From: St Ives to Gwithian
Distance: 10.3m / 16.48km
Cumulated distance: 34.8m / 56km
Percentage completed: 3.38
It was like walking in Narnia after the expulsion of the White Witch today .. thaw happening everywhere, with emerging daffs and primroses at every turn. AND I was able to walk the South West Coast Path!
It did mean a bit of rain at the start of the day. But it was a small price to pay for the rise in temperature and the melted ice.
St Ives was every bit as pretty as I’d imagined, with its narrow, winding streets and gorgeous art in every shop window. I could have spent a lot of time looking round all the galleries and shops, to say nothing of the money I could have spent .. but the SWCP beckoned.
The South West Coast Path is the longest national trail in UK at 600 plus miles. It’s meticulously maintained and a joy to walk, taking you along some of the most picturesque parts of the country. There are a lot of steps and some steep gradients which had me puffing a little today but the views are just glorious.
As I walked I kept having to peel off layers, so warm it was getting. Half way into the day I came to Hayle Estuary, a place I’d been really looking forward to reaching on the walk. In the spring up to 18,000 migrant and wintering birds flock here. It’s a particularly attractive place for birds during very cold weather, as it’s the warmest estuary in the UK, never freezing over .. even when storms like Emma try their best. Along the walk are helpful notice boards telling you what you might see. I love the names we give birds! Just read this lot which were around for me to see today: oystercatchers, ringed plovers, sanderlings, dunlins, black-tailed and bar-tailed godwits, whimbrels, curlews, greenshanks and redshanks. Who on earth thought of the word whimbrel to describe the brown-streaked wader from the curlew family? Along with many others they have brought a richness and whimsy to this English language of ours.
Walking around Hayle Estuary added an extra 3 miles to my journey today. But there was little option to do anything other than walk around it, unless I didn’t mind getting extremely wet. And anyway, it was a real treat to see such fabulous birdlife. Sorry I’m not bringing you any photos of them .. an iPhone just can’t get close enough. The bit of the walk that took me through the outskirts of Hayle had its compensations and it’s humorous elements ..
While I don’t stand a chance of learning much Cornish (yes, it is an official language), I did take the time to find out from the landlord at Pendeen what some of the prefixes mean here. They are everywhere! Apparently, there’s a rhyme which goes ‘By Tre Pol and Pen / Shall ye know all Cornishmen’. Tre denotes a settlement or homestead, Pol indicates a body of water such as a pond and Pen signifies a hill or headland. All I can say is that there must be a lot of houses, ponds and hills along the Cornish coast!
At the end of St Ives Bay lies the teeny village of Gwithian. It overlooks the Godrevy Lighthouse which stands on a rocky island of its own. As I was walking towards it the sun came out and the whole landscape was transformed.
I was extremely surprised to find out that it is the very lighthouse which features in Virginia Woolf’s ‘To The Lighthouse’, one of my favourite books. Surprised because in the novel, the Ramsay family see the lighthouse from the Isle of Skye in Scotland! Artistic licence I guess.
Looking back to the south I could see where I’d walked from over the day and it made me feel .. very happy!
My stop tonight is the delightful Nanterrow Farm. It was a bit of a trek from Gwithian but the curious cattle and the signposts along the very muddy track put a smile on my face and the welcome from Linda and Glynn was awesome. Only down-side is the absence of wifi and signal .. but hey, who needs these when the hostess takes the time to track down a pub with an internet connection and then drives you there! Fantastic hospitality.
Black Dog Tails
Nellie was awarded the Heroic Hearing Dog of the Year Award for alerting her non-hearing owner that there was an intruder in the house.