Walk #350: St Ives to Portreath
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 the hard walk of yesterday I was very much looking forward to an easier walk today, and thankfully that was exactly what I got. I had no hard or difficult sections of path to traverse today, and this made for a very enjoyable little ramble over which I took my time. The first part of the walk from St Ives to Hayle was fairly boring and not massively nice, as it involved a great deal of road walking around Lelant and Hayle. The early part around Carbis Bay did have some nice views northwards over the Porth Kidney Sands however, although I did not think that these were worth the ascents needed to get up the cliffs.
The second part of the walk northwards from Hayle was much better, however. For one thing it included my first significantly long walk along a beach or seemingly ages - this being the stretch of beach from Hayle to Gwithian. This beach was mostly very firm to walk on, and as the tide was far enough out I chose to walk along the beach rather than the dunes behind the beach, which would have involved much ascent and descent over sand that was at times loose. The dunes themselves are very impressive, and I enjoyed exploring them at their southern end before I dropped down onto the beach. As I got to the northern end of the beach the cliffs to my right started to be consisted of rock and not sand. This soon made me realise that the last way up them was a far way back, so when I came across a big and impassable pool of water between two rocky areas under the cliffs (the cliffs becoming far more ragged at the northern end of the beach) I decided to scale them. I quickly found a place where this would be relatively easy and made my way up to the top of the cliffs, emerging right next to a lifeguard hut. On the other side of the hut there was an access ramp down to the beach - if I had only walked through the pool I would have been able to get up to the cliff top using this, which would have been far safer but would have involved getting my boots wet wading through the pool.
In Gwithian I met Sam for a quick drink in a pub that was only a short distance from the path. The pub was quite nice, and was very unusual in the fact that the roof beams had many - probably in the order of hundreds - of mugs hanging from them. Apparently the previous landlord started this collection, and the current owners had reordered and extended it. We had a very nice chat to the landlady about some of the local characters in the area whist we had a drink. It is nice now that there are enough hours of daylight to allow me to take a short time off at lunchtime and relax and still do a reasonably long walk, and fortunately this situation will only get better as spring starts.
The last part of the walk was along cliff top paths northwards from Gwithian. The initial steady and unchallenging climb took me up to Godrevy Point, with the lighthouse next to it on Godrevy Island. This lighthouse was the inspiration for Virginia Woolf's 'To the lighthouse', and it made for quite a spectacular setting - I was able to see the lighthouse for a long time before I reached St Ives yesterday. The rest of the walk along the top of the cliffs was very straight forward, and except for a couple of little valleys was flat. The path was in quite a god condition to walk along, and this was probably due to the fact that the B3301 road runs close by for a long way, and there are lots of little car parks and paths linking them with the coastal path.
Tomorrow I have what promises to be a very nice walk ahaead of me if the weather is nice. Perranporth is only about twelve or thirteen miles away, so I may well extend the walk by walking northwards as far as Holywell along the Perran Beach. This means that I shall be in a very good place to pass through Newquay the day after, and reach Padstow soon after that.
This makes a total distance of 17.7 miles, with 2619 feet of ascent and 2579 feet of descent.
We stayed at the campsite attached to the Radnor Golf and Ski Centre, Radnor Road, Redruth TR16 5EL. They can be contacted on (01209) 211059. This site cost us seven pounds for the night and included the best showers that we have had for some time - fully adjustable in both posture and temperature. All pitches were hard standing as well, which makes a big difference.
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And finally, enjoy your walking!
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