South West Coast Path: Porthleven

Last day on my Christmas weekend trip. Thanks to the combination of weekend timing and Boxing Day, I’ve had an unusually long long weekend. I thought I’d be ready to go, but as the time goes by, I find myself more and more enamored by Cornwall.

I squeezed in a last hike. I started late, taking advantage of the fact that St. Michael’s Mount is open for the holiday, a rare winter availability.

I drove to Porthleven to try to finish up my segment. As I started to warm to the idea of completing the entire South West Coast Path as a life goal, I decided to try to tie my segments to the ones listed on the SWCP website. I was to connect the bit from where I left off on Christmas Day when I just couldn’t seem to get closer to the village within my sight- Porthleven.

It wasn’t even far. It was ridiculously close, where I left off that day. But it was far more scenic from the direction I walked today.

Highlights– West End: N50 05.581 W5 20.798
– East End: N50 11.292 W5 26.191
– Entire Distance walked: 5 miles
– Weather: dreary grey, but dry. Muddy, I now understand why people stroll in Wellies.

Porthleven: Charming town that grew from a fishing village and port. Views are much prettier walking east to west, with the rolling cliffs and varying landscapes.
I was every so reluctant to start my drive inland.

South West Coast Path: Praa Sands

Christmas Day. Alone. I had mixed feelings when I woke up this morning. It’s not the first time I was not with my family in this holiday. But last time around I was working, on travel. The people in the office immediately invited me to their homes for dinner, for company, for festivities. I’m not traveling for work today. I’m abroad, but technically at my home. My family, literally, on the other side of the world for a wedding.

Christmas is not of religious significance to my family. My brother and I are too old for the Santa routine. We haven’t exchanged gifts in almost ten years. The holiday is not a big deal. Yet, Christian or not, anyone growing up in the Western world probably has grown used to the idea that today is a day of family and friends, whichever way you spend it.

I didn’t realise it but subconsciously I had literally thrown myself into the hiking. Let the numbers speak for itself:

Tally:
Miles walked: 9.8, one loops, starting at Prussia Cove.
End points of SWCP reached:
– N50 05.581 W5 20.798 and
– N50 06.120 W5 25.091
Weather: Cloudy, gusty winds on occasion, no sun at any point
Conditions: Muddy and muddier

One view you *have* to walk to SWCP to see is that of the Port-en-alls House, the mainstay of the small village that is completely used a vacation homes. Walking the path, I wind around the corner to the backside of the house, down a narrow rough stone road flanked on both sides by tall stone walls. So as a pedestrian, I don’t see the whole building in the approach and completely pass through in the backside. Once across the next beach onto the next point, though, I was amazed by the view. It took me a while of recollection to realise this was the very house I walked by a couple times already.

The house, from afar, looks like it is perched on the edge of a cliff, its stone walls both blending in and rising out of the rocking wall. It sits low, not too far above the water. The land raises behind the house, but pales in comparison to its formidable facade.

The ponies. Oh, yes. The ponies. A small herd of Shetland ponies was introduced to the Rinsey Head area to graze the overgown brush. Signage into the area alerts walkers of the ponies. With warnings.
– Do not feedĀ  them as they will grow reliant on humans for food.
– Do not approach them as they are not domesticated (I thought horses have been domesticated for centuries??)
OK. I can deal.

What there was no guidance is what to do when they are blocking a very narrow path I am walking. Do I slowly walk through them? What if they charge me? How “undomesticated” are we talking about, really? Sure enough, as I approached, they all looked up and started warily, not twitching a muscle. I like animals. I pet them in zoos. But I don’t really know a whole lot about the non-human species. So do I stare down at them. Squat down to their level and just make eye contact? Or wave my arms wildly to get them moving?? What do I know?! We must have stared at each other without moving for a good 10 minutes.

I chickened out first. It was a long walk back and I didn’t want anything happening to me to hinder my progress. Yes, nervous Nettie I am. I crept back, backtracking my steps to find an intersection to go another route. Better than calling home and saying I broke a leg falling down a steep coastal ledge because a pony bunted at me. I’ll take the former ding to my pride.

South West Coast Path: Perranuthnoe

My inaugural walk for my new ambition to travel the length of the South West Coast Path in England started in the old village of Perranuthnoe, in the middle of the southern coast of Cornwall on Christmas Eve Day.

Why Perranuthnoe? No particular reason other than it was close to the B&B. No long analysis about being in the middle of the area, about what segment I intend to cover. I went in quite blind, with very little planning other than hearing of the existence of the hiking trail and being 630 miles long.

Highlights:
– Perranuthnoe is a charming tiny village. Visited the church while someone was practicing the organ, presumably for the Christmas mass that night. Victoria Inn is supposedly one of the oldest inns.
– An unexpected highlight in Perranuthnow is the Cabin Cafe, on the road down to the beach. The cabin is literally that, a rectangular building that is two-thirds kitchen, one third dining space. Orders are made on the outside, the side of the building with an open counter, not unlike the beach food stalls. The cabin is surrounded by a large lawn picnic space for the larger fair weather crowds. It’s a family-run enterprise, focused on simple fare such as sandwiches, pudding, soups and drinks. Service is extra friendly and it feels like a community gathering place with people greeting each other and catching up for the holidays.
– The view of St Michael’s Mount as I approached Trebarvah Cliff. I happened to look back down at the beach as the clouds separated and the sun shined down. As mentioned, I had not read up any background and had no idea it was the St Michael Mount at that time. Just awestruck.
-At the same time, the view of Perranuthnoe with its hilltop church standing out in the same view.
– The caves in Piskies and Little Cudden. I was *so* tempted to clamber down and check them out. I almost missed them.. it wasn’t until I climbed out to Little Cudden point that I saw the huge caves on both sides. The cliffs were so steep it would be easy to miss them if not looking at the right angle. This is home to one of the famous smuggling operations led by John Cater, “King of Prussia”, active in the late 1700s.
– The old fishing huts in Prussia Cove. My question is how and why the hell did they build fishing huts on the top of a cliff?

The walk to the west of Perranuthnoe curved around a beautiful rocky point that offers a nice sunset view, weather providing, but otherwise was a easy but dull stroll between fields with an approaching view of St. Michael Mount.

Tally:
Miles walked: 8.6, two loops, with Perranuthnoe as base.
End points of SWCP reached:
– N50 06.105 W5 24.949 and
– N50 07.164 W5 27.468
Weather: Cloudy, gusty winds on occasion, sun breaking out
Conditions: Oi. So muddy… I now see why wellies are so common

 

2011-12-24 SWCP: Perranuthnoe
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