So we headed back to Cornwall this October for what was probably our last trip this year to continue our trek along the South West Coast Path. (Quick recap if you haven’t seen any of my previous reviews: my son Scott and I, together with other family members when they can make it, are trying to complete the whole of the South West Coast Path before I get too old and doddery ! We have done more than half of it so far just another 200+ to do!)
Anyway on this trip we were joined by my middle grandson, Jordan who is 27. Scott and I had driven down the night before to stay at a Travel Lodge in Saltash. We had arranged to meet Jordan at Liskeard Station the next morning. (Planning these trips is like sorting out army manoeuvres! If we are carrying our stuff on our backs it is not too much of a problem but when we take the car down Scott spends ages looking through bus timetables and train timetables to see how we can arrange our walking day. Luckily he seems to enjoy doing these calculations and that suits me as carrying a heavy backpack as we walk has become less attractive over the years and I am always thankful when we can take his car instead.)
Looe – Portwrinkle (7.5 miles)
The following morning we drove to a small place called Craft Hole (this was very near Portwrinkle where we intended to end our walk today) . We then got a bus to Liskeard Station where we met Jordan and the three of us got the branch line train to Looe. (That was a rather nice little journey as on this branch line, at one point, one of the guards gets out of the train and manually changes the points so that the train can change direction.) We then started back on the South West Coast Path at Looe where we left off last month. We headed through the town and up the hill and for a while it was nice cliff top walking until we came to Millendreath Beach. Then the path became a little more hilly and we had to climb up The Bodigga Cliffs, after which we passed through fields and woodland. There were a lot of sheep in the fields and we noticed that there seemed to be two different breeds, not being a sheep expert I can only describe these as the horned ones and the fluffy ones that resembled teddy bears! We reached Battern Cliffs which, at 141 metres, is one of the highest points on the South Coast of Cornwall (the other is the Seaton – Bodigga road at 155 metres). From here we had cliff top walking with great views until we reached Seaton where we had to make a choice. The Coast Path can be followed either along the road (rather dangerous as there is no pavement) or along the beach if the tide is out. We were lucky that the tide was out so we opted for that route and it was a lovely walk, looking in the rock pools, enjoying the weather (which had turned out much nicer than expected) and we even stopped for a quick picnic. However, we suddenly realised we might have missed the path going up the cliff but looking round we found a very rough path going over some huge boulders and up the cliff side where someone had helpfully erected a type of rope bannister to help heave yourselves up. With Jordan ahead of me and Scott behind me I managed the ascent fairly easily but at the top we had to find our way back to the proper path via lots of scratchy shrubbery! That wasn’t a lot of fun! At the top we found ourselves in Downderry and the road from there to Portwrinkle is fairly new and in very good condition. Portwrinkle was a pilchard fishery originally and the old cellars stand at the top of the slip above the harbour and we passed these as we walked through the town and headed up the hill to collect our car in Craft Hole. Another 7.5 miles done! Feeling rather pleased with ourselves we headed off to our accommodation for the next 3 nights. We were staying at The Looe Bay Holiday Village. We had booked this months ago (via one of the Daily Mail’s special offers) and we had a huge mobile home with 3 bedrooms. The holiday village was very well organised with regard to Covid. They sent us an email with our mobile home number and we drove straight to it. (When we checked out later that week we just had to text them to say we were going and leave the key in the door, we never had to visit reception at all!)
Portwrinkle – Cawsand/Kingsand (10 miles)
This morning we drove to Cawsand/Kingsand where we found somewhere to park near the bus stop and we caught the No.70 bus to Tregantle Fort. We then had to walk about 1.5 miles into Portwrinkle to start off at the point we had finished yesterday. We had to walk right through the golf course and, being a Saturday, their were a lot of golfers around! (There were a lot of signs telling us to watch out for flying golf balls!) Then, even more danger occurred when we had to walk through the Tregantle Firing Ranges! Luckily it was a day when they weren’t firing so we only had to avoid the golf balls and not bullets as well. Although it wasn’t being used, it was interesting to see the targets that are set up and Tregantle Fort itself houses the MOD and is quite an impressive building. It is one of 40 forts and Batteries built in the 1860’s and early 1870’s to protect Plymouth from France’s growing sea power. (On the days they are firing they make walkers detour onto the road). At least the path through the firing range was maintained well by the MOD and made for easy walking. We then had to walk alongside the road until we reached Freathy. Here there are lots of holiday cabins all over the cliff side. They look like fabulous places to stay and must have wonderful views but some of them do not look exactly stable and I did wonder how hard it was to get insurance if you owned one. For the last 4 miles we had been walking above Whitsand Bay. It is beautiful with light sand and rocks jutting out of the clear water. All along the route were benches dedicated to people and one of them is dedicated to Bill Best Harris who was a Plymouth librarian, broadcaster and local author “who loved these cliffs”. We detoured off the path to visit Rame Head. There is the remains of a mediaeval chapel at the top and the views alone are worth the climb. We had passed wild ponies earlier in the walk and from Rame Head we could see them amongst the autumn coloured foliage, such a lovely sight ! However it was very windy up at Rame Head, we were literally buffeted from side to side as we climbed the steps up there. We left there and had a walk through rather creepy woods (so many trees seemed to have blown down recently that we found we had to clamber over and under a few!) We then arrived back at Cawsand/Kingsand where we had left our car. ( Until 1844 Kingsand was in Devon and Cawsand was in Cornwall which caused rivalry so now these twin villages are both in Cornwall.) You can get a small ferry from here into Plymouth and we sat in the harbour for a while watching the sea birds and the water traffic before heading back to our accommodation in the car.
Cawsand – Plymouth (6 miles)
The next day we drove into Plymouth and found somewhere to park then got a bus into Cawsand/Kingsand. It was quite a long bus ride (about 1.5 hours) and it took us over the Torpoint Ferry. (It is very weird being on a double decker bus on a small ferry!).( In retrospect we realised we could have got the ferry from Plymouth to Cawsand but this hadn’t been in Scott’s plan and we didn’t even think about it. Anyway it was OK with me because I used my bus pass on the bus and would have had to pay on the ferry!) We headed out of the town (which is very pretty and very Cornish looking) and headed into Mount Edgcumbe Country Park which has wonderful views of Plymouth Sound. We entered a wood of evergreen oaks called Dark Trees and, again, there were many fallen or leaning trees that we had to manoeuvre over. We passed the impressive building of Picklecombe Fort (now a complex of luxury apartments) and there are a number of folly’s enroute. One is called Picklecombe Seat and there were three arched structures that we noticed as well. They were built by the Mount Edgcumbe family to enliven their estate. This really is a lovely place to be so near Plymouth. As it was a Sunday, there were numerous families having picnics or canoeing on the sound. There is even a small temple built overlooking a duck pond with a boulder built grotto. There is a small area called Barn Pool Beach which was a tank embarkation site for the invasion of Northern France in the Second world War. We then got a ferry across the Sound to Plymouth. Once there we followed the Waterfront Walkway. This is the only part of the South West Coast Path that passes through a City and Plymouth is the biggest City on the South West Coast Path. Plymouth is a really interesting place. There were inscriptions on metal plaques in the streets and on one street there are quotes from Arthur Conan Doyle’s books and these lead to a house where he once lived. We walked through the gentrified dockland Royal William Yard and ended up around The Hoe under Smeatons Lighthouse. That was the end of this particular walk and we enjoyed some food in one of the quayside restaurants before heading back to the car and back to our accommodation. We were leaving for London early the next day but we were happy that we had done another 23.5 miles of the Path … only 211.5 still to do! We are also back in Devon now so we have completed the whole of the Cornwall section! More next year!