Days three to four

24 May

So I had my cliff top coffee and wandered on. This beauty was a good start.

The only times I truly miss my big boys’ kit – Canon 7D and two lenses, including the totally fabulous L-series 70:200 f2.8 IS – is for wildlife shots like this. Phone cams have come on at a phenomenal rate, the S7 Edge giving me control over light to rival entry level SLRs, but no way can they compare with the high class optics of expensive dedicated lenses.

But with that kind of kit weighing in at over three kilos, thirty percent over and above what I’m already toting, it’s just out of the q.

The fleshpots of Newquay.

Man, was I glad to get out of Newquay. The day blazing hot, its urban sprawl made for a good hour of dreary trudge. But I put a brave face on it, even managing to keep smiling as though the tenth person to ask that morning if the solar panel is powering me – and will I freeze mid stride, ha ha, should sun go behind cloud? – was the wittiest man alive.

To cross the Gannel you take footbridge, submerged except at low tide, or ferry.

And since it ain’t low tide and in any case the bridge is broke …

… it looks like the ferry. Crewed and skippered by one genial cove who relieves me, his sole passenger, of a staggering £1.20. Daylight and robbery spring to mind .

I haven’t come across much hawthorn till now. At this time of year it’s a treat for eye and nose.

I wish I’d some way to convey this aspect of my experience. The floral scents are out of this world, punctuated, in those arduous descents the path periodically takes, by that heady whiff of the briny only fresh kelp can deliver.

Same goes for the aural experience, with birdsong and booming surf the top notes.

This swiftly flowing brooklet, its swirling surface concentrically rippled from time to time by a rising trout, is about to top up the Atlantic at Holywell Beach. I fill my litre flask, drop in a tiny chlorine tab and press onwards and westwards, my load heavier by one kilogram – some eight percent.

A mile short of Perranporth I go wrong, taking a narrow metalled track inland. I know I’m off-piste but don’t care. This is a lovely common of sand dune below thin layer of grass and moss, studded with miniature but quite natural lakes.

Wild life teems: ducks, moorhens, canada geese and rabbits by the score. There’ll be lizards and snakes too, less easily spotted this time of day.

The sun has lost its ferocity as a slight haze descends to give the light an ethereal glow. Lost or not, this is where I’ll camp tonight.

I’m spoilt for choice but can’t figure why the place is deserted. Two villages can be seen in the distance, each on a slight and separate elevation two miles away. At the very least I’d expect a dog walker or two in so pretty a spot, on so lovely an evening.

Close to this lakette but between two dunes, so out of sight of either village, I pitch for the night and cook a pasta meal.

The only glitch in paradise is an unsightly sheet of corrugated iron, carelessly tossed in the lee of a gorse bush. Farmers, I mutter darkly: often as not the countryside’s worst litterbugs. Only later, snapping the dying of the light, does the sight of two more put a different slant on things. But I’m all in. Hypothesis confirmation will have to wait till morning.



Curious, I’m up early. Here, as I’d suspected, is what lay below corrugated sheet.

A grass snake, sluggish at 05:30. And if my pic isn’t Attenborough standard, do bear in mind I was as likely to find an adder – an hour later I would get a fleeting glimpse of one – so had levered up the sheet with stick in my right, phone cam in my left. And yes, I am right handed. I lower the sheet slowly, giving my friend time to get back into position under the corrugation, and strike camp.

A few minutes on I discover why the place had been deserted on so beautiful an evening.

It’s still not seven. A deserted beach stands full of promise, an artist’s blank canvas.

Here’s where I get my morning wash …

… and here, a surfers’ cafe in Perranporth, is my vegetarian breakfast. I’m not vegetarian but since the new year have eschewed all flesh bar chicken and fish.

Day four is less sunny, which suits me to a T. I got mildly sunburnt arms on days two and three, despite frequent factor fifty. Best cure I know is exposure to air on a cloudy day.

What suits me less though is the trudge from Perranporth. Ocean and cliffs are as splendid as ever but tops and path are bleak: mile on mile of slate and scrub, with MOD fencing – diamond mesh three metres high and held up every four metres by grim concrete posts – to my left.

Still, the walk has its moments.

The Driftwood Spars at Trevaunce Cove is a right cracking pub; friendly staff and unusual, two tiered interior. Add in north of a dozen cask ales and you’re talking a seriously good toping den. Alas, it’s the wrong time of day for lone ranger me. Boring, I know, but after a flat white I hoist my pack and carry on regardless.

But behind the quietude the place harbours a dark secret. Sadly, even tranquil Trevaunce is not without its hooligan element.

Mile after mile; knee jarring descents, pulse racing ascents. An atmospheric mist descends and not a soul do I encounter.

I feel like Poldark.

Oh no: not another serpent!

Correct. This is a legless lizard …

… doubtless he’s had one too many at the Driftwood Spars.

Closer to Godrevy, not only has the MOD fence swung inland but the flora have improved too. It’s after seven and my eye is out for a decent pitch. Above this pretty waterfall I see a likely spot.

And that’s my days three and four, ending with my most spectacular pitch so far. A quick meal and, with fifteen or more hard miles behind me, I’m for turning in.


28 Replies to “Days three to four

  1. Perhaps the bloke who ferried you bust the bridge on purpose to enhance his takings and reputaton as a jolly cove. But then i would be more concerned with being biiten or blown up if i was you. Onwards!

    • Re boatman as crafty saboteur, you mirror my thoughts uncannily. I once read a Peter Robinson thriller where the villain behind a string of arson attacks turned out to be a part time fireman – no doubt on a zero hours contract – creating work for himself. He had my sympathy. I was much saddened by his being locked up and keys dropped down a tin mine shaft.

      I dare say the ferryman, for his part, has mouths to feed. Still, one pound twenty …

    • I won’t be waiting till I get back Kaye – Judge Mary Stacey’s Written Reasons are on my reading list for today!

      I’ll be in touch …

  2. did you take all the pics with a phone??
    awesome !!
    especially like the two dawn pics …
    carry on wanderer

  3. Been following you from Day 1 Phil and really enjoying your photos and stories of your meandering trail along such a beautiful coast. Botanical tonic for the day!

  4. Yesterday you had a good Redstart to the day methinks.
    Really like the washed-out beach and the industrial pic.
    Please can we have one of you lugging a solar-panelled wooden trunk up to that tin mine?
    You could be reaching towards a pint of Poldark Bitter ABV 4.5%
    (courtesy Tintagel Brewery, trip sponsor).
    And here’s a cryptic to mull over on a rainy day…or minute, probs.
    ‘Sage goes crazy for cornish break away’ (6)

    • I hoped it was a redstart for the pun it would have allowed but, no birder, was hesitant. I’ve now been assured it’s a stonechat.

      Pint of Poldark, squire!

      Will need to chew over the cryptic clue, bro. Watch this space.

  5. It’s so fortunate you survived all those hazards, otherwise we wouldn’t have been treated to such a spectacular display of photographs – and amusing accounts.

    • Yes. It’s a miracle I’m still in the land of the living Ceejay. Did I mention that, while taking morning dip at Holywell Beach, a great white had its massive jaws open wide, inches from my face? Curtains for me, I reasoned. But then a rip tide snatched me from certain death to sweep me out to sea. Well, I thought, talk about out of frying pan and into fire! But as I was set to go under for third and famously final time, what do I hear but whirring blades of coastguard helicopter overhead as rope ladder makes unfurling descent into my eager hands …

      What, I didn’t say? Well it just goes to show. So much has happened this trip, aforesaid ordeal slipped my mind till now.

      • I see. The helicopter explains the high viewpoint on No 2 photo with its dynamic tide diagonals. You seem a little shaken but not shtirred. How do you like your Martini by the way sir?
        ‘The name’s Phil. Licensed to kill hyperbole. I’m on a mission to Hayle’

          • Corn(wall)y puns. Nice one.
            If your pitching up again , get your tent up early this evening Phil as lightning/thunderstorm forecast from 2000 to 0500 down St Ives way. Advise used to be to avoid high ground, trees or touching anything that could conduct. So maybe get in a hollow down on beach (avoiding cave openings and watch tides etc).
            Should be a fantastic experience tho’ with photo ops + + + from tent door.

      • You should avoid any more pitching on MOD sites as your solar panels are a potential fire hazard and those, ,combined with any stray amunition, could be an explosive cocktail endangering wildlife. We must take care of our wildlife.

        • Absolutely straight up, Vaska. I’m from the Planet Zorg and we Zorgians are biologically incapable of fibbing. It causes us no end of grief.

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