Welcome to LEJoG Day 6
Day 6 pre-amble
Making Like Henry VIII…
Cutting off two heads – bloodlessly, in order to shorten the walk from Newquay to Padstow – that is. None of the marrying, divorcing, splitting from Rome, dissolution of monasteries, ruling the kingdom or indeed ordering the actual execution of two of your wives bit.
My first was Trevose Head. Poor Trev. A bit of a shame, as you can apparently see almost the entire length of the north Cornwall coast from there. The cut off headland due north of Padstow is called Stepper Point. Anyone who can tell me what I missed by “making like Henry VIII”, please let me know in the comments.
LEJoG Day 6 (Saturday 23 September 2017)
Newquay to Padstow (17½ miles)
Cumulative: 83½ miles
Facts: Time on walk: 6 hours. Average speed: 2.92 mph. Weather: Warm, with some cloud and almost constant light breeze.
Practicalities: Another Friday afternoon and evening drive to Newquay. This time I was slightly earlier. However, fearing the snarl-ups around Bristol, I came off at the A417 junction and headed south and west via Cirencester, Chippenham, the A350 and A303, rejoining the M5 at Taunton Deane services. It went well apart from the horrendous jams in Chippenham. In spite of those I was still 1½ hours ahead of June.
Accommodation: Two nights at Bedlam House, Newquay – committed myself to driving home Sunday as I had no more days off work. Another great guest house with an excellent breakfast: an ideal alternative to St. Bernards. Parking preferable: room on the grounds all weekend. Not far east of the rail station; pretty convenient for the start of the next leg on Saturday morning.
Start: St. Bernards, Newquay, 10:40am. End: Main bus stop/station, Padstow, 5:15pm.
Strict as ever, I had to get back to June’s end point first. It’s about a 10-minute walk between my two guest houses. The SWCP follows the A3058, cutting off the corner with Lusty Glaze Road. From there it takes you around the streets and footpaths that overlook Lusty Glaze Beach and Porth Beach, rather than descending to sea level.
Thereafter you are able to bid Newquay a long, lingering goodbye as you follow the cliff tops over the two miles of Watergate Beach. To be honest this is idyllic walking. It’s quieter than the main beaches, there are no steep descents or ascents, you’re on paths rather than pavements all the way, and the views are gorgeous. A dry, breezy Saturday on the border of summer and autumn and it’s one of the best 30-45 minutes on the whole South West Coast Path section of LEJoG. Incidentally, in case you were wondering, the largest hotel in this part of Newquay has very wisely inserted ‘Bay’ into its name…
Looking back at Watergate Beach
Almost immediately after Watergate comes the more discreet Beacon Cove. Within a mile of that is the first proper descent of the day, to Mawgan Porth and another fair-sized sandy beach. Just beyond Mawgan Porth is Carnewas and Bedruthan Steps, the sort of coastal landmark which does make the walker wish he or she had more time to spare. The cliffs in the 4 miles between Mawgan Porth and Porthcothan are noticeably more spectacular than anything on the previous two days. And the walking is considerably less arduous than what you’ll encounter around similarly dramatic coastal cliffs (days 9 to 11).
After a fall and rise either side of Porthcothan Bay, you pass five named coves in quick succession. Here’s a section that might have been designed by Slartibartfast on his day off from the Norwegian fjords. I stopped for a 20-minute lunch at the second one, Fox Cove. It’s quite possible that the imminent Pepper Cove and Wine Cove made me hungry and thirsty. Then it’s Treyarnon Bay, where I had to obey a call of nature. The rarity of WCs outside the main holiday beaches is a matter on which I have not dwelt. Nevertheless it’s a consideration to bear in mind.
Soon after Treyarnon comes Constantine Bay, and a Very Important Moment, as the walk aims inland, cutting off Trevose Head. This route is taken directly from page 61 of Andy Robinson’s End to End book (see Pre-Amble for link). It saves at least 2½ miles by going directly to Trevone via Harlyn. Robinson uses strip maps to explain the diversion further. My photograph below shows Robinson’s maps for this shortcut and the subsequent one cutting off Stepper Point (which saves at least 3 miles).
Are these routes easy to follow, especially after five and a half days on a National Trail with nothing more complicated to think about than keeping the sea on your left and looking for acorn signs? Broadly speaking, yes they are. The only difficulty I had was right at the start. I turned off the path/beach near the coastguard hut and headed directly east over the dunes instead of ESE, not spotting the narrow path to the right of the golf course until I’d already made a futile attempt to find a path further north.
Everything else is really straightforward. I’d only advise you to watch the traffic at Harlyn Bridge and not to expect great things from the shortcuts. The potato field east of Trevone was a particular delight for me. If nothing else, these field crossings are a harbinger of what to expect from, say, Somerset and Staffordshire. But you soon learn that if there’s a properly tended path with no obstructions (as there was here) you should be grateful. Because sometimes the unspectacular combines with the downright unwelcoming and you’ll wish you were back on the coast climbing hundreds of steps. More on that story later…
And so, arriving in Padstow I made an ATM stop and concluded the stage at the bus terminus, near Rick Stein’s restaurants and the main car parks. Didn’t have too long to wait for a transport back to Newquay. I should point out that this journey takes an indirect route with a lot of stops, and you’ll be on the bus for around an hour and a half. Still massively preferable to a taxi, price-wise. You can of course decide to stay in Padstow: from memory I think I found it too expensive, thought the food would be the same, and I was still clinging to my childhood fondness for the earthier Newquay.
The evening, Newquay
On my last night in Newquay until further notice, I bought myself a quarter bottle of red wine from McColl’s and ate in a chip shop near the station. Literally, ‘The Chippy’. Classy. Sit down and think of the money you’re saving by not going to Rick Stein’s. Rest of the evening reading up on tomorrow’s stage while Strictly Come Dancing and Match of The Day were on telly.
Picture: To compensate for cutting it off, an aerial view of Trevose Head, courtesy of the National Trust website. None of my own pictures from Day 6 were sufficiently distinguishable from Day 5 to justify a header image.
And here’s a link to an aerial view of the other lost head, Stepper Point.
Next: Day 7 (24 September 2017)… in which a Camel takes me forward but cows cause a retreat.