Thursday, 25 September 2014

Day 14 - September 17th 2014 - Par Sands to Portloe

There was a dour start to the walking today with the path passing through the china clay works on the west side of Par Sands. Much of the site has fallen into disrepair and it all looked quite tatty. About the most interesting thing I saw was a goods train shunting in sidings. At least it was overcast and breezy to begin, quite a relief after yesterdays heat.

Next was an easy walk along the coastal fringe of a golf course. The western end of the course was above a wide sandy beach. Unfortunately this particular beach was in a terrible state, totally out of keeping with everything else I'd seen in Cornwall so far. All but the part nearest the sea was fenced off, there were ugly derelict buildings surrounded by weeds. It can only be described as eyesore, such a shame.

After passing the front of a fairly posh looking hotel at Carlyon Bay I found myself at the well preserved Georgian dock at Charlestown. Two lovely tall-ships were in for maintenance. I noticed one of them shares its name with my sister Ruth. This was more like it, at last I had something worth getting the camera out for. I noticed a shipwreck museum. Charlestown became the latest on a long list of places where I'd love to go back and spend more time having discovered them during this coast walk.

I pressed on through Duporth. The path passed between the sea and peoples front gardens, not much of a view due to hedges. I noticed a 'for sale' board sited to advertise a property to coast path users. Quite a good idea I thought. You never know, somebody might fall in love with the area while passing through on foot. At Porthpean Beach a large group of well supervised children were enjoying the surf. They were excited and noisy, clearly having a great time.

After Porthpean the path got quite hilly where it goes through farmland heading towards Black Head. Badgers were active here, they'd damaged the path in several places. At Trenarren I realised I was going the wrong way after missing a turn. Rather than double-back I headed down a connecting path marked with a sign saying 'to the coast path' from a car parking area. After following it coastwards I found myself on a steep descent leading to the pilchard station at Ropehaven. With the sea on my right I knew this was probably wrong. It was, Ropehaven was a private property, I came to a dead-end at the gate. After retracing my steps I got back on track. Almost immediately I found myself behind a large school party, stragglers at the back of the group were moving quite slowly. This was a narrow section of path, barbed wire keeping walkers out of a fields to the right, brambles and nettles to the left. Overtaking was out of the question so I hung back and walked at their speed too. I didn't mind, in fact I was very pleased to see children being introduced to the wonders of our coast. They eventually left the path to see the fort on Black Head, I carried on my way, now back up to normal speed.

After some ups and downs above a rugged section of coast I passed through Pentewan, the path took a road through town. The caravan park between the road and the beach was doing good business, clearly a popular spot. For a couple of minutes the wind picked up and there were spits of rain in the air. Just when I began contemplating putting on my waterproofs the light shower stopped. This would turn out to be the only precipitation I'd see during this six day spell of walking.

Lea was waiting for me on a bench overlooking the pretty harbour at Mevagissey, I joined her for lunch. It was a lovely spot, Mevagissey joined Looe and Polperro on the list of quaint, unspoilt Cornish fishing towns that are charming and colourful. Each one of them well worth a visit. After my rest I passed along the front at adjoining Portmellon. With the tide high spray was being thrown across the road which was green with seaweed.

The coast started to become quite rugged and spectacular again, though the path itself was an easy walk compared to yesterday. I saw some large houses in a wonderful location at Chapel Point with superb views. Gorran Haven was another typical small Cornish fishing town. People were enjoying watersports from the beach, I passed straight on through and headed up towards Dodman Point. I paused next to the cross at the top taking in my first looks across Veryan Bay. A couple who'd arrived there before me were resting on the base of the cross enjoying the marvelous views. I pressed on and dropped down to isolated Hemmick Beach. The only people here were a couple of German tourists exercising their dog. For the fun of it I leaped across a gap in the seawall where a stream passes through.

After passing large boulders and cows at Clitters Rock and some more relatively easy walking I emerged at Porthlune Cove. Lea was waiting for me as planned. This was a lovely spot, beautiful Caerhays Castle designed by John Nash overlooking a lovely sandy beach. Quite a few people were here enjoying this wonderful, peaceful location.

After taking a short break I pressed on, keen to make it to Portloe today. The path still had a sting it's tail, these last three miles proved to be quite hard work, probably the hilliest section of the day. West and East Portholland were pretty, tiny villages that look like they've probably changed very little in at least a century. When I emerged at Portloe I made another successful rendezvous with Lea in a carpark just off the path. Google Streetview was proving very useful tool when route-planning. In areas you don't know it really helps when you've both looked at online images of the intend meeting points and the approaches the evening before.

Behind the car I changed out of my sweaty walking gear and freshened up. Half an hour later we were in Truro, Lea kindly treated me to a delicious Italian meal to celebrate the occasion of my 48th birthday.

Distance Walked Today 23.63 miles (38.03km)

Walking Time; 8 hours 12 minutes

Average Walking Speed 2.9 mph

Cumulative Distance Walked 312.87 miles (503.52km)

GPS Track;

Charlestown Dock

Children in the sea at Porthpean Beach

Black Head, some of the school group I saw are making their way to the top


The view west across Veryan Bay from Dodman Point

Porthlune Cove and Caerhays Castle

East Portholland

Arriving at Portloe


  1. Wow Gary, you cover so much distance in your walks! I hang my head in shame :)
    Loved this section of coast and enjoyed reliving it by reading your account. (I even liked walking through the decaying industrial area at Par Sands. The beach at Carlyon Bay, in a disgraceful state as you mentioned, is subject of a dispute between locals and the developers.)

  2. Hi, thanks for your comment :)

    Yes, my daily mileage is higher than average. Though is that a good thing? It's not as if I'm in a race. It could be argued that if were to slow down and take my time I'd be able to enjoy all these wonderful places far more than I do presently. It's something I've often thought about.

    The reason I choose to stick to the long days for now is because I can devote precious little time to this journey. Ten days per year is about the most I can hope for. While I'm still fit and healthy I intend to get as much as possible out of each walking day without going too far and over-exerting myself.