From: Padstow to Port Isaac
Distance: 12m / 19.2km
Cumulated distance: 100.2m / 161km
Percentage completed: 9.75
Today was a day of two halves. The morning was flat, dry and the route undeviating. The afternoon was undulating, outrageously muddy and the route weaved its way between fields, farms and fords.
This morning I woke up to what was probably the biggest temptation to cheat on the End to End. It would have been so easy to catch a ferry across the Camel Estuary to Rock, cutting out a several mile detour inland to Wadebridge. But it’s sufficiently early in my journey for me to be a purist and feel strongly (well, fairly strongly) that I must resist transportation.
Setting out, Liz optimistically pointed out the blue in the sky. Not much of it to see from where I was standing! It was a treat to have Tess, her golden retriever, with us on our walk in the morning along the Camel Trail.
Before we set off this morning, we took a wander around the streets of pretty Padstow. It doesn’t look to have changed in a couple of hundred years and it made me think of the people whose last ever sight of England was here. Padstow was the port where many, many people left the UK for North America, to find a new life in the nineteenth century. Padstow was the UK’s third most important departure point for Canada .. only Liverpool and London were greater. It makes me feel absurdly sad for all those people who left the country, looking back at the town, knowing it was the last they’d ever see of their homeland.
Nowadays of course, Padstow is known for the colonisation by a celebrity chef and is known by the locals as Padstein. It’s difficult to find anywhere to eat or stay which isn’t owned by him. But we did find an independent café for an early coffee and some local grub.
The walk inland to Wadebridge took us along the banks of the River Camel. It’s a really popular cycle path where the number of bikes hired in the summer has to be limited, so that it doesn’t become a jam of cyclists. Today we saw a handful of runners and a couple of walkers. Both the terrain and the weather could not have been more different from yesterday. We were able to bash out the 5 miles to Wadebridge very swiftly.
In the blink of an eye we’d reached Wadebridge. Some tempting interior shops and a very friendly café called Relish, where the owners made a donation when they heard about the Walk. Great coffee if you find yourself in Wadebridge https://www.relishcornwall.co.uk Relish was also the rendez-vous for meeting up with two other friends, Nick and Joanna. I was a wee bit nervous of the impact they may have on lunch plans ……
Well…. at this point your standby correspondent (acting unpaid) Nick is forced to take over the keyboard as lunch really did spiral out of control – as some of the following photographs will evidence. As we left Wadebridge Jules had a glint in her eye which with hindsight was the prospect of Sauvignon Blanc therapy at the Maltster’s Arms public house in the picture perfect village of Chapel Amble; as it turns out there was not much evidence of chapel and it did not help our ambling one jot…
We dined lavishly on moules-frites (a Cornish classic) and fish & chips. This was washed down by yours truly with a modest half pint of weak beer……
….. and by Jules and Joanna with a veritable ocean of Sauvignon Blanc. I will leave you, dear readers, to ponder on the consequences.
…But back to the walk. During lunch (and after) the heavens opened in true Cornish style. It seemed at times that all the mud in Cornwall had been liberally spread across our route. At first we rather prissily skipped around puddles in an optimistic effort to keep clean and dry but, little by little, the mud and water asserted itself. By the end of the day we ploughed resignedly into each and every slough, up to our ankles and occasionally knees in wet and slime.
As the afternoon drew on and the sky darkened we plodded northwards towards the coast, climbing up over open windswept downland before finally and gratefully beginning our descent through a narrow river valley towards Port Isaac and the sea. The mud of course went from bad to worse, especially in the farmyards where the livestock had made their own special contributions.
As we approached our destination we were greeted by the sight and heady aroma of the Port Isaac sewage treatment plant – a triumph of 1970’s engineering and municipal low budget architecture. But a welcome sight as the day’s end was approaching.
Port Isaac is of course famous as the scene of television’s “Doc Martin”. He of joyous, glass half empty fame. No sign of the good doctor on this occasion which was a pity as we all needed treatment of one sort or another.
We could have stuck around for a swift half (or a consultation at the doc’s surgery) but as it turned out we had a better offer. Liz arrived to rescue us and whisk us back to her house for a roast rib of beef to die for, washed down with copious quantities of red wine. And so to be as the rain continues to pour down outside and another 15 miles of cliff path awaits us tomorrow.
Black Dog Tails
Here’s Katrina. This heroic girl saved a man from drowning in Hurricane Katrina.