Another ferry from Plymouth across the Tamar, this time on the Torpoint Ferry sitting on the top level of a double-decker. Woohoo! Once on the other side, we wait 5 minutes for a bus to Portwrinkle; we'll walk back to Rame Head from the other direction, then take the Cawsand Ferry back to Plymouth. It's true that we sometimes spend one to two hours a day just getting back and forth to the path. (First world problem.) The path goes up from Portwrinkle to a golf course. According to a sign, walkers have right of way.
I love that the historical fishing villages of Cawsand and Kingsand were once the haunt of smugglers. In the 1700s and early 1800s the villages were the center of smuggling in the West country. A fleet of 50+ smuggling vessels landed thousands of casks of spirits here every year. Stickin' it to the man, I guess.
We had no idea what to expect on this walk because it was a last minute "where do we go now?" choice. So no prior planning at all except figuring out the bus schedule, which is pretty important if you want to get back home easily. The train trip here was long and tiring and crowded. But we had a fascinating talk with a chap next to us, who could not fathom how shootings are (sadly) almost "normal" in the US. Not only are guns illegal in the UK, but you have to be 18 to own a certain kind of knife. Probably butter knives are OK.
The walk starts with the Cremyll ferry and an eight-minute cruise across the River Tamar over to the Rame Peninsula. A sign on the Rame side welcomes us to Cornwall and we're a bit confused; we've been in Cornwall most of this trip. But Plymouth, on one side of the River Tamar, is Devon, and the Rame Peninsula is in Cornwall. The South West Coast Path leads across on the ferry and then skirts the grounds of Mount Edgcumbe, a 16th-century manor and garden.
This is the last hike we need to do to complete a huge section of the South West Coast Path. It's a rockier area, with lots of old mining buildings from the days when copper and tin ruled.
We have reservations at The Badger in Lelant today for the Sunday Carvery so we hit the path early to knock off this tiny stretch. We were too tired to finish this path a few years back, and opted to relax on the beach with a few drinks instead.
It's a two-bus trip to get to St Agnes from Camborne, which means you have to be pretty committed to going there. As we wanted to start our day's walk from here, we were committed. But we never expected to fall in love with the village! Tucked into a corner of Cornwall few people visit (we'd never heard of St Agnes before) it was like stumbling upon hidden treasure.
Susanne had to go back home to Christchurch Friday morning so Bob and I took a day off and went to Fowey. It wasn't as spectacular the third time around, which does tend to happen. We ended up having a cream tea, our first this trip, buying some of our favorite soap from a favorite little shop in Fowey, then heading back to the cottage. But first, we stopped for victuals of the savory and sweet pastry sort.
We set off at 8:30 this morning, heading west to fill in this last section on this part of the south coast. We walk from our cottage in Treviskey down to the harbor to hook up with the South West Coast Path.
After the walk here we swam in the bay (colder than yesterday by two degrees and you could FEEL those two degrees), bought pasties, cider, and beer, and then walked around taking pics of the village.
This section of the South West Coast Path was much tougher than we expected, although it could easily be that we read the guidebook wrong. If we had more energy we could look at the books again and know for sure, but none of us has any extra. Suffice to say we are knackered. 12 miles total, lots and lots of ups and downs. Absolutely gorgeous weather! Hot for May in England.
Portloe comes from the Cornish Porth Logh, meaning “cove pool”. At the beginning of the twentieth century there were more than fifty boats working here, but now only three remain. As along the much of the coast on this side of the country, smuggling played an important role in the village. French brandy was the main contraband, brought ashore by fishermen and hidden in cellars and other sneaky places. The steep-sided valley helped Portloe escape modern development, leaving most buildings little different from when they were built.
Walking Portloe to Gorran Haven Bob sets his phone on a ridiculously dangerous ledge just to snap a photo but clicks video rather than photo; Susanne freaks out thinking his phone is going to topple any second; Chris agrees with Susanne, laughs anyway. Good fun had by all.
After our walk from St Agnes to Holywell, we took a bus back to Newquay. Bob went to the B&B to get our bags while I went to Aldi to get food for our stay in Portloe for the next few days. Then a bus from Newquay to St Austell, and a second bus (a large van, really) to Little Barn Cottage in Portloe, where Susanne was waiting.
This morning we took a taxi to St Agnes, a tiny hamlet along the coast, as there were no buses. This 8-mile walk wiped us out.
This morning we took a bus to Porthcothan, same place we started yesterday, and walked the opposite direction, toward Padstow. It was a glorious day. Windy as all get-out, with a serious chill in the air, but sun from start to finish!
We took the train from Plymouth to Newquay this morning, then dropped our bags at our B&B and took a bus to Porthcothan to walk to Mawgan Porth. The weather was overcast but sharp and crisp and perfect for walking.
Until we arrived at Paddington Station, we weren't sure where we were heading today. Turns out there still wasn't a train to Newquay but there was one to Plymouth. So we're spending the night in Plymouth and then taking a train to Newquay in the morning.
The railways in England are striking this weekend. This means that many routes will be disrupted, though there’s no easy way to know exactly which ones and what kind of disruption. Will our train be running? Will it be delayed? Will it be full? Will it decide at the last minute to take an extended coffee break? The bottom line is we’re not sure where we’ll be sleeping Saturday night. I’ve scoured the rail sites and come up with a list of possibilities.
Now that I'm a British citizen, I feel I can actually have, and voice, my opinion on rail strikes, or any strikes in the UK for that matter. The striking union is ASLEF, Britain's trade union for 21,000+ train drivers. I'm on the union side. According to Mick Whelan, Aslef's general secretary, drivers have not received a pay increase since 2019. Whelan states, 'Our executive committee met this morning and rejected a risible proposal we received from the Rail Delivery Group (RDG). The proposal, of just 4%, was clearly not designed to be accepted as inflation is still running north of 10%...The RDG, in turn, rejected our proposals to modernise Britain's railways and help them run more efficiently, for passengers and for businesses, in the 21st century."
So, we'll see. They were striking last fall when we in in England, and I'm hoping it gets resolved soon. By this Saturday would be nice.
Our British hiking friend Susanne (we met on our very first SWCP walk) always dives fearlessly into the coldest of waters along the trail. We braved it once and it was heart-pounding ("bracing" the British would call it), yet also unbelievably refreshing. So this year we're planning to hit the water a few times. "Planning". Maybe. We'll see.
We have this uncanny habit of leaving bits and pieces of the South West Coast Path unfinished, moving on to new areas as if blown by the wind, as if we have no master plan, as if we don't know that going back to missed areas takes a lot of extra time. In our defense, we had good reasons for every section we blew off: too tired in Sennen Cove, too late in the day in Pendeen, too hungry in Mawgan Porth. But now: The Reckoning. We've booked in three different towns to connect those missed paths. We'll see how it goes.
You don't need much to walk the coastal path. We wash the important stuff at night, drape it over the radiators, and by morning it's warm and dry. I’m thinking we’re at pretty impressive "bare minimum".