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Coastlining 25: Porthcothan – Padstow

Date:  Thursday 26th June 2014   Distance walked: 13 miles       Total distance: 243 miles

I set out from Porthcothan in a lull in the downpour. Pushing through the waist high vegetation up the cliff path on the northern side of the inlet that sloped up from beach to dune to cliff I was glad I’d had the forethought to roll my waterproof trousers up in the bottom of my bag when I set out yesterday morning.  Continue reading


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Coastlining 21: Hayle – Portreath

Date: Sunday 8th June 2014     Distance walked: 12.5 miles      Total distance: 196.5 miles

2014.06.08 (2) Hayle estuary

Carbis Bay and St Ives from the Hayle Estuary

Sunday morning I stepped off the train at Hayle and headed for the harbour. The town’s been given a bit of a face-lift in recent years, embracing its post-industrial status as a haven for nature after several centuries as a minerals and trade port. A regeneration plan for the harbour gathered steam in the early 2000s but never really got further than tidying the place up and implementing a series of trails and a national cycle network route. I followed this cycle path initially, crossing an iron bridge over the river, Copperhouse Pool to my right, the mid-stream mudbanks and reclaimed near-islands of East and South Quays to my left, and around the hard promenade of the eastern shore of the estuary. Across the other side of the river the tower of St Uny’s Church stood solidly rectangular above the golf links at Lelant where I’d left the coastline on Friday. Continue reading

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Coastlining 18: Sennen Cove – Pendeen Watch

Date: Wednesday 4th June 2014     Distance walked: 9 miles     Total distance: 164.5 miles

2014.06.04 (3) Whitesand Bay

Whitesand Bay, Sennen Cove

It was difficult to get out of bed this morning after the exertion of the past few days, but I knew I’d feel better once I’d got started – especially after a cooked breakfast. I managed to find a more direct path down through the dunes to Whitesand Bay than the one I’d come up by last night. It was bright and blustery out, a refreshing change after the deteriorating conditions of yesterday, although I kept my coat zipped up with the hood up for the best part of the day, for a very different reason altogether. The sea was the white-flecked deep Prussian blue, the horizon a sharp line. Continue reading


Coastlining 17: Lamorna – Sennen Cove

Date: Tuesday 3rd June 2014       Distance walked: 12 miles      Total distance: 155.5 miles

Tregurnow Cliff

Sun out. Sun in. Cloud cover. Mizzle patches. Clear. Jacket on. Jacket off. I started out on the path from Tregurnow skirting their land through bramble scrub laced with bluebells until I was directly below the farmhouse on the other side of the fox field. Globe thistles still at the prickle stage. Great sheaves of foxgloves – groves – gracing the waysides with their tall spires.

Carn Barges, where I rejoined the cliff path proper, was a rock form on the edge like a giant’s seat. Looking west there was the low white shape of Tater-du lighthouse on the next point of the cliff. Continue reading

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Coastlining 16: Penzance – Lamorna

Date: Monday 2nd June 2014            Distance walked: 6 miles          Total distance: 143.5 miles 

2014.06.02 (4) Newlyn

Fishermen’s Memorial, Newlyn

I’m struggling to remember the last time I slept in a room with a sea view. Outside my window in the farmhouse above Lamorna where I’m staying for the night there are just three small fields between me and the cliff edge. For the next few days I’ll be taking on the coastline of West Penwith – the stub end of the toe of Cornwall and the most south-westerly edge of mainland Britain; staying overnight at strategic points between here and St Ives to minimise the time wasted travelling to and from home. I’ve been looking forward to this bit. Westest Cornwall is one of my favourite parts and I can’t wait to get a close up view from on foot. Continue reading

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Coastlining 9: Portscatho – St Anthony Head

Date: 3rd May 2014        Distance walked: 6.2 miles        Height climbed: 919 ft

2014.05.03  (3)

New boots squeak clean. Residents greet me like a local as I make my way back through the village of Portscatho along the road above the harbour that leads to a dead end that leads to a stile that leads to the coast path. It’s been raining and everything looks and feels and smells very green. The first hillslope outside the village is covered in rows and rows of posts and tubes for young trees – part of the Diamond Wood plantation I believe – the sprouting heads of which are just beginning to peek out of the tops of the tubes like forced rhubarb. It’s hard to imagine what this will look like covered in woodland, apart from completely different. I keep my wool layer on and shove my hands in my pockets. The dew and rain-damp beads on the glossy leather of my new walking boots like a chocolate bar taken straight from the fridge into a warm kitchen. I’ve been wearing them in at home and for short strolls in the evenings. It’s a short and easy walk today: a smooth mud-ribbon of a path over a low gently undulating coastline, heading homeward for me. Continue reading

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River Fal 13: Fin

– Place to St Anthony Head (where?)

The final – or maybe the first, depending on which way round you look at this – creek to join the Fal estuary is the Percuil River whose own mouth forms St Mawes harbour and whose course separates the St Anthony headland from the rest of the Roseland, creating a peninsula on a peninsula. The almost-isolation of its geographical situation is echoed in the quiet countryside clothing these shores. After Place House, the one-time ancestral home of the influential Spry family, the near-hidden cruciform of the 12th century church behind the mansion is the penultimate footprint of manmade construction before reaching the very tip of the land. Nestled in the midst of a conservation area and flanked by overhanging trees and rampant wildflowers, St Anthony’s church feels somehow more sympathetic to its rural surroundings than the slightly pretentious facade of its neighbouring mansion.

I turn a corner and suddenly I’ve left behind all trace of woodland and meadow that have exemplified the latter stages of this journey downstream. The flora becomes edgy and littoral: thrift instead of cow parsley, sea campion replacing red. A sharp drop to my right reveals a secluded cove at the cliff base. There is no more river now. There is no more estuary, even: I have reached the Cornish coast of the holiday brochures.

St Anthony Head beach picture credit: Trinity House


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