Welcome to LEJoG Day 9
Day 9 pre-amble
This is a shorter day dominated by two serious cliff ascents, being Beeny Cliff and High Cliff. The latter is Cornwall’s biggest (highest) cliff, and so I christened it Richard. Well, can you think of a bigger Cliff? Of course you can’t. In fact, I struggle to think of a Cliff anywhere near as famous. This means poor old Beeny ends up being compared (in my mind) to more obscure figures and unknown quantities.
LEJoG Day 9 (Easter Monday 2 April 2018)
Boscastle to Crackington Haven (7 miles)
Cumulative: 116 miles
Facts: Time on walk: 3 hours 15 minutes. Average speed: 2.15 mph. Weather: Cool, overcast, windy, intermittent rain in first half. Muddy underfoot again, especially so near Rusey Beach and in Crackington Haven.
Practicalities: Half hour drive from Bude to Boscastle. Used the main car park. And most importantly: I wore my waterproof trousers. A little thing which would have made a massive difference yesterday, both to the walk and to my morale while waiting for the bus in Boscastle.
Start: Boscastle harbour bridge, 10:45am. End: Bus stop, Crackington Haven, 2:05pm.
Having reached yesterday’s end point near the bridge, there is an immediate climb out of Boscastle, towards Warren Point. Before reaching it however you turn more than 90 degrees right to head east along the cliffs. Only when you reach Boscastle Farm Shop do you start to head north/north-east as you may expect. This first cliff-top section was very muddy and I tried to plot a course a few yards to the left of the main path. Not entirely successfully: it is a classic six of one (mud), half a dozen of another (knee-high plants, peaty soil) scenario.
The first memorable landmark comes just after you start heading north for Beeny Cliff, at Pentargon Waterfall. After that comes an exposed walk, where the path runs close to the cliff edge in places and you gradually attain height on the way to Beeny Cliff. Quite seriously, you should be careful here in strong winds. The height of Beeny is well short of High Cliff, but nevertheless this is a satisfying climb. It’s long and made more challenging by the buffeting winds. It becomes significantly steeper as you round the headland, and there are some steps right at the end just to round it off. I stopped for 5 minutes at the top: just long enough to read Thomas Hardy’s poem if you fancy it.
Next is a field crossing with its own shallow fall and rise, on the way to Buckator. Here you will find more sheer cliffs and a small beach. Still gaining height as you leave Buckator behind, you eventually reach Rusey Cliff. I don’t remember this as well as the other two, even though the SWCP guide confirms that it is considerably higher than Beeny Cliff. This is because a) the gain in height from Buckator is less noticeable than the gain in height from the farm shop turn to Beeny and b) I remember the descent to Rusey Beach very well.
For Rusey Beach was the stickiest, muddiest, dirtiest half hour of the day. Not the most slippery – somehow I stayed on my feet throughout. Perhaps this was due to the magic properties of waterproof trousers, who knows. But Rusey Beach is definitely the main reason why Day 9 is my second slowest walk at time of writing. There was lots of moving away from the main path. Fitbit lost track of my frequent changes of direction to such an extent that its route map suggests I was walking in the Atlantic Ocean.
You don’t drop to sea level, which is just as well because next on the agenda is the climb to High Cliff itself. Most of this is on steps: a blessing after the descent from Rusey Cliff. The views from the summit are more atmospheric than spectacular. I had another five minutes on the seat; a couple arrived at the top just as I set off again.
Looking back at my notes, the walk can be split into three roughly equal sections of just over an hour: Boscastle to the top of Beeny Cliff; from there to the top of High Cliff; and from there to Crackington Haven. That final third is downhill all the way. Well, there are some undulations obviously, but no more serious climbing. Approaching Crackington Haven, the path makes its way through trees. The ground under this canopy had not recovered from the deluge of late March, so this section was muddier than anything since Rusey Cliff. Even so it was nothing compared to the last 200 yards to the edge of the beach, which was an unrelenting, unavoidable shin-deep bog.
So, not the best ending, but an early finish to a stage is always welcome. The clouds had begun to clear and there were quite a few families around the beach (wisely no-one in the water this early in April though). Once I’d removed my waterproof trousers in the convenience, there wasn’t a lot of time to explore Crackington Haven before my bus was due at 2:35. The bus stop is right at the edge of the beach and opposite a café: it’s an ideal point at which to finish a stage.
Also, the bus ride back to Boscastle is only 15 minutes, far and away the shortest ride of the week. As the Deck restaurant in Bude was closed for Easter, the local Cornish pasty turned out to be my main meal on both Sunday and Monday. Drove back to Bude at 3:45 (30 minutes).
Postscript: My Listening Pleasure
Old White Stripes albums today. In order of personal preference: White Blood Cells, De Stijl, Elephant, Get Behind Me Satan. I think it’s considered controversial to put Elephant anywhere other than top, but I never felt it had the depth of White Blood Cells, the first half of which has my favourite run of songs from any 2000s album. Still, might be harsh to put it third: I think I probably changed my mind on De Stijl this very week actually.
Picture (2 April 2018) shows the view from High Cliff.
Next: Day 10 (3 April 2018)… in which it’s not quite Bude sunbathing, but Mr Blue Sky comes back.