Day 054: Zennor to Portreath

Distance: 23.77 miles

Ascent: 6442 feet

Weather: Overcast, Easterly wind

Accommodation: Portreath Arms (kindly Complimentary) 


I got up very early deliberately, as today I was going to attempt to do 24 miles of the South West Coast Path, hard enough on its own, but also arrive before the England game started at 16:45. I was not confident I would do it. I had been snug in the tent overnight, in fact I had chosen a very good pitch location in the dark the night before. But getting ready and taking the tent down really made my hands cold and I just managed to keep them warm enough to do all the straps up.

I was off just as it was starting to get light not much after 6:30, and the initial 6 miles stretch to St Ives was very tough with lots of steep climbs and some rock scrambling. But the scenery was stunning and with the sun slowly rising it made for a beautiful start to the day.

I reached St Ives, and this is very different to most of the coastal towns I had encountered when on the south of Cornwall/Devon, with lots of posh coffee shops, restaurants, and even some outdoor shops all centred around a quite small area through narrow lanes. It also has a large Tate Gallery, and like the last one I passed in Margate I was not sure about the building. In Margate I decided the building was probably appropriate, but here I did not, it is just a brute of a building and to my mind with no aesthetic appeal. I am sure inside it is beautiful though.

From St Ives I had some gentle climbs passing several lovely sandy beaches (Porthminster Beach, Carbis Bay and Porth Kidney Sands) before rounding the point and into Hayle Estuary. Hayle is an area I randomly know quite well from my time at Buro Happold, as though I didn’t personally do much design work for it, I saw many of the drawings and was in quite a few discussions about bridges, weirs, harbour works around the Carnsew Pool, Penpool Creek and main Harbour area. The only part that was actually my doing was a very simple check and rebuild of a tiny listed bridge to modern codes.

After passing Hayle Harbour it was out into the dunes and luckily the tide was out enough, so I could walk on the harder beach sand all the way to the pedestrian bridge at St Gothian Sands, with a brief scrabble following a friendly surfer across the low cliff at Strap Rock.

Just after St Gothian Sands I started chatting to a couple, who it turned out were also going to Portreath, so I joined them. Bizarrely it turned out that they had both worked at Buro Happold as well. At Castle Giver Cove we came across a massive colony of seals, I would take a guess that there could have been a hundred with maybe 60 on the beach and 40 or so in the water, it was a magnificent site, though this time I was a bit further away, on a high cliff, than my last colony so was unable to hear there noises.

I was glad to be walking with others for this last stage, as the chatting meant the distance went quicker and my body didn’t tell me about any aches as much. The path until near Portreath was very flat and very beautiful, though there were two very steep ascents and descents just before Portreath where I climbed the stair sections very slowly. I said goodbye to the couple in Portreath.

I arrived at The Portreath Arms, where they had kindly offered me a complimentary room for the night, around 4:15 giving me just enough time to shower and then watch the rugby whilst relaxing in my own room. The room and location are absolutely lovely, and I had dinner downstairs in the bar/restaurant area where I had a lovely meal (possibly best of trip so far). I had an interesting chat with the couple at the table next to me, and when they came to leave they kindly paid for my meal. Portreath really had treated me very well, thank you to everyone and tomorrow I will be well rested and nourished for the walk to Newquay.

I always forget names so apologies to the people mentioned above who I could not name in the blog.

So, a very enjoyable and successful day, though I would not have wanted any more mileage. I promised yesterday a more positive diary today and indeed a lovely day made for a positive diary.

charles compton