Walk #344: Mawgan to Coverack
Map of the walk
Maps courtesy of Google Maps. Route for indicative purposes only, and may have been plotted after the walk. Please let me have comments on what you think of this new format. For a detailed table of timings for this walk, please see the table file.
After a day off, it was really nice to be back on the trail once more. What was even nicer was the fact that I have now finished the last of the many estuaries on the south coasts of Devon and Cornwall, and from now on the walk becomes simpler for a long time, with only one major estuary to be walked around on the north coasts of the two counties.
The section of walk from Mawgan to Helford took me much longer than I was expecting, and in particular the section along the permissive path around Frenchmen's Creek seemed to take me an inordinately long time. I am unsure why this was, as the path was not particularly bad and was fairly distinct on the ground, so I must just have walked slowly over this section.
By the time that I got to Gillan Creek the tide was quite far out, and so I was hopeful of being able to ford the creek and save myself a walk of a little over a mile around the estuary. However when I got to the fording point some of the stepping-stones were still submerged b the water flowing out to sea, and the others were slippy. I therefore decided to just plough through the water downstream of the stones. My feet did not really get wet in doing this, but immediately after this I had another stretch to cross that was slightly deeper, and whilst doing this both my feet got slightly damp despite my gaiters, which was a shame but hardly catastrophic.
The path from Lowland Point to Coverack was exceedingly muddy and boggy in places, and this made progress difficult at times. Some parts of the path were totally flooded, and I had little option but to squelch through the thick mud and just hope that my feet did not get wet. The whole area is a raised cliff system, so the area I was walking on was once the foreshore at a time when sea levels were higher, so I guess that the ground can get saturated very easily as it is so level.
Yesterday I chose to take the day off, which was not a decision that came easily. We had to get up to St Ives to meet Tom Isaacs and various other people at two in the afternoon, and I could not see the point of doing a very short walk as far as Helford in the morning before the drive up to the north coast. Instead I did some more work on the computer and got some more walks up to date and completed. We then drove into Helston to pick up a load of post that Dad had sent to us by poste restante before driving up to St Ives.
Sam and I had a quick drink in the Tate Gallery in St Ives (unfortunately the gallery was shut for rehanging) to while away the hour before everyone was due to come. We then went outside to see para surfers do their stuff on the beach outside before the first people turned up. Eventually there was quite a huddle of people outside the Tate, and then when Tom and the local M.P., Andrew George, turned up the work could begin. Also there were some people from a couple of the local RDA groups, and we should be going along to see one of them near St Ives on Wednesday if I can fit it in with the walk.
It was really nice meeting Tom, who has now completed just over 3,500 miles of his walk and has a little under 1.000 to go. It is amazing to think that I still have to do the total distance that he has done so far - I feel it slightly overwhelming, if the truth be known! He seems a really nice chap, and we should be meeting up in the next few days so that we can have a longer chat. I am particularly interested in the route that he took in various places, as he could be able to give me some useful tips on routes and other things. As much as anything else it is lovely to talk to someone else who knows what it is like to be out each day on a trip like this, who knows the strange feelings you get when walking in all weathers.
After an hour everything had been done, and Sam and I went to a local pub for a quick drink before driving back to Helston for the night. Whilst we were in the pub someone came in and said that the space shuttle Columbia had exploded on re-entry. I did not place too much credence on this, as ugly rumours often start in pubs, but when we got back to the van and I could put the radio on the awful truth emerged. This put me in a very depressed mood all evening, as the awful truth and pictures started coming in from Texas and the pictures of the break-up of the shuttle was shown. It was a terrible, terrible event, and one that is not just a tragedy for the families and friends of seven people, but for several nations and an entire industry.
On a lighter note, tomorrow I will finally reach the Lizard, which will be my second cardinal point. I reached the easternmost point of the mainland, The Ness in Lowestoft, in November, and I am now going to be reaching the southern point. I have a long way to go until I reach the next cardinal point at Ardamurchan in western Scotland, which is probably four or five months away.
The directions for the first part of this walk along the southern bank of the Helford River from Mawgan to Helford are detailed in the South West Coast Path Association guidebook, so I will not replicate the directions here.
This makes a total distance of 16.5 miles, with 3474 feet of ascent and 3550 feet of descent.
Sam had parked the van in the car park beside the pub and harbour in Coverack, which is right beside the South West Coast Path (indeed there is a way marker right outside one of the windows). This means that I will be able to set off in the morning without Sam having to drive the van anywhere, which is always a bonus. However I hope that it is not too windy during the night, as the van is in quite an exposed location.
A few photographs from yesterday...
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And finally, enjoy your walking!
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