south west coast path
8th september 2013
The weather forecast for the day looks a bit on the ropey side. As it turns out though, the waterproofs aren't required and after a damp start the day soon brightens up and almost becomes too hot for walking.
Mevagissey is a village and fishing port nestling in a small valley and facing east to Mevagissey Bay. The inner and outer harbours are busy with a mixture of pleasure vessels and working fishing boats, the remains of a once major industry. However, tourism has supplanted fishing as the dominant industry in recent years.
Mevagissey village centre consists of narrow streets with many places to eat and shops aimed at the tourist trade. The outer areas are built on the steep slopes of the surrounding hillsides and are mostly residential.
Normally I'd follow the walks as detailed in Paddy Dillon's book 'The South West Coast Path' so today should be Mevagissey to Polmear. However, since we're staying in Golant for the week today's walk is extended to finish at Golant, passing through Fowey on the way.
Today's walk starts at Mevagissey harbour and heads towards Mevagissey Museum before climbing up to the coastguard lookout.
The walk continues around Penare Point before descending to Pentewan Beach and the Pentewan Sands Holiday Park. The official coast path route skirts around Pentewan Beach as the beach is privately owned but, hey!, I'm not one to miss out on a good beach so did a bit of trespassing here before heading back to the official coast path at Pentewan village.
The path leaves the square in Pentewan village passing the Ship Inn pub, and then climbs steeply up Pentewan Hill and past All Saints Church. It then passes Polrudden Cove and reaches Hallane Mill. On a previous visit the paths here were full of stinging nettles so I got stung to buggery but fortunately this time the paths were quite clear and any offending nettles were felled with my walking pole.
The path continues towards Black Head and passes a big granite block in memory of the Cornish poet A L Rowse.
Rounding the memorial stone the path heads for some woodland and then climbs up along Ropehaven Cliffs to Trenarren House. Just before Porthpean a badger sett has taken over the coast path. Fortunately, its not in Somerset or Gloucestershire so there weren't any marksman about! Porthpean village is reached where a popular, sandy beach can be found as well as the Porthpean Beach Cafe.
On my previous walk back in September 2009 I had to detour lengthily inland to the main road because of cliff collapses, passing masses of roadworks on the way in to Charlestown. Fortunately, after (lengthy) negotiations with landowners in the area, the path has now been reconstructed through backgardens, and there is now a pleasant route to Charlestown. The sand and pebble beach here sits just outside the harbour.
Charlestown is a village and 18th century port in the parish of St Austell Bay. The port at Charlestown developed from what was in the late 18th century the fishing village of West Polmear and has remained relatively unchanged. Here you can find the Charlestown Shipwreck and Heritage Centre at the head of the harbour and the Phoenix of Dell Quay, a converted 18th century two masted Brig, moored in the harbour where numerous film and TV programmes have been filmed.
The path continues around the harbour at Charlestown, regaining the cliffs in front of Porth Avallen Hotel and then in front of Carlyon Bay Hotel. It continues alongside the Carlyon Bay Golf Course towards a disused china clay works at Spit Point. There are three beaches at Carlyon Bay - Crinnis, Polgaver and Shorthorn - but, on the second time of passing, they are still a complete eyesore.
The hideously busy A3082 is reached and the path continues past the Port of Par and then through the village of Par passing the Church of the Good Shepherd.
The path heads around Gribbin Head where the red and white Gribbin daymark (enveloped in fog on my last walk here in 2009) was erected in 1832.
The path descends to the south facing beach at Polridmouth Cove and then up onto Lankelly Cliff and Southground Cliffs and arrives at Readymoney Beach, a small, sheltered sandy beach.
Readymoney Road and then the Esplanade takes me on to Fowey, passing Whitehouse Beach on the way.
Fowey is a small town and cargo port at the mouth of the River Fowey. Fowey has thrived as a port for hundreds of years, initially as a trading and naval town, then as the centre for china clay exports. Today Fowey is busy with trawlers and yachts and tourism has become an important source of income. Fowey Tourist Information Centre can be found on South Street.
Flora and fauna
Flora and fauna encountered on the walk today :-
- daft sheep
- great tit
- himalayan balsam
Marks out of ten?
According to my phone I've walked 24 miles today which amounts to 51607 steps. Ouch! Don't think I've ever walked so far and my feet are sore. For various reasons, I hated this walk when I last did it in 2009. The walk has been much improved with the route into Charlestown now fixed so today I'd give the walk a 7 out of 10. If someone could sort out Carlyon Bay and uproot Par and dump it somewhere else that would be much appreciated! The walk might then even score an extra point.