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  • Jane Smith

Day 4 - Portreath to Perranporth. Solo.

Updated: Jun 10

A tearful farewell to David, unfortunately interrupted by another couple at the air BnB who weren’t sure what to do with my emotional face. And then after the big send off we saw each other again almost immediately as he had gone off in the wrong direction. Maybe because he was emotional too. We had an interesting chat last night about fear. He told me that yesterday he found one of the steep gradients very scary, and became frozen. I was ahead, so unaware of it. He remembered a motivational sports speaker he heard who talked about fear being a choice. And so he decided not to be afraid, and carried on. I’m going to keep that idea with me as the solo part really starts.

I love the coastal path, and know a section in North Devon very well. The spectacular views, the wildness and the feeling of space and freedom are unparalleled. But I really could manage without some of the steep bits. Today there were two very challenging sections by the end of the first hour.

At the top of the first, when I was wishing I’d taken the inland route all day, I was greeted by the most extraordinary view of an MOD communications bubble surrounded by purple flowers. Possibly flax? It was a bizarre lunar vista in purple.

Half way down the next slope I had a lovely chat with Joe who is doing as many hills as he can in preparation for a gruelling event in Corsica. I was trying to avoid the hills, he’s searching them out.

I met a couple who had seen someone doing the end to end on an electric motorbike. And then someone else who said I was the second person he’d ever met doing the walk - but the other one had walked from Scotland, down to Cornwall, and then all the way back to Wales. That’s showing off.

I ducked off the coastal path for a little as I wanted to have a look at the village of St Agnes. Just before the footpath off to the road there was another remnant of the tin mining at Wheal Tye. I presumed it was from the 18th or 19th centuries, but actually humans have been busy here since medieval times. It stopped being a mine 100 years ago, and now nature is claiming the area back, with rare plants earning it an SSSI status.

As I walked up the steep pull from Porthtowan I stopped to chat with Dennis. He’s a fellow walker who climbed Ben Nevis to celebrate his 60th, and 5 years later he’s now training for the 6 peaks challenge. He’s also doing the coastal path to train for the event, he’ll be walking 20,000 feet in 12 days. Wow. And raising money for the Cornwall hospice care as he has done for 31 years. There are some great people out there.

I took my 6 mile/2 hour break feeling tired and a bit shaky. I need to eat more at breakfast time, however much I don’t want it. So a granite bench built for the previous jubilee was appreciated. Not sure the Queen will have sat on it, it’s a bit out of the way. But welcome nonetheless.

Down into St Agnes, taking in the museum on the way. The curator recommended I stop in for lunch at the Miners and Mechanics Institute. Uncertain about whether I qualified, I tried a more bijou cafe en route instead, but that was full, so the MMI it was. What a great place. It was originally a working man’s club for the eponymous miners, but was taken over by the community and is now a thriving centre hosting all sorts of events. And such generous people. Stefan, Michael and Alan - it was a pleasure to meet you all and find out a bit about what a special place St Agnes is.

With a considerably happier spring in my step, I wandered down through the village in the rain. I’d considered opting out of the coast path after St Agnes and taking the shorter, flatter but more boring road route. But I’d been given such a boost by the people at lunch that I climbed up on to the cliffs again.

A different feel this afternoon, the drizzle got heavier until it was proper rain. But my mood was not dampened, in fact I even climbed up an extra hill just to see what was at the top.

This section wasn’t as demanding in terms of ascents, but there were a couple of sheer drops just inches from the path. As soon as I notice something like that I am convinced my feet will wander off. Takes a lot of concentration to make sure they don’t. A wild and blustery afternoon, passing lots more mining and excavating signs, including at Cligga that was used as a munitions factory at various times, including at one point being owned by the Nobel family of prize fame. The site eventually mined wolfram. For those not au fait with munitions construction, wolfram is used to produce tungsten, which is needed for the manufacture of armour plating. What a place to come to work.

As I rounded the point at Cligga the wind hit my face with a bucketful of rain and extra sea spray for good measure. Laughing, I temporarily sheltered in the lee of some of the munitions excavations, feeling very pleased that I spent a fortune on an excellent light weight waterproof. And then I soggily descended to Perranporth and my lovely pub right on the beach. After perfecting my technique of washing both myself and my clothes simultaneously (I am already smelling peachy!) I strolled round the village. Later after dinner I enjoyed a great conversation with a new friend Julie about walking as a lone woman, together with the joys of post menopausual anxiety before finally enjoying the late evening sunshine on the beach. A good day.


Stats

Distance: 12.2 miles

Total ascent: 2200 feet

Calories burnt: 1792

Dinner at the Seiners Arms - delicious.

Thai seafood curry with sea bass and king prawns

Cornish cheeseboard

Local tipple: Pint of Betty Stogs from Porthleven brewery. I only got charged for half, and when I pointed it out the landlord gave me the other half for free because of my honesty. Result.


Number of bare feet that finally made it into the sea, even though it was raining at the time - 2


Video of the day: https://www.relive.cc/view/vxOQoeMAGMq



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