As usual at this time of the year (late October) we managed to escape St Mawes for a long distance walk. This year we just had 4.5 days so we chose to walk the SWCP from Portloe (just a 8 miles from home) to Plymouth. Given the short daylight hours and the forecast of fog this was going to be quite a tough challenge.
Tuesday (Portloe to Mevagissey 12.5 miles):
Having dropped our luggage off in Mevagissey we drove to Portloe to start our walk. Visibility was about 50 to 100metres. The first 1.5 miles out of Portloe and along the coast are really tough (in my view some of the toughest you will find anywhere on the path).
Here is a picture of Amelia (notice the red face) wondering if the next 50 or so miles would be any easier!
The path then got a little easier for the last 1/4 mile stretch to West Portholland, which quickly turns into East Portholland. Here the old post office has become a small shop and Amelia was able to buy a bottle of water (we had left all 6 we had bought for the walk in the car!). The walk was fairly easy to Caerhays but as we climbed the hill out of Caerhays we manged to get a bit lost, (not the last time on this walk) I am putting it down to the fog! Anyway we scrambled through a wood and regained the path, only for it to drop down into Hemmick (a beach cove). I know this cove well from my cycling in Cornwall as the road in and out are two of the nastiest steep climbs I know, however the path out is significantly better than the road and in not too long we were sitting on the base of the cross that marks Dodman Point.
The views weren't great!
We walked on another mile or so and sat down and ate our lunch. After lunch thinking we were almost in Gorran Haven we set off at a great pace, however after 20 mins we realised we had been somewhat optimistic concerning our speed and we slowed and took some time longer to get to Gorran Haven. The path as always is quite steep out this village and we continued on puffing and blowing. The next place of interest was Chapel Point, a boathouse by a beach with what looks like a small private estate overlooking it.
On the way into Mevagissey we passed some very large properties, before arriving very tired at the Ship Inn for a well earned drink and a rest. We then checked into Trennicks, a very nice modern b&b just a short way up the hill, in the summer it has a swimming pool that guests can use. We ate at Salamander an excellent meal, the other option other than the pubs was the Sharksfin, which apparently is also very good and has the advantage of overlooking the very pretty harbour.
Wednesday (Mevagissey to Fowey 17.5 mile):
We had an excellent breakfast at Trennnicks (the best of our short trip) and refreshed we set off on what was a challenging day (this is usually 2 days walk on most peoples' itinerary). The early better visibility soon disappeared and in addition it rained. A tough first 1.5 miles out of Mevagissey were followed by an easier walk down to Pentewan Sands, the path runs along the road passed a caravan park. The hill out of Pentewan is tough and it seemed to take forever to get to Black Head, where in the thick fog we again got lost for a short while, knowing we had a long way to go this did not improve our moral! Eventually after a very tough 4 hours walking we arrived wet and exhausted in Charlestown.
We went straight into the very welcoming Harbourside restaurant. A rest and an excellent chilli con Carne helped to convince us that we could continue. The path onwards from Charlestown is a lot easier and we enjoyed the stroll past some impressive houses and then along the golf course. The next stretch through Par is dull, as you walk past huge abandoned china clay factories.
Par's redeeming factor is it's lovely beach which we eventually arrived at the appearance of the sun and a view was also very welcome.
We then proceeded along the coast to Polkerris arriviving at about 16:45. With only 45 mins of daylight left and 5 miles still to go we retired to the pub (The Rashleigh Inn) and called a taxi - sometimes it is wise to know when you are beaten!
After a short taxi ride we checked into the Safe Harbour pub in Fowey and ate an excellent meal at Sam's Restaurant.
Thursday (Fowey to Looe 12.5 miles):
We bought some sandwiches for lunch at an excellent bakery (Fowey has some wonderful shops) before catching the Polruan ferry from the town's main quay.
A lovely way to start the day and this was followed by a walk through the very picturesque village of Polruan. The fog also seemed to have lifted so spirits were high. The walk to Polperro is spectacular and certainly the first two thirds is far easier than we expected. However there are several tough ascents in the last few miles before Polperro.
This picture I hope gives some idea of the downs and ups one encounters on the path.
We arrived in Polperro after about 3 hours walking and eager not to get caught out again we snatched a quick drink and continued on our way. The final 4.5 miles to Looe were harder than expected as a couple of path diversions have added some additional hills, so what has been described as easy walking (stretches of it are) has become a bit more "medium". Anyway we walked through Hannafore and arrived in Looe and sat outside a nice corner cafe and had an excellent latte. Our conclusion was that the day's walk from Fowey to Polperro had been one of our favourite stretches on whole coastal path, and given better visibility would have been even better.
That evening we stayed at Little Harbour b&b in West Looe (good room comfortable bed - breakfast the next morning only average) and ate at Papa Ninos a very popular Italian restaurant in East Looe (has to be booked in advance), our opinion was that it was good but not excellent.
Friday (Looe to Kingsand 17.5 miles):
We were a little nervous of this day as we hadn't completed our previous 17.5 mile day, however the bright sunshine and the promise of a good lunch stop in Portwrinkle meant we set off early with a spring in our step. The walk to Seaton where we stopped for our mid morning coffee, was far tougher than we anticipated, a lot of big climbs including a particularly tough one out of the semi abandoned chalet village of Millendreath (now seeming renamed Black Rock by some optimistic developers). Anyway Seaton Beach Cafe is a nice spot but the coffee was expensive and not good. We then cracked on through Downderry, a pleasant walk down its main street. This is followed by another tough ascent which was rewarded by some lovely cliff top walking and a pleasant pine wood on the descent into Portwrinkle.
We ate a decent lunch at The Gook cafe overlooking the beach and watched a couple of surfers putting on a good show. We still had 10.5 miles to go and they were described as tough so off we set again, however baring the climb out of Portwrinkle we thoroughly enjoyed a lovely easy walk first along a golf course and then through the grounds of Tregantle, a Napoleonic Fort built in the 1880 for a barely believable £136,000 to protect Plymouth from the French.
The grounds of the fort are now used as firing ranges (not very often from what I can gather) and a red flag warns walkers when this is happening and an alternative route on the road must then be taken.
Anyway Rame Head which had at the start of the day seemed an impossibly long way away now loomed ever closer, so we pressed on past lots of holiday chalets and arrived at Rame Head at about 16:00.
Our day was not quite over as there was another 3 miles of very gentle pleasant walking before we arrived happy and tired in Kingsand about 17:00. We were staying at a lovely b&b called Cliff House and after a shower and a rest we had our best meal of the trip at The Rising Sun Pub, served by barmaids in fancy dress for Halloween.
Saturday (Kingsand to Plymouth 3.5 miles):
Another lovely sunny day and a gentle 3.5 mile walk through Mount Edgcumbe Coutry Park to the Cremyll ferry.
Then a taxi to Plymouth Station, a train to St Austell and another taxi back to our car in Portloe.