Coast Path – St Ives to Porthcurno

300 miles on the Cornish Coast Path Walks 7 & 8

Saturday 17th and Sunday 18th May

I was a teenager when I came to the realisation that if I wanted to do something badly enough I’d better get used to doing it on my own: not everybody likes what I like and people don’t always want to join you if they do. It’s hard when you’re painfully shy as I was to put yourself out there, but I figured if I didn’t I’d have no fun at all. And no one to blame but myself.  So I’ve ended up doing a lot of things on my own over the years; going to the cinema or the theatre, going for a meal, joining a class, or my running club… I’d never have had the fun I’ve had, found the passions I have, or met the wonderful people I have if I’d waited for someone to come along with me, hold my hand, so to speak.  But deciding to continue walking the coast path on my own, that’s been hard.

The challenge to walk 300 miles of the South West Coast Path began a couple of months ago at my friend Katie’s suggestion.  Katie and I met a few years ago at the running club and both of us have had our fair share of running injuries, so when I was casting around for a challenge to keep me focussed on something positive Katie’s idea fit the bill perfectly.   We’ve had some wonderful experiences over the 50 miles or so we’ve shared together, but lately things have stalled because of the logistics. Simply put, for Katie there are just not enough available hours in the day. It pained me that I couldn’t come up with a plan to overcome it and the feelings of guilt I’ve had about continuing on my own have been gnawing at me for weeks. I sat and stewed not knowing what to do or what to say, but knowing in my heart of hearts that I need to continue. Now I’ve started I can see how good it’s been for my mental health: there’s nothing like being out on the trails with a purpose in mind to keep you going. And I owe that to Katie.

Holywell Bay to St Agnes walk Jan 2014. © Stephanie Boon 2014, www.narrativeself.com
Katie on the first wet and windy day of our adventure: Holywell Bay near Newquay

***

“Put it down”, I said gently to myself as I handled the small, squarish box, feeling poor.  I’ve wanted one of my own for so long, a little Trangia camping stove, just for me. I swear it knew. Inside the packaging was a tiny nest of 2 pans, a burner and a pan handle, all smooth and clean and full of the promise of the great outdoors. It reminded me of some great trips I’d had with Kim and his dad Paul: camping on Exmoor, The Lake District, France, Italy…  When Paul and I went our separate ways the camping equipment (and the tent) went with him on the understanding I’d use it whenever I wanted. And I have, but as the years have passed I’ve hankered for my own kit, not stuff that he now shares with his ‘new’ girlfriend. It sounds ridiculous but I don’t want to look at ‘our’ camping stuff and be reminded that its being shared with someone else occasionally. It’s time I made some new camping memories.

I had a warm fuzzy feeling inside as I carried the Cotswold Outdoors carrier bag with my new Mini Trangia inside.  “A return ticket to Penzance please, for tomorrow”. The ticket office at the train station wasn’t particularly busy and the man behind the desk was very genial and chatty. The weather was looking great for the weekend: I could spend another two days on my own not seeing a soul, moping and feeling wretched, or I could get out and do something.  “Sounds like a great plan”, he said. ‘Plan’ seemed somewhat more organised than I felt. I was being impulsive. Not 15 minutes ago I was wracked with guilt and doubt that I’d ever walk the coast path again. Now, suddenly, I was going to walk 30 miles. This weekend. On my own. “Well, you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do” I said to myself, not entirely reassuringly.

My rucksack seemed to weigh a tonne, even before I packed anything inside it. Once it was stuffed with my sleeping bag, mattress, food, Trangia, meths, a few clothes, a sketchbook and chalks, map, Kim’s bulky but great camera and finally water, I could barely lift the thing. I took it all out – and put it all back again: there wasn’t anything there I didn’t think I’d need, but there wasn’t much that was designed as lightweight – the Trangia, a Paclite waterproof coat, the sleeping bag (passably lightweight. Ish.) It’s just that what I needed for one night was pretty much the same as I’d need for 7.

As ever, after all the faffing about, I’m running late and make it to the station with just a couple of minutes to spare. I’m feeling excited. More excited than I can remember feeling in a very long time. This was going to be my adventure.

Saturday: St Ives to Levant Mine (16 miles)

Truro to St Ives by train takes about 50 minutes including a change to the St Ives branch line at St Erth. I got off at St Erth and crossed the track with what seemed like a whole trains worth of passengers, but the St Ives platform was deserted. Outside the station I found a messy queue of very grumpy day trippers squeezing onto a bus that had been laid on to cover the train that had apparently broken down. Some people were complaining that they’d travelled far and wide just to travel this 4m section by train, famous for its fantastic views as the track hugs the coast all the way. If only they could go walk it like Katie and I had, I thought to myself as I pushed my rucksack through the bus door, that would be worth travelling for. (Actually, it is a fantastic train ride, one I’m privileged to be able to travel whenever the fancy takes me… if you ever have the opportunity, it really is worth it! St Ives branch line information.)

St Ives Harbour in the morning sun. © Stephanie Boon, 2014. www.narrativeself.com
Low tide and morning sunshine

20 Minutes later I was sitting on the terrace of the Tate Cafe lazily drinking coffee and eating a late breakfast scone as the heat rose from the sand below. I felt like I had all the time in the world watching the town come to life. I could’ve been on a tropical island and the view wouldn’t have been much better; St Ives was shimmering in a deep azure glow.

It was half eleven before I hauled myself and the beast of a rucksack onto the coast path, much later than I intended, but still with more than enough daylight hours to walk the 15 miles I planned. I’d been given a tip by Greg, another running club friend and coast path hiker, that there was some good wild camping spots near Levant Mine west of Pendeen and that was my goal for the day. He’d also warned me that this section of the path was “bouldery”!  He didn’t mention the bogs.

At the first sign of sunshine there’s a trail of people on the coast path for half a mile outside of every picturesque town or village and I seemed to have a permanent “hello, beautiful day!” on my lips. Holiday makers, day trippers, young families, oap’s, people dressed as if they were trekking in the Himalayas, others dressed as though they were going out clubbing – everyone seemed to be there. After a mile or so the stream thinned out to leave the ‘real’ walkers and after a couple more miles it was just me and the odd hiker until I hit the next popular village, when the ‘people tap’ seemed to be turned on again. I treasured the long quiet sections and noticed that many of the people I met here were European walkers, Germans and Dutch. It seemed curious that home grown hikers were noticeable by their absence.

Outside St Ives there are streams and springs running off the hills all over the place, culminating in peaty bogs interspersed with small boulders and rocks so that it’s possible to just make it one side to the other without getting especially wet, unless you’re timid or unlucky.  It’s fertile ground for flag irises, poking their sunshiny noses straight up towards the sky.

Flag Irises growing on the coast path near St Ives, Cornwall, UK © Stephanie Boon, 2014 www.narrativeself.com
Flag Irises

The midday sun’s beating down and so that I don’t look like I have a serious case of dandruff I wear a cap to keep my scalp from burning. I’d left my sunglasses in the car and the peak was low to shield my eyes. I’m wandering along looking at my feet and catch something out of the corner of my eye.  I do a double take and walk back a few steps. I can hardly believe I almost walked past a stone circle perched on the edge of the cliffs.  Huh? That’s not on the map…

Trevalgan stone circle, coast path, St Ives, Cornwall, UK. © Stephanie Boon, 2014. www.narrativeself.com
Trevalgan stone circle. Not as ancient as you might think.

There’ll be a reason for that: it’s not an ancient monument. It appears it’s part of a ‘nature trail’ put there by a local farm/holiday company. Why bother when the area’s littered with authentic prehistoric sites; some farmer’s idea of a joke maybe, or ploy to keep the unsuspecting holiday maker on his own land? I don’t trouble myself too much over it, take a picture or two – it looks pretty enough with the bluebells growing around it – and move on, scaring another walker half to death because she doesn’t see me beneath the peak of her cap.

Trevalgan stone circle sign, St Ives, Cornwall, UK
Dubious nonsense!

I’m in such a good mood by now I can hardly contain myself. It’s so unusual of late I begin to wonder if I took too many happy pills the night before and was in fact suffering from some sort of delirium. I swear a dose of class A drugs couldn’t have made me any higher. This is it: this is what living should feel like. And I think I’ve had precious little of it. It’s a sensation that wells up from nowhere and for no apparent reason, and when it comes I relish every second because I know it’ll subside as easily as it arrived. Maybe it’s what being in love is like, I can’t remember. But it’s exquisite and for now I’m riding the wave.

The path is steep in places, getting dryer and most definitely “bouldery”.  I’m feeling the weight of the rucksack in my quads and seem to be doing more scrambling than walking. I’m loving it. The cliffs are covered in swathes of sweet smelling bluebells and summer hedgerow flowers are lush and abundant: red campion, bladder campion, cow parsley, foxgloves coming into bloom – the intensity of the colour in the crisp light feels like it saturates my whole being.

It’s hot and the dry dust on the trails is slippery. I’m wearing my barefoot trail shoes that have got hardly any grip left and I slip down a few steep slopes, landing on my back, stuck there like a helpless beetle, trapped by the ridiculous weight of the rucksack. Even this didn’t wipe the smile from my face, I couldn’t stop laughing. I looked up after one of these incidents,  somewhere between Zennor and Gurnards Head, and was stopped in my tracks. Gracefully swooping over the cliffs were two huge sea birds. I watched them appear and disappear below the line of the rocks, mesmerised. I wasn’t sure what they were, black backed gulls? Surely they were too big though?

Fulmars flying over the cliff tops on the Cornish coast. © Stephanie Boon, 2014. www.narrativeself.com
Fulmars near Gurnards Head

When I got home I discovered they were fulmars. I was even more excited!  I had no idea you could see them here in the far south west; I’d always associated them with Scotland and St Kilda, isolated and remote way up north in the Outer Hebrides. They were part of the islanders’ staple diet there and they used the oil for light and the down for warmth – before they left the islands for good in 1930 that is (the people, not the birds!).  Fulmars, related to the albatross, have an unfathomable average lifespan of 30+ years (some of them are even older than me!) and spend most of their time at sea on the wing. Imagine flying for thirty, forty years, would it always look as easy as they made it seem today as they hung on the breeze, wings stretched out so straight like they were trying to touch something just out of reach? They only come in to land to breed, the same pairs mating for life.  Wonderfully romantic isn’t it? Only slightly marred when you discover they produce the most foul smelling oily substance in their stomachs that they spit at any unsuspecting predators. I read somewhere that the inhabitants of St Kilda stank to high heaven!

The next few miles were utterly magical for the senses: crystal clear streams to sooth my aching feet in, lively, intense colour dancing for my eyes, the occasional languid sound of a cuckoo,  the feeling of the sun’s heat on my skin – and the wildlife: the fulmars, a slow-worm, lizard, a clouded yellow butterfly… I was so utterly engrossed in it all I hadn’t realised I’d drunk all my water save for a paltry half a litre, barely enough to cook my evening noodles, and I’d eaten all the snacks I had too. I was becoming pretty dehydrated and beginning to worry about it. I was headachy, tired and slipping all over the place; it was getting late in the afternoon and I was miles from a village – could I make it to Pendeen without water in this heat? I carried on, trying not to drink anymore than I had to, despite some steep climbs; trying not to get over anxious. Looking inland the landscape began to change quite dramatically. Grey, empty moors and rocky tors suddenly seemed to rise higher than the sheer cliffs, reminding me what an inhospitable, exposed place this can be on a cold, foggy day in winter, let alone being unprepared in the searing heat.

I heard voices. I followed a short track towards them, right to the edge of the sheer granite cliff – I assumed it must be a good view. It was staggering. And staggeringly high. “Hi!”, I said, smiling widely. The two young men gave me a suspicious look, I thought. I realised they weren’t hikers. They were wearing helmets and harnesses: rock climbers. I probably didn’t look tough enough! I stood and drank it all in for a minute or two whilst they ‘fiddled about’ with their ropes. Away from the cliff edge there were rucksacks strewn across the grass, lots of them. I looked over my shoulder at the cliff face and there were a dozen or more spidermen suspended precariously at different heights along an impressively sharp slab of cliff jutting out into the ocean. Bosigran Cliff, I discover, is the climbers destination. (Follow the link to see some amazing photos of the cliffs hereabouts and you’ll see why!)

There were lots of tracks meandering around and it was difficult to know which one was the official coast path and which ones might lead to certain death, but I was distracted. I saw a sign. A teapot sign. Small and blue and low in the grass. I followed the track its spout was pointing up, past some very large and disinterested cattle. I soon hit the road and could see some farm buildings just a short distance away to my right. Twenty five to six. Bloody typical. I bet they’re sodding well closed by now.  I decide it’s worth a punt anyway. I start hearing voices again and walk through an arched doorway into an oasis. I begin to realise I’m not actually delirious and am over the moon to discover that Rosemergy Farm House is serving cream teas for another 20 minutes. I order a coffee and find a picnic table in the pretty, enclosed garden. The owner very kindly gives me a glass of cool tap water (which I down in one) and fills up my water bottles too with water that’s not full of “nasty chemicals” and comes from their own bore hole.  When the coffee comes, in a cafetiere, I decide it’s quite probably the most welcome and delicious cup of coffee I’ve ever tasted! (And very good value.) I savour every mouthful, resolving never to moan about having to carry the weight of water ever again.

Sat in the warm garden I think the farmhouse must be an idyllic place to live, but after half an hour’s break the caffeine is kicking in and I’m beginning to feel a bit more lively and ready to head off and find my own spot to set up camp for the night. In another hour or so I’m at  Pendeen Watch, a 114 year old lighthouse, which sits squat and stark-white against the blue, accompanied by two equally stark, black, trumpet-like foghorns, and I start looking about more keenly. It feels a bit eery here, for a camp, as the sun drops and deserted engine house chimneys seem to stalk the skyline. There’s a sudden rustle and literally a few feet away from me a well-fed fox runs across the path. It’s stunningly beautiful. The thick fur of it’s coat is the colour of autumn and the sunshine makes it look ablaze. It’s gone as deftly as it appeared.

Greg had said he’d slept in an old mine building at Levant, but I really didn’t fancy the look of the place just ahead of me. It was Geevor. I remember the mine closing in 1990 and the desperate situation it created for the local community. The whole place still feels like people have just downed tools and left; it hasn’t acquired the nostalgic beauty that most people think of when they see a derelict building teetering on the edge of the cliff. But there is beauty to find here, especially in the low sultry evening light.

Geevor mine spoil at sunset. © Stephanie Boon, 2014. www.narrativeself.com
Red earth

Passing through Geevor I finally came to Levant Mine, one of those nostalgic ones I mentioned. It’s owned by the National Trust who have information boards dotted about and there’s a poster advertising a ‘steaming’ event the night before. Hmm, am I peeved I just missed out on what must have been a pretty unique experience, or really rather glad I’ve missed the crowds? On balance, I think, probably the latter! It’s close to 8pm now and I have to find somewhere to cook my stir fry and sleep: it’ll be sunset in an hour.  There are a couple of camper vans in a small lay-by above the path and another one a short distance away. Kim was worried about me sleeping on the cliffs, “anyone could come past”, he’d said. “Well, I’ve got my Swiss army knife (which I’d managed to slice my finger on whilst oiling it the night before), I’m just going to have to take my chances, Kim”, I thought to myself.  I found a dip below the vans with a rock for my stove, some very springy grass for my sleeping bag and the most incredible view.

Wild camp Levant Mine. © Stephanie Boon, 2014. www.narrativeself.com
Cooking noodles as the sun set
Levant mine engine houses, Cornwall . © Stephanie Boon, 2014. www.narrativeself.com
Levant Mine

I slept like a baby. For nine hours.

***

Sunday: Levant Mine to Porthcurno (14.5 miles)

The sun rose behind the dip and I woke in a light shade with a cool breeze on my face. The long grasses swayed gently as I lay there just looking straight up at the open sky, a watery blue with thin trails of white cloud. I hadn’t heard a dawn chorus, just the odd cry of a gull, and lying there now listening to the sound of the sea and the grass moving I felt a welcome peace and contentment. I was dry, despite not having a bivy bag or shelter. My sleeping bag had got wet around my feet, where I’d obviously rolled into the heavy dew, but it hadn’t penetrated the fabric. I  hung the bag on a rock in the sun and the breeze dried it off easily before I packed up camp. There was barely any air left in my mattress when I came to roll it away; I think the valve had gone. Or I’d eaten too much the day before. The grass was so springy and comfortable though I hadn’t noticed during the night.

Breakfast consisted of a hot cup of fruit tea and some Belvita Breakfast Biscuits (it was an easy option!). That wouldn’t sustain me for long judging by yesterday’s calorie consumption… I started walking at about 8am and noticed the camper vans still had their curtains drawn; sad, I thought, not to wake up and see the sky. I was soon on heathland at Botallack where a few dog walkers were taking advantage of the Sunday morning sun. There are myriad paths here trailing their way around derelict mine buildings through carpets of bluebells, like someone had come along and painted the cliffs blue during the night. I walked on, heading for Cape Cornwall where I vaguely remembered reading there was a snack van.

Bluebells on the cliffs at Botallack, Cornwall. © Stephanie Boon, 2014. www.narrativeself.com
Swathes of blue at Botallack
Cape Cornwall and The Brisons seen above a clump of thrift. © Stephanie Boon, 2014. www.narrativeself.com
Cape Cornwall

To get to the Cape you come down a steep cliff and head back inland along a valley for a short while. A crystal clear stream tumbles its way down to the sea between banks of wild flowers and you cross a narrow bridge, almost hidden, to the other side. Where there’s another bloody information board. The place is littered with them. Yes, we get it, this area was heavily mined! And guess what, the stream played a major part too.  I’m getting antsy: I need a morning caffeine hit. And my stomach’s rumbling. Probably above the sound of the once-noisy-with-industry stream.

A few cars are pulled up in the small car park at Cape Cornwall, and a Transit van; a handful of people are milling about. Once upon a time it was thought to be the most westerly point of the UK, but a couple of hundred years ago it was relegated ‘second best’ to Land’s End. This means, that unlike Land’s End, it’s remained a beautiful, relatively unspoilt place. I spy the snack van tucked down in a corner of the car park, but you won’t be surprised to learn it was closed. My hopes dashed, my fears borne out, I watch a man in a bandana and t-shirt slop paint onto a sheet of paper stapled to a piece of hardboard instead. At the back of his van is a wheelbarrow filled with other artistic paraphernalia. I feel a bit guilty: tucked inside my rucksack is my sketchbook and a few chalks, and they haven’t seen light of day yet. Would it be too embarrassing if I took them out now, did a sketch or two in the hope that the snack van might open in the mean time? I decide not, chuck the beast of a rucksack onto the one and only picnic table and sit on a nearby wall to sketch. I use the term loosely. I was too preoccupied with the thought of no food and coffee to concentrate fully. Here’s the one and only drawing – don’t judge me too harshly!

Cape Cornwall. Chalk pastels in A5 sketchbook. © Stephanie Boon, 2014. www.narrativeself.com
Cape Cornwall from the car park

I didn’t have enough colours and I hadn’t brought the right ones with me. I was not happy! I resigned myself to a poor drawing, blamed cold hands, hunger, and my tools. I guess I was still a tad grumpy!

It was about 10-ish and I realised there was no point in waiting for food that may never arrive and decide my next best bet is Sennen Cove, which I estimate is another 5 miles or so further on.  I pass the time of day with the other artist until he and his wheelbarrow head off across a field to teach the group of people that have been slowly trickling in. I have the weirdest feeling I know this man, but I’m pretty sure we’ve never met. It dawns on me that we’re ‘connected’ on Facebook and Twitter. I don’t mention it for fear that he might think I’m a stalker. Well, until I get home and leave a message on his FB page that is. It was Paul Wadswoth, if you’re interested. Was lovely to actually have met him; I think we both studied at Falmouth.

The general direction of the coast path heads north-south now and the land is edged with steep cliffs and bouldery beaches. There was a lot of scrambling and the day was warming up nicely. The Brisons, two distinctive rocks off the coast, are visible behind me every time I look over my shoulder. There they are! It’s like playing What’s the Time Mr Wolf!  I pass very few people on this fairly rough stretch of the path, but those that are out and about are serious walkers; walkers with walking poles because the terrain actually demands it. Damn I wish I’d had mine, it would’ve been so much easier to balance on the rocks with this two tonne weight on my back. I could see a long stretch of flat sand in the distance, it must be Sennnen, I thought.

As I got closer I could make out a shack tucked into the dunes. Suddenly there were people around, running on the beach, surfing, playing with dogs… I was hot, therefore it must be an ice-cream shack. It wasn’t it was a lifeguard station. And it was Gwynver, not Sennen Cove. Why is it every time I’m thirsty or hungry the possibility of water or sustenance seems to be nothing but a tease! It’s hard to walk on the soft sand, tiring with this thing on my back. I’m glad when I’m finally on firmer ground and really can see Sennen Cove coming in to view. It’s a village. With shops. Food!

Sennen Cove. © Stephanie Boon, 2014. www.narrativeself.com
Signs of life at Sennen

I was virtually out of water again and pleased to discover FREE drinking water on the outside of a public loo in the main car park. I filled up the bottles once more, drank my fill and headed along the path in search of a cafe. I found a chip shop. OMG! Chips and a can of coke = carbs and sugar, exactly what I needed! I sat on a bench overlooking the beach, trying to work out available walking times v last bust times as I ate.  There was a bus from Land’s End, a mile or so’s walk, in about 20 minutes. Well, I’ve probably missed that one then (eats another chip), which means I have to walk 6 or so miles to Porthcurno to catch the very last bus back to Penzance (or miss the train home). I have less than three hours. No hanging around and no time for coffee. I’d planned to walk to Porthcurno anyway, I’d just planned (probably hoped) I’d have been a bit closer by now.

I headed down the road and up the hill with the throngs who were making the mile pilgrimage to Land’s End. I scoffed at at least two people who apparently couldn’t even be bothered to get out of their cars to take a photo of the view, let alone walk anywhere. One of them, I noticed, didn’t even bother to stop the car, just held up the i-pad and clicked.

Land’s End was the usual nightmare, but I hung around outside the First and Last gift shop for a few minutes’ people-watching as I sucked an ice lolly. There were the usual British families screaming at each other, groups of older Germans, a few Americans and, most unexpectedly, rather a lot of Japanese tourists. I couldn’t fathom it: why would you come all this way just to sit it in a trashy dump for an overpriced photograph by a signpost, when quite literally half a mile up the track away from the theme park and blot on the landscape was the most unhindered, spectacular scenery you could hope to see… I reminded myself I shouldn’t judge and with that thought decided it was time to move on! (And was pretty pleased to discover that a large number of Germans had decided that they, at least, would go for a walk along the cliffs!)

Sailing boat at Land's End. © Stephanie Boon, 2014. www.narrativeself.com
Sailing by

The landscape seemed to open out for a few miles and the paths were easier grassy tracks, still hilly, but less bouldery. A lady beamed a wide, friendly smile at me as she came down a steep slope towards me “We saw you out walking yesterday!”. I looked at her and her husband apologetically, I didn’t remember seeing them. “I’m sorry, I…”.  “Oh, you didn’t see us! We were in a camper van, it was about 8 o’clock last night. Near Levant Mine. You were walking along and I said to my husband “it’s a bit late to be walking out there, I hope she gets some nice photos of the sunset”.” “You were at Levant Mine?!” “Yes, there were a couple of camper vans there, did you see us?”  “Umm, yes I think I might have, haha, I slept on the cliffs not 10 feet away from you!”.

It transpired they were from Bristol and have been walking sections of the South West Coast Path over the last few years. They’d left the camper somewhere en route and cycled to Porthcurno (where I was headed) and now they were walking back along the coast to pick it up (then they’d drive back to Porthcurno to pick up their bikes – great idea).  I asked how long it had taken them to walk this far today, mindful that time was getting on. “About an hour or so”, which would leave me with half an hour spare before the bus left. We chatted some more and I felt so pleased to have met them; they made me feel really positive about the challenge, like it is actually something worthwhile doing; I’m always so full of doubt.

On Gwennap Head I finally round onto the south coast of Cornwall, which feels like a milestone on today’s walk. Gwennap Head is flat and open and the view pretty spectacular. A red cone (a daytime navigational aid) juts up to the sky like a piece of modern art. I like it, the colour makes me smile.

Gwennap Head navigation markers, © Stephanie Boon, 2014. www.narrativeself.com
Gwennap Head navigation marker

I’m soon in Porthgwarra, with its boats hauled up onto the slipway of the tiny cove. A bustling cafe is open but I look at my watch and decide I have to head on up the cliff. Still no coffee for me. The path becomes rocky again, and pretty vertical with it. I scramble over a couple sat taking a breather, “Tough isn’t it?”, says the man as I pass.  Not too bad, I think to myself, there’s been tougher on this walk. I’m getting anxious about the time and worrying that if the path is like this all the way to Porthcurno it could be a close run thing.  I decide I haven’t got time to chat to anyone else and need to get a move on. My plan to boil of cup of tea on Porthcurno beach before catching the bus was looking like it wasn’t going to happen; catching the bus wasn’t looking like it might not happen.

I could see the white sands of the small bay ahead of me and the buildings on top of the cliff that I knew were part of the fabulous open air Minack Theatre, and every couple of minutes I was checking the time but they didn’t seem to be getting any closer. I began a marching pace. As I finally rounded into the car park at the top of the Minack I had 10 minutes to get to the bus stop. And I didn’t have a clue where it was.  I asked someone in the box office. “I don’t think there is a bus on a Sunday, is there?”  Well, there won’t be if you don’t very kindly point me in the right direction!

Down by the bus stop in the main car park near the beach it was obvious the bus still hadn’t been. Crowds of walkers lined the path. Along with crowds of Japanese tourists, a number of whom I’d see at Land’s End. Well, they didn’t walk here, not in those high heels. When I finally got on the bus there was standing room only. I handed over my £5 fare (nearly fainting at the cost in the process) and stood the entire 9 miles back to Penzance.  I had 20p left in my wallet. Good job I didn’t have time for coffee after all.

Stephie x

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The Walk

81.59 continuous miles of the CCP complete

  • Where: St Ives to Porthcurno
  • Route: point to point coastal path
  • Distance: 30.5 miles (including a short detour to Rosemergy. 1 night wild camping camping. )
  • Parking:  Pay and display car parks in St Ives, Porthcurno and Penzance (none of them cheap!).
  • Public transport: Train from Truro to St Ives, bus (service 1/1A) from Porthcurno to Penzance, train from Penzance to Truro. (Return train fare with a Devon and Cornwall railcard was £5.75, single bus fare from Porthcurno to Penzance was £5.00)
  • Map: OS Explorer 102 ‘Land’s End – Penzance and St Ives’. 
  • Guide Book: Trailblazer Cornwall Coast Path, SW Coast Path Part 2 – Bude to Plymouth  ISBN 978-1-905864-44-7
  • Notes: Exposed, rocky uneven paths with lots of scrambling. Strenuous: you need to be fit to cover long distances, or take shorter walks! Outside of the main tourist spots it’s pretty remote so make sure you’ve got everything you need! Plenty of cafes/restaurants in places like St Ives, Sennen Cove and Land’s End, with lots of other small cafes in the small villages en route.

 

St Ives to Levant Mine

Levant Mine to Porthcurno

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