We catch the 11 bus from Liskeard to Wadebridge. I don’t say much about our local town Liskeard but when you look around it is quite a handsome place with a lot of good quality buildings. You can see from the sky why we decided to go to the seaside…..From Wadebridge we catch a cute little local bus to Polzeath (pronounced Polzerth). We decided as we were in no hurry to have a good look around the beach there, so we walked towards the headland and returned via the houses – magnificent views and very expensive.Good surfing conditions and a few were out….But it was time for our walk now, so we joined the South West Coast Path towards Rock.looking back now and again and………..with the occasional stop for a drink (it was warm when you escaped the wind). Along the way there are many smaller beaches with easy ways down….I do like ‘Private’ signs. they encourage a more radical me…one who wants all land (as in Scotland) to be free access.Looking ahead this is Daymer beach…..We walked through the magnificent dunes…and of course what better at the end of a walk than a bit of light refreshment?Rather than walk up a steep hill through the residential road of exclusive Rock we took the ferry across to Padstow. Talking to the ferryman, when he closes at 4pm now but 6pm I think in Summer, there is a water taxi service should you wish to dine at one side or the other of the estuary and get back.I thought the wellington dog was good….One of the trawlers in Padstow harbour seemed particularly colourful……and all was still……..time for the bus home.
I have always had a desire to live in Fowey…and on this beautiful February day who could gainsay me? I had after many years of looking found on-line a flat that seemed to be in our price range. It, or rather they, for we looked at four or five flats, of one and two bedrooms, in the same building, were located at the Bodinnick ferry crossing. They were very nice but unfortunately just too small. Anyhow another good excuse to come to Fowey…….On the way back we called in to the Cormorant Hotel at Golant for a drink. This is the view from their car park….and terrace…wonderful. Unfortunately the hotel was closed for a few days for renewal, but we had a nice chat with the owner and will certainly be back.
Yet another trip to the tip and another trip to Fowey as a reward. Parking free at this time of year. Great. Some Edwardian houses we hadn’t really noticed before gleaming in the bright sunshine on this February day. Fairly quiet although half-term, and a pleasure to wander around the streets.I thought I would use this trip to take some shots of the typically Cornish surfaces, and doorways. Interesting I think.This time we wandered down through town to the Bodinnick ferry with a view across to Daphne Du Maurier’s house Ferryside.Liveable houses down here too!I liked the idea of having my boat slung under the house ready for action and a quick get-away! Good view of Ferryside on the opposite bank….This shot shows that Fowey and environs isn’t all about pretty houses and views…you can just see the china clay works downriver……The statue at the ferry terminus is rather good…and always interesting to look inside the RNLI station….we donated.You are nearly always guaranteed a good view with a pint in Fowey….here from The King of Prussia……Now for some doors…..and door-knockers….Then on the way back I noticed the old house of Q, or Sir Arthur Thomas Quiller-Couch, with its plaque.
Heaving spent a little time as a journalist in London he returned to Cornwall in 1891, and settled in Fowey. In addition to publishing a series of critical articles, he completed Robert Louis Stevenson’s unfinished novel, “St Ives”. He was also known as a writer of excellent verse and a compiler of poetic works, most notably the “Oxford Book of English Verse, 1250-1900”, which appeared in 1900. This book is often quoted by John Mortimer’s “Rumpole of the Bailey”. Quiller-Couch was an active worker in local politics for the Liberal party. He was also Commodore of the Royal Fowey Yacht Club from 1911 until his death. He was knighted in 1910 and received a professorship of English at Cambridge in 1912. He retained this post for the remainder of his life. He later became Chair of English at the university and oversaw the beginnings of the English Faculty there. Many of Quiller-Couch’s fictional works have been long neglected but contain a wealth of Cornish folk lore. He was a noted literary critic, and published several volumes of criticism. He died in 1944, leaving his autobiography, “Memories and Opinions”, unfinished. This was published the following year. His novel, “Castle Dor” was also unfinished on Quiller-Couch’s death, and his daughter asked her friend Daphne du Maurier to complete this version of Tristan and Isolde, set in 19th century Cornwall.
We were trying to find the beach we had visited when first in Cornwall that has a small boardwalk and freshwater pond in the dunes. We thought it might be Perranporth so that is where we headed. We were wrong. Perranporth is the beach with a good bar/restaurant right on the beach and ‘unofficial’ nude bathing at the far end. What a lovely February day, and no Photoshop here!At the far end, having encountered no nudes unfortunately, we climbed up the Coast Path to a viewing point. The bench was obviously constructed for Giants as you can see!Next to Trevaunce Cove….never been here before and a quaint harbour and beach (mostly covered when we were there). A fascinating place indeed. Most of the Cove is designated as an SSI because of the interesting geology and exposed lodes, and the village of St Agnes just above here was famous for its high quality tin….the last mine closing in 1941. There were outcrops of pure tin on the beach itself which were worked at low tide, others running under the sea, and more in the cliff face. Some of the spoil is still visible on the cliff top…….This little cove in its time was a real hive of industrial activity with hammer mills, loading of ships and much else apart from the mines themselves. However over a period of almost 400 years five attempts were made at constructing a harbour…all failed due to the rough seas. Huge granite slabs just washed away. On of the attempts was by Winstanley of Eddystone lighthouse fame.Trevaunce was also a fishery and the odd fishing boat remains as a reminder of the past…We climbed the cliffs and sat on the lowest bench I have come across (Guinness Book of Records?) to watch the surfers at play.We then adjourned to the Driftwood Spars pub and brewery for a pint. The name stems from the huge beams (or spars) that comprise its structure, salvaged from shipwrecks along the coast and utilised for the building in the 1650s. The pub began life as a tin mining warehouse and has since been a chandlery, sail making loft and fish cellar, before it was eventually converted into a hotel and bar in the early 1900s.Suitably refreshed off we went to have one more try at finding the elusive beach of memory. Success at last, it was Holywell Bay, just as charming as we remembered!…..with its freshwater pool and river…nice little boardwalk….and beautiful dunes…..The beach was pretty fantastic too…..A lovely day by the seaside full of interest, and only 50 minutes away by car. Marvellous.
On our regular walk in Looe we saw a landing craft hover in the retreating sea outside Looe (the tide was almost at its lowest), and then make up its mind and beach. We have absolutely no idea what all this was about, but it did attract attention! Having then to take some garden rubbish to the tip we used the opportunity of going on a bit further to Fowey one of my all-time favourite places. We had lunch and a pint at the Ship Inn which we had never been in before – a traditional pub with roaring fire – perfect on a cold day.After a nice stroll through town we climbed the steps to the hotel now renamed as The Fowey Harbour Hotel where we had a coffee. Part of a group, but with reasonable taste….and great views from where we were sitting in the bar\lounge…..they seem to have copied the ‘wellies’ idea from Olga Polizzi’s Tresanton Hotel in St Mawes…..
Having raved about the Truro and Penwith College restaurant in Penzance – Senara – we thought we would try their sister operation in Truro. “It’s run entirely by our Professional Cookery and Professional Food and Beverage students, who gain valuable experience whilst working towards their qualifications.” Three courses for £10…..you can’t go wrong. Here’s their sample lunch menu…
Example lunch menu
Spicy roast pumpkin and sweet potato soup.
Smoked mackerel tian with pickled cucumber and crostini.
Mozzarella with broad beans, mint, lemon, olive oil and pea shoots.
Slow roasted belly of pork on puy lentil and chorizo broth with curly kale.
Battered pollock with hand-cooked chips, crushed peas, pea puree and deconstructed tartar sauce.
Gnocchi with roasted vegetables, tomato sauce & pesto.
Autumn Eton Mess.
Lemon tart with clotted cream.
Cornish cheeses with chutney and oatcakes.
What I have to say is that although we would definitely recommend Spires- it is incredible value, and we would go there again, – it didn’t come anywhere near to the standard of Senara. Strange in one way as they are part of the same organisation, but then again the staff are different so I wonder whether that is where the difference lies. Do they sample each other’s fare? Perhaps not. At Senara it started with the bread beautifully made, tasty and a choice on offer. At Spires we were given white bread which wasn’t fully cooked through. And the different courses each had their small failings….salad not picked through, no dressing etc etc. Still we enjoyed ourselves. We then tootled off to Truro on the Park and Ride to spend my book token in Waterstone’s. Walking through Truro is always a pleasure with plenty of fine buildings and the streetscape is great. City Hall we noticed had closed – it is being converted into flats I believe. This was where the TI was located where we wanted to get some bus timetables, but right opposite is the new TI which is really really good. here is a little seating area just as you enter…..very jolly!Just to the left is the old ‘Coinage Hall’ so-called because of Truro’s past status as a Stannery. The current building is Victorian. Granite cobbles and kerbstones impart a lot of character as does the leat system for water thought to be a system the Victorians used as for street cleansing and drinking water for horses.Truro’s cathedral is obviously prominent in the town but on a day with cloudless skies it is magnificent.Truro is less than an hour by car for us so a great place to visit. The weather hasn’t all been blue skies as these recent pics of our garden show….but we like our walk along the local lanes whatever the weather, particularly just now when the wildflowers are starting to appear in the Cornish hedges….
Looking at our local map we saw that there was a potential new walk from Duloe, the next village to us. It did have some rather sharp contour lines, but looked promising. There are no public footpath walks from St Keyne, our village, which is a shame, although we do constantly walk along the lanes. Anyhow, off we set. First of all there were some rather lovely catkins decorating a few trees at the start of the walk. Then, after crossing the dry bed of a little stream….we walked through an orchard which belongs to Cornish Orchards well-known now throughout the country for their cider and other drinks. We must return when the blossom is out, and then later see the apples themselves (maybe a bit of scrumping?). We descended sharply to the valley bottom through Duchy land to a little hamlet of holiday cottages. Unfortunately as we reached the road……. …….someone yet again had blighted the landscape with uncaring dumping of litter. Who are these people? Well, on the way back up to Duloe on the lanes I noted a discarded outer of Carling Lager, and scattered for a mile or so along the hedgerow I counted about 10 cans of Carling. Idiots all these people.There was a rather nice cottage on the way up which had a lovely rustic gateway which added to the view…..I do so like the gates and stiles and crossing points you see on country walks and often take pictures showing the huge differences in regional styles (not a pun!). I really would like to write a booklet for the Shire series of esoteric books. One day, perhaps.We noted some wildflowers in bloom, and when we had finished our walk I drove to the edge of Duloe……. to take a picture of a clump of daffodils that have been in flower since December…..this bank where they are is full of daffodils in Spring, so I am frankly amazed at this one clump with no sign whatsoever of any others….perhaps a very early variety anyhow.Other things are blossoming at this time in Cornwall…here a camellia and…… ….in our own garden this azalea has been in flower since at least early December, probably November.Well, we did our 8000 steps, but I don’t think we’ll be in too much of a hurry to do the walk again. It was a little uninspiring……
After a quick trip to the doctors, warmth and blue skies beckoned us to the seaside, so off we went on our local 73 bus to Talland Bay for a walk to Looe. The start was downhill from the bus stop through a tunnel of green and brown to the shore. When we arrived at the beach we saw that the cafe there, which we have never seen open before, was indeed doing business. After ordering our coffee and tea we decided to make use of their wonderful little beach huts. What a great idea of theirs and how sympathetic to the setting. A pleasant 10 minutes was spent admiring the view.That set us up nicely for the very steep climb up coronary hill…and luckily someone who had obviously enjoyed this walk in the past had dedicated a seat just before the top…From now on a walk along how the Coastal Path should be – with stunning views and scenery….and again some lovely turquoise colours in the sea…..maybe a result of the china clay residue which has filled this Bay for hundreds of years!You know when Polperro is just round the corner when you see that some people are using other means of transport than feet…..The beach was fairly busy, as was the town (half-term). But in truth it is not a particularly nice beach (sorry Polperro). We saw one house that had four substantial flying buttresses holding it up – a feature which you only normally see on cathedrals, and here was the so-called ‘house-on-props’.Really good there is a decent pub just by where you wait for the bus….And, as we had to change buses in Looe, we walked up to Looe beach which is very nice…On the way home I took some moving shots just to show how green is my valley….virtually the whole way home you go along the river and are surrounded by trees…..and you have races sometimes (in my head anyway) with the train on the adjoining line which stops at Sandplace station only a handful of times ….. approx 30 passengers per week. We’ve never seen anyone waiting here…..
The start of my walk today Tregantle fort is one of several forts surrounding Plymouth that were built as a result of a decision in Lord Palmerston’s premiership to deter the French from attacking naval bases on the Channel coast. It is still used by all 3 services today especially as a rifle range and when red flags fly a lot of the area is inaccessible. Luckily no flags today….We parked on the road by the side of the fort….it’s great that we are outside the tourist season as parking is eased all over Cornwall. We then walked down by the side of some of the ranges (later on we were to hear plenty of small-arms fire). An interesting notice for my collection…You can just see some of the targets in the pic below….here we are looking back towards Looe in the far distance.And it wasn’t long before we started to see the wonderful extent of Whitsand Bay which we have never visited, one of the longest stretches of sand in Cornwall, but difficult of access.F. walked with me for a short while and we could just see ahead my objective – Rame Head. Throughout the walk it was extremely difficult to take pics of the way ahead as the sun was so dazzling (October in Cornwall!).It was in between tides so at absolute low tide one can imagine how magnificent the beach looks.F. turned around after a while and was due to meet me with the car somewhere on Rame Head…final destination open although I was hoping it would be the chapel on the end of the Head. Separate little coves soon started to appear, all accessible down very steep paths and indeed I met several groups of families in swimwear who were heading down to the beaches.At one isolated spot a lookout appeared, and I assume this is one of the National Coastwatch Institution’s as there is one somewhere around here. Having visited two in the last couple of weeks I gave this one a miss.All at once chalets appeared which seemed to cover the whole cliffside. What a lovely unspoilt walk this would be without them. Looks like a shanty town.I assumed this walk would be quite flat. Wrong again, and I was glad F. had insisted I take my walking stick which is a tremendous help.The path appears and disappears as you have to make your way through all the chalets (or huts)…..Quite a few I noticed had Indian names, so I am assuming they were from the thirties or thereabouts…
The thirties was a period before planning regulations, so the huts sprang up in a fashion that was at once anarchic and strictly governed by the landscape. As there were no natural ledges, families would dig out a bit of cliff and put the rubble at the front as a patch of garden. There was talk apparently, fairly recently, by the Council of knocking them all down. however what has happened is that they have just absolved themselves of all responsibilities and state that the whole cliffside is unprotected and they have no plans to manage erosion here. My own personal hope would be that in a thousand years erosion has tumbled them all into the sea. This bus stop has a fine view!There are things blooming in Cornwall at all times of the year. Gorse is well-known to flower here all year round. This hedgerow was brightened up considerably. And I did see some wildlife!Whilst the temptation is always to look seawards on a walk like this I did cross over the road (which you have to use occasionally) to get a great view in the distance of Plymouth.Of course there is danger wherever you go on the Cornish coast but this little monument was very poignant….I did see one restaurant with excellent views called rather unimaginatively ‘The View’. It had an exceptionally good-sounding menu. As an example I remember dabs for the first course and skate wing for the main with pancetta and gremolata. 2 courses for £14.50. Sounds great.I do like benches with a view and this was one of those walks where there were many.Nearing Rame Head the cliffs were still dangerous. I could just see Polhawn Fort another one of the three along here. Polhawn Fort faces out over the beach and was built in the early 1860s to defend the eastern approach to Whitsand Bay. If was armed with a battery of seven 68-pounder guns. A design flaw was that its exposed left side could be attacked from the sea and this was not as heavily fortified as the front which faces onto the beach. Rather than improving it, its role was taken over by the batteries at Tregantle and Raleigh and Polhawn was abandoned by the MOD in 1928. The building survives in good condition as a hotel.It was round about here with the Rame Head chapel just in reach that I received a message from F. saying she couldn’t get to Rame Head because the road was closed. I therefore decided to cut across the peninsula and meet her at Kingsand. My path led to the charming little hamlet of Trehill. It reminded me very much of a Lakeland village.As I dropped down into Kingsand I saw the third of the forts. Cawsand Fort was originally a Palmerston fort, and was remodelled as part of the late nineteenth-century defences that included the batteries at Pier Cellars and Penlee Point. Today it is a complex of luxury apartments. Good to see the variety of uses to which Palmerston’s forts have been put.Perhaps you can just see a couple of bathers near the little beach at Cawsand – it was warm!As I have said before Kingsand and Cawsand together are one of the most delightful spots in Cornwall, and we always discover some new angle….Pity the houses are so expensive……..
A beautiful October day again saw us drive to Trenarren the end-point of my last walk. My destination from here this time was Pentewan which we had never visited. F. drove there after a short stroll with me on the first bit of my walk. I optimistically thought I would see her in an hour. It was more like three. Such are the vagaries of the Coast Path.Very wooded to start off, it was interesting to note some private accesses to the Coast Path (must be nice).The view back was towards St Austell (mining country still) but the whole bay could be seen at times.In places the sea was the beautiful turquoise colour which you find in photos of more exotic places….I soon saw ahead my first objective – the little promontory of Black Head. I found the engraved stone at the neck….This granite memorial engraved with “This was the land of my content”, was erected in the memory of Arthur Leslie Rowse, a Cornish writer and historian. Rowse was born in 1903, the son of an uneducated china clay worker, and was the first Cornishman to win a university scholarship, reading English at Christchurch College, Oxford. Rowse published about 100 books. By the mid-20th century, he was a celebrated author and much-travelled lecturer, especially in the United States. He also published many popular articles in newspapers and magazines in Great Britain and the United States. His brilliance was widely recognised. His knack for the sensational, as well as his academic boldness (which some considered to be irresponsible carelessness), sustained his reputation. His opinions on rival popular historians, such as Hugh Trevor-Roper and A. J. P. Taylor, were expressed sometimes in very strident terms. All three were well-known to me when I studied History at Oxford in the late Sixties……..And in fact Rowse retired to Trenarren House. I enjoyed learning all this.Great views of the bay and unsurprisingly there is a stone-age fort at the head. I thought I could discern some of the outline of ditches……Walking back along the promontory I discovered what I assume is a First or Second World War gun emplacement….Moving on steeply down, after leaving Black Head, I could see the isolated little hamlet of Hallane with two or three houses or cottages strung down the combe ending up at a rocky cove. Ideal for smugglers. The problem was that each building had carefully marked off grounds with the sort of ‘Strictly Private’ notices some folk love to put up. Failing to discern the correct route for the Coast Path I nearly ended up back at Trenarren, before consulting the OS map on my mobile. You would think that on a coastal path you may not need a map at all. Just keep the sea to your left! But it certainly doesn’t always work out like that.Presumably horses can get tired with the gradients round here too!The correct route took me off into a wood along a pretty little brook on a stretch of land called The Vans (derivation?).Next one of the brutal sections with very steep ascents and descents via steps, of which this shows just a small part. One can only laud the people who keep these footpaths in repair, but when you are using them you despair that they seem designed to be as difficult as possible, being half a step too long or too short between each riser…just the wrong amount especially for someone with bad knees like me.Another individually designed bridge,,,Good views of isolated little coves with no apparent access. Let’s hope the bamboo doesn’t become as much as a problem as in our garden. I do think Cornwall is in real danger of being suffocated by bamboo.What I had estimated and told F. in the beginning was starting to look silly now. What looks a short distance on the map, if full of these ups and downs can take 2 or 3 times as long as you think…..very dispiriting too to see them ahead of you, and to know from experience that what goes up must come down!Looking back at this point I could just about discern the red and white stripes of the distant Gribbin Head marker as well as Black Head itself.And since I have no head at all for heights I must mention that parts of this section of the Coast Path do seem very exposed with steep drops inches away from the path….At last my destination of Pentewan Sands can be glimpsed..But as it gets nearer the whole view and all sense of rural idyll is spoilt by the horrendous mobile home park typical of much else that totally spoils Cornwall. How could any sensible Planning Department give permission for all of this – plus deem the beach private to the Park. It’s an absolute disgrace. Cornwall really could be the place of your dreams or The Land Of My Content. But it isn’t. It’s despoiled and ravaged by caravan parks, mobile homes, wind farms, scruffy towns, no seeming overall plan, and the fact that it is is the end outcome of profit and cost control versus the environment.As I move down the last hill (thank God) into Pentewan itself it is revealed as a quite charming village hunkered over its own bit of inland water and with some well-preserved remains of its previous industrial past. The always excellent Iwalkcornwall site has this to say…..”Pentewan dates back to mediaeval times when it was mainly a fishing village with a harbour. The harbour was rebuilt in the 1820s both for the pilchard fishery and to create a china clay port. At its peak, a third of Cornwall’s china clay was shipped from Pentewan. However the harbour had continual silting problems which meant that it was eventually overtaken by Charlestown and Par. As well as longshore drift carrying sand east across Mevagissey Bay, there was also silt being washed down the river from china clay works and tin streaming. Consequently, the harbour gradually silted up with the last trading ship leaving in 1940 and World War II literally sealing its fate. By the 1960s, the harbour was only accessible to small boats and today the harbour basin is entirely cut off from the sea………… names of many coastal features are derived from words in the Cornish language:
- Pen – Headland (Cornish for “top” or “head”)
- Pol – often used to mean Harbour (literally “Pool”)
- Porth – Port but often used to mean Cove
- Zawn – sea inlet (from the Cornish “sawan” meaning chasm)
Note that Haven has Saxon origins (hæfen in Old English) which is why it tends to occur more in North East Cornwall (Millook, Crackington, Bude etc)……..
In fact the more I see of Pentewan the more charming it becomes. And, meeting Frances, we wander off to the local pub the Ship which is very presentable indeed…….…. and as well as bars and beer garden has a library. Who would have thought it? And a sense of humour of sorts…We sit on benches outside enjoying the afternoon warmth and in front of us is a ‘Gin and Sorbet’ bar which would make London Metropolitans jealous. As it says with humour a bit like my own….’Let The Good Times BeGin’. Well, well.Walking to the car we pass through the heart of the village….….which even has a village green of the sort you might expect in Yorkshire or the Lake District……what a lovely place. How even more angry I am at the blot on earth that is the dominating mobile home park….and the concept of a ‘private’ beach….ugh.