Day 053: Porthgwarra to Zennor

Distance: 20.58 miles

Ascent: 5486 feet

Weather: Sunny, Chilly Wind

Accommodation: Wild Camp Near Zennor


I set of from Porthgwarra a little later than normal about 8:30 and after the initial steep climb up onto the cliffs the first part of the day was flatter than I had expected.

It was only a few kilometres into the walk when I spotted a bird that I had really hoped to see the Cornish Chough. This bird became extinct in Cornwall in 1973, and no birds had bred in Cornwall since 1947. This all changed in 2001 when a small group of birds returned to Cornwall presumably from Ireland and slowly but surely, they have bred. It is still a very small population, but stable and slowly growing. The best description of a Cornish Chough is that it is like a crow but with blood red legs and beak. As well as the initial lone one photographed below, I also saw a small group of four later in the day.

The path then continued still fortunately with not to much ascent, and just shy of Land’s End I came across something I hadn’t expected a little petting farm with a bizarre array of animals and seemingly in one of the worst places imaginable for this sort of thing.

Then only a few hundred meters later I reached Lands’ End in all its restrained glory, or maybe not. It really is one of the most depressing places, and I was fortunate to be there without the hordes of tourists. The one thing that made me laugh was that most things in Cornwall have been shut: cafes, pubs, shops etc. and even the café and shop in landsend were shut but surprise, surprise the little hut charging people for photos with a tacky signpost was open when I passed at 9am in February with no tourists around. I decided to not pay for a photo with the signpost and just carried on with the walk. I know a very negative review, but I couldn’t find any positives.

I soon dropped down to Sennen Cove which was completely different, the sun was out, the beach was lovely, and it was very calm. I stopped for a quick tea as though the wind had not been too strong it had been pretty cold. There were a few surfers out, and the waves looked pretty good.

The path continued along the cliffs with a few steep sections until I reached Cape Cornwall. This is an absolutely stunning short headland, topped by a chimney. This was where I decided to have lunch sheltered completely from the wind on a set of stairs with a beautiful view. Half way through eating I was hit hard in the back by a large rock, quite shocked I stood up and some idiot had thrown it for his dog not thinking that possibly someone might be on the steps! Fortunately he slightly apologised before his bloody tiny dog launched itself on me and wouldn’t get off, it took a lot of effort not to launch the dog across the stairs. Rant over, and despite all this the area really was stunning backed by the Cape Cornwall golf course.

The path got much steeper after this point, and I started to pass mine after mine after mine, including Botallack & Levant. After Pendeen Lighthouse the path got really tough with several almost rock scramble sections.

Only a couple of kilometers from the end point of the day, as I was climbing a steep ascent, I stepped onto a granite rock that formed part of the “stairs” and the rock gave way. This sent my feet backwards and my top half (heavier due to backpack) flying towards the rock “stairs”, fortunately I got my right arm out in front and the fall was stopped by my left upper leg and my right arm. The leg had hit the corner of a rock, so I got quite an extreme dead leg, but fortunately my arm (and also camera) had sustained no serious damage at all. I sat down for a couple of minutes a little stirred, but after checking myself over, other than the dead leg no actual injuries so just carried on albeit quite tentatively.

I finally reached Zennon and had initially proposed pitching the tent next to the coast path, and then heading up to the pub to get signal to write the diary. But after the fall I had decided the best plan was to head straight to the pub to have a short rest. At the pub I asked about pitch location, but they had nothing immediately they could think off, but told me to wait as a farmer who had a field and would let me stay would be in soon. A fair amount later they said he would not be in till after 9, so I decided to cut my losses and in the dark head back down the lane the shortish distance to the coast path and pitch. It didn’t take me to long to find a pitch location, but it was a little tight between a rock and some brambles that would give me some shelter from the cold winds. I went to sleep panicking I had chosen a bad spot, and that maybe it was more exposed than I thought.

So a very tough day, with a few issues, but overall successful and sure tomorrow the tough sections will be forgotten. Tomorrows diary will be more positive I promise.

charles compton