Day 043: Plymouth to Looe

Distance: 31.03 miles

Ascent: 6562 feet

Weather: SUnny Spells & SHowers

Accommodation: The Jolly Sailor Inn


Well with the stormier conditions having fortunately already passed, and with Ed joining me, we set off not long after 7:30. We rounded Mount Batten, and after climbing back up came across a plaque, that was surprising to me, commemorating Lawrence of Arabia. It turns out that after his more famous exploits in the middle east, he returned and joined the marine branch at Mount Batten.

The route then followed the various marinas, wharf's and industrial areas as I took the long and winding route around the Plymouth area (see map). As we passed the National Marine Aquarium, it became clear that the lock bridges to the Barbican area had been closed. There was no reason given and the note just said, ‘Closed until further notice’, which was a bit annoying. Fortunately, the diversion around the Sutton Harbour was not too long.

The area around the Barbican has some lovely buildings including the Plymouth Gin Distillery which Ed was very keen to tell me was the oldest in the country having been in operation since 1793. The path then bends around to The Hoe, with it’s art deco lido and red and white Smeaton’s Tower. This area is attractive but shows signs of wear, so it was good to see some works and new projects being constructed to rejuvenate the area.

We headed around the old military area of Royal William Yard, which has been very tastefully restored into flats and restaurants before reaching the Cremyll ferry. Ed and I, after about 9 miles of walking, went our separate ways and it had been nice having someone to walk with for the morning.

I took the Cremyll Ferry across the river and entered the Mount Edgcumbe area, starting with it’s more formal gardens before heading into the woodlands which contains many interesting follies, and slightly more strangely the national camellia collection.

I had made good progress and reached Kingsand/Cawsand in very good time, and the weather hadn’t been to bad and looked set to be sunny, if a bit windy for the afternoon. I had my packed lunch on a lovely located bench and whilst eating it thought about the rest of the day. The original plan had been to get to Freathy and pitch, but I was thinking about going a bit further today as the weather was looking good, whereas tomorrow was meant to be pretty dismal. Then all of a sudden, I thought maybe I could actually get all the way to Looe (though very late probably in the dark) where someone had said they may be able to put me up. I sent of a message to the person in Looe to check, knowing I would likely lose signal the other side of Cawsand.

The next stage of the walk was lovely out towards Rame Head, with the sun now showing itself more and with the beautiful headland with it’s lonely chapel atop it. This chapel has been used for many things including as a watch house for boats when a beacon could be lit, as well as a lookout duing the period of the Spanish Armada.

The next part took me passed Tregonhawke & Freathy where there were lots of little huts/small houses sporadically dotted along the cliffs. I though these were really interesting and presumed they were low cost for people who just wanted seclusion. But having walked with a woman from Freathy for a short distance she informed me that one of them, not much bigger than a large garden shed was on the market for £800,000!

Tregantle Fort firing range was luckily not active so I continued along the cliffs all the way to Portwrinkle, where there were several surfers and onto Downderry which runs into Seaton only 4 miles short of Looe. It was getting dark at this point, and my phone suddenly regained signal and went off. Unfortunately the person who may have been able to put me up had the flu, so both as they were feeing bad and also so I didn’t catch it said best not to put me up, which I agreed with and messaged to say hoped they got better soon.

This left me with a bit of an issue, and looking back I should have noticed some of my mental health quirks popping in, which up to that point I had held at bay pretty much for the whole walk. The logical step would have been to turn round and head back literally only 1km where I could pitch the tent and there was a little Co-op not much further than that as well for food. But I decided to just carry on anyway to Looe, with my headtorch on. The walk itself was fine but with my signal gone again I could not check where to camp, or what other options there may be. By the time I reached Looe I felt stupidly anxious and headed in to the first open pub to ask if any possible options for pitching but also to use wi-fi. They had no options or wi-fi which then caused me to get even more anxious and I decided to walk a bit further just to try and come up with a plan. After crossing the bridge, I came across a pub called the Jolly Sailor and upon asking they had a room which wasn’t too expensive, and by now I was so anxious and angry with myself (for no reason) that decided it was best to take it and just calm down. The room was OK and enabled me to calm down. This is the first of my Dick Warner funded rooms, to be used by the 6th March for which I am very grateful.

This is where mental health can be so stupid, as in reality I was never in danger, or really that big an issue but my mind at that point built it up to the point where I was so anxious I was making stupid decisions and in fact tearful. If I hadn’t passed the Jolly Sailor the way my mind was acting it is perfectly possible I would have continued walking in the dark maybe as far as Polperro (which would have been a day of almost 40 miles) which is my stop point for tomorrow.

Within 10 minutes of being in the room, I had calmed down. Then I could see all the positives, I had walked so far today that tomorrow when a storm was forecast in the morning, I could delay the start to miss the worst of it. I would have more time to do admin in the morning that I hadn’t completed on the rest day. Having a short day tomorrow would ensure I arrived in plenty of time for a very distinguished guest arriving in Polperro to join the walk on Thursday.

So barring my mind going of on a tangent towards the end of the day, a very successful and enjoyable day.

charles compton