Monday, 10 September 2018

South West Coast Path Section 12 Bude to Crackington Haven

Bude Beach
I was assured that this was an easier section than the following one that I had done in reverse.  I wasn't sure that was going to be necessarily true with the heatwave that we were having for I find walking in the heat adds an extra dimension of effort.  I did have the luxury of a later start though and made the most of it with a leisurely breakfast before heading off to Crackington Haven.  It did feel slightly odd not just walking out from my B & B in Bude but I thought it best because of the lack of parking in Bude and also because I didn't want the same fun and games with the buses that I had had yesterday.

The Bude Light
By the time I got back to Bude the heat had already started to build as by now it was mid-morning.  I stocked up on refreshments and headed down to Bude Canal.  This highly unusual canal is still in water in Bude and there are a number of boats that ply the short length remaining.  It has the only lock that accesses the canal directly from the sea in the UK and judging from the number of people milling about it is still quite a popular feature in the town.  The original canal reached 35 miles into the hinterland and was unusual in that it used inclined planes rather than flights of locks to negotiate the contours along its length.  These are all derelict now but they can be traced and there is some consideration towards restoration.

Bude Canal
Once I had left the canal and the people eating breakfasts aboard a floating cafe I climbed up towards Compass Point, a curious landmark that is octagonal in shape and has compass points on each of the sides.  The view from the top was fantastic looking right out across the expansive sandy beach in Bude and the tough sections of coastline back to Hartland Quay.  My onward view was less obvious principally because I had some headlands to walk over before I got to Widemouth Bay, approximately 3 miles away.  The next headland was at Efford Down which was adorned with a trig point rather than a tower.  It had a small additional stone built  pillar next to it - the purpose of which I could not determine.

Compass Point
The path over the cliffs to Widemouth Bay was delightful as well as being quite easy going.  It limbered me up for the tougher parts of the day which were to come much later.  When I got to Upton I was met by the coastal road.  Just shy of meeting the road and I passed what professed to be a bookshop, with proceeds going to charity.  It looked as if a number of the books on the table had been there for some time judging by their faded look.  I wasn't tempted, principally because it meant something else to carry for the day.

Heading Out Of Bude
At Phillips Point I found a nice bench to set myself down on while I had a much needed water break.  I had the feeling it was going to be that kind of a day.  Having got the public transport part of the day out of the way I wasn't really in a hurry anyway.  I sat and watched a kestrel hunting for some time here before I headed over the last of the small hills to reach Lower Longbeak.  This headland enabled perhaps the best view of Widemouth Bay and was thronged with people, most of who I suspected had parked at the adjacent car park judging from their footwear.

Widemouth Bay
I made my way down to Widemouth Bay and determined to make the most of this refreshment opportunity even though it was a bit early for lunch.  It was mostly because I couldn't be sure I would have another one before I got to Crackington Haven and the onward walk would be a lot harder than the fairly easy section that I have had so far.  I stopped at the first place I came to which was a coffee/ ice cream shop and decided I had done enough to warrant an ice-cream.  As I consumed it I briefly contemplated walking across to the tide line and walking barefoot across the beach.  I decided against it principally because I didn't want  to disturb dozens of people laid out enjoying the sunshine.  Picking my way through the hoards looked a bit daunting so I proceeded along the back of the beach, which was easier even if less enjoyable.

Widemouth Bay
The path soon climbed away from the beach and a more expected type of walk was to now follow.  I walked through a welcome shaded section until reaching a road.  I climbed the first hill by means of using the road and soon passed a sign saying that buses were prohibited.  Imagine my amusement therefore when a very large 53 seat coach went thundering by.  I knew it would be back and it was only a few minutes later.  I wasn't sure how it had managed to turn around at the top but to my disappointment it had.  Perhaps he did know something I didn't after all.  When I got to the top I immediately saw that there was a turning circle easily big enough for the bus.  I also saw the most amazing view back towards Widemouth Bay and it was hard to believe that I had already walked so far.  I moved on from the parking area onto the path a little further on and decided to stop for an extended period and just enjoy my surroundings.  Below the waves crashed against the base of the cliffs and the seagulls cried overhead.  I was completely lost in the moment for a few minutes and I felt very happy that I had taken the time to do this.  Sometimes I focus too much on the goal rather than enjoying the journey.

Millook
Once I had summoned up the energy to carry on I descended almost down to sea level from my lofty spot via some steep steps.  This was Millook, a delightful little spot dominated by a small house with a sizeable verandah that looked a bit more New England than England.  It was certainly a little place that I would have enjoyed spending some extended time.  Instead I had to plod up the hill via the road that I had rejoined.  Thankfully it wasn't much further as the path disappeared off to the right towards the top of the hill and plotted a course along the cliff edge once again.  This stretch of path was easy going for a bit and most enjoyable for there was a welcome breeze in my face for a while.

Microlight
The crest of the hill was a long time coming but when it arrived there was a very welcome chair to greet me.  I took advantage and as I sat guzzling water I was buzzed by a microlight plane.  I imagine his view was even better than mine although it was pretty special up here.  My nice path was interrupted soon after by a small valley and I had to drop down into the woods for a short time at Bynorth Cliff.  The shade was welcome but the climb back out the valley was less so.  I climbed to the top at Dizzard Point to where I reckoned was the highest point of the day.  Just after I passed the trig point at the top I bumped into Frank once again, the bearded walker who I had said hello to the previous day.  This time we had a much longer conversation and recalled our different experiences walking the coast path.  It turned out that he had lived in Lancing - what a small world it is!  He was walking the path at a leisurely pace and with all his kit with him he could start and stop more or less where he wanted.

Tadpoles
We parted wishing each other luck and I continued along the flat path for a bit thinking that Frank had a bit of a climb to do shortly that I hadn't warned him about.  I needn't have worried - the one I encountered was fearsome to say the least!  Although it wasn't all the way down to sea level this time the gradient was joint sapping to say the least.  Unusually I decided to pause at the bottom.  My feet were pretty hot and there was a very welcoming stream that is simply had to dip my toes into.  As I sat enjoying the coolness of the water I suddenly caught sight of movement in the fast flowing stream.  Upon closer inspection I realised that it was a tadpole and as I looked harder I could see heaps of them!  I hoped that the presence of my feet didn't pollute the water too much for them :)

Cleave
Feeling refreshed I clambered up the other side of the valley very slowly to help conserve my energy a bit.  On paper I was getting pretty close to my destination now but of course being the coast path progress wasn't that straightforward.  I had another couple of valleys to traverse - the first fairly minor but the next was another beast.  It wasn't altogether clear where I needed to cross the valley but I felt for sure I would have to when I saw the terrain ahead.  Off in the distance I could also see St Gennys church, which from this angle looked like it was partly built within the hill.  My path didn't go immediately across the valley but took me down along a fantastic ridge to Castle Point.  For my money this little short stretch was the highlight of the day.  I lingered at Castle Point - it really needed a little time to appreciate its beauty.  Below me the heather was already coming out - it seemed a bit early but nevertheless it gave the hillside a beautiful purple hue, broken up here and there with little splashes of yellow from newly flowering gorse.  This is one of the classic natural colour schemes and has inspired lots of gardeners worldwide.

Castle Point View
I had one last descent and ascent to make - they weren't quite as intense as previous ones thankfully.  At the top I could now see Crackington Haven below me - it was a very welcome sight indeed.  I also met heaps of walkers coming up to this headland from the beach below.  It is clearly a popular spot as my descent was punctuated with lots of stops to allow passage to passersby.  When I got to the bottom there was only one place I was headed and that was to the sea to cool off.  It was extraordinarily welcome on such a hot day.  This was as memorable a section as the onward  one that I had done the day before and even though it was four miles shorter it could not be described as particularly easy.

Crackington Haven

Sunday, 26 August 2018

South West Coast Path Section 13 Crackington Haven to Tintagel

Crackington Haven
It pays to think on your feet when doing any section of the South West Coast Path and that was especially the case with this section of the walk.  For some reason I had a time that I needed to be at the path for the purposes of the bus but when I arrived I found that I had read the timetable incorrectly and I had to quickly change plans.  So it was then that I started this section, having already committed to parking all day, rather than getting the bus over to Bude and walking from there.

Cam Head
This is a longer section than from Bude to here and I reckoned that it was going to be very tight to make the bus at just after 6pm but I decided to go for it anyway.  It promised to be quite a tough day of walking - one of the toughest sections I have left to do.  The beach at Crackington Haven looked very inviting and was filling with people at mid-morning when I got underway.  I made a mental note to try it out when I had finished walking for the day.

Cattle at High Cliff
It was a fairly gentle introduction to the path on an undulating route away from Crackington Haven but soon I reached Cam Head and the first stiff climb of the day up a zig zag path.  It was quite tempting to divert inland from here as there was a path cutting off the headland but I am glad that I didn't for the view at the top was quite magnificent and enabled me to get a flavour of what I had to do for the rest of the day.  Way off in the distance I could see Tintagel and a little closer I could see Boscastle, an intermediate staging point and where I had already clocked would be a good ice cream stop.  I paused to catch my breath and enjoyed the view for some time before steeling myself for the next section.

View From High Cliff
I crossed a bit of a moonscape with very little vegetation and what looked like an area that had been extensively quarried hence the scarred landscape.  My way forward was generally uphill but relatively gently and with quite a lot of up and down sections along the way.  After escaping from Cam Head I largely had the path to myself now too and it was a delight.  As I climbed steadily the inland landscape opened up too and the views became more extensive by the second.  Strangely although I think there are far stiffer climbs in the county I eventually found my way to High Cliff, the highest point on the Cornish part of the South West Coast Path.  At the top were a small herd of cows all clubbed together to presumably protect themselves from the worst of the heat.  They were my only companions for quite a while.  I was glad of that since I was probably quite a sight on this very hot day slogging up the hills.

New Gorse
This section would not be for the faint hearted if they were to look down from any of the cliffs.  They are truly vertigo inducing!  However I found the contorted folding and general geology of the rocks utterly fascinating.  The sea could be heard waging war on them from below but it is going to take a very long time indeed to denude them.  Perhaps a sign of their robustness is that this part of the  coast has few rock falls interrupting the flow of the path.

Popular Spot
I passed by the first walker for a while near Rusey Cliff.  I remembered him for his lack of shirt, very suntanned and weather beaten face, bushy beard and looked like he was carrying his life on his back.  We exchanged pleasantries and went on our way - I would be seeing him later.  Further on and I came upon a lot more walkers going in the opposite direction.  Having been down a large dip and back up the other side in quick succession I felt a little smug as I headed down the next descent as they slogged their way up.  I was now at Fire Beacon Point and as I made my way down to the bottom of this particular slope I could see gorse flowers already coming out  for the new season.  It amused me as I once heard that gorse actually manages to flower all year round - difficult to argue when I see them flowering in July!

Pentargon
By now the path was getting a bit busier as I approached Boscastle.  The path to the inlet called Pentargon was largely level and was a delightful interlude after all the climbing and descending but any notion that it would be like that for the short distance to Boscastle was soon scotched when I saw yet another plunging descent into the small valley and stream that empties into Pentargon.  Once I was back up the other side it was a nice easy walk into Boscastle.  I did have the sense that I was unlikely to get to Tintagel by the appointed time for the bus and quickly checked the timetable and realised that if I didn't make the bus I had intended to then there was no way I would get back to Crackington Haven as the last bus didn't stop there.  A quick rethink was needed and a new plan was hatched.  I would run along to the bus stop in Boscastle and head back to Crackington Haven straight away.

Entering Boscastle Harbour
This proved to be a good plan as I made it with a few minutes to spare and the bus was also a bit late much to the chagrin of the couple already waiting at the stop.  They reported that the previous bus a couple of hours earlier failed to show up at all and they were worried that the same would happen with this one.  Thankfully it came and I snoozed on the short trip over to Crackington Haven, waking up only just in time!  An ice cream here soon revived me and I headed over to Tintagel so that I could catch the bus back to Boscastle and recommence my day's walking.  All a bit convoluted perhaps but it provided a much needed couple of hours break in the middle of a very hot day when I most needed it.  I stocked up in the charming village of Boscastle before heading on.

Boscastle
The path took me down the side of the very narrow harbour, which was the scene of a horrific flood in 2004 when the effects from more than 1000 people were swept away.  Miraculously no-one was killed but the devastation took some time to repair afterwards.  Looking at the narrow river mouth it was easy to see how such an event could take place.  Even the pleasure craft had only a small entrance to negotiate before being able to head out into the open sea.

View From Willapark
The path out of Boscastle was possibly my favourite part of the day's walking.  I plodded up to Willapark - a rather curious looking tower on the cliff above Boscastle Harbour.  It was orginally built as a summerhouse but its lookout potential was obviously realised quite quickly as it soon doubled up as a watch tower for the Board of Trade to help with the war against smuggling.  It then served as a coastguard lookout until the 1970s and is now a Coastwatch station, one of so many that I have passed along this coast.

Willapark
Further along the coast was a structure of a different sort - it looked like the remains of a mine.  I haven't been able to find out much about it but apparently there were seams of silver and lead that were exploited here.  I felt my pace slowing down as the miles under my feet started to tell and I was very please to see a eat with a great view back to Willapark a bit further on.  I found that the seat was actually dedicated to a certain Harry Hill MBE.  Well done that man - much appreciated!  After lingering here for a few minutes I felt ready to push on along Trevalga Cliff and soon swapped the view back to Willapark for a forward view to Tintagel that was starting to get quite close.

Harry Hill's View
I had a couple of narrow valleys to cross first - the first was the delightful Rocky Valley where I had to negotiate a valley that was definitely rocky!  It was obviously popular enough of a local attraction that it had managed to acquire a caravan park next door.  Quite what the dog walkers thought of me as a sweaty mess when they were out on their sedate evening stroll is anyone's guess.  Having traversed Rocky Valley I had a smaller one to cross a bit further on - this time crossing a track that led down to a secluded beach.  Even at this late hour there were a number of families heading down for a late swim, no doubt taking advantage of the low tide.  I suspect that the beach disappears when the tide comes in.

Top Man
One more big climb awaited me and I was mighty relieved when I got to the top of the rather confusingly named Willapark - I hadn't gone round in a circle; the locals obviously ran out of names for headlands!  As I headed along this stretch I was followed by a friendly stonechat - I have really appreciated their curiosity and friendliness along the path.  They make nice companions and it's almost as if they are willing me on to finish!  This little one I reckon was the welcoming party into Tintagel.  I certainly welcomed the end of the day's walk - it was spectacular through but I felt like I had had a thorough examination!

Stonechat

Wednesday, 15 August 2018

South West Coast Path Section 55 Chapman's Pool to Swanage

Chapman's Pool
This is another part of the coast where public transport is scarce so I had to be creative with how I broke up the sections.  This led to the rather contrived start point for this walk, using Kingston village (about a mile and a half inland) as a starting point.  I parked in the village, leaving the bus journey for last.  This wasn't too much of a problem for there is an hourly service from Swanage.  It promised to be another hot day during the heatwave that is summer 2018 and I had made sure that I was very well stocked with stuff for there are no places to resupply along this route until almost at Swanage.
This way
The walk down from Kingston village is easy - just follow the road down from the church that eventually becomes a farm track.  It is pretty much downhill all the way from the village to the coast.  When I hit the coast finally it was at the top of Houns-tout Cliff and down I had to go once again this time down a very steep slope to just above Chapman's Pool far below.  Now reunited with the path I had to take a rather convoluted route inland a bit to a place where I could cross the valley easily but a cluster of very attractive houses.  This route has changed in recent years because of the unstable nature of the cliffs, rendering the original route unusable. On the other side I had to practically double back to climb the slope of West Hill (on the eastern side of the valley!).
Emmett's Hill Memorial
Once I had slogged to the top I got one of the best views on the whole of the South West Coast Path across the turquoise water of Chapman's Pool and the chalky landscape of the Purbeck coast towards Lulworth.  The familiar shape of the Isle of Portland loomed on the horizon, the last part of the coast going eastwards that it is possible to see it.  The path along West Hill and then Emmett's Hill is a delight - level walking for about half a mile with superb views all the way out on the right hand side.  As I walked along this stretch of route I became aware of large groups of walkers both ahead and behind me.  From a distance they looked like school groups and my heart sank.  My peace and quiet for the day would shattered.  For now I enjoyed the fact that they were some distance ahead and some distance behind.
St Aldhelm's Chapel
Along the level part of Emmett's Hill I came upon a memorial to the Royal Marines.  This was originally put here in 1989 to commemorate the atrocity at Deal when the barracks there was blown up by an IRA bomb attack.  The memorial was commissioned by the Poole Branch of the Royal Marine Association and they wanted a site that looked out over the wild coastline.  I'd say that this location fits the bill perfectly!  It was beautifully planted with poppies and other flowers and looked very well kept despite its relatively remote location.  I lingered for a short while before pushing on towards St Aldhelm's Head.
Radar Research Memorial
Soon my nice level path came to an abrupt end just shy of the headland as it plunged down into a deep valley.  I decided to stop at the bench at the top for some refreshment especially as I seemed to be catching the group up in front.  I noticed for the first time now that they weren't school groups but adults all wearing the same T-shirts.  While I was trying to decide what was going on a couple from the same event came past and I could then see that they were all on a charity sponsored walk.  I was most surprised to learn that they were actually supporting a hospice nearby where I live and not a local one at all.  They were walking from Corfe Castle to Bournemouth, a tidy step at 30 miles especially on such a warm day.

Dancing Ledge
I walked with them on and off for a couple of miles, a rare experience for me.  Mostly small talk and after awhile I got the sense that they wanted to continue talking without me so we wished each other well and walked at our own pace.  At St Aldhelm's Head I passed by the small Norman chapel which looked rather incongruous in this exposed location not near any other housing.  I guess you would have had to be rather pious to make your way up here!  It is likely that the chapel also doubled up as a daymark for passing ships, a use that has long since been outdated.  Just by the chapel is a watch tower of a different sort - the National Coastwatch station.  The chaps inside were pretty dedicated to their watching and paid no attention to me.

Jurassic Coast
The section of coast that followed was reminiscent of the coastline of the Isle of Portland and even had a number of quarries along the cliff line; all long since out of production.  They did make for interesting industrial archaeology sites although nature is doing its best to reclaim them.  Most of the quarries were now filled with wildflowers and red valerian, that cheerful looking invader that seems to love our coastline.  From St Aldhelm's Head to Dancing Ledge the going was very easy - far more so than I have been used to on the coast path in recent years.  Of course the fact that I was walking on my beloved chalk helped considerably.  It was like walking the South Downs!

Climbing Groups
At Dancing Ledge there was a large school group doing some kind of climbing activity that also including being in the water.  I imagine the children were thankful for the seawater as it was now building into a very hot day.  I also noticed a small cannon protecting the coast and later when I returned I looked it up as it did seem like an unusual place to put one.  Apparently it was lost from a ship called Halswell that was sailing to India when it was caught in a storm and wrecked just offshore here. Not long past Dancing Ledge I seemed to threaten the pace of the very large group ahead of me so I slowed a bit so I wouldn't catch them up.

Anvil Point Lighthouse
The path eastwards to Durlston lighthouse was fairly featureless and I managed to walk this section very quickly.  I paused at the lighthouse - it did look very good against the powder blue sky.  By now I was joined by lots of other visitors and not just the sponsored walkers.  This is because the lighthouse is at the edge of Durlston Country Park, one of the main attractions of Swanage.  There was significant evidence of more quarrying here in the shape of Tilly Whim caves.  This name appears to come from a quarryman called Tilly who worked here in the 1700s and Whim was an old crane that did the work of loading the stone onto ships.  Apparently the caves were once open to the public but are now closed as there were a number of rock falls in the 1970s.

Anvil Point Lighthouse
Just up from the caves is what I initially took to be a bird hide but in fact has a rather different function - this small shed with viewing is actually for watching dolphins.  Knowing that I wasn't blessed with a lot of time and that I would need a lot of patience to see any dolphins I decided not to linger but pushed onto the 'castle' at the heart of Durlston Country Park instead.

Dolphin Watch
The castle was built by George Burt, nephew of the founder of Mowlem (the large building company).  Much of the park features architectural salvage from some of the construction projects he was engaged on.  At the heart of it is the castle that was actually (and still is) a restaurant to cater for the visitors to the park.  The whole place is now owned by Dorset County Council rather than the Mowlem/ Burt family.  Nonetheless it did make for a very welcome watering hole and I quickly drained an ice cold pop.

Red Valerian
My way onwards from the park was through a wooded area, which was very welcome as the heat had really built during the morning.  There were peepholes through the trees every so often to see the view beyond and for the first time it was possible to see the Isle of Wight - it almost felt like home territory as I can see the Isle of Wight (albeit the other side) from Worthing!  The path then wound around the end of the park before I had to climb up and out into a housing estate, passing an amazing looking yew tree on the way.

Descent Into Swanage
I came out into the light blinking from the powerful sunshine and was pleased that the stretch through the housing estate was pretty short lived.  I turned right along a path that had been adapted for wheelchair use and this led down into Swanage, my destination for the day.  As I got lower down the slope the magnificent situation for the town came into view; for my money this small seaside town has one of the best backdrops of any town anywhere in the UK.  It was also surprising to look back at Durston Country Park - I inadvertantly walked a long way without even realising it!

Swanage Vista
I soon found the main road into Swanage and wandered along into the centre of town. I have to confess the smell of fish and chips soon got up my nose and I just had to have some.  Somthing about the sea air I suppose!  Despite the fact that it was a school day the beach was surprisingly busy and I sat on the promenade wall scoffing my chips and watching the families on the beach with some amusement.  I couldn't help but think that the coastline was already giving way to a holiday coast rather than the rugged one I have been walking all these years.  Only a short hop from here and I would be seeing the end of the walk at South Haven Point.  That remains for another day though...

Swanage Beach

Monday, 16 July 2018

South West Coast Path Section 15 Port Isaac to Padstow

Port Isaac View
Another fabulous day of weather in store for this section and not too early a start on account of it being a Sunday and therefore no early morning buses.  I set off from my base in Tintagel with plenty of time to spare and drove down to Rock.  I had time to look at parking options before finding a space close to the bus stop and ambled over to it.  There was only one bus stop sign so I stood by it, seeing another person waiting also.  A bus came along on the opposite side of the road and the driver signalled I thought that he was going to turn around and come back for us.  When he didn't immediately I started to get a bad feeling and soon realised that I had missed it!  To say I was cross was an understatement.  I wasn't going to wait two hours for the next one and so I gathered up the other chap (who had thought the same as me and was also going to Port Isaac) and we drove there first.
Port Isaac Streets
We arrived at almost the same time as the bus so we didn't lose any walking time.  I did face the problem of getting the bus at the end of the walk - something I always hate doing.  The other chap and I went our separate ways at Port Isaac; I thought it better that we maintain our solitude after the car ride especially because I didn't want to struggle to keep up with him.
Caterpillar
Previously at Port Isaac I had failed to see what all the fuss was about - this time I totally got it.  The part where the bus drops you is kind of the working area; the scenic part of the village was down at the bottom of the hill.  I probably should have expected this given the name of the place!  It was up there with other scenic beauties of Cornwall including Polperro, Cawsand and Padstow.  I lingered in the streets for a short while soaking up the holiday relaxed atmosphere until moving on.
Downgate Cove
I climbed up and away from The Haven and wandered out towards Lobber Point.  Here I got a sense of the scale of the tightly packed fishing village and how it fits into the bigger landscape.  I also got a great view along the coastline of my fogbound walk a few weeks previously.  It did look tough - maybe it was a good thing I couldn't see much at the time!
Vetch
I rounded Logger Head and headed down to the valley floor a little further on.  My erstwhile companion wasn't far in front of me and I wondered whether it had been a good idea to let him go first as it hadn't taken much to catch him back up.  I crossed the valley and had my first real climb of the day - quite a slog up through cow parsley and hawthorn bushes.  At the top the path wound around some fields and past a couple of burial mounds before dropping down through a rather scenic zig zag section with a gate to pass along the back of Downgate Cove.  The winding nature of the path made it feel as though I was doing rather more mileage than I actually was.  I took my time though - it was hugely enjoyable looking at the flowers and all the butterflies and other insects busying themselves collecting pollen.
Doyden Castle
The problem with winding down on the coast is that sooner or later you have to wind up too and the other end of the cove was no exception to this.  I climbed up and passed around Kellan Head where I passed a couple that had been ahead of me for some time.  They were being sensible and pausing on the provided bench for a good look at the view.  I plodded on, seemingly around another corner, where I came upon Portquin.  I decided to stop on a bench myself at this point for the heat was starting to get to me a little bit.  From here I could see both Doyden Castle and The Rumps far away in the distance.  I still had a fair way to reach that point but from there the path promised to be a lot easier until the end of the day.
Take Off
Doyden Castle is a much photographed building from this stretch of the coast.  It sits atop a small headland called Doyden Point.  It isn't  really a castle - it was built in the 1820s by Samuel Symmons as a gambling and drinking den by all accounts.  I suppose if you are going to do those things; best to do so away from the glare of others...
Lundy Hole
I negotiated Portquin where there were quite a few people coming in from their sea kayaking expeditions.  A rental place on the shore was obviously doing brisk business especially as the sea was so calm. I headed uphill away from the hamlet once again passing several sets of walkers as I did so.   This is evidently a popular stretch of the coast although most were dog walkers rather than hikers. Initially the coast looked a bit denuded of vegetation and I read that there had been some antimony mines here once.  I imagine some of the vegetation has been stunted by heavy metal pollution. My car companion was visibly in front of me only minutes ahead of me, but it would be over the next couple of miles or so that I eventually lost him for good.  My attention was far more on the coast next to me than the walkers far off in front.  This is because for my money the next mile or so was the most scenic part of the day, with tantalising views of sandy beaches far below, rocky coves and flowering bushes vying for the attention of all the butterflies in evidence.
The Rumps
One of the most intriguing sights from the path was Lundy Hole.  This was clearly a sea cave once but the roof has collapsed leaving an arch and the beginnings of a beach in the washed out section.  This is definitely geology in action!  It made for a fascinating sight and I was pleased that I took a moment to look over the fence - I reckon it always pays to do this as you never know what you might see.
Polzeath Beach
Each time I rounded a headland or cove now the Rumps got ever closer and I was soon upon them.  I was a little relieved that I didn't have to negotiate the coast of these two rocky outcrops although there were paths over to take a closer look.  I instead took a path that took the high point of what I imagine will eventually become the cliff line when the Rumps are eventually eroded to become islands.  This also spelt the last of the climbing for I was now at the highest point on the walk with only downhill sections to follow.  From here I remember that the Cornwall coast going west is rather easier going than what I have experienced between here and the Devon border.
Surfing
Once past the Rumps I headed to Pentire Head, one of the classic headlands of Cornwall.  I took time to have a sit down, gather myself a bit and enjoy the view out across Padstow Harbour, the Doom Bar and Trevose Head in the distance.  The panorama laid out before me deserved some time and I stayed for quite a while enjoying the overall view and picking out some details using the binoculars that I faithfully tote around but seemingly never use.  After lounging for a while I gathered up my strength and wandered down towards the inviting looking beach at Polzeath that was thronged with surfers and swimmers.
Personal Service
After being high on the cliffs for most of the day the beach was a bit of a shock to the system especially as I felt very over-dressed.  While the surfers were backwards and forwards through the waves the beachcombers were being provided with a personalised ice cream van service.  The roving van appeared to be crossing the beach to find whatever demand it could.  I decided instead to avail myself of the ice cream opportunities at the back of the beach for there I would have a much bigger choice.  I wasn't disappointed.
Clouds Imitating Trees
Feeling refreshed I plodded on.  The last stretch of the walk from Polzeath back to Rock was along much lower terrain as I headed in to the Camel estuary.  I was thankful for this as the heat was starting to get to me by this point.  This stretch of the path was very popular with most of the traffic being dogwalkers and young families introducing their little ones to walking or bumping along in their all terrain buggies.  I crossed the beach at Daymer Bay and thought that I really should have been enjoying the beach rather than trudging across it.  I made my mind up that at Rock I would make sure that I dipped my toes in the water before making for the car.
Rock Ferry
I wasn't quite done yet though - after walking around Brea Hill on the shoreward side I had to cross some sand dunes and they are always hard going.  I was very aware of different sounds around me now.  Far off in the distance a brass band were playing - I imagine this was in Padstow on the opposite bank.  They were soon drowned out by the unmistakable thud thud thud of a helicopter and I rather hoped that this wasn't performing a sea rescue.  As I got nearer to Rock the ferry then got my attention as it made the short journey across from Padstow.  Having parked on the Rock side there was no need for me to use the ferry - more's the pity.
Daymer Bay
As soon as I reached the beach by the ferry drop off I did as I threatened and slid my boots and socks off and in I went.  My feet definitely thanked me for it!  Once refreshed I wandered up through Rock to find the bus stop.  It did take a while to get there (it's nearly a mile from the ferry dock) but not as long as I imagined and I ended up with quite a lengthy wait for the bus - this time I made sure I was on the garage side of the road so I didn't miss it!
Rock View
Despite the bus troubles this was a most satisfying walk and encapsulates most of the features that the SWCP is renowned for including cliffs, sand dunes and even the ferry crossing of the Camel Estuary.  I could see why my car companion had it as one of his 50 walks he had to do in the UK.