28 September 2009


Thursday 24th September: Portloe – Mevagissey

Pics, pics, pics

Let's start with the positive things about breakfast: fresh, well-cooked eggs, lemon curd, fresh pineapple. The fact that two German women were at breakfast would be neither here nor there apart from the bit where our host appeared to be from the Basil Fawlty school of talking to foreigners: “This is pineapple. Pine – apple. PIIIIINE. APPELLLL.” Oh my goodness. We left the breakfast table shortly thereafter and made our escape back down to Portloe and the coast path.

portloe, snuggled

d & j: the before pic of day 10

day 10: the path looking forward

We foolishly decided to wait to Portholland to buy food (we didn't have a packed lunch), and after quite a scramble through the humid and still morning air, we arrived dripping with sweat to find the promised shop gone, the post office closed, and the toilets only operating because a volunteer had fought the good fight and maintained them without council support. Never mind, we thought, surely there is a kiosk at the carpark and beach near Caerhays Castle. We made the short, pleasant walk around to the cove to find that yes, there was a kiosk. It was also closed. We sat on the grass, drank our tea and ate the biscuits filched from the B&B coffee tray as our nemesisises from the previous day clattered past with their walking poles. We then purchased the castle as it seemed like a good one to add to our collection.

caerhays on a summery autumn day

It was a steep climb, then a descent involving our least favourite thing (tarmac roads) to Hemmick Beach. We threw ourselves on the wall beside a holidaying couple and chatted for a while. They told us about all their misadventures in the motorhome they'd built from scratch and showed us the edible watercress growing in the stream (J took his shoes off and paddled over to pick some – any excuse to have a splash around, really!).


When they heard about our foodless plight, they gave us a couple of bananas and some chocolate coated digestive biscuits to help us on our way. They have our undying gratitude! We then marched up to the head of Dodman Point (the Dodman), given to the National Trust in 1919. We crossed the iron age earthwork named on the map as 'Bulwark', and wondered at the number of swallows flying about the place – eating the plague of tiny insects and dive-bombing a bird.

go for a swim!!!

When we got to the cross at the top of the headland, another couple told us that the swallows had been chasing a young Peregrine Falcon – one that they'd seen as a juvenile the year before/earlier this year. Cool! We ate our bananas and admired as much of the view as we could see through the swarm of insects, then began the walk to Gorran Haven.

cross on dodman point

db after tea!

icecream at gorran haven

This bit was very beautiful, but I was quite sore in the foot department so we stopped for tea above Vault Beach, then pressed on to Gorran Haven for much-needed icecreams and chocolate. I was so, so, so tired, and unfortunately the next section involved walking very close to the edges of some high cliffs, at which point the fear of (falling from) heights I usually manage to keep under some control came bubbling to the surface, and the first actual tears of the walk fell. It's not nice, that feeling that the ground is moving under your feet, tipping you towards the edge – especially when you logically know that the ground is not moving but that the way you are walking is probably erratic and therefore you're more likely to fall anyway. ARGH!

We had to stop twice again before reaching Mevagissey (once at Portmellon, but the wait was worth it! We checked in to Honeycombe House to find that we'd been given a room with a balcony and a spectacular view of the harbours, the village, and the coastline stretching right the way around to the north-east. We also had binoculars! A+++, would stay again!

mevagissey harbour

We hobbled down to the village and I had a meal composed almost entirely of vegetables at Quay West (what is the Cornish obsession with fajitas?)

Friday 25th September: Mevagissey to Charlestown.

Photos of the day

Fun facts: Mevagissey (called Meva by the locals and people who want to seem down with the locals) comes from the names of two saints (if my memory serves me correctly), Meva and Issey – in Cornish, Meva hag Issey. Charlestown is named after Charles Rashleigh, china clay entrepreneur, who's business took the village's population from 9 to 3000 between 1790 and 1850. Another fun fact: this was meant to be a short and pleasant daywalk. It was quite pleasant, but it involved CONSTANT ascents and descents, and a 1 ½ mile detour along tarmac roads at the end, so it wasn't as easy as one might expect a 12km walk to be!

We woke up to the sun rising across the ocean, spilling orange light into our room. We hung around on the balcony for a bit before and after having breakfast in the stunning sunroom (OMG THE VIEWS, THE VIEWS!).

sunrise, honeycombe house @ mevagissey

Because this was a short walk, we wandered through the town for a bit, buying postcards, fudge, iron tablets, carrots and raspberries. It was tempting to take the boat to Fowey (where we'd be staying in 2 days time), but instead we began with the first of many, many steep climbs.

db at the start of day 11

boats in mevagissey harbour

d& j: before pic with raspberries

We headed through Pentewan (Pent Ewan, rather than Penty Wan – although I prefer our pronunciation), past a few cats and a man on his knees weeding his white stone front 'garden', then went up a hill and down a hill and up a hill and down a hill and J was sitting around with his boots off (fixing his socks) when an old guy asked us the way to Pentewen, and sped past us. We did some more upping and downing, passed a very cute little cottage in a little cove at the edge of a small wood. It had sculptures in the garden and a little stream running past. We didn't buy this one – I fear the hills may have clouded our judgement!


tiny cove
The cottage was just to the right of frame here.

We stopped for lunch at Black Head, an iron age fort set on a small hill at the end of a ditch-and-banked isthmus, and had our first full view of Charlestown.

lunch on black head

d and the fort

Despite the threat of rain, we didn't see much in the way of moisture. Still, we popped the overs on our packs and, inspired by the apparent proximity, we set off refreshed. We went down a hill and up a hill and spoke to some other walkers (who were impressed by our packs but turned their noses up at our anti-camping ways) and went down and up a HUGELY STEEP VALLEY and stopped at the top and were OVERTAKEN BY THE OLD GUY FROM EARLIER IN THE DAY OH MY GOD WHAT THE FUCK!?!?!?

d having a rest.  what else are stiles for?

valley o' doom, argh!

d on the way up the steps

j demonstrating his drinking skills

We stopped in Porthpean (Porth PEEN! AHAHAHA!) for a toilet break (LOL), then went up another fucking hill to the start of the inland diversion, which continued to take us up the hill ON TARMAC. AND THEN! THEN! Where we were meant to turn back to the coast, THE ROAD WAS CLOSED and we thought we were going to have to make ANOTHER DETOUR. NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!! But we didn't, thankfully, and we arrived at our inn tired and sore and rather shellshocked after a day much harder and longer than we'd anticipated. The room, despite my fears, was great: loads of space, and (glory, glory, hallelujah!) A BATH!!! You can bet your bottom dollar that having a bath was the first thing we did! You have NO IDEA how good it was!

st austle

Saturday 26th September: Charlestown to Fowey

Photos of the day ... like soup of the day.

After a bad night's sleep (the room was so stuffy and hot, the fan provided was so noisy, the windows hardly opened, and one of them opened onto the noisy air conditioning unit for the whole establishment!), J had another bath and then we tumbled down to an early breakfast, where D had scrambled eggs with a MOUNTAIN of smoked salmon. We checked out the old boats in the harbour (they use it for period dramas and films, so they say), and climbed out of Charlestown.

ship 2, charlestown

I don't mind telling you that I (J) was in a very bad mood – fed up enough with fucking walking that had a bus passed us to Fowey, I would have got on it without a doubt. Luckily, the walking was easy past a golf course and some (ex?) china clay works (it goes into paper and toothpaste, you know), through a caravan park and across a beach to The Ship Inn (one of about 48 we have encountered on this walk) where we had a pint of lemonade each and goggled at the fact you could get wine on tap!

d's stray balls

red rosehip, blue hydrangea

china clay plant near par sands


We decided that if we were to walk this far again, we would try to schedule a rest day every fifth day (i.e. 4 days of walking, 1 day off) because going for 6 days in a row is just too exhausting – not necessarily physically, but mentally. We also talked a bit about what our next walks might be. We're keen to finish off the Thames Path (we could probably fit in a couple of days when we're next over) and the Ridgeway, but not so much the SWCP – maybe a little at a time over many years! We'd also like to walk some less well-publicised or big name paths – trying something like the Hertfordshire Way rather than a National Trail might make the trip a bit more of an exploration rather than a tour. Even better, we could design our own!

From Par, it was a quick walk over to Polkerris where we stopped for a pasty and watched some people standing on surfboards and rowing themselves around a series of bouys (fun? Maybe. Funny? Definnitely).


woods above polkerris

Then it was on to Gribbin Head and the red and white striped daymark we'd first sighted two days before. We stopped for a tea break and had a chat to a few daywalking birdspotters we'd passed earlier. There were a lot of day walkers on this stretch, mostly toting copies of the same short walks in Cornwall book. We have decided that we should approach Jarrold to market these to teh gays – covers in bright pink, ratings from stiletto (high femme/queen) to lace-up boots (daddy/biker butch) – with the title Short Minces in Cornwall. I THINK THIS IS A BRILLIANT IDEA AND I SEE NOTHING PROBLEMATIC WITH IT AT ALL.


Gribbin Head Daymark

db invites you to tea at the daymark

In Polridmouth, we spotted another house for those who requested property. The only problem with this one is that you'll get hundreds of Daphne du Maurier fans traipsing past to get a look at the cottage that inspired her novel 'Rebecca'.

add this to the wishlist

boat race

From there it was a pleasant (though not flat!) walk into Fowey, watching the sailboats out to sea and stopping by the ruins of St Catherine's Castle for a rest. We knew when we'd reached the town because nobody smiled or greeted us (or returned our smiles or greetings) any more. We've become total country bumpkins, apparently.

polruan through the porthole

no parking

We found our accommodation without difficulty, and discovered that our room . . . HAD A BATH!!! so we had baths! Whee! They also quite kindly let us do our washing and drying, which we did while watching Merlin and while out for dinner, respectively. Mmm, clean clothes are grand!

Sunday 27th September: Fowey to . . . FOWEY!!!

and COMFORT, eh?

DAY OFF!!! WHEE!!! Had bath! Ate breakfast late! Had a gentle stroll (NOT A WALK) around Fowey! WENT ON A BOAT RIDE!!! Saw a kingfisher! Saw a house bought by a man who doesn't want his name mentioned, “So I'll mention his wife, Dawn French”! Bought postcards! Looked in a bookshop! Lolled about! Had a nap! Read the internet! Ate the most disappointing meal of the trip! Sat in lovely gardens, accompanied by the smell of illicit substances! Found a nice cafe! Drank drinks! Rested! Wrote this crap for you to read (I hope you appreciate our dedication)!


NOW. Please excuse us, we're going to watch some TV! Probably 'Coast', because we haven't seen enough of it (and we certainly haven't seen Nicholas Crane – I AM VERY DISAPPOINTED, ENGLAND)!

polruan from the sea

27 September 2009


Hello!!! Transmission coming from Fowey (pronounced Foy), where the place we are staying tonight and tomorrow night has wi-fi. Yay! Here is a blog detailing the first half of our week - we will endeavour to bring you up-to-date tomorrow. In short: still having a good time, still very tired and glad we have a day off tomorrow! We are thinking of going on a cruise up the river - NO WALKING INVOLVED, PLEASE!!! As predicted, I have very shapely legs and a portly belly from strenuous walking combined with enormous breakfasts (strenuous eating!), but what nobody predicted was the TAN we would both get! Hilariously, we are darker on our right arms than our left because our right arms are usually facing the sun (south in the day time - weird!!!). Anyway, again no pictures, but I'm sure you can use your imagination or wait for a week or so until we upload the 1000+ photos to flickr!


Sunday 20th September: St Keverne

All photos of the day.

doubles: trees and cumulus

How good is a day off? Pretty fucking awesome! Slept in, had clothes washed and dried for us (OMG, SO GOOD), didn't wear boots or socks all day, didn't pack our bags up, didn't go outside until after 10am . . . WONDERFUL! The weather was sunny as we strolled into the village to the sound of church bells.


We bought the essentials: Roskilly's fudge and a razor for J (the first one he's ever bought himself!) because he was looking scruffy.

thumbs up: the scruffer gets a razor

Our book showed us a bit of the area so we followed a footpath out of the village and to the farm and creamery where all the Roskilly's icecream is made. That's local for you! There was a demonstration of icecream making later in the afternoon, so we toddled back to the B&B via the Ponds – a countryside stewardship area, and very beautiful.

pond framework

The walk turned out a bit longer than expected as we got a bit lost (well, we didn't get to a gate out for a while, and when we did it was into someone's paddock!), but we had fun. We saw an old waterwheel (what a wheel!), had a very friendly moorhen come right up to say hello, and stomped on some apples. STOMPITY STOMP.

forgive us our trespasses

Then we went back to see the icecream demo, had a nice chat to the person doing it (it was her last day, so we got icecream with extra treats in it, shhhh!), ate delicious lunch, then got ENORMOUS 3 SCOOP ICECREAMS and nommed them in the afternoon sunshine all the way back home.

enormo icecreams

We patted the cat and the rickety dog, retired to our room and watched the repeat of Merlin from the night before (wow, I don't think I needed to see that much of Bradley James' chest, oh well). IT WAS A GENIUS DAY.

catten at the b&b

Monday 21st September: St Keverne to Helford

Give us this day our daily photos

d & j, refreshed after a day off

Today was meant to be a pretty easy day, and it's true that it was easier than much of the previous week (although we walked about 15km, the distance between B&Bs must have only been about 6km by road). We followed secluded inland footpaths to Porthallow (Pralla), where we saw a dead badger on the road – it's sad for me, because that's the first badger I've ever seen.

soft woodland path

this picture is in place of a photo of a dead badger

From Porthallow, the route was diverted straight back inland due to a cliff fall, following footpaths and byways through fields, past crops and pastures. We joined the coast halfway to the Gillan Creek crossing, and it was really nice to have a day doing less sea-coast walking (variety is good! There is only so many times you can look at another headland or cove and say “Wow! Stunning!”)

the only major diversion on our walk

and so this is autumn?

We got to the creek an hour or so before low tide, so we sat with a German walker (Hannah) and watched the tide rush out. A woman on horseback with dog in tow showed us the stepping stones and recommended we paddle the creek downstream instead. After watching her ford the creek there, we decided to follow her advice, taking off our boots and hanging them around our necks, rolling up our leggings, donning our sandals/thongs, and wading in. The tide was going out fast! J almost lost his thong a few times, and the sand on the opposite side was very sucky and squidgy, but we made it! It was so much fun!!!

h & d at gillan creek

j & d at gillan creek: thumbs up to this!

j & d crossing gillan creek

After hosing ourselves down, re-booting and saying goodbye to H, we had a quick look in the church and then headed up to the point (Dennis Head or Little Dennis?) between Gillan Creek and Helford. We had a chat to an old couple (with enviously huge mugs of tea) about the headlands we could see in the distance – perhaps we could see all the way to Rame Head, which we will pass on our last day!

db somewhere along the helford estuary

We also passed a field with a lot of corn in it. In fact, it was a wall of corn, and some of you may be interested to know that it was this field that gave Cornwall its name.

the wall of corn that gave cornwall its name

The walk to Helford was quite nice, through woodlands and small valleys, with glimpses of the estuary through the trees. We stopped at Down by the River Cafe, where we posted our last entry! Highly recommended, as the scones were good and D had the best pasty of the trip so far!

delicious meal at down by the riverside cafe, helford

only exempted vehicles permitted

From there, we walked into the village and then out through a lovely wooded valley and some fields to Landrivick Farm, where Linda greeted us with tea and cupcakes!

old way

landrivick farm welcome

Soon after we arrived, two walkers we'd met at the Copper Kettle in Porthleven rocked up. Linda booked us all a table at the Manaccan pub, we wandered down there in the evening for a nice meal and a chat, and got picked up in the car and driven home. . . It was the first time we'd been in a car since we'd left London. I soon had to ask Linda to drive me back down, though, because I'd left my jumper behind. How embarrassment! On the way down, Linda talked about how much she enjoys farming, and told me her dad always said, “A contented mind is a continual feast”. I like that.

water lily, landrivick farm b&b

Tuesday 22nd September: Manaccan/Helford to Falmouth

Pictorial proof

day 8: d & j set off

After a breakfast of fresh farm produce (and local pork sausages that D still thinks are the best of the holiday), we wandered down into Helford. Here we got to call the ferry over by opening up the board so a big orange circle could be seen from the other side of the river. We ate a carrot as we waited for the boat to chug across, and were serenaded by a friendly little robin in the bushes behind us. The ferryman told us we were the first passengers of the day (“It's mainly walkers at this hour”), and answered our joking question about catching a lift to Falmouth with a wistful, “I wish!”

private quay

db on the helford ferry

On the other side we passed a couple of lovely gardens and estates, and a few more houses for our growing collection of wish-list properties. We walked very, very far. But then we realised we'd only come about half as far as we'd thought. There is nothing more disheartening to a flagging walker who wishes they could be having another day off, let me tell you!

another one for the property portfolio

black and silver / helford estuary (1)

twoo wuv!

But we eventually made it to Rosemullion head, with its view of the Fal estuary, and ate a chocolate bar in the sunshine, watching a tiny little boat scamper between the enormous ships looming in the bay. We decided that this point should have a sculpture of us/two walkers resting on their backpacks enjoying the scenery. Any takers? I got to enjoy this view a second time when, about half a km further along the walk I realised I'd left the camera behind, and had to dump my bag with D and run back to get it. I almost felt fit for a moment there!

At Maenporth we limped across the carpark to Life's a Beach cafe, and drank the best hot chocolate I've had since those ones in Amsterdam (ahem). They were sweet and very hot and topped with: a mountain of whipped cream studded with marshmallows (D ate all the ones from mine that hadn't already melted), drizzled with a caramel topping and 'dusted' with a thick layer of chocolate sprinkles. GENIUS. We followed them with chips and burgers and felt very healthy.


We pointedly ignored the bus stop and started the final leg to Falmouth. It was lucky we didn't catch the bus, because a few minutes later we saw a TEENY TINY VOLE!!! It scurried right up to D's boot and then on its busy way along the footpath and into the undergrowth. SO CUTE!

vole! ahahaha omg!!!
you can just see its tail!

fingertip flower

Eventually we made it to Swanpool, a kind of outer suburb of Falmouth, and decided to postpone the walk right around the head until after we'd checked in, showered and changed, because our legs and feet and minds were pretty tired. Upon leaving the B&B (The Observatory), we hobbled down the main road towards Pendennis Castle (unfortunately we were there just on closing time, so no admittance) and around the headland, thus completing the days walk.

civilisation hurts my feet

"la la la i'm the cutest"

We did so in shorts and thongs/sandals, and forgot our raincoats, so of course we got wet . . . but it wasn't really rain, it was more of a fine mist that floated around attaching itself to the hairs on your arms and not making you damp until you tried to brush it off.

mist creeping towards pendennis head

pendennis castle

For dinner we stumbled across Citrus Cafe, with a specials board full of vegetarian options!!! We stuffed ourselves with vegetarian goodness and looked out over the harbour as a flock of white triangled sailing boats went out and came back across the grey, misty harbour. It was pretty special, even after we noticed the unobtrusive rack of Watchtower magazines in the corner. “Please take one”, it said. We didn't.

i saw a dozen ships come sailing in

That night we had glow in the dark stars on the ceiling, and a loud circus across the road. I made up a rhyme: Poor little Jonathan, so put-upon-athan! This rhyme has served us well.

candle light at citrus cafe

Wednesday 23rd September: Falmouth to Portloe

All photos of the day

This was really the start of the second half of our walk. We began the day by symbolically posting the first guidebook back to London (along with a novel and some bits and pieces collected along the way), then wandering down to the pier and catching a ferry across the broad Fal River (no need to summon the ferry here, it runs every half an hour!) past St Mawes Castle (in the shape of a clover leaf), running around the tiny pier at St Mawes and catching the littlest ferry yet to Place.

on the ferry to st mawes

Once there we had a nice long look around St Anthony's church (“the finest example of what a parish church might have looked like in the 12th century”) and then cutting off the first, hard looking mile of the walk by taking a series of other footpaths across country. We are no longer concerned with “cheating”, apparently!

st anthony church, place

the door of st anthony church, place

There were a couple of other walkers on both ferries, and they finally deigned to talk to us when we were on the second leg. Mind you, there was plenty of other stuff going on during the first ride to keep us occupied – first D lost the stylus for his phone (we considered it a donation to the gods of Fal for a safe journey) and then there was some chef talking to the ferryman about the ferryman's brother in law who was also a chef . . . the cheffing world seems very small and name-droppy. Anyway, we totally beat the very serious, serious, SERIOUS walkers into Portloe. Kind of. Yay for shortcuts!

grey skies and golden fields

It was quite easy walking the first half of the day, and despite the very light drizzle and J taking a dive on the slippery rocks in Portscatho, it was quite enjoyable. The second guidebook is shaping up to be much more appealing than the first as it uses words such as “beguiling” - although it did fall into the “unspoilt” trap when describing Portloe!

the path to portscatho

path beneath an archway

We met some people before lunch who were gathering blackberries and what they called Cornish Sorrel, a green leaf that is good in salads or lightly steamed, which has a sour, citrus-y flavour.

cornish sorrel

We picked a few leaves of our own as we walked down into Paradoe (pron. Prada) Cove (or Tregagle's Hole on the OS map), and we added them to our packed sandwiches as we rested in the remains of an old fisherman's cottage. Lovely.

d and our lunch spot


Not so lovely was the following climb onto Nare Head, although once there the next leg of our walk opened up before us, bathed in sunshine. Behind us, we could see TWO sets of hills – I'd almost forgotten that more of England exists than the coast and its immediate surrounds! Unfortunately, there were a few more climbs that really took it out of us, but we stopped again for tea (and so D could rub J's sore, purple feet) to break the journey.

walking feet, ARGH!
The one on the right has been rubbed back to life...

A continuously surprised-looking partridge led us into Portloe (“Humans! I shall escape them along this secret footpath! Ah-ha! I've foiled them by going around the corner! OMG! HUMANS! How did they get here onto this footpath? I'd better run away!”).

portloe (i think)

We dearly wished that the accommodation in town had not been booked out for months and months and months as we followed a few footpaths and laneways to where our B&B, Jago Cottage, was meant to be (according to Google Maps). It wasn't there, but when we knocked on a random door, the occupants helpfully pointed us a couple of hundred metres up the road. There, the host's children let us in (“Mum's just out at the moment!”) and we collapsed – too tired to even contemplate going anywhere for dinner.