Monday, 1 October 2012

Coastwalk , South West Coast Path

St Ives → Pendeen

river-cove-bridge.png Distance: 14.5 miles
Ascent: 1067 metres
Duration: 6 hours 50 minutes

A thousand miles together
« Lelant Saltings | Land's End »

st-ives.pngThe South West Coast Path Association grade this section as 'severe', their most serious rating, so we started the day with a degree of trepidation about what this would look like on the ground.

Walking through St Ives itself is pleasant, passing the Tate and a variety of artists' studios. Once past the headland though, the main characteristics of this stretch of the path soon make themselves obvious: bog, boulders and narrow, stony paths.

It's hard. Even allowing for the fact that the overnight heavy rain (and frankly, the whole of the wet summer) had contributed to the water logging, the path is distinctly sodden in many areas, with paving slabs, strategically-placed rocks and even old bits of wood serving as stepping stones through the worst bits. Finding that the path had become a shallow stream, complete with fragrant water mint, was not uncommon. And then the boulders: this is proper scrambling territory in places and even where the stones are much smaller, they're made slippery with a thin covering of mud. Only after the path rounded Zennor Cove — legendary haunt of the famous mermaid — did things generally improve.

If our calculations tonight are correct, then we celebrated another milestone at Zennor - the thousandth mile of coastwalking that Emma and I have done together. That's a lot of rocky headlands and sandy beaches. It's curious to look back and think about the early days of this walk when I was doing it by myself; this has very much turned into a joint endeavour now!

portheras-cove.pngToday's is a stunning stretch of coast to explore. It's wild, relatively remote (Zennor, which is roughly halfway through the walk, is one of the few places where the path comes close enough to the road to cut things short) and covers an area with several spectacular rocky coves. The small cove just north of Pendeen Watch, whilst not as dramatic as some of the others, is beautiful and sheltered.


The good thing about finishing at Pendeen Lighthouse is that we got a glimpse of it early in the day, so it acted as a motivational marker for almost the entire walk. And since we're staying at a cottage in Pendeen village this week we knew that it also marked the location of a warm bath rather than an isolated bus stop or an awkward rendezvous with a taxi.

Posted by pab at 18:37 | Comments will be back one day. Please email me instead!