Stage 25, 19th March: Cape Cornwall to St Ives
After yesterdays lethargic effort I felt much better today but the going proved to still be quite tough. The early tracks around the old mines at Botallack, Levant and Geevor were well-worn paths and were thus easy walking. The mining landscape was eerily beautiful and I couldn’t help thinking that if the light was better it would have been a great area for taking some stunning industrial landscape photographs – but I tried (photo).
Across to Zennor the terrain became bleak heathland and was utterly deserted with barely a sign of human civilisation let alone anybody else on the path. After Zennor a few serious walkers appeared and during one brief conversation we jointly spotted what looked like a pair of dolphins breaching the waves and heading purposefully northwards. The path became a real hands and knees scramble over numerous boulder fields, up and down and around headland after headland before St Ives finally came into view and I met up with Alec on the seafront who led me to a stunning campsite overlooking the bay with full facilities – including a shower block with underfloor heating!
Stage 26, 20th March: St Ives to Portreath
An early start direct from the campsite was intentional as the weather forecast (from Kate my own personal and trusty home based weathergirl) was for heavy rain and high wind later in the day. Once again the early path was easy and it got even easier as it turned to tarmac to walk inland around the causeway at Hayle. The first shop I had passed for a few days tempted me in and I indulged myself with my first ice cream for a few days (a Feast). I wolfed it down in seconds, wary of predators as I scanned the sky for marauding sky rats.
A three-mile walk along the hard sandy beach from Hayle across St Ives bay to Godevry Point was a treat. Fortunately the now growing wind driving sand along the beach was on my back as I don’t think I would have enjoyed that stretch one bit if I had gone the other way.
Though the wind tried its best to make me look drunk ,walking around the headland and along the cliff tops was relatively easy. As I checked my progress against the map I picked up on fantastically evocative names such as Hell’s Mouth and Deadman’s Cove. But it was here that the rain caught up with me and I belatedly donned full waterproofs for the first time.
It was only just after 3pm when I descended from the gloom into Portreath car park (photo) for my rendezvous with Alec and Snickers. This was far too early for camping up, so we killed an hour by treating ourselves to a proper coffee in the harbour cafe and watching drenched dog walkers heading for shelter from the comfort of a rare but welcome sofa.
Stage 027, 21st March: Portreath to Newquay
HAPPY BIRTHDAY RACH!!!!
I severely underestimated today and headed out with the thought that my estimate of 18 miles and 3,000ft of ascent was but a walk in the park. With a quick climb out of Portreath and then three more in quick succession I hadn’t even rounded St Agnes Head. Another sharp drop and climb towards Cligga Head and I was beginning to suss that today wasn’t going to be that easy. Adding into the equation were occasional heavy showers accompanied by blustery winds which blew me sideways as they gathered pace over the cliff tops.
To entertain me I had miles of more dramatic industrial ruins comprising spoil heaps, old mine shafts and stone walls and buildings poking their heads through the heather clad ground. This time they were supplemented by pastel shades of red, yellow and green in the rocks on the cliff face. For most people the colours would be enough but I geekishly like the mineralisation around the granite margins in Cornwall and found myself irresistibly slowing my pace to pick through the spoil heaps for a pretty pocket-sized momento or two. At one point a large flash of rich green in the rocks at the bottom of the cliff sorely tempted me. From distance I suspected a huge chunk of malachite had recently been exposed by the storms and I so wanted to get down there to investigate and maybe snaffle a tonne or two. Alas, my climbing skills aren’t that good and there was no way you could reach it from sea level either.
Reluctantly moving on, I was soon rewarded with another glorious beach walk across Perran Sands but this pleasure was soon negated by the joyless experience of walking up and over the dunes at Holywell. I had a brief but close encounter with a stunning Red Kite in the marram grass. It flew up infront of me like a startled pheasant but then opened it wings and showed its true style as it headed off inland.
A walk inland from Crantock Beach brought me to cross a tidal footbridge into Pentire (photo) and on to Newquay where Alec had booked a night in a hotel to meet his demands of a 5:30am start to get home the following morning.
My arrival at the hotel brought me crashing back to real life as some pompous prat was complaining at reception about not having a king-size bed in his room. Welcome to the real world eh! After nearly 23 miles and 4,700ft of ascent I was sorely tempted to plant my trekking pole where the sun doesn’t shine.
My evening was greatly cheered by Skypeing my family at home. It was great to see them all, particularly as I was missing a birthday. Can I just formally apologise here and now for winding the dogs up….oops sorry Kate!
MILESTONES: Over 500 miles and 100,000ft of ascent so far!!!