Thursday, 28 June 2018

South West Coast Path Section 40 Bigbury on Sea to Hope Cove

Hope Cove
This annoying little section has bugged me for a while and I had intended to polish it off during my February visit to Devon but was stymied by the weather.  I had far from ideal conditions on this day either but it was a walk rather borne of necessity after I had driven the 200 miles from Worthing to Morwenstow through beautiful sunshine to find that coast bathed in fog, so much so that I could barely see the church.  I had no confidence that any of the North Coast of Cornwall would be free of fog and it showed no signs of relenting and on that basis I reluctantly got back in my car and drove down to Hope Cove just so I could finish this part of the walk off.  As with the section from Erme Mouth to Bigbury I had to complete this as an out and back walk in the absence of any public transport.

Lone Poppy

I drove south across the moors and the sun soon made an appearance again.  Even Dartmoor was bathed in sunshine!  I was feeling quite good about my decision until I took the road down to Hope Cove and with only a mile to go the fog descended once again.  The air inside the car turned a little blue I can tell you!  Fortunately it wasn't as thick here and I could at least something of the view along the shore. 
Help me!
Despite the murky conditions there were plenty of people on the shore, probably because it was still half term.  The cloud had relented a bit and although it wasn't possible to see the headlands either side of the Cove the beach was fully in sight.  My first task was to climb up and out of the cove.  Luckily although the climb was steep it wasn't actually very long.  I was soon atop the thrift covered clifftops and feeling good after being cooped up in a car for longer than I should have been.  In a way this short stretch was just the right sort of walk to get me going for the weekend.
My clifftop walk did not last long.  At the first sign of houses a little further on the path deviated inland briefly to dogleg around their gardens.  Despite the poor visibility there were plenty of walkers around and when I passed by the National Trust at South Milton Sands they optimistically predicted further sunny spells to come.  I suspected that the other walkers were showing the same faith as me.  The café here was also a clue - I imagine the stroll is possibly the precursor to tea and cake...
I pushed on past the café - I didn't think I had done nearly enough to justify tea and cake myself.  In among the green field of wheat I passed was a solitary poppy.  Despite the fact that it was the only one it really did stand out; probably because of the lack of sunshine which heightened its vibrant colour.  The path rounded the field and I had to cross a bridge over South Milton Ley.  Apparently this is the second largest reed bed in Devon (after the much larger Slapton Ley I imagine).  As I looked down from the bridge I got quite a shock as for all the world I thought I caught sight of a hand beckoning me into the water below.  Upon second viewing I realised it was a discarded rubber glove and laughed to myself for being so startled!
Avon Estuary
I climbed up an over another small headland on the edge of Thurlestone and headed down a road that had succumbed to cliff erosion, now acting only as a private driveway to the last house.  The missing stretch looked rather forlorn and probably has been this way for at least the last 20 years judging from the infill of the stub by the surrounding sand dunes.  By now the mist was relenting nicely and views across the next bay were opening up revealing an extensive sandy beach.  The golf course to my right was rather empty - presumably players need to see the ball when they play!  As I wandered along this section I was followed by a stonechat who almost seemed to be willing me to take a picture of it.  I duly obliged :)
At the other end of the bay the coast got distinctly wilder.  I climbed a much bigger headland and soon the familiar shape of Burgh Island came into view.  Just as it was earlier in the year when I came the causeway across to the island was exposed and people were going backwards and forwards across the sand to see this curious place.  I was pleased that the mist had really cleared a lot by this point exposing the fantastic view across the River Avon estuary before me.  The walk across the headland was a good little workout to get me warmed up for tougher tests in the next couple of days.  I wandered down to the mouth of the Avon and looked out across this obstacle, feeling rather pleased that I never had to actually test out the wading across.
Once I had completed the three mile walk across here from Hope Cove there was nothing for it but to retrace my steps back.  I got the best conditions at the Avon mouth - the return leg of the walk saw a return of much of the mist.  It was notable though for an encounter I had with a kestrel.  The number of times I have seen a kestrel hovering and waiting to pounce I have never actually see one make a kill.  This time I got lucky as the kestrel managed to catch the hapless mouse it had been stalking.  I watched it for some time eating and it kept looking up at me in case I wanted to steal its mouse entrails.  Finally it decided I was too much of a threat and away it went carrying the remains away for a quieter place to eat.

Lost Road
That was the last excitement on the return leg - unusually I thought the outward walk (in the wrong direction compared to usual) was more interesting than the return.  Sadly the fog did detract from the enjoyment of the walk once again but when the view opened up across the Avon estuary it was worth seeing and the remnants of cloud added some atmosphere.  I think if I were to come back to this area I would probably try to include this section in the next part along to Salcombe.

Saturday, 23 June 2018

South West Coast Path Section 11 Morwenstow to Bude

Morwenstow Church
The stretch of coast path from Hartland Quay to Bude has long since vexed me.  It is 15 miles in length and I have always though possibly more than I could do in one day both for practical and fitness reasons.  The guide book had suggested that it could be broken at Morwenstow and I therefore decided that this would be by far the best way of tackling it.  My new problem was that only one bus serves Morwenstow each day (and not at all on Sundays) and it didn't leave Bude until after 1pm.  I decided to do the second half first on that basis as a) it was the easier and shorter of the two and b) I had to drive 220 miles home afterwards!
Clifftop at Morwenstow
The good news weatherwise was that the mist which had bedevilled this part of the coast for the last two days had finally relented and blown away.  The bad news was that it had been replaced by a band of rain and I certainly didn't fancy walking in that today.  The weather forecaster assured me that sunshine would follow in the afternoon so I pitched up in Bude showing faith.  It was still raining when I caught the bus although there were signs that it would cheer up.  By the time I got to Morwenstow after a rattly and bumpy ride the rain had gone and was replaced by a decent amount of sunshine.  Unsurprisingly I was the only person who alighted at Morwentstow, a small hamlet seemingly miles from anywhere.
Hawker's Hut
It was still a mile or so from the bus stop to the coast path and on the way through I paused briefly at Morwenstow church, a splendid affair high on the hills above the rugged northern Cornish coast.  There is a pretty full churchyard here - sadly many of the graves belong to shipwrecked sailors from this dangerous coast apparently.  I pushed on through the fields to the coast and turned left when the edge of the cliff beckoned.  As I did so the sun went in and for a few minutes the sky looked threatening again.  I gritted my teeth and carried on knowing that realistically I would have to walk whatever the weather as there would be no bus back today.
My first stop along the way was the diminutive Hawker's Hut.  This is the smallest property owned by the National Trust and is said to have been created from driftwood by the eccentric clergyman Robert Hawker.  Hawker used the hut to contemplate and write poetry and even had some famous guests hang out with him including Charles Kingsley and Alfred Tennyson.  Sitting in here and looking at the view I could certainly see the attraction.  Fortunately I had the place to myself but didn't get long - another couple were along soon behind me as I was leaving.

Not long past the Hawker's Hut and I plunged down into my first valley with a steep climb the other side.  Some National Trust volunteers were hard at work on the path and I chatted with them briefly as I steeped gingerly past their efforts.  Of course what goes down must come up on the coast path and I was soon climbing back up the other side of the valley.  Feeling a bit puffed I was quite pleased to see a watcher's hut at the top.  This unheralded structure had clearly seen better days but it did shelter me from the stiff breeze.  As I lingered over the view with a drink I could see that the clouds were once again parting and allowing some good sunshine through - this boded well for the rest of the walk.
The next major ascent was just that - a very steep section of path that took me up to the very strange looking GCHQ site complete with golf ball radar installations and satellite dishes.  It all looked a bit James Bond and rather incongruous up here on the North Cornish cliffs.  As I approached I had the sense of being watched by the CCTV cameras stationed along the huge perimeter fence.  There were also lots of signs telling me not to take pictures and clearly I did not want to be accused of espionage!  I skirted around the facility dodging the boggy sections and taking advantage of some former concrete roads that probably once served barracks or some other such related military installation.  Clearly not needed now this part of the facility had been returned to open access to allow the passage of walkers.
As I went across the crest of the hill (Sharpnose Point) the magnificent view of the remaining part of the day's walking opened up.  Waves were racing into shore along the line of sandy beaches between here and Bude and the resultant spray obscured visibility a bit but nothing like the last couple of days. The sheep grazing up here were probably completely oblivious to the view that they were lucky enough to enjoy.  The view across the tops of the cliffs was short-lived though because I was soon descending to Duckpool.  The descent was extremely memorable as the path zig zagged down the side of a very rocky cliff until getting to a picturesque valley floor and beach just beyond.  Being a weekday it wasn't at all busy - just one lonely camper van and a couple of dog walkers.  I can imagine it getting very busy during a summer weekend though as any beach with road access is normally a honeypot for surfers and beach worshippers.  A lonely cottage along the valley was surely the ultimate country retreat?
Sharpnose Point View
I puffed up the other side of the valley little knowing that I had now completed the hardest part of the day's walking.  From here to Bude the climbs would get less severe with each valley that I crossed.  I felt something of a fraud only doing a half section but the thought of a whole day of this seemed too much.  Just past Warren Point I became aware of the expanse of sandy beaches below the cliffs.  Dogs were barking in the distance and I soon realised that most of the visitors were with dogs along this stretch of coast.  Balls and sticks combined with waves are surely every dog's dream?
I passed by another car park, virtually empty on this Tuesday afternoon out of school holidays.  Sadly for me that also meant that the café was shut but this is surely a welcome spot for walkers on a day it is open.  A short climb out of the car park followed and after this the going was surprisingly easy.  I also made progress a lot more quickly than I am used to on the coast path for not only were the gradients less severe but the underfoot conditions were springy turf for lengthy parts and this made for nice easy walking.  I remember mostly enjoying the geology of the beaches here - the strata of the rocks have been contorted by folding and erosion had exposed some very strange patterns in the rock as a result.
Northcott Mouth
After Northcott Mouth I was surprised how quickly Bude came upon me.  In fact I arrived about an hour before I estimated that I would - circumstances that are almost unheard of!  I was parked at the back of Crooklets Beach but in order to fully complete the section into Bude I walked on by the colourful beach huts and around a golf course until I reached the harbour mouth.  Below me at the entrance to the harbour was a saltwater pool - not in use because it was low tide.  It didn't look very inviting to be honest.  Most of the beach visitors were concentrated far off by the low tide part just beyond the RNLI lifeguards.  The numbers were soon swelled by extras who had headed down here presumably after work.  I looped around and back to my car hugely satisfied with my half day activity and still fighting fit for the journey home.

Crooklets Beach Bude

Tuesday, 19 June 2018

South West Coast Path Section 26 Porthleven to The Lizard

Porthleven Harbour
This was a most unexpected day.  Following my disaster with the fog the day before I had high hopes of a change in the weather today.  Imagine my disappointment when I looked out of the window of my hotel in Tintagel to see fog so thick I could barely see my car in the car park immediately outside.  While the whole of England was basking in beautiful sunshine the Bristol Channel was covered in a fog bank that somehow just managed to reach the very edges of the coastline.  Evidently inland was spared this fog and would enjoy summer temperatures for the rest of the day.  Desperately I cast around for an alternative place to walk and landed on the Lizard peninsula as the only realistic proposition.  I had no idea that it was 2 hours drive away from Tintagel!  I also had to face the fact that I needed to get the bus at the end of the walk; something I really hate doing as I feel the stress of the deadline all day.
Harbour Inn
I parked up in Porthleven and wandered around the town for a bit to get some provisions.  I wanted to get a map as I didn't bring my guidebook, not expecting to come to this section of the walk.  Sadly I didn't find one and so had to wing it.  I guess that having the coast on the right hand side of me all day and regular signage was a sure fire way of not getting lost but I was still a little haunted by the wrong turn in the fog yesterday.  As it happens I only managed to leave the fog behind at Helston, just a couple of miles away from my day's starting point.
Leaving Porthleven
I walked along the harbour wall and past the famous clock tower that seems to take quite a beating from the storm waves that overwhelm the harbour wall from time to time.  I then negotiated my way through the narrow streets to eventually find myself out in the open countryside at last.  Despite the early season (May) it was already building into a warmer summer like day and once I was safely away from town I doused myself in sun cream and made sure my hat was properly fitted.
Diversion Required
 It wasn't too long before I reached a path closed sign and contemplated the rather lengthy diversion that would take me through the Penrose Estate.  It wasn't a great prospect to be honest.  Fortunately for me I ran into a local here and he was bullish about the prospect of bypassing the problem area and basically staying on the same route.  I followed him expecting to have to turn back.  Initially we couldn't see the problem but when we got the headland in the distance we could immediately see that an enormous chunk of cliff had been removed by the sea and the rubble on the wave cut platform was now being rearranged by the sea.  Without a set of wings it would have been impossible to pass but luckily there was enough heathland above that we could skirt around quite safely.
Loe Bar
I was grateful that I did not have to take the two-mile diversion.  No doubt that it was useful time and energy saved for later in the day.  As I rounded the headland I rejoined the path and ahead of me was Loe Bar, a curious feature that I once learned about in Geography.  This sand bar was said to have been formed by a giant called Tregeagle who dropped the sand from a bag he was carrying.  The Bar traps a largish lake called The Loe and is currently being worked on by the Environment Agency (to help with flooding).  Somehow as I crossed the shingle bar (not my favourite surface for walking on) I got the sense that it wasn't anything like I had expected.  I'm not actually sure what I expected - maybe a bit more vegetation?  Of course being a dynamic shingle spit that was probably unrealistic.

Anson Memorial
As I crossed I came upon a couple of ladies who were heading in my direction and with whom I would play cat and mouse for some time.  I allowed them to pass me as I wandered over to the monument just the other side of Loe Bar. This memorial was to the 100 or so people that perished when HMS Anson was beached in a storm in 1807.  The locals were unable to help anyone from the ship at the time and as a result of this incident Henry Trengrouse devised a safety system based on a rocket and line that could be fired from ship or shore to help with future rescues.

The next stretch of coast had clearly taken a bit of a pounding as chunks of cliff were missing and I again had to take some diversions to negotiate it.  One section took an inland bridleway and I had to be sharp eyed to notice the route back to the coast path.  The ladies hadn't noticed and were too far ahead for me to call them back.  I wasn't even sure they were going my way so left them to it.  I headed down to the nearby cove and passed by a very well appointed holiday cottage with a surprising flat garden in which a rather serious game of cricket was going on.  Much to my surprise many of the players wished me a good day as I passed by and that rather boosted my spirits.  By now I was already beginning to feel the heat of the day and rather hoped that at Church Cove there might be an ice cream van or something.

Cow Parsley
I climbed up on to Halzephron Cliff and this little stretch of the path was perhaps my favourite of the entire day.  The flowers alongside the path were truly magnificent and the air was pungent with all the spring scents that vie for the attention of bee's noses.  The view back towards Porthleven and across towards Penzance was quite something too.  I took a moment to enjoy the view and refresh myself.  As I did so I got talking to another coast path veteran - a man who had walked it in both directions!  It made my effort seem rather laboured in comparison.

Gunwalloe Church
On my way down to Church Cove I both caught sight of armies of dog walkers coming up towards me from the car park below and also the two ladies I thought I had lost a while back.  They passed me at Church Cove as I took advantage of the much needed refreshment shack at the National Trust car park.  Before moving on from Church Cove I took a look at the small Gunwalloe Church that looks as if it could easily be engulfed by sand at any time.  It rather reminded me of St Piran's earlier in the walk, although this one is clearly still used regularly.

Looking Back to Church Cove
The next stage of the walk took on a new character as effectively I was skipping from cove to cove.  Each of the coves were initially popular bathing beaches (Poldhu and Polurrian) and then a small port (Mullion) and then some pretty remote and wild looking ones until Kynance.  Poldhu was the first and particularly popular.  The road at the back of the cove was completely covered in cars and every inch of verge was taken.  I was astonished at the way some beach visitors had left their cars and wondered whether any traffic warden headed this way?  If they had they would have made a lot of money from parking tickets.  Overlooking the cove was a very handsome looking building which had the resemblance of a hotel (in fact it was marked on the map as such) but actually an old people's home.  Not a bad place to serve out the last few years of your life but if I were there I would be itching to get down on that beach regularly.  Behind the home is an amateur radio club marking the point at which Marconi made the first transatlantic radio message back in 1901 - can it really be that little time ago?

Marconi Monument
I passed the ladies once again having a spot of lunch by another monument, this time to the Marconi transmission.  I had wanted to take a close up picture of the monument but couldn't really do so without including a couple of shirtless teenage boys using it as a seat and deep in conversation.  It was clear they weren't going anywhere soon!  I took the opportunity to pass the ladies and get some distance between us again.  Sadly I surrendered this past Polurrian Cove as I stopped for lunch and refreshment only for the ladies to catch up with me again.  I joked with them that they were following me - not sure the joke was understood as I finally realised that judging from their accent that they were Dutch.  Strangely I lost them completely at Mullion Cove just a little further on - I reckon they found a tea shop there.

Mullion Cove
Mullion Cove was a delight.  The small cove had been turned into a small harbour in Victorian times and this engineering somehow enhanced the place.  Just offshore is the miniscule Mullion Island - one of a number of mini-nature reserves littering this coastline.  Because they are so difficult to reach they have developed into vitally important nesting sites for seabirds and thriving havens for wildflowers.  For me the onward part of the walk was perhaps the wildest and loneliest of the day.

Mullion Island
The walkers from Mullion soon thinned out and I was left with magnificent cliffs on one side and a wide expanse of moorland on the other.  Much of the inland is actually taken up by Predannack Airfield and way off in the distance I could see the radar installations associated with the place.  I guess its presence and the preclusion of development as a result adds to the loneliness of this stretch of coast.  I crossed a couple of rocky valleys and also had to negotiate a couple of boggy areas before I decided that my feet really needed cooling off.  I took the opportunity to dunk them in a stream and how welcome that was!

Wild Coast
Eventually I found my way to Kynance Cliff and the most amazing view down towards The Lizard across Kynance Cove.  The cove itself is justifiably popular - the beach was jammed with people and many had taken the opportunity to head up the cliff and find sitting positions overlooking the view.  I clambered down into the Cove and took advantage of the café there.  I was really quite hot and bothered by now and the cold drink I got there went down a treat.  I made my way through the crowds at the back of the beach negotiating some large rocks as I did so.  It wasn't actually very easy climbing up and away from the beach as despite the fact that it was by now late afternoon I very much seemed to be swimming against the tide - more people were heading down than going up.  Climbing had to be done gingerly too for the dry serpentine rock was extremely slippery.
Kynance Cove
The walk over to Lizard Point was fairly easy going after all the ups and downs of the coves earlier and I managed to enjoy the last hour or so of the walk without feeling the pressure of time.  The Point itself was rather full of people and I didn't linger deciding instead to push on to a viewpoint above Polpeor Cove and the former Lizard Lifeboat Station.  Clearly not used any more I was very surprised to see how long it has been closed - the last launching was in 1961!  The new lifeboat station is on the other side of the Lizard in a more sheltered spot.  It is easy to see why this more exposed location didn't work so well and it was the expense of repairs that did for it.

View From The Lizard
I finally summoned up the energy for one last push to the end of the road at The Lizard and after a brief pause to enjoy the view I decided to head up into the village and my bus back to Porthleven.  This is a bit of a tortuous route as I had to change buses in Helston - don't expect a quick journey if you take this option.  On the whole a hugely satisfying day and my decision to do this was justified despite the late hour that I got back to Tintagel.

Kynance Lifeboat Station

Monday, 11 June 2018

South West Coast Path Section 14 Tintagel to Port Isaac

Trebarwith Strand
The last really lengthy section of coast path that I have remaining is on the North Cornwall coast from Hartland Quay to Padstow and this is to be my focus for the next few trips to ensure that this wild stretch of coastline is conquered.  I was so enthusiastic to get underway with this section of walk that I left Worthing shortly after 4am so that I could get a reasonably early bus and have all day to tackle what promised to be a pretty testing section.  I didn't like the fact that the guidebook blithely mentioned that there were seven steep valleys to cross.  That to me sounded like I would have a pretty tiring section and I wasn't fooled by the modest length of nine miles.
Old Post Office, Tintagel
Having originally banked on getting a bus at around noon my extremely early start meant that I actually arrived in Port Isaac before 9am and I had quite a bit of time to kill before the first available bus.  I did toy with the idea of going over to Tintagel and starting the walk first and getting the bus later but it was a bit misty around the coast and I wanted the sun to work its magic and burn it off first.  I lingered around the part of the village where the bus stop is and although I knew that the TV series Doc Martin was filmed here I couldn't see what the fuss was about.  The village here was only mildly picturesque.  It was only much later that I realised that the picturesque part of the village was at the bottom of the hill, away from the bus stop and largely out of sight.
Tintagel Church
The bus was populated by a number of walkers all heading out for the day and it certainly promised to be a beautiful day. By the time the bus came the mist had burned off at Port Isaac.  After a rattly and bumpy journey over to Tintagel the same couldn't be said for that part of the coast.  The sun was clearly struggling to burn off the swirling cloud and as a result views of the castle and the town came and went.  I grabbed some provisions and sat at the top of the cliff above Tintagel Castle hoping that I would get a good view of it when the mist finally cleared.  I was to be disappointed - the supposed home of King Arthur never truly revealed itself and the rocky island that it sits on actually became more engulfed in cloud over time, somehow enhancing its enigmatic charm.
Youth Hostel
By now it was almost noon and I sensed that I might have a frustrating day ahead of me.  Inland the visibility was great and I could see some distance across beyond the striking church set away from the heart of the village in Tintagel.  This ancient church was built at the turn of the 11th and 12th centuries and not long after William the Conqueror came to Britain.  No doubt its location high on the cliff has acted as a navigational aid for shipping in the centuries since, although it is slightly overshadowed by Camelot Castle Hotel, a Gothic lump built high on the cliffs the other side of the village.
Boiling Sea
The walk over the cliffs to Trebarwith Strand was as good as the day got.  I was accompanied by warm sunshine, a light breeze and even the cloud kept at bay although visibility out across the sea was fairly non-existent.  This stretch of coast is known for its former slate workings and a little way from the village I passed the small Youth Hostel high up on the cliffs. Its mining heritage was pretty obvious - the buildings were once the offices of Long Grass Quarry, which ceased working in the 1930s.  I enjoyed looking at the quarry workings and especially at Lanterdan Quarry just south of the Youth Hostel.  This had a very distinctive stone pillar left behind - not sure why it was left, perhaps a result of it being unsuitable rock?
Sheer Drop
Soon enough I had the wonderful view across Trebarwith Strand, a very popular beach hereabouts.  I wasn't to know it at the time but this was to be my last view of the day.  On the other side of the valley (not one of the seven referred to in the book incidentally) a finger of cloud was extending across the highest part of the ground.  Little did I know that this finger of cloud actually masked a fog bank on the other side of the hill and this would largely envelope the cliff line all the way to Port Isaac.  So much for my sunny spells weather forecast!
At the bottom of the hill I dog legged around the Port William pub, which seemed to be doing a roaring trade on this Sunday lunchtime.  Those sitting outside certainly had a bit of a sun trap and a great view out towards Gull Rock, looming out of the mist offshore.  I was now confronted by my first climb of the day up to Dennis Point and it was certainly a testing start with steps helping me ascend what was quite a stiff climb.  At the top I was soon enveloped by cloud and it was impossible to see more than about 10 metres.. I hoped to goodness that the mist would dissipate but to my annoyance it soon became clear that it intensified on the other side.  Given the task ahead I wasn't sure whether this was a good or a bad thing.  The first valley was certainly quite tough going as I zig-zagged to the bottom.  I had passed a couple going up the hill out of the pub and felt their presence going down the other side. I'm not sure if it was their presence or not being able to see the scale of the task ahead of me but it didn't seem too bad.
Valley Bottom
The distance to the next valley was further than I thought and it felt good to get a bit of distance under my feet before the next descent and climb.  The mist threatened to clear too and certainly above head height I could see blue skies and sunshine above.  Sadly everything below that level including the area below the cliff line was completely blanketed in cloud.  This made for a memorable walk although for all the wrong reasons!
Swirling Mist
The next descent was a lot more modest as I traversed the valley protected by a small heavily eroded pyramidal peak known as 'The Mountain'.  A slightly grandiose name considering its size but it certainly did look like a miniaturised mountain in appearance.  It certainly looked a bit ghostly in appearance as it loomed out of the mist.  As I crossed the top of the valley I passed by a number of young people all heading down to the beach with their dog.  I don't know why but I suddenly thought of the Famous Five as they did so - something to do with the misty atmosphere I guess...
After that the walk was generally only punctuated by passing equally frustrated walkers all feeling stymied by the weather.  It wasn't bad in the context of walking - in fact the mist had a cooling effect that helped with the heat of the sunshine above.  It was just frustrating in that there was only pain from hereon - no gain in terms of seeing a fantastic view.  There was another fairly lengthy walk along the cliffs to the next valley but after this they came in fairly quick succession.  Between the third and fourth valleys I took a wrong turn when I inadvertently followed a set of walkers through the mist inland and away from the coast path. My mistake only became evident when I caught up with them and in conversation I realised they were going a different way from me!  I retraced my steps and soon found the way I was supposed to go - I'm not sure I would have made this mistake in better visibility and that was a lesson to me.
Rare Clarity
I largely checked my progress on counting valleys and was mightily relieved when the seventh came up.  Perhaps the lack of visibility helped in a way - it was pretty tiring with the constant ups and downs but I still felt pretty good when I got to Port Gaverne.  Here there were plenty of people still up for watersports and beach activities in spite of the gloom.  I rounded the beach and headed up to Port Isaac feeling frustrated and badly in need of an ice cream for all my hard work.  Luckily the village delivered on that front!
It is difficult to say how this section compares with others due to the weather conditions.  I would say that the modest distance is enough for a single day due to the constant climbing and descending in steep sided valleys.  It might be a section that one day I will re-do during more favourable conditions (there are a few other sections that I have earmarked to do the same).