Just to recap, my family and I are trying to walk the whole of the South West Coastal Path. We started in May 2016 and in October 2019 we went there again for our 11th visit! This time it was just my son, Scott and I. Everyone else in the family had either school or work and were not able to come. We drove down (through very heavy rain) and made our way to Mullion Holiday Park in Helston, Cornwall. This was another Daily Mail offer which was incredibly cheap and which I would highly recommend for anyone wanting to go walking down in the South West. We had a caravan which was plenty big enough for the two of us (but if 4 of us had come as was originally planned it may have been a bit of a squeeze) and the camp site had entertainment and restaurants etc (but we didn’t use any of these), It was perfectly situated for where we wanted to start our walk for this trip. We had finished our last walk (back in August) at Penzance.
Day 1 – Penzance to Praa Sands
The next day we drove to Sydney Cove on Praa Sands and caught a bus to Penzance to start this stretch of the walk. We headed off from Penzance bus station and the first part of the walk was quite level and very easy going. We walked past St Michael’s Mount, once a Benedictine Priory and a fortress. The tide was out so we saw people crossing the causeway on foot. We had visited this on a previous trip and it is well worth a visit. By now we were in Marazion (an ancient market town which claims to be the oldest town in Britain). We carried on to Perranuthroe with it’s interesting church dedicated to St. Piran and then on to Piskie’s Cove and Bessie’s Cove near where the HMS Warspite was grounded. We also passed Prussia Cove which was named after ‘The King of Prussia’, alias John Carter, a notorious smuggler. The whole walk today was fairly easy but it was about 10 miles and by the time I got to Prussia Cove I was waning! However we had enjoyed brilliant weather and as usual the views were just magnificent en route. As we arrived at Sydney Cove storm clouds were brewing and we just managed to get back to our car before the heavens opened. We found a pub (The Old Inn in Mullion) where we had dinner before heading back to our caravan.
Day 2 – Praa Sands – Poldhu Cove
Despite it pouring down all night (it sounded like we were sitting in a tin can!) we woke up to sunshine! In fact we had a glorious day today and even got a little sun burnt! We had to get two buses today back to Praa Sands. (Scott is great at working out connections and timetables as most of these buses are only one an hour and missing one means we end up wasting time). We headed off over the cliff tops and passed the Wheal Prosper Engine House above Porthcew (where the contact line between the granite and the slate can be seen clearly) There were a lot of landslip areas along this route, caused by the slate in the area. To the east of Tregear Point is a moving monument to all men, women and children who died in the sea and, prior to the Grylls’ Act of 1808 were buried on the cliff side and not in consecrated ground. There is also supposed to be a giant rock on the beach below which is made from garnet-gneiss (quite different from other rocks in the area) and it was thought that it was dropped here by a melting iceberg but, to be honest, we couldn’t identify this. Heading onwards we stopped in Porthleven for a pastie (Scott) and an ice cream (me)! Porthleven is a pretty little fishing village with a picturesque harbour. From there it was fairly easy walking with most of the paths running parallel to the cliff but there was a lot of mud and it was quite slippery which slowed us down. I also forgot my walking pole today and so Scott had to help me more which also slowed us down. Later in the day we passed The Loe (Loe is the Cornish word for pool). This is the largest natural body of fresh water in Cornwall and was formed in 1301. You cannot swim here as the water is rich in phosphate and nitrate and so suffers from periodic blooms of toxin producing blue/green algae. In fact most of the beaches along this stretch are not good for swimming as the sea has a strong undertow and the waves were huge and crashing against the rocks. Incredible to see but not good for swimming. After passing the Loe we climbed a hill and saw another memorial. This one was in honour of the people who died after HMS Anson was beached here in 1807. The local people were powerless to help and this inspired a young cabinet maker called Henry Trengouse to invent the Breeches Buoy which since then has saved countless lives. (He was sadly only given £20 for his invention and ended up dying penniless!) We carried on past Halzephron (Cliff of Hell) Cove and here the road had slipped and we were rerouted. (A lot of this part of the cliff has suffered from land slips). We finished our walk at Poldhu Cove and got the bus back to the caravan. Another 10 miles completed!
Day 3 – Poldhu Cove – Lizard Point
Today our luck with the weather ran out. We had showers all day! We got caught in at least 4 heavy showers and it was so blustery we almost got blown off the cliff tops! We started by getting the bus back to Poldhu Cove and headed off up the cliff. Again we had beautiful wild views all along the route! We passed the site of Marconi’s Wireless Station from where the first transatlantic radio message was sent in 1901. The next cove we passed was Polurrian Cove and then we continued to Mullion Cove and we passed Mullion Island which supposedly is an important breeding ground for cormorants, shags and greater black backed gulls. South of Mullion we passed through a National Nature Reserve. This is a beautiful area and usually Shetland ponies and Soay sheep are used to keep down the scrub land but as we passed through we saw a sign saying that this year they were using cows for the grazing. (Meaning we didn’t just have to avoid the mud but the numerous cow pats too!) (We actually turned it into a game called “Avoid the Cow Pat!” and for the duration of this stretch we spent more time looking at the ground than at the beautiful views!) Finally in the distance we saw the twin towers of the Lizard lighthouse (the most southerly point in the UK) but before we got there we had to climb down into Kynance Cove which has been a much loved tourist spot since Victorian times. The view as you look down into Kynance Cove was stunning, huge rocks with crashing waves and a small sand bar where people were walking. There is a small cafe there (The Kynance Cove Beach Cafe) that is well worth a visit (they sell the most enormous cornish pasties!). We sheltered there for a while as another downpour had just started. We then did the last couple of miles to Lizard Point. From there we got a bus back to our caravan. Another 10 mile stretch done!
Day 4 – Lizard Point – Cadgwith
We were heading home today but after we checked out of our accommodation we decided to do a few miles walk before heading back to London. We drove to Lizard Point and left the car there. The idea was to walk about 3.5 miles to Cadgwith and then get a cab back to Lizard Point. (However, the best laid plans of Ann and Scott didn’t work out quite like that!) We had a good walk and it was quite an interesting area. We passed Housel Bay with it’s big hotel overlooking the sea, Bass Point where it’s slopes are covered with Hottenton Fig, an unwelcome alien plant as it’s mass of stems chokes the natural flora. We also passed The Lizard Wireless Station and Lloyd’s Signal Station and a Coast Watch Tower where we waved at the voluntary watcher as we passed by. There was also a smart new RNLI Boat House at Kilcobben Cove. We looked down at the Devil’s Frying Pan which is an amazing funnel shaped rock formation before arriving in Cadgwith. Cadgwith is a very small fishing cove with fishing boats up on the beach and a jetty like area called The Todden. However, when we arrived we had no phone signal! We did however find a telephone box and after a lot of discussion about how to use one -it must be over 30 years since I have – we rang a couple of taxi firms. Unfortunately none of them were able to come quickly so Scott decided that he would walk back and get the car! So I stayed in Cadgwith and found a lovely little bar/cafe (The Old Cellars) where I had some lunch whilst Scott retraced his footsteps back to the car! (I believe the watcher in the Coast Watch tower records who goes past and I do wonder if she wondered what had happened to me and why Scott was rushing back past her!) I was then picked up and we headed home!
So another 33.5 miles done of the South West Coastal Path. We have now done about 306 miles…just another 323 to go!