As Lea is now staying with me in Cornwall I had another opportunity today to walk without carrying most of my kit. However, I've carried my full pack all this way and got on just fine, I'm used to the weight and I don't want to risk changing anything now. I've decided I'll carry all my gear to the very end whether I need it or not, it's as much a part of the walk as me. Lea brought our spare camera to replace the one I broke yesterday, fortunately all the 100+ shots were still safely stored on the memory card.
Today would turn out to be a hard day, but with great weather and more spectacular coastline to enjoy. After finding my way out of Newquay I walked for a mile or so along the soft sand on the western side of the Gannel Estuary. After climbing up onto the coast path the marvelous views soon carried on from where they left off yesterday. First was Crantock Bay, then I came across a couple of beautiful but deserted small beaches hidden away between headlands. Once again the coast path is not the quickest way to get from A to B, each beach or valley you come to involves making detours, descents and ascents to move onto the next headland. Holywell was the next scenic beach with its massive sand dunes and surfers in the waves.
After Holywell you start walking alongside MOD land. Among the warning signs I saw as I passed strange military equipment were those bluntly saying 'Warning - troops in training, stay away from miltary debris, it may explode and kill you'. Maybe it's not only the roads that are danger to walkers after all. Soon after I saw the first old mine shafts of the day, uncapped but fenced off. Penhale Sands then came into view, luckily the tide was out and I was able to walk along the two or three miles of spectacular beach here, the firm sand offered the easiest walking of the day. At the other end I came to the pretty town of Perranporth. I took my only break of any length here and treated myself to a Cornish ice cream after finishing the rest of my lunch. By the time I continued on my way I noticed the Penhale Sands had been covered by the incoming tide, if I'd arrived an hour later I'd have had to go another way.
After Perranporth the path starts to get harder and you really know you're coming into the tin mining area. There are slag heaps and old mineworkings everywhere. Most of the mineshafts are vertical with grills over the top, but some are horizontal and you can still just walk in. I stopped and peered into one, it looked damp and very cramped, theres no way I could have gone in at six foot tall without stooping down. Around the St. Agnes area there are still many ruins of old mine buildings to be seen, the best preserved were at Wheal Coates. When I stopped at one of the many viewpoints between Perranporth and St. Agnes to take a picture I found myself in conversation with a friendly couple from Yorkshire who were walking the other way, by the time we parted they had very kindly given me a donation for MacMillan.
As the afternoon wore on the coast path started to remind me of the mountainous parts of the West Highland Way. The climbs were getting very harsh and you have to go carefully on the loose rocky surfaces. As in Scotland though all the hard work is very well rewarded with more spectacular views at every turn. Between Porthtowan and Portreath alongside more MOD land there were some very steep sections going down into and up out of valleys where you have to clamber up and down rugged steps carved into the hillsides.
After 24 miles of hard leg work and feasting my eyes on the superb scenery I left the coast path at Portreath. From there I walked three miles inland to the Milk & More depot at Camborne. It was shut that late in the day, but I will return there tomorrow morning and resume walking after meeting the staff. I'm still considering my route options for final two days, but I intend to arrive at Lands End at lunchtime on Wednesday. My right heel is improving and almost feels back to normal, I have no blisters or other injurys to report. Something pretty awful would have to happen now to stop me making the finish.
GPS track click here
Mileage today; 27.23 miles, walking time 7 hrs 55 mins, average walking speed 3.4 mph
Weather; mainly sunny, becoming overcast in the late afternoon, breezy, max 17C
Cumulative mileage; 978.37 miles
|Arriving at Penhale Sands, three miles long and a surfers paradise|
|Tin mine ruins at Wheal Coates south of St.Agnes|
|Typical rugged scenery on the North Cornwall coast|