From: Gwithian to St Agnes Head
Distance: 14.4m / 23.04km
Cumulated distance: 49.2m / 79km
Percentage completed: 4.79
I learned a lot about contours today. And the fact that kilometres are not miles. And that steps can be very uneven.
I left the slice of heaven that is Nanterrow Farm at 8.30 after the most delicious of breakfasts, with bacon from the next door farm, eggs from happy chooks and Glynn’s home-made bread. I retraced my steps past the cows who were no longer curious ..
and the signs which had led me to Nanterrow Farm ..
Today’s high cliff walk looked as if it could be a little treacherous, passing as it did past Hell’s Mouth and Deadman’s Cove. By contrast, the nearby Ralph’s Cupboard sounded pretty tame. But oh no, there are horribly sinister stories associated with this watery larder. Legend has it that Ralph the giant would lie there in wait for passing ships, attack them, steal the cargo and then devour the crew. Any loot would be squirrelled away in his so-called ‘cupboard’.
Next to Hell’s Mouth’s car park is a shack selling coffee, called Hell’s Mouth Café .. which I know would amuse my boy as it’s so close to one of his favourite restaurants called Hog’s Mouth Café.
The views from the clifftops today were spectacular and I lost count of the number of times I said that out loud. The morning was wonderfully sunny and it wasn’t long before I’d taken off three layers, enjoying the spring sunshine.
I was tickled however, to be walk above Sally’s Bottom and Tubby’s Head. This was one of the aspects of the walk I was really looking forward to .. seeing the richness of the language of place names. Today did not disappoint.
It’s not hard to see from the cliff tops why the locals would have given such dastardly names to the rocks and coves below. You’ve got to believe many lives would have been lost, washing up against such rugged, unforgiving terrain.
I think I said earlier that the South West Coast Path is known for its many flights of steps, traversing the many inlets along the way. Well, there were many of them today. They were steep and uneven and caused me to fall in love .. not only with the fabulous views, but with my poles. Without them I suspect I may well have had a tumble.
The path took me through the seaside villages of Portreath and Porthtowan, where the beaches were deep and surfers were braving the Baltic temperatures.
And then the rain arrived .. it was easy to see coming and I even had time to put on my wet weather gear and cover my rucksack before the first spots fell.
It made for spectacular views ..
In Porthtowan I stopped for a much needed cuppa. As I sat sipping my tea watching the dozen or so mad surfers, I plotted how I could make the remainder of my day’s journey a little shorter by taking one of the many footpaths across to a B road, leading down to St Agnes. And that’s when I learnt about contours. Thinking I’d found a cute little cut through that would take me a max of ten minutes to walk, I discovered to my peril, that those little lines on the map, so tightly bunched together, signified the most exhausting, most debilitating hour of the day. I WON’T be making the same mistake again!
St Agnes Beacon figured prominently towards the end of the day’s walk. When the enemy ship was spotted approaching the coast during one of the Napoleonic wars, the 24 hour guard would be shaken from his reverie and light a monster fire. The flames acted as a call to arms for many miles around and became known as St Agnes Beacon. The area around St Agnes Head is owned by the National Trust. The headland was used as a light anti-aircraft artillery range in the Second World War and during the Napoleonic war it was a rifle range. Amazingly busy for the serene and peaceful place it is now.
Towards 6pm I reached the village of St Agnes. It had been a very long day and I was so thankful I wasn’t camping for the night. Instead I’m staying at the cosy St Agnes Hotel, just opposite the church. There’s a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc waiting for me behind the bar .. well, at least a couple of glasses are mine. I’m going to sleep well tonight and hope that my calves and hamstrings don’t stage a revolt at the thought of more steps tomorrow.
Black Dog Tails
Sarbi, the Aussie bomb-sniffing dog was awarded the War Dog Operational Medal and the RSPCA’s Purple Cross, its highest award for animal bravery.