The last time I walked on the south west coast path was when I was about 10 years old, descending Deckler’s Cliff to get down to the beach at Pig’s Nose at Gara Rock in South Devon. Every time I visit Cornwall or Devon I think about walking a chunk of it, so this year during an Easter visit to Newquay I decided to act on my whim and actually do a bit.
The day started dull and cloudy with the possibility of later warmth as I was dropped off in the middle of Newquay. I’d decided that although I only planned to walk 5 or 6 miles some extra fortification was required before I embarked. But instead of nipping in the pub for a swifty I headed to Jamies Pasty emporium for a traditional cornish, which I ate perched on a bench overlooking Hedge Cove. Boy, was it good! Tasty melt in the mouth pastry giving way to big chunks of steak, all surrounded by tasty slivers of vegetable and just enough gravy to retain moistness, but without dripping all over your clothes. Suitably replete I headed off down the path by the sea wall where I passed the Huer’s Hut, home of Newquay’s official pilchard alerter in the 14th century and prior to that a beacon lighting hermit’s hangout.
As I continued along I noticed what appeared to be white bluebells growing between path and sea, however after subsequent research on google (and the wisdom of the mother in law) they could have been wild garlic, but beautiful nonetheless. I was just getting used to the lovely views and beginning to strike up a bit of a pace when I was diverted inland by the harbour, and after this I lost the path completely for a while and it all started to go a bit pear shaped.
I think my issues arose because I thought the path would be a bit better signposted than it was (the signage was diabolical) and yes, I did take a map with me. However this was an OS explorer map and therefore lacking in street names. I eventually got back on the straight and narrow by using the crap map app on my phone, which had decided to work for a change. I picked up the path in the middle of town, quite a way in from the coast which did confuse me somewhat at the time.
A quick turn past the rear of the railway station and Tolcarne Beach on the seawards side, and the coast path started to look like one again as I cut across the area called the Barrowfields. Now it seems to be used mainly by dogwalkers, but around 1500 BC bronze age tribal chieftans were buried there, overlooking the sea.
I rounded the corner of Barrowfields to the sight of the familiar golden sands of Porth beach, which I decided to cut across as the tide was out. Once the other side I headed out towards Trevelgue Head, which was once home to Iron Age settlers.
As I looked over Whipsiderry I was reminded why I love this part of Cornwall, even on a dull day the colours are stunning. The impossibly turquoise sea contrasting with the slate grey skies and the lush spring green of the clifftop vegetation. Even the scents were lovely today, the fresh sea smell carried on the breeze, along with the perfume of the sea pinks and gorse just coming into bloom on the clifftop.
When I caught sight of Zacry’s Islands round the next twist in the path I knew I’d arrived at one of my favourite beaches, Watergate Bay. Although I’ve spent many happy hours pottering around on the beach itself, exploring all the rockpools and seacaves from up on the cliff you do get an entirely different view and perspective.
Halfway down Watergate beach is a hotel, surf shop and a branch of Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen. However I wasn’t visiting today after my impromptu brunch at the pasty shop. Something to look forward to on a future visit perhaps, for my walk for the day was over.