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

1 comment:

  1. you guys are amazing - i would have been ded by day two! it sounds like you're seeing some amazing things, and being rewarded for your determination.
    we miss you heeeeeaps, so please to come home soon!