Day 058: Padstow to Port Isaac

Distance: 23.53 miles

Ascent: 5787 feet

Weather: Sunny but Cold & Windy

Accommodation: Andy's Flat, Port Isaac


I had the perfect start to the day, with quite simply one of the best breakfasts I have had. Starting with amazing homemade granola, yoghurt and fruit, then patisserie quality pastries (I had far too many), then eggs benedict. I can almost guarantee I won’t have a better breakfast on this walk, thank you St Petroc's. It was hard to make myself leave knowing what might be awaiting me outside, but just after 8 I was off. I had waterproofed everything in case of the snow blizzards and had kit to cover every millimetre of skin in case of the bitter winds forecast.

The first part of the day was along the camel trail and the sun was out. I last went along this over a decade ago on a family holiday including my uncle, auntie and cousin, when we rode it and I have memories of one of the group not being very proficient on a bike. The camel trail was the perfect start to the day as it was flat, fairly protected from the wind and allowed me to make quick process. I decided to do this part as fast as I could due to the inclement weather forecast later on and in fact I covered the 6 miles to Wadebridge in just over an hour and a half which is much quicker than my normal pace.

I didn’t stop in Wadebridge, deciding to motor on and started the return up the other side of the Camel Estuary. Unlike the camel trail on the other side there is no real good route up this side. My schedule had included lane walking (the only option) but very quickly it became clear that the first part on the B3314, even in Winter, was too busy and in fact dangerous as there was no verge at all. So, I tried following the farmers fields which followed the road, though this was time consuming and I had to somehow get in and out of each field. After ‘Burniere Cottages’ the road started having a verge for a while so I was able to make a bit speedier progress to Trewornan Bridge. This bridge is only a single lane (not even wide enough for a car and pedestrian) so has traffic lights to allow one direction of traffic to flow at a time. This was a bit of a quandary for me as it was the only way across, so I let the three cars in my direction go across and then waited till the traffic light went green again, but by now a couple of cars also waiting behind. But I just jogged it, as would only take 10/20s to cross. But the idiot white van decided to hoot continuously and then actually go for an overtake, I don’t know how he didn’t hit me as there could only of been 2 or 3 cm between his mirror and me and all for being slowed down for 10/20s.

Fortunately, just after this bridge there was a path I could take that went inland slightly but was much safer and more enjoyable. Just short of Lower Amble I was fortunate to come across 3 hares seemingly just playing amongst the marsh grasses, they were chasing each other constantly in circles and didn’t seem to care about me being nearby. They were so quick and agile I was unable to get a good photo, but they were lovely to watch. From here I was able to follow the safe small country lanes and paths all the way to Rock.

As per yesterday I had decided would eat in somewhere for lunch as even though it was sunny (which was not forecast) it was still very cold and by stopping outside my body temperature would drop quickly. I had originally proposed lunch in Polzeath as presumed would be cheaper (Rock is sort of Cornwall’s millionaire row) but having not stopped at all in 13 miles I was very hungry and needed a rest so stopped in Rock. There were not many options, and I decided the café would be more appropriate and cheaper than the 2 pubs. So, I popped in The Blue Tomato (oh I wish I hadn’t), and I sat down. Immediately someone came over and said could you sit on a smaller table. There were about 15 tables, of which they were all set up as 4-person tables apart from 1 which was 2 person, and there was only 2 tables in use (and by time I left it was just me) but I moved anyway. Then came the menu and what a shock, £10 for a sandwich, I asked what came with it and the reply ‘nothing’, £10 for a sandwich and not even any chips of salad! I should have just got up and left but having just taken my backpack of and started to rest I found something a little more reasonable on the menu and ordered that, which wasn’t great tasting and left feeling thoroughly ripped off. I suppose in somewhere like Rock maybe you can get away with this.

On a more positive the sun was still out, and as became a pattern for the day the places I had passed were apparently now covered in snow (Padstow & Wadebridge). So, I walked through the dunes passing near St Enodoc Church. This church was completely buried apart from its roof by the dunes from approximately the 16th to 19th century, but to maintain its tithes it had to carry out some services so the vicar and parishioners would enter via a hatch in the roof. The church was unearthed (unsanded) in the late 19th century and the dunes stabilized so that it is now fully exposed but protected from winds by the high dunes on either side.

I soon reached Polzeath, where my brother worked as a surf instructor for several years and so I had been here a couple of times. Unlike in Summer, in February with all the business shut, no people and none of the quaint buildings synonymous with this part of Cornwall it felt quite drab.

I was still motoring, trying to beat the worst of the forecast weather for today but the sun was somehow still shining. The day had been mostly flat so far, but from Polzeath the path headed back up onto the cliffs and around Pentire Point and the Rumps until just short of Port Quin I passed a little remote building Doyden right on the cliff that I had passed almost a decade ago. It is a single room old folly that the National Trust rents as a holiday let, and though not to everyone’s taste due to it remoteness must be amazing to stay in.

The final part of the day from Port Quin to Port Isaac was tough, as for some reason the path 3 or 4 times just decided to scale the cliff almost down to the sea and back up for apparently no reason but made for endless steps. On top of this the wind had really got up, and was a headwind making progress slower. But I made it to Port Isaac which is a lovely quaint village, and even though I haven’t watched it is the setting for Doc Martin.

I arrived just before 5pm and kindly a contact of my brother Andy from Wavehunters had offered me a bed in his flat for the night in the centre of Port Isaac. I warmed up in the Golden Lion pub before Mary kindly arrived & showed me to the flat about 5:45pm. This was very much appreciated and will protect me from the cold and Storm Emma which is meant to start arriving overnight.

So, a good day and weirdly though cold and very windy towards the end I was bathed in sunshine all day though according to the locals everywhere around me was covered in snow including all the places I had been earlier in the day.

charles compton