minehead to porlock weir

SOUTH WEST COAST PATH

sunday, 9th june 2019

The weather forecast for the week looks utterly filthy but I might just get a decent break in the bad weather today to complete the walk from Minehead to Porlock Weir. It’s not going to be a very warm day but there shouldn’t be much wind and I might just about be able to avoid any rain.

Minehead high tide 11:45

Minehead low tide 17:32

weather forecast 3.jpg
weather forecast 4.jpg
tide times 2.jpg

After a long drive over Exmoor, I start the day at the very start of the South West Coast Path (it could well be the very end of the South West Coast Path if you are walking it in the wrong direction) next to the map sculpture in Minehead.

minehead

The sculpture consists of a giant pair of hands holding a map, designed by local art student Sarah Ward and built out of bronze by Owen Cunningham and was installed in February 2001.

map sculpture

In a contest for A-level students, Sarah came up with the idea for a 12ft sculpture in galvanised steel. The sculptor Owen Cunningham, from Belper, Derbyshire, was commissioned to make it by the South West Coast Path Team, part of the Government's Countryside Agency. The sculpture cost £19,000 and Sarah won £100 (woo hoo!), which she put towards a gap-year trip to study a conservation project in Australia.

I leave the sculpture and amble along the promenade where I pass a Christmas tree dumped in a flower bed. It must have been there at least five months and no-one seems to have bothered to have removed it.

christmas tree

At the end of the promenade I pass the teeny harbour.

minehead harbour

I cotinue walking below a wooded slope before heading inland slightly to reach Greenaleigh Farm. Here I turn sharply back on myself to the left to climb steeply up through the wooded slope.

I then turn sharply to my right and continue climbing less steeply through woods before leaving the woodland behind to be replaced by gorse, bracken, foxglove and rhododendron coved slopes. The remains of Burgundy Chapel are somewhere just below me.

Burgundy Chapel was a medieval chapel formerly belonging to the Luttrell family of Dunster Castle. Little is known of the chapel's origins, but it has been suggested that it was built in thanksgiving for a Luttrell's safe return from the Burgundian Wars in the 15th century.

I begin to hear a cuckoo calling and hear it intermittently after this for quite some time so maybe there’s more than one about.

I continue climbing up the slopes to reach a bench, signpost and car park at North Hill where I have magnificent, if rather murky, views over the Bristol Channel to South Wales and over Steep Holm and Flat Holm.

bench with a view

I follow the signpost and turn right to Selworthy and Bossington (four miles away). I follow a stony path flanked by gorse and ignore a disintegrating sign marked ‘Rugged Coast Path’.

rugged coast path

I pass a group of Exmoor ponies - at least I assume they are Exmoor ponies since I’m on Exmoor - who aren’t bothered about my presence and just continue munching the scrub.

exmoor ponies

I enter the Holnicote Estate and pass a field bounded by a stone wall covered in foxgloves and full of some of the worst shorn sheep I’ve ever seen.

foxgloves

sheep

I go through a series of gates and climb steadily up on to Selworthy Beacon at 950 feet (290 metres). The summit of Selworthy Beacon is just to my left at 1013 feet (308 metres) so I climb up to the trig point (s3944) and cairn marking the summit where I have magnificent views across Porlock Bay.

selworthy beacon trig point

the (murky) view from selworthy beacon

cairn on selworthy beacon

It must be a pretty windy place usually up on Selworthy Beacon but I hardly have a breath of wind today.

I retrace my steps back to the coast path and turn right to start descending. I take a right hand fork marked for Bossington (2 miles) until I reach the point where the alternative ‘Rugged Coast Path’ rejoins the main path.

rugged coast path

I drop steeply through a valley at Hurlstone Combe, full of kids who don’t look too happy to be outdoors, to reach the coast again at Hurlstone Point where I have magnificent views over the shingle embankment at Porlock Ridge.

hurlstone combe

The ridge was created 8000 years ago but was breached by a violent storm in October 1996, creating a tidal saltmarsh.

view over porlock ridge

I follow the path which passes through a small wooded patch and head towards the River Horner which I cross using a footbridge and head into the rather pretty village of Bossington, mostly owned by the National Trust.

bossington

I head out of the village along a road to the right marked for Bossington Beach. The sparrows are chirping away from their vantage point in the guttering of lots of the cottages here. I walk down towards the beach. Although it’s possible to walk along the pebbly beach at low tide I turn inland left along a path and through fields full of acrobatic swallows.

I pass a memorial to the eleven people who lost their lives when an American aircraft crashed into the marsh at Porlock on the 29th of October 1942 while out on a U-boat patrol mission.

memorial

I pass a stone barn and a load of dead trees before turning right along a path which leads me out onto the western end of Porlock Ridge and I crunch slowly along the pebbles.

dead trees

porlock ridge

I briefly amble along the road into Porlock Weir where I pass the Ship Inn before walking through the car park to the tiny harbour, built in 1422, where I end my walk.

porlock weir harbour

I have now walked the South West Coast Path in its entirety three times and the podcast produced for this walk will mean that I think I’ve managed to record a podcast for every section of the coast path.

As we leave Porlock Weir in the car it begins to rain and that is followed by torrential rain as we drive over Exmoor. I seem to have finished my walk just in time!

FLORA AND FAUNA

Flora and fauna encountered on the walk today includes :-

  • housemartins

  • swallows

  • echiums

  • day lillies

  • salvia

  • fuchias

  • goldfinches

  • rape

  • comfrey

  • green alkanet

  • chiffchaffs

  • herb robert

  • foxgloves

  • rhododendrons

  • squirrels

  • cuckoos

  • deer

  • skylarks

  • exmoor ponies

  • navelwort

  • sheep

  • pheasants

  • sparrows

  • poppies

podcast logo small.png

PODCAST

The podcast of today's walk is now available. You can subscribe via the iTunes store or listen using the player below.

9 out of 10.png

MARKS OUT OF TEN?

According to my phone I've walked 10.9 miles today which amounts to 23526 steps. Despite an ominous looking forecast for the week I’ve managed to stay dry today and the walking has been lovely. Nine out of ten!

My Ordnance Survey app has failed me today so I don’t know what my total ascent is. My other tracking app has produced this elevation chart which looks about right. Selworthy Beacon is showing as 1018 feet rather than the 1013 feet it should be but I was stood on top of the cairn at some point which may have added an extra 5 feet!

MAP

map sculpture

exmoor ponies

foxgloves

selworthy beacon

porlock ridge

herons rest to broadsands, brixham and back again

john musgrave heritage trail, dart valley trail, greenway walk and south west coast path

monday, 6th may 2019

The weather forecast looks pretty good. It should be sunny most of the day but it’s not going to be particularly warm again.

Dartmouth high tide 08:04

Dartmouth low tide 13:45

weather forecast 2.jpg
tide times 2.jpg

I start the day at our holiday cottage, Herons Rest, set high above the River Dart and Dartmouth. I leave the cottage and head left along the road where I pass Maypool Youth Hostel.

the view from herons rest

The wildflowers in the hedgerows are looking at their very best.

I enter a field where I have magnificent views over the River Dart before entering the grounds of Greenway House.

view over the river dart

greenway

I come across a signpost for the Greenway Walk and head off in the direction it is pointed.

I follow a footpath through fields and next to farm buildings to reach Lower Greenway where I come across a lime kiln on the beach next to the river.

lime kiln

The lime kiln on the beach is one of several scattered on the estuary foreshore, and limestone from the quarry across the creek was burnt here to produce a soil fertiliser. The area from Berry Head sits on a thick bed of Devonian limestone, once marine reefs, and Galmpton was an important centre for quarrying the stone on the River Dart. It was also used as a ballast in the early ships sailing from here to Newfoundland, and Galmpton Creek limestone has been found in some of the earliest buildings in the New World. It also appears in French and Spanish harbours, for the same reason.

My notes tell me I can cross the beach here. What my notes don’t tell me is that the beach is swallowed up at high tide and the path is impassable. It happens to be just about high tide and I won’t be crossing the beach for a few hours.

high tide

I retrace my steps back up to a minor road and follow this for a while towards Galmpton. A bit unexpectedly I come across Greenway Halt just below the road. Next to the entrance to Greenway Halt a sign points through fields telling me that there is a permissive path to Galmpton.

I follow the sign into a field and climb down to cross a stream. I continue following paths which take me to Galmpton Creek.

galmpton creek

Galmpton Creek has been a boatbuilding centre for centuries, and in its heyday over 300 sailing trawlers were built here, as well as wooden motor torpedo boats during World War II. It is still a bustling marine repair centre, but its use nowadays is mostly for pleasure craft.

I pass Dartside Quay where I join Kiln Lane. I follow the lane which passes another lime kiln before joining onto Stoke Gabriel Road which takes me through Galmpton.

another lime kiln

Next to the turning into Slade Lane can be found the Manor Inn.

manor inn

I turn left into Slade Lane and follow the road up to Galmpton Warborough Common.

galmpton warborough common

It is a pleasant surprise to find early purple orchids covering the football pitch here. It doesn’t look like football is played very often here!

I pass the war memorial next to the A3022.

war memorial

I cross the busy road and then follow a footpath which takes me underneath the arches of Hookhills Viaduct, below the Paignton and Dartmouth Steam Railway line.

railway arches

The viaduct was designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel. Construction commenced in 1860, after Brunel’s death, and was opened to the railway in 1864. The viaduct has nine arches and is 85 feet tall and 116 yards long.

I follow the road which takes me down to the large, curving red sandy beach at Broadsands. I amble out along the beach before retracing my steps, admiring the colourful beach huts and the newly restored Broadsands Bistro.

I leave Broadsands and amble along the South West Coast Path around Churston Point to reach the shingly Elberry Cove.

elberry cove

I amble along the beach and then head along the coast path besides Churston Golf Club before passing Fishcombe Point to reach Churston Cove, where I now have views towards Brixham Harbour.

churston cove

I cross the shingly and rocky beach and climb up onto the coast path and continue towards Brixham, dropping steeply down to Fishcombe Cove.

fishcombe cove

I climb steeply out again and head through Battery Gardens where the remains of 378 Battery Artillery Southern Command can be found. I head along Oxen Cove next to what was once AstraZeneca's Brixham Environmental Laboratory but which was donated to Plymouth University in 2013.

oxen cove

I pass through the car park where a new shellfish landing jetty is being constructed to improve Brixham’s fishing infrastructure. It should be open in Summer 2019. I then pass Brixham Fish Market to reach the centre of Brixham.

brixham

I amble along the harbour and pass the full sized replica of the Golden Hind in which Sir Francis Drake circumnavigated the globe.

brixham

I retrace my steps back through Brixham and head back towards Fishcombe Cove where I pick up the John Musgrave Heritage Trail.

The John Musgrave Heritage Trail is a 35 mile walking trail encompassing parts of Torbay, South Hams and Teignbridge. It was launched in March 2006 in memory of John Musgrave, a former chairman of the South Devon Group of the Ramblers, whose generous legacy to the group on his death in 2003 has been used to fund the development of the trail. John was an enthusiastic walker, leading walks in many of the areas through which the trail passes.

I pass through woods and then open scrubby ground where I come across whitethroats singing. I follow a track where I hear a cuckoo before joining a road which leads me into the village of Churston Ferrers. I explore the village and come across Churston Manor Hotel and St Mary the Virgin.

churston manor hotel

st mary the virgin

I rejoin the John Musgrave Heritage Trail and wander along Churston Road to reach Churston Cross. I cross the A3022 and pass Alston Farm. The wildflowers are looking delightful in the hedgerows.

I come across a field of rape.

rape

At Higher Alston I fail at the final hurdle. Either I missed a sign or it doesn’t exist. I should have headed through fields to my left but instead I keep ambling on to reach the busy A379 which I warily cross by dodging the speeding cars.

Directly opposite me there should be a footpath. There isn’t. Instead I’m met by a massive, locked gate. There should be another footpath a little further up the road. There isn’t. I just find a wooden gate covered in barbed wire.

I return to the massive gate and climb over it and walk through fields in the general direction of Higher Greenway. I can see the Paignton and Dartmouth steam train chugging along below me.

It’s clear that this isn’t a footpath so I retrace my steps back to the main road and clamber back over the gate. I’m confused so I’ve got no option but to take the safe route down the A379 and through Galmpton and out through to Higher Greenway. It’s rather a long last trek to get me back to Herons Rest, our holiday cottage for the week.

[Addendum: I retrace my steps back to Higher Alston a couple of days later to see where I went wrong and there is indeed a sign pointing left up a track. Unfortunately it was hidden behind a big, red ‘Road Closed’ sign so it’s no wonder I missed it!]

FLORA AND FAUNA

Flora and fauna encountered on the walk today includes :-

  • honeysuckle

  • bluebells

  • green alkanet

  • red campion

  • herb robert

  • wild garlic

  • garlic mustard

  • early purple orchids

  • periwinkle

  • red valerian

  • daisy

  • greater stitchwort

  • ivy-leaved toadflax

  • cow parsley

  • alexanders

  • primrose

  • bush vetch

  • herb bennett

  • rape

  • chiffchaffs

  • song thrushes

  • chaffinches

  • wrens

  • whitethroats

  • a cuckoo

  • swallows

  • a buzzard

  • pheasants

  • great tits

podcast logo small.png

PODCAST

The podcast of today's walk is now available. You can subscribe via the iTunes store or listen using the player below.

8 out of 10.png

MARKS OUT OF TEN?

According to my phone I've walked 14.2 miles today which amounts to 31532 steps. I’ve walked around 3-4 miles further than I should have done at the end of the walk which brings the score down on what was otherwise a thoroughly pleasant walk. Eight out of ten!

MAP

early purple orchid

hookhills viaduct

broadsands

brixham

rape



























































beachcombing - part 2

SOUTH WEST COAST PATH

thursday 27TH - friday 28TH SEPTEMBER 2018

maenporth - 27th september 2018

It’s time to tackle the Falmouth beaches. After a misty and cold start the sun is out and it’s starting to warm up. I’ll amble along Maenporth, Swanpool and then Gyllyngvase before heading in to Falmouth.

maenporth

maenporth

beach collection

swanpool - 27th september 2018

swanpool

swanpool

swanpool

beach collection

gyllyngvase - 27th september 2018

gyllyngvase

beach collection

perran sands - 27th september 2018

It’s Thursday afternoon and I’m at Perran Sands at low tide. I’ve never been here at low tide before but it’s rather nice.

perran sands

beach collection

loe bar - 28th september 2018

I wander down from our cottage near to Helston, along a nice footpath through the Penrose estate, to Porthleven, stopping off at Loe Bar on the way.

loe bar

beach collection

porthleven sands - 28th september 2018

Oops! I somehow managed to knock my wide angle lens into manual focus mode so I haven’t got any wide angle shots of Porthleven Sands.

beach collection

That’s it. It’s the last day of our holiday and we travel home tomorrow. After a filthy day travelling down on Saturday the weather has been glorious. Thank you Cornwall.

podcast

podcast logo small.png

The podcast of this beachcombing is now available. You can subscribe via the iTunes store or listen using the player below.

beachcombing - part 1

south west coast path

monday 24th - wednesday 26th september 2018

We’re staying in a cottage situated between Helston and Porthleven this week. I’m having a week off from walking so instead I’ll be beachcombing the various beaches around here and I’m spoilt for choice. I could visit :-

  • porthcurno

  • lamorna cove

  • mousehole

  • penzance

  • marazion

  • perran sands

  • praa sands

  • porthleven

  • loe bar

  • gunwalloe fishing cove

  • church cove

  • poldhu cove

  • polurrian cove

  • mullion cove

  • kynance cove

    and maybe the Falmouth beaches at :-

  • maenporth

  • swanpool

  • gyllyngvase

Not sure how many I’ll get to so we’ll have to see.

porthcurno - 24th september 2018

We travelled down to Cornwall in filthy weather on Saturday. The weather forecast for Sunday was also filthy but it turned out to be quite a nice day and the weather this morning is glorious.

Porthcurno is one of my favourite beaches on the south west coast path. There’s a large film crew camped in Porthcurno as we arrive - presumably filming Poldark - but they don’t appear to be doing very much so the beach is very quiet.

porthcurno

porthcurno

porthcurno

beach collection

praa sands - 24th september 2018

The last time I passed through Praa Sands the sand had been washed away by winter storms but normal order has been restored.

praa sands

praa sands

beach collection

poldhu - 25th september 2018

It is another beautiful morning and there are already quite a few people enjoying the beach at Poldhu.

poldhu

poldhu

poldhu

beach collection

church cove - 25th september 2018

It is a short walk around from Poldhu to Church Cove.

church cove

church cove

church cove

beach collection

penzance - 26th september 2018

It is another beautiful morning and there’s not a cloud in the sky. I start the day at Newlyn before making my way across the beach at Penzance and then I amble across Marazion Beach.

penzance

marazion - 26th september 2018

marazion

beach collection

PODCAST

podcast logo small.png

The podcast of this beachcombing is now available. You can subscribe via the iTunes store or listen using the player below.

newquay to perranporth

south west coast path

monday, 3rd september 2018

The weather forecast doesn't look very good for today and those pesky winds, admittedly light, are blowing from the wrong direction.

Newquay high tide 10:57

Newquay low tide 17:25

weather forecast.jpg
tide times.jpg

I start the day back in stinky Newquay next to the war memorial by the Atlantic Hotel. It is a properly murky start to the day.

war memorial

It's a late start for me today as the tide is in so I will need to take the ferry over the River Gannel and the ferry doesn't start until 10am.

I round Towan Head and I now have magnificent, if rather murky, views over Fistral Beach.

murky fistral beach

I drop down on to the beach and trudge my way along the golden sand. There are many surfers enjoying one of the finest surfing beaches around. There's not much wind though so the surf is rather pathetic.

leaving fistral beach

At the far end of the beach I join the Esplanade where I pass the Fistral Beach Hotel (@FistralBeachH), exclusively for adults. What have they got against kids? I walk along Pentire Point East, double back on myself and then walk through the car park here.

I turn down Riverside Crescent following a sign which points down towards the Fern Pit Cafe and Ferry (@fernpitcafe). As I get to the cafe a church bell chimes 10. Perfect timing! I wait around for another 10 minutes before the cafe opens. Good job I'm not in a hurry.

I climb down the zig-zag steps to reach the ferry boathouse on the bank of the River Gannel. I climb aboard the ferry and we putter across the river to reach Crantock Beach. The fare is £1.20.

The path through the dunes can be a bit fiddly so I head out on to the beach instead to enjoy the fine, golden sand.

murky crantock beach

I head across the beach below the Bowgie Inn, surely one of the best placed pubs ever, and perfect for thirsty walkers wanting a pint with a fine view. 

The tide is a long way in so I exit the beach through the dune system to rejoin the coast path and continue on grassy slopes around Pentire Point West. It's pretty murky now and has started to drizzle.

leaving crantock beach

I drop down to reach the beautiful and secluded beach at Porth Joke, sometimes known as Polly Joke. I had no idea why so I had to look it up. The name Polly Joke is thought to be derived from the Corhish Pol-Lejouack meaning Jackdaw Cove. Makes sense now as there are an awful lot of jackdaws about.

Despite its seclusion there are quite a few people either on the beach or heading to the beach. I head down to the sea before heading back up the beach to cross a footbridge over the stream here and climb onto the grassy Kelsey Head.

porth joke

I round Kelsey Head and have beautiful, but very murky views over Holywell Bay which ranks right up there with Constantine Bay.

overlooking murky holywell bay

The coast path ambles gently downhill to the sand dunes and a boardwalk and steps take me down to the beach. And what a beautiful beach it is. The last time I was here it was blowing a gale and I couldn't get on to the beach but today conditions are much calmer if wet and grey and I amble along the beach. It's still pretty windy though. Whatever happened to the forecast for light breezes?

holywell beach

Holywell is a tiny place but is served by two pubs, the Treguth Inn (@thetreguthinn) and St Pirans Inn.

I head back into the dune system where a footbridge takes me over the river. A sign warns me that adders may be basking on sunny days but there's no chance of that today.

adders

A now overgrown big, red sign warns me about the dangers of entering Penhale Army Training Area. Odd because Penhale Camp was closed by the Ministry of Defence in April 2010 and partially sold off in September of the same year.

penhale army training area

I round Penhale Point, taking one last glance back over Holywell.

leaving holywell

I avoid the mine shafts and the leftover army junk and continue along the cliffs above Hobblyn's Cove.

Penhale Camp is now the home to the Penhale Military Adventure Training Centre and offers a broad range of military adventurous training.

I round Ligger Point and have magnificent, but very, very, murky views along Perran Bay. I can't make out anything ahead so I've no idea whether I can make it all the way along the beach to Perranporth. I know there's an exit point about a mile down the beach but I can't make this out in the murk. I'll just have to take my chances and hope that I don't have to retrace my steps.

murky perran bay

I wander down the path to reach Perran Beach and I now hopefully have at least a one mile trudge along fine, golden sands before clambering back onto the sand dunes to reach Perranporth.

Behind the beach is Penhale Sands, the most extensive system of sand dunes in Cornwall.

About a mile down the beach I come to the exit point next to the lifeguard station but it looks like I can continue along the beach all the way to Perranporth so I do.

There's one section where the sea almost reaches the cliffs but I can get through quite easily so I continue along the beach to reach Perranporth. It is looking rather murky.

murky perranporth

And that's the end of the walk. A short and sweet walk today if rather grey, murky and damp.

FLORA AND FAUNA

Flora and fauna encountered on the walk today includes :-

  • a song thrush

  • spiders

  • heather

  • birds-foot trefoil

  • knapweed

  • ribbed melilot

  • sea holly

  • snails

It was a rather murky day for looking out for flora and fauna!

podcast logo small.png

PODCAST

The podcast of today's walk is now available. You can subscribe via the iTunes store or listen using the player below.

8 out of 10.png

MARKS OUT OF TEN?

According to my phone I've walked 12.6 miles today which amounts to 27921 steps. It has been a murky and damp day today and my shoes are coated in sand from the various beaches. A pleasant walk nonetheless along a lovely stretch of the coast. Eight out of ten!

My Ordnance Survey app has worked for the first time this week but I'm not convinced that it's correct.

My other elevation chart is far from perfect but I suspect the gps chip is giving occasional false readings.

MAP

murky fistral beach

murky crantock beach

murky porth joke

murky holywell

murky perranporth

beach collection