Inside St Anthony's Church; Portscatho Beach
Saturday, 17 October 2015
Walk 144 Portloe to Falmouth
(Second leg of English coastal walk – Broadstairs to Lands End
Map: L/R 204
Distance: about 13 miles or 22 km
Difficulty: Some steep climbs between Portloe and Porstcatho, fairly easy after that.
Terrain: coastal cliff paths
Access: Parking at both ends.
Public transport: 51 bus serves Portloe from Truro. Rail and bus links to surrounding areas from Falmouth.
THIS WALK CAN ONLY BE UNDERTAKEN IN THE SUMMER AS A FERRY IS REQUIRED TO CROSS FROM ST ANTHONY TO ST MAWES AND THIS RUNS ONLY DURING THE SUMMER MONTHS. A SEPARATE FERRY IS THEN NEEDED TO GO FROM ST MAWES TO FALMOUTH.
Also allow for a fairly early start to ensure the walk can be completed without getting stranded.
Follow the path out of Portloe and around Jacka Point. Along this stretch and out at sea to the south is Gull Rock. This is a popular nesting place for kittiwakes and guillemots and was used as a location in the 1950's film version of Treasure Island.
Continue along to Nare Head which is owned by The National Trust and back inland towards Carne Beach. About a mile inland from here is Carne Beacon one of the largest burial mounds in Britain. According to legend, the saintly King Geriant, King of Cornwall, is buried here with his golden ship (6th century AD).
The walk from Nare Head to St Mawes is around the Roseland Peninsula. There are places to stop and eat/drink on Pendower/Carne beach which seemed to be popular with families when I went.
A few miles further along is Portscatho, an attractive fishing village. It's east facing cove gives shelter from the south westerly winds so it was an ideal base for the 18th/19th century pilchard fleets. Fishing still takes place but on a smaller scale. The village is moreless joined with the village of Gerrans which is a little bit inland.
On the way out of Portscatho there are two things to look out for. Firstly, The Wreck Post which was erected by the Coastguard. The post simulated a ship's mast in training exercises, A rocket with a line was fired at the post and tied to the post's top. A breeches buoy (a pair of breeches which a person sits in and is hauled up along the rope) was attached to the line to practice the rescue of shipwreck victims. Secondly, a memorial near to a seat which overlooks the bay is dedicated to the 26,380 forces men killed in the Burma War of World War 2. This is evidently a unique memorial but I am unable to discover why it was placed here.
Continue the walk westwards to Towan Beach then Porthmellin Head. I noted how blue the water looked along here.
The most southerly point of the Roseland Peninsula is at Zone Point on St Anthony's Head. The lighthouse here is very nearly at sea level. It was built in 1834 and is now automatic. Prior to the lighthouse being built ships were guided by a coal fired beacon. If you watch children's TV you may recognise it as the one used in Fraggle Rock.
For centuries there have been artillery batteries on St Anthony's headland as part of the protection for Falmouth Harbour. The National Trust now owns the buildings you can see here and there are plenty of information boards about its history.
The path winds around to St Anthony's and Place Manor. Do not miss the church, a grade 2 listed building, which is usually open to look inside. Although much was restored in Victorian times, it retains some medieval parts including a coffin which can be seen outside.
From St Anthony's you get the ferry over to St Mawes. It is seasonal, but when I went the boat had broken down. Fortunately, a man with a motorised inflatable dinghy took us over. A bit scary for a non-swimmer like me but better than the massive walking detour to Falmouth which is the alternative.
It is worth spending a short while on St Mawes before completing the ferry journey to Falmouth. Once a fishing village, it has become an exclusive town attracting many retired people. The Clover Leaf Castle further along the coast near St Mawes was built in 1542 to protect Falmouth from pirates and possible invaders.
Catch the ferry to Falmouth.
Inside St Anthony's Church; Portscatho Beach
Thursday, 1 October 2015
Walk 143 Gorran Haven to Portloe (Cornwall)
(Second leg of English coastal walk – Broadstairs to Lands End)
Map: L/R 204
Distance: 11 miles or 18 km approx
Difficulty: demanding in parts
Terrain: coastal and cliff path
Access: Parking at both ends
Public transport: Buses every half hour (no 24) from St Austell to Gorran. 51 bus serves Portloe every couple of hours and goes to Truro. These services seem to change and on one occasion did not turn up causing me to get an expensive taxi. Double check with Traveline before going and take taxi numbers as the mobile signal is dodgy.
Continue the walk out of Gorran Haven westwards to Bow or Vault Beach and on to Dodman Point, also known as The Dodman. The name may derive from a Cornish term for bank or dyke especially as there is evidence of Iron Age ramparts. However, a local man I met up here assured me it meant 'dead man' because of the number of lives lost in shipwrecks. The Spanish Armada are said to have had a council of war when anchored near here in 1588 and formed battle lines to attack Drake's fleet. More recently, in 1966, a pleasure cruiser sank off the coast with the loss of 31 lives. At the end of the point there is an impressive stone cross overlooking the sea. It was erected in 1896 by a Rev. G. Martin as a navigational aid and a spiritual reminder.
The walk back along the point provides some attractive views including that of Hemmick Beach – deserted when I visited.
A couple of miles further along is Porthluney Cove with the Grade 1 listed Caerhays Castle and gardens. The background of wooded land is unusual for this part of the coast. The castle was designed in 1808 by John Nash (Buckingham Palace and Brighton Pavilion). It is built on the site of a 13th century manor house and designed to appear like a Norman castle. The cost of the construction and landscaping ruined the owners and the fact that Nash used papier mache in the roof didn't help. A descendant of the original owners had his money so soaked up in maintaining the building that he shot the eyes out of the paintings of his ancestors hanging on the walls! If you have time to visit, and it is Spring, the gardens here have the largest national collection of magnolias.
Soon after Porthluney are signs stating that Portloe is 2 miles away – it felt much more than that. I asked a local if there was such a thing as a Cornish mile – 'course there is' was the reply – mmmm, I did not trust the twinkling eye and half grin.
Photos: Porthluney Cove with Caerhays Castle; Portloe.
The walk finishes at Portloe which is surrounded by spectacular scenery. Two fishing boats work out of here catching crab and lobster. The BBC 1 series 'Wild West' starring Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders as a gay couple running the village shop was filmed here and shown between 2002-2004. I don't recall it being repeated but quite enjoyed it at the time. If you fancy a drink to finish your walk go up the hill to The Ship Inn, known locally as The Drinking Kitchen.