From Carlyon Bay to Trenarren….and surely some of the steepest bits of the SW Coast Path….27/9/18

20180926_122041.jpgOn another glorious September day off we went and parked up by the excellent Carlyon Bay Hotel. What a joy it is to do what we want (well within reason, and as long as it doesn’t cost too much) whenever we want. After using the hotel’s facilities (very nice), we admired the view of the bay from the grounds…….20180926_122058.jpg and then set off passing some very nice new flats (starting at half a million), and being dazzled by the reflections on the sea……..20180926_122434.jpgWe then came across a watch tower which was evidently manned. On closer inspection there was a notice saying ‘Visitors Welcome’ which I was very surprised to see, and  so up the steps we went to a very warm welcome.20180926_123153.jpgThe watchtower – Charlestown Station – is indeed an old coastguard station. Many will know of  the concerns when in an economy drive they were nearly all shut. In fact in 1974 there were still 127 stations (permanently manned) and 245 auxiliary stations. Now there are just 10 Coastguard Operations Centers (CGOCs) and one National Maritime Operations Centre (NMOC). Local concern all around the country about the loss of local visual watch and local knowledge led to the setting up of volunteer-run watch stations and the establishing of the National Coastwatch Institution (NCI). This watchtower is an NCI station. Built in the early twentieth century as an auxiliary Coastguard lookout, it became redundant in the cuts and was abandoned . Rediscovered and resurrected from its derelict state in 2001 it was re-opened after extensive work in 2003.20180926_125257.jpgRegarding its purpose, as our hosts noted…….”Whilst high technology and sophisticated systems are aids to improved safety, a computer can’t spot a distress flare, an overturned boat or a yachtsman or fisherman in trouble. Other vulnerable activities like diving, wind surfing and canoeing are made safer with visual surveillance.”   It operates 365 days a year and provides visual watch over all users of St Austell Bay.                               The leaflet we got informs us that ‘NCI watchkeepers provide the eyes and ears along the coast, monitoring radio channels and providing a listening watch in poor visibility. They are trained to deal with emergencies, offering a variety of skills and experience and full training by the NCI ensures that high standards are met. Over 246,000 hours of organised coastal surveillance were completed in 2016 alone, all at no cost to the public. Funding is managed by a Board of Trustees.’ The Charlestown Station itself is sponsored by the Carlyon Bay Hotel amongst others, and relies like all the others totally on contributions. We donated £5, a small amount indeed but very gratefully received.                                                           The UK has a world-wide reputation for its charity work and volunteer giving. A total amount of £9.7 billion was donated by generous Brits in 2016. However it is salutary to note that whilst the UK is Europe’s most generous country it still lags behind the developing world, especially Africa. Indeed only six of the G20 largest economies in the world feature in this year’s top 20. Interesting.                                                                              Just after this worthwhile diversion we saw these two seats placed so that you could look forwards or back! They perhaps represent what walking on the SW Coast Path is all about, and I never fail to look where I have been as well as where I am going……20180926_125603.jpgProceeding, we soon had our first glimpse of Charlestown Harbour (where Poldark is filmed of course)…..20180926_125613.jpgand we dropped down towards it…..20180926_125909.jpg20180926_130831.jpgpassing some beautiful cottages (a lot let out to rent, of course, as everywhere in Cornwall)….20180926_131013.jpgand we then hit the first objective (you’ve always got to have objectives)…the Pier House Hotel and Pub….20180926_134007.jpg20180926_133147.jpgThirst slaked, we parted…..F. to return the way we had come and me to push on to be met by her later. There was a steep climb out of the village….. 20180926_134237.jpgand an old kissing gate…..20180926_134231.jpg……before coming to another point of interest on this walk….20180926_134609.jpgNext a view along Porthpean beach…….20180926_134838.jpgI then came across a derelict tower (perhaps a Second World War watchtower?) to which I gained access…20180926_135906.jpgand the views – both ways of course – were worth it….20180926_135959.jpg20180926_140006.jpgApproaching the beach itself all was peace and solitude……with about three couples enjoying the sun20180926_140318.jpg20180926_140918.jpgI do love coming across weather-beaten wood of all kinds…they’d pay a fortune for this ‘Porthpean look’ in some expensive houses…20180926_140945.jpgand I loved this little antique jug which was tied to a post…perhaps water for dogs left by some kind soul, who knows? If it had been Rose wine…….20180926_141119.jpgPorthpean seems a good sort of place with a tiny village on the hill and an energetic boat club…20180926_141236.jpgThe hedge adjacent to the clubhouse was all wild fuschias…of which I see many on my walks on the Path…..20180926_141328.jpgAfter admiring the scene before me for a while longer…..20180926_143957.jpg….I met up with F. but decided to push on a little further…..20180926_145858.jpgloving the colours on the sea….20180926_150142.jpgI then came across what I call a see-saw stile. …..never seen anything like it…I’m sure it’s not meant to be like this – but it was quite good fun. I don’t know whether I have mentioned before but I am fascinated by all the varieties of stile and kissing gate and fencing and walling and so on there are around the country, some regional types, some NT Head Office inspired, some quirky builds of seemingly quirky minds. I am astonished that there is not a book in the amazing Shire Books series which covers just about everything else you can think of!20180926_150619.jpgAscending the next hill past a few animal friends…..20180926_151041.jpg20180926_150929.jpgI passed, in a little clearing, the remains possibly of an old Celtic cross…..20180926_151752.jpgand looked down on the most beautiful little beach – to which there didn’t seem any access.20180926_151853.jpgMy SW Coast Path guide refers next to ‘steps’. Well what can I say? I have never ever experienced such a steep descent followed by an almost vertical ascent, both long. Not on the SW Path nor climbing Bowfell or Scafell Pike or anywhere else. This pic gives a little idea…..but only a little.031456_91f4eb74.jpgI was very glad to meet up with F. again at the remote little hamlet of Trenarren, and relax watching some gentle farming activity……20180926_153123.jpg

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