Day 050: Manaccan to Lizard
Distance: 20.52 miles
Ascent: 5358 feet
Accommodation: Lizard Point Youth Hostel
Somehow, I got too hot in the tent last night, despite it not being much above freezing so unzipped my sleeping bag in the middle of the night. Unsurprisingly then in the morning when I woke up I was cold. But I got up and was off not long after 7, and soon warmed up.
The sun was out again, and the beginning of the day was simple following lanes essentially along Gillan Creek to Gillan. From Gillan the path heads up and around Nare Point, passing the Coastwatch observation hut, then follows the gently undulating path to Porthallow.
Porthallow was pretty dead, and strangely the path at this point takes a route inland, presumably due to the quarries. The road out of Porthallow was very steep and I was very tired at the top. I followed the lanes down to Porthoustock, and the final lane was very steep, 25% apparently which must make it one of the steepest lanes in the country.
Not long after this I reached my first diversion of the day, and I didn’t realise it would be the first of many. At Rosenithon there were many signs saying coast path closed follow diversion, I asked a lady in village if it was actually impassable and she said yes the path had actually fallen into the sea. So I headed of on the diversion inland following lanes, before heading down around Dean Quarries and back onto the coast path.
I had arrived at Lowland Point, and was completely surprised that the hills were suddenly gone and the landscape was almost completely flat. It was a very eerie but stunningly beautiful place, and if it wasn’t for the mud this would have been one of the top parts of the walk so far. It is hard to explain why but the boulders, grass, weird style drystone walls, sudden flatness after the hills, just made for an awesome atmosphere.
I covered the next few kilometers quickly and arrived at Coverack, a lovely little town but more importantly to me had a little shop that was meant to be open and was. This shop also functioned as a little café with a couple of tables. I stocked up for dinner & tomorrows breakfast/lunch which was surprisingly difficult as there wasn’t that much to choose from, even if what was there was nice. Then sat down and had a little tea and break, when the café suddenly got very busy and I was joined by some elderly ladies who liked a natter.
Fully stocked up and slightly rested I carried on, and was almost immediately hit by my next diversion which took me inland, though luckily this time not too far before directing me back down to near Chynhalls Point, but when I got to the bottom of the steep steps it then said path was shut and tried to divert me back up the stairs. I was fed up and decided as they had sent me the wrong way to just swing around the gate and see why they were saying it was closed. The reason was very clear very soon but was very minor. A couple of slats on a very small bridge had rotted, and needed replacing, a couple of hour job. But this path had been closed for at least 6 months. The rest of the way was fine if a little overgrown with grass and a few more brambly bits. It was actually really scenic, with lots of rock scrambles, plankways, and higgledy piggledy turns exactly what you expect of the SWCP. My cynical side thinks that they will close this part permanently as there diversion is on the flat part actually above the cliff and easier to maintain, it is sad because there are several other areas that look like they may go that way as well.
I only managed a few more kilometers until the next diversion, though this one looked more necessary and I followed the diversion inland along the lanes through Kuggar and down to Poltesco, where there was a lovely mill (wheel still attached if a bit rotten), derelict but stable which was just sitting there waiting for someone to fall in love with it and come and restore it. I rejoined the coast path just shy of Cadgwith, and headed down into the village. This was one of my favourite villages so far, and due to the diversions decided to have another short break, and grabbed myself a coke in a very old school pub with a lovely fire burning.
My body was feeling the ups and downs and it was already 4pm and I knew I had about an hour and a half’s walking to go so I set off after a very short break. The cliffs from this part all the way to Lizard were steep and very up and down, but incredibly beautiful. I passed the most incredible lifeboat station, with its ridiculously steep launch ramp which must feel like a rollercoaster when launching.
After rounding Bass Rock I saw Lloyds Signal Station, which appears slightly art deco in design . Starting in the 1870’s this station sent messages to ships via an array of methods but most commonly using a sequence of flags strung from it’s mast. It is bizarrely now privately owned (though leased from National Trust) and was recently on the market.
Now very tired I could see the Lizard lighthouse and new the YHA hostel was just behind it. With the sun setting behind the lighthouse it was a perfect finish to a great day, even with all the diversions. The hostel was fairly empty so fortunately though I had booked a dorm bed no one else was in the room. I have not quite passed the most southerly point, but will pass it within the first few hundred meters of tomorrow.
I had my second (sort of third as first one was two in quick succession) fall of the walk. Though this time mud played no part, and it was more of a comical fall, as a momentary lapse in concentration meant my foot hit the ground higher than I expected, knocking me very slowly to the left, but with the backpack on I couldn’t stop it so let myself slowly fall to the left landing on my bum/backpack. The fall was very gently but the landing position was comical, with my feet still on the path but my body below it with my head facing down the slope, and on my backpack felt a bit like a beetle scrambling to get back upright. Finally I managed to roll over, and get back up. I wish someone had been there to witness it, just for their own amusement.
So a tiring, at times perplexing day due to the diversions, but overall a great day.