We started the day with a rather downbeat conversation with our breakfast server about how the British have become more selfish and demanding since Covid, and consequently how she can’t keep staff because customers have been so rude to them. When a pub is as great as the Badger, and they are suffering like that, it felt very sad.
The first section of today’s walk went alongside Hayle estuary wildlife reserve, with multicoloured valerian flanking the walls. Strange parallel lines of cultivation, like rice paddies.
It was peaceful walking along the water, wishing I knew more about the different types of birds that were chilling there.
Through Hayle, annoyed we’d bought a sandwich from Asda when we could have bought a pasty from the oldest pasty shop in the UK. Presumably it’s the shop that’s old, not the pasty.
Over the footbridge and past lots of new building on the edge of the quay next to the remains of the tin mining industry. Some of the brick towers appear to be almost becoming absorbed into the landscape, so overgrown with ivy. And finally the path swung round to give us the most exhilarating vista of blue, looking out over Porth Kidney sands and towards Carbis Bay. We felt so lucky to have the weather with us.
Then it was proper dune walking, up and down the sand, hard going but lovely whilst the sun was shining. As with all dunes, it was a literal rabbit warren and of paths too. But the National Trust who maintain the trail have put excellent granite signage at the critical points which helped us out on more than occosion.
Having walked past two cafes that were closed, the alluring sign at the end of Gwithian Towans seemed too good to be true. But indeed it was open, and we got inside just as some unwelcome grey mizzle turned to heavy rain. Brilliantly that had also passed by the time we rested ourselves at the 6 mile mark. I’d been ready to take a semi shortcut and walk along the road to cut out some miles, but instead we decided to rejoin the coastal path after Godrevy point. The skies were blue and the sea was dramatic, it seemed too good to miss. Looking across Hell’s Mouth was amazing, the water thrashing below and the sea birds soaring above. It was sobering to see a Samaritans sign there. I’m very glad that after two years of delays it looks like my training as a volunteer for them might start in January.
Then it was steady walking with surprisingly few people around before taking a break at the 9 mile mark looking over towards Samphire island. And just as I was thinking we were nearly there, the gently undulating moorland changed to the sort of dramatic topography that I had expected of the coastal path. Two steep descents and opposing ascents within less than a mile. The second one, at Caravanell Downs left me gasping and even more determined to lose some weight from the rucksack. If I carry it on the flat it’s fine, but the unbalancing effect it has on the hills is very tricky. As we were catching our breath at the top we could see where instead of the more gradual zigzags down the slope, many people have just descended straight down. Terrifying.
As we continued after a substantial breather, to our delight we saw our friends Ruth and Paul walking towards us from Portreath. And to our increased delight, Paul had brought the makings of tea, portable stove included. We sat in a (not quite as sheltered as we’d thought) spot and enjoyed catching up. And then Paul won all the awards I can offer by carrying my rucksack for the rest of the journey. Bravo and thank you!
A very quick turnaround and they drove us back to the Gurnards Head to pick up the car for David’s return tomorrow. It felt odd to be retracing my steps, seeing the coffin path fields from the road. We then went on to Penzance to enjoy Paul and Ruth singing with the Penzance Conmunity Gospel Choir in the Penlee open air theatre. An evening filled with joy which would not have happened without saying yes to this walk.
Distance: 13.2 miles
Total ascent: 1463 feet
Calories burnt: 1859
Local tipple: Can of Pimms at the theatre
Dinner at the Penlee Open Air Theatre - better than expected!
Vegan curry and naan
Number of items that I thought were essential but have sadly been taken home by David to lighten the pack - 6
Video of the day: