Thursday, 1 March 2012

Newquay to Perranporth

Newquay to Perranporth

Distance - 20.2Km
Time Taken - 5hrs ish
Assent - 360m ish

Day 3 and a very early start to the day.  The bridge at Penpol to cross the tidal Gannel can only be used 3-4 hours after (or before) low tide.  The low tide for this morning was just before 4am so we wanted to get to the bridge between 7 and 8am.  A guesstimate of the distances put the bridge at approx. 3 miles into the day, so we set off just after 6am (6.20 give or take).  The night before we had a early night in preparation....OK we went to the pub and watched England lose against Holland at football.

The Penpol crossing
The early start meant the streets through Newquay were pretty deserted, with only ourselves and a street cleaner daring to venture out.  Things were a little misty this morning and for the first time this trip I needed to wear a fleece.  The first mile is through the town centre, before a section along the sea front around to the Headland Hotel and Fistral beach.  A few hardy souls were in the waves, I can't imagine how cold it must be!

The path leads through the dunes before again beaks out onto normal roads.  Navigation could be an issue in this section as the path is through a passage at between houses.  It is easy to miss (we did last year...). 

The Gannel
We got to the footbridge at approx. 7.30 and to be fair could of left it a bit later, but better to be safe than sorry.  Whilst walking round the other side of the Gannel we actually saw a small tidal bore coming coming up the river which was pretty cool.  Apparently this is quite a rare phenomenon.

Crantock beach and the surrounding dunes are very familiar to me.  For more years than I can remember we came here on family holidays, it all looked the same in the sun, just a little quieter.  Word of warning here, the beach side toilets are only open in the summer.

Polly Joke
The next small bay round from Crantock beach is the almost perfect Polly Joke (or Porth Joke).  This small beach has no facilities, no lifeguards and no car park within half a mile yet this all adds to how nice it is.  A small campsite which features in the 'Cool camping' series sits 10 minutes walk away up the valley.  I have stayed there in the past and it's great in my opinion.

This section of the walk from Polly Joke to Holywell Bay has mixed memories for me.  It's a great walk, with high cliffs, great views and an Iron Age settlement (long since abandoned...) however the last time I walked this section it proved too much.  High winds and driving rain sapped all energy and the walk lost all resemblance to fun.  It turned into an exercise in putting one foot in front of the other and was why I abandoned the walk at Holywell Bay.

The contrast this year couldn't be more stark, sun and little to no wind (and less blisters and leg ache!).  Three times I have walked to Holywell Bay and 3 times involved rain, fog or mist.  It is something of a strange Nemisis and for whatever reason it was nice to me for once!

Map reading Action
We had a short break at Holywell Bay before making the last series of climbs around Penhale Camp and Ligger Point.  This section was all new to me and despite involving a hill was enjoyable.  Near Penhale Point is a perfectly situated bench with great views over Gull rocks and the beach, but as we had just stopped we chose to keep moving. 

The path leads round the edge of Penhale Camp which is an MOD owned area (I think it's being disposed of) and there are clear signs of erosion and path diversions.  Again it has great views, crashing waves and high cliffs.  At Ligger point you can see the end point, admittedly it's about 2-3 away down the beach, but that ice cream was calling!

Perranporth Beach
The walk along the beach was tiring in the sun (yes I know it was the 1st of March!) but was a lot easier than going through the dunes.  The tide had turned in our favour and we were able to avoid a final climb over Cotty's Point.

The walk ended in the pub with tired feet and sore legs.  One of these days I will actually prepare for one of these walks!  The main injuries are 2 blisters on my heels, I think they are due to the footfall rather than rubbing.  Overall a great 3 days and it was great to overcome last years defeat!


  1. Interesting 3 days by the sound of it. I don't get down that neck of the woods very often at all, and the SWCP is a bit of a mysetry, but it always looks great. I must make the effort and try some of it one day.

  2. It's a number of great walks. Some sections are hard going, others fairly easy by all accounts. Not sure I could do the whole thing in one go (4 weeks apparently!) but I will be doing more sections.