Distance: 9.2 miles
Time it took us: 6hrs
16 miles from Gwelmor holiday cottage
I never thought I’d be so excited for a 9.2-mile walk that a guide-book brands ‘severe’, but after the year we’ve all had nothing could have been better as we finally resumed our mission to walk The South West Coast Path.
After the unfriendliest of welcomes at Tintagel – think a curt reply from the Spar shop assistant after Bill bought some goodies and asked politely for pound coins for parking, whilst I was refused entry to The King Arthur’s Arms pub despite offering to pay to use the ladies as the paid-for public toilets weren’t working (won’t be spending a penny of either variety in that pub again) but, despite all that, we were back. Out in the open air, rejoining The Path. It felt good.
A climb up and out of the village we rounded Tintagel church and left Castle and the bridge behind us. It was a relatively easy first 2.5 miles and the views were sensational. Walking in the aftermath of Storm Alex, luscious waves lapped the shoreline creating a white edging along the headland for miles into the distance.
And then it began. The first descent down to Trebarwith Strands – where thankfully there were public loos that I WAS allowed to use – before it was back out again and a steep climb out of the Trebarwith valley with fabulous jagged views down to the beach below behind us. Heart-a-pumping and calories-a-burning, I could see the top at last. But the relief was short lived as it pretty much immediately dropped away but along zig-zagged paths backdown again into Backways Cove and back up and out the other side.
As well as the fabulous views out to sea, the bracken running alongside The Path has turned a gorgeous autumnal colour decorating the cliff edges.
A level stretch followed for about a mile before back down again to Tregardock Beach. Another flat(ish) stretch before the biggest of them all, the descent into Jacket’s Point which looked like a big slash in the cliff face. The Path ahead was clearly in view and seemed to run precariously along the edge of the big drop!
Again, it wasn’t as bad as it initially looked and up the top with just three miles to go to Port Isaac, yet another drop down at Dinnabroad and onwards to Delabole Point.
Up another climb and what appears to be a red warning sign comes into in the distance at Barrett’s Zawn. The guide book states ‘an area of massive rock falls’. Great!
Edging closer, we find the sign has taken a bit of a bit of a weather beating leaving it hard to read. We make out ‘Danger Cliff liable to….’ Collapse? Engulf you? Leave you bricking it? Shuffling past with one eye closed and my walking poles in their ‘don’t let me fall’ pose, we make it through to the other side. Another red sign warns walkers heading in the opposite direction which is slightly more legible. Ahhh, I see, liable to ‘subsidence’.
Thank goodness we’ve past it already. Actually, it wasn’t as bad as I thought - I can say that bravely now I’ve done it!
The next descent (as we try to remember how many there actually are on this leg) sees an extremely steep knee-trembling descent littered with slate stones which don’t really help with keeping us upright.
Thankfully, after the steep climb on the other side, flat grassy meadows are a welcome sight before another smaller valley before rounding the headland to Port Gaverne. It’s with just one mile left to go before Port Isaac that I realise I’ve left my car keys in Bill’s car. This has completely destroyed our careful plan in the morning of leaving my car at the finish point so we can drive back to collect Bill’s at the start. Doh!
At Port Gaverne we call it a day and get a pint at the Port Gaverne Hotel. And, with a much warmer welcome than earlier in the day as the landlady kindly calls us a taxi to take us back to Bill’s car. So, we book dinner to eat there for tomorrow night. Money we won’t be spending in Tintagel.