Today’s walk had the most ascent of any of the days so far and there were a lot of those steps to negotiate, I think they are worse descending than ascending. After last year when I developed a hip bursa whilst doing long days on the coast I was more circumspect this time particularly downhill when I took things slowly. Of course the highlight of today was Bedruthan Steps themselves, pictured above. On the beach here are several sea stacks which may have been stepping stones for the giant Bedruthan or more likely the name is more recent from the staircase of steps accessing the beach. All that had me thinking of John Coltrane’s classic recording of Giant Steps which became my earworm for the day although a little too fast for my pace. Go on listen and brighten up your day…
I had found a way down through the streets to a little beach near the harbour in the centre of Newquay and then I had to find my way back up again, the start of todays steps. Trying to avoid the shopping centres I came across an old tram line taking me in the right direction. So I never saw the famed Fistral Beach. It didn’t take long to clear the suburbs of town, the intriguingly named Lusty Glaze cove was just a mass of commercial development but as I dropped into Porth the coast was again wild. There were a few early morning surfers out in the bay. Before a traverse of Trevelgue Head I sat chatting to a gentleman who backpacked with camping all the way from Minehead. He was beginning to think the b and b option might be more sensible.
The low clifftop fields I followed were the habitat of corncrakes apparently, no sound of them today as I presume they’ve flown. There were good views back to Trevelgue Head and Newquay and the beach below was interesting. I was walking parallel to the busy coastal road and I joined it when I dropped into Watergate Bay which seemed to be one large holiday complex, architecturally bleak. I stopped for an expensive coffee in a fairly nondescript cafe, another of those surfer establishments I’ve been critical of. I didn’t find escape out of the complex easy and ended up trespassing through a chalet park, it felt invigorating to be free again on the cliffs with a bracing easy stretch high above the beach. At one point dropping down steps to a cove I found a rocky platform just above the waves which gave an exciting snack stop. Waves crashing below and a distant horizon to contemplate the unknown.
Up more steps and before long and I was down again into Mawgan Porth another bay spoilt by modern apartment development. At least here was a quirky cafe, The Beach Box, with friendly staff where I grabbed a light lunch sat on their balcony watching the world go by. Why do surfers when donned in tight wet suits have to walk around like Tarzan? Time to get going.
Once across the beach I climbed back up to Trenance Point and enjoyed superb cliff walking in the best October weather you could hope for. The views along the coast were outstanding. Gradually I realised I was sharing the path with more and more people, I had reached the carpark area for the famed Bedruthan Steps. There is a steep staircase going down onto the beach and today at low tide little figures were strolling on the sand between the rocks. It looks a classic situation to be cut off by the incoming tide and my landlady this evening confirmed that the rescue services were called out frequently, in her opinion the unprepared should be left to sit it out on a safe ledge for a few hours. Whatever, the scene is breathtaking.
Moving on the crowds disappeared as I walked over the grassy Park Head. A chough, red legged and red billed, seemed completely unconcerned by my presence as it picked around for insects in the grass. Apparently they were becoming rarer in Cornwall due to loss of grazed habitat but are now making a comeback, the NT use ponies and cattle on their land for this purpose.
One more valley to drop into and steps to climb out of and I was walking alongside Porthcothan Bay. The little shop where I expected to buy food was already closed so I walked up to my B and B in the handful of houses that comprised the village. What a friendly place to stay, the lady was a professional photographer amongst other things and a wealth of Cornish knowledge. She and her husband were retiring and this was probably the last night for accommodation here which will leave a big gap for coastal walkers. She came to my rescue with a delicious Cornish pasty, thanks. I wandered out to try to get some ‘sunset over the sea’ pictures but was largely denied by a low bank of cloud. A lone surfer was returning from an evening session.
That seemed a longer day than the ‘Long Day’