden fairytale cottage the whole afternoon was a good one.
I met up with Sharpie at Helford and rejoined the coast path for a brief 2 miles to a roadside waterfront boatyard night stop in St Anthony. The evening was passed chewing the cud whilst listening to Led Zeppelin with Gammon, egg and chips on the bus menu – not bad huh? Max and Paddy come to mind.
Stage 21, 14th March: St Anthony to Lizard
It was a cold, still and misty morning as I inched my way over the slippery stepping-stones crossing Gillan Creek. It was so quiet that I’m sure a whisper would have carried a mile. As I rounded the headland, even the waves were respectfully quiet as they whispered back by gently lapping at the shore.
I met not a soul for some considerable time though I did spot an old couple at distance collecting driftwood on the foreshore. Passing through the recently decommissioned and desolate gabbro quarry was a little eerie. The path wound itself through the murk and quarry debris with old warning signs rusting on delapidated fences. The quarry gave way to a low rocky shoreline and the path was scattered with plastic and polystyrene detritus blown up from the recent storms. At Coverack a short section of road had collapsed onto the beach below but there seemed little urgency to repair it and signs of how they would engineer such a project weren’t apparent by any means.
From Coverack I climbed over the cliffs to moorland like terrain. I met a few fellow walkers for a quick chat and sat and ate my lunch in the shadow of a deserted look out post at the disturbingly named Black Head. At Cadgwith the path was perilously close to the edge of the spectacular Devils Frying Pan (photo) and it was just a short walk round to the Lizard and a meeting with Sharpie for a few poses at my first compass landmark – the Southern most point of the British mainland. In celebration we enjoyed a few jars at the local hostelries and a damn good fish and chips back in the van.
So, the end of another week and probably my best so far. The weather has been very much on my side and my foot has healed pretty well as long as I kept off the tarmac. To top it all, I’m slowly establishing a routine and hence I’m gradually becoming a little less uptight about getting from A to B and beginning to enjoy the ‘to’ bit in the middle. I am not tempting fate by saying that I will succeed in this little quest, but I feel that maybe I can now relax a little and actually start to enjoy rather than endure it.