106 Charlestown, Pentewan to Mevagissey

I set off from Charlestown in a steady drizzle. According to my map the South West Coast Path follows the road out of Charlestown and goes around the back of the village of Duporth before rejoining the coast. I don’t know why the official route appears to take this deviation because, at the bottom of the harbour road, there is a footpath sign pointing straight up the cliff. This is the path that I follow, climbing up and out of Charlestown.

Despite the dull weather, the harbour looks very attractive below me.

Charlestown, Ruth's coastal walk, Cornwall

Usually I avoid setting off for a walk in the rain – but we are only down in Cornwall for a long weekend and I need to make the most of the next few days. The weather forecast has promised it will clear up later.

This snail is enjoying himself.

snail on fence, Ruth getting wet on her coastal walk, Cornwall

I stow my camera away in multiple layers of plastic bags and promise myself that I will buy a waterproof rucksack one day.

rain - Duporth Beach, Ruth walking the South West Coast PathEventually the rain stops for long enough to allow me to take photographs of the views. This is the view looking back along Duporth beach.

There is a path leading down to the beach from the South West Coast path and a sign says it’s for residents of Duporth Village only. The Duporth Village website claims that Duporth beach is a private beach. Shame on them. I believe the beach below the high tide mark really belongs to the Queen but, if you own the access route to the beach, you can prevent people getting onto the sand.

Duporth Village is a new development on an old Butlins site. The local planning authorities should never have given permission for development without insisting it included proper public access to the beach.

Across St Austell Bay I can see Gribbin Head with its day mark tower. It looks gloomy.

 rain over Gribbin Head, Ruth's coastal walk

Further along I get a better view of Duporth beach and can see there have been a number of recent landslips and rockfalls. Erosion is eating away the cliff and will, eventually, threaten the properties that look over the sea. I wonder if they will be expecting public money to shore up their private beach?

rockfalls, Duporth, Ruth walking the South West Coast Path

I come across an old lookout tower and get some great views across another beach. This is Porthpean beach, a much more inviting place than Duporth.

The weather is still too grim for good photography, but later the sun comes out. At a place that I think is called Phoebe’s Point – I take a photo looking back at Porthpean beach. In the distance is St Austell and, on the horizon, one of the weird pyramid structures that seem to dot the landscape in this part of Cornwall. (On closer inspection, these mystical structures turn out to be the heaped-up debris from old mines.)

Porthpean, Ruth on her coastal walk, Cornwall

I’m not sure why, but this section of the path seems to have attracted numerous signs of various sorts. Here are a selection.

badger set notice - Ruth on her coastal walk, Cornwall06 warning notice, - Ruth on her coastal walk, CornwallJapanese Knotweed warning - Ruth's coastal walk, Cornwall

Japanese Knotweed is a real menace and this was only one of a number of similar signs I found in the area. One sign warned that the rain might have caused ruts in the surface of the path. Really? How very inconvenient of nature. And another  sign warned of badger activity causing holes.

badger set, Ruth on her coastal walk, CornwallVandalism by badgers? I would love to see a badger.

A few yards later, I do come across a deep hole in the middle of the path and I assume this was the remains of an old set. It seems deserted now, with nothing visible inside but a few old cobwebs.

When I poke my walking poles down into the hole, they almost disappear. Gosh. It is deep. If you put your foot in here by mistake you could easily break an ankle.

down and up, Ruth on South West Coast Path, St Austell's bay

I thought I was making great progress, but the path takes a dive down into a valley. On the other side, I can see the steep slope leading up and can already anticipate the tough climb ahead.

bridge with slats missing- sign on Ruth's walk, St Austell Bay

The cause of the dip is the stream running down to the sea at the bottom of the valley. There is a lovely bridge across the water – and yet another warning sign, beautifully handwritten, warning of missing slats in the bridge.

After climbing up out of the valley, I reach a small hamlet called Trenarren,  where I join the road for a short period.

No tipping - sign on Ruth's walk, St Austell BayThieves- sign on Ruth's walk, St Austell BayAs I said, there are numerous signs along this section of the path. Here are some more.

No tipping and motorists beware of thieves.

From here, I head down a track towards a promontory of land called Black Head. Because of the proximity to the road, I meet a few dog walkers. One kind lady points me in the direction of the right path – the one that sticks closest to the coast.

I stop to take another photograph of Gribbin Head. It looks much brighter in the sunshine and now I can see another promontory behind it – is that Pencarrow Head? Where I met the bulls? I think it is.

Gribbin Head and Pencarrow Head, Ruth walking the coast

I think I’ve reached Black Head already. I stop, sit down, have a drink, relax. I’m making great progress. It is national ‘Get Walking Week’ – first day today. So I tweet a few of my photos, using #walkweek,  to @loveSWCoastPath.

It comes as a rude shock when I pull out my iPhone to check my position and realise I’m only at Gerrans Point – not Black Head.

Black Head, view to east, Ruth on South West Coast PathBlack Head, view to west, Ruth in Cornwall

Black Head, when I do get there, is beautiful. It is a dead-end promontory, site of an old fort and covered in bright flowering gorse. It looks gorgeous and smells of coconuts.

I take photographs of the views on either side. To the east I can see back across Saint Austell Bay and the course of my last walk. To the west there is a beautiful clear cove below me – and a long drop down to rugged rocks.

In the distance, to the west,  is a beach. That must be Pentewan, where I am meeting my husband for lunch. The walk along the coast seems much hillier than I would have predicted from looking at my map. I am going to be late.

view to Pentewan, Ruth walking the coast of Cornwall

The next section is hard walking. The path winds up and down some very steep slopes. But it is beautiful. The views are fantastic. A section of the walk is through woodland.

through woods, South West Coast Path, Ruth's coast walk

wood carvings, Cornwall, Ruth walking round the coastline

wood primroses, Ruth on her round the coast walk

I come across a private house. An artist must live here because I also come across some odd carvings.

The woods are full of flowers. Bluebells. Wild garlic. Primroses. Lovely.

I puff and pant up the slopes, meeting a few other walkers on the way. They are, as usual, all coming towards me – I am walking the ‘wrong way’ round the coast.

From a high point, I take another photograph looking back along the undulating coastline. There is Black Head. Beyond is Pencarrow Head. In the far distance (difficult to see on this reduced version of the photo) is Rame Head. Beyond that – something else?

 view to Black Head and beyond, Ruth's walk around the UK

I pull out my binoculars and try to work out what part of the coast I am looking at, beyond Rame Head. [Later, when I check on my map, I believe I could see all the way back to Bolt Tail and Bolt Head – in Devon!]

I stop looking backwards and continue onwards. Below me is Pentewan Beach. I see caravans. Oh dear. It looks like one large holiday camp. My husband will be disappointed by my choice of a stopping place for lunch.

Pentewan beach, from South West Coast Path, Ruth's walkBut, actually, Pentewan turns out to be much nicer then first impressions suggest. A proper little village. A lovely beach. And a pub.  lunch in Pentewan, Ruth's coastal walk

We eat in the pub garden, sitting in the sunshine. We watch seagulls and rooks arguing about left over chips on the tables. The pub serves food all day from 1st May – how very civilised. The beer is good and the cider is wonderful.

After lunch, I continue my walk along the South West Coast Path which, at this points, ends up following the road. As I leave Pentewan behind, the path strikes off to the left, still following the route of the road but well separated from the traffic.

I have another steep climb up another hill. From the top there are great views back down to Pentewan and its lovely beach. In the far distance is St Austell and I can still see the pyramid on the horizon.

Pentewan Beach, Ruth walking the South West Coast Path

I am growing tired, but the next section of the walk is fairly easy. I walk beside agricultural land, along the top of cliffs, past sweet-smelling gorse. The sea is blue. The sun shines intermittently. It has turned into a beautiful day.

Ahead I see Mevagissey. Two large sailing ships are moored just outside the harbour entrance.

approaching Mevagissey, Ruth's coast walking

The path runs down towards the harbour. There is a sweet little lighthouse and people walking along the walls.

Ruth on South West Coast Path, looking down on Mevagissey Harbour

Mevagissey is a beautiful name and the place lives up to my expectations. It looks even better when the sun comes out and lights up the water and the coloured houses in the streets.

Mevagissey streets, Ruth's coastal walk.Mevagissey harbour, Ruth walking the coast of Cornwall

I have arrived early, having made swift progress since lunch. I stop and buy an ice-cream and sit on a bench overlooking the harbour, enjoying the sunshine. I would imagine this place is crowded in the height of summer. Today there are a few holiday makers now, but not many. It may be a bank holiday weekend, but the cold weather and recent rain has scared people away.

Boats and ships make great photographic subjects. I take far too many photos while I wait for my husband to come and pick me up.

Mevagissey Harbour, Ruth's coastal walk

Miles walked = 7

About Ruth Livingstone

Walker, writer, photographer, blogger, doctor, woman, etc.
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14 Responses to 106 Charlestown, Pentewan to Mevagissey

  1. What a great walk, felt like I was with you on the route. I’m not familiar with the area so it’s good you are sharing images too, and I agree with you regarding folk being mean about the beach at Duporth…

    I like the woodland shots, and the sculptures look interesting, I wonder what the story is behind them? Thank you for sharing.

  2. mariekeates says:

    It always annoys me when something like is beach is marked as private. I can understand with a garden but beaches and woods should be shared with everyone who wants to make the effort to visit them. I don’t doubt they will be asking for public money to help save their private beach either.

  3. Jon Combe says:

    The path at Duporth was closed for some time apparantly due to a landslip, which I suspect is why the offiial route was being signed elsewhere. That was the case when I walked this part of the path just over a year ago. I’m glad to see it’s re-opened, as it looks a much better route!

  4. Dave Hotchin says:

    I haven’t had any problems accessing Duporth from the Coast Path

  5. Ann Howlett says:

    I am still enjoying your progress round the coast and am now only 4 years behind you.
    The Day Mark Tower at Gibben Head was featured in a recently shown episode of “The Coroner” Not exactly high drama but a good programme for great scenery and a bit of spot the location for the filming
    Badgers are on my love to see list as well. At least a live one. This week I spotted 2 dead badgers on the A 24 as we came back to London from Sussex.
    Mevagissey took me straight back to Primary School. I used to get a postcard every year from a friend who always holidayed there.

    • It’s always interesting to see places you know on film. My home town (Stamford) stars in a number of period dramas. Always a shock when the coach goes round a corner and ends up in the wrong place – film locations can dot about!
      Have yet to see a live badger in the wild. Keep hoping.

  6. lizbarnett1 says:

    Many years ago I visited Golant YHA near Fowey. Each evening several badgers would come and eat any food leftovers from supper on the veranda. Wonderful sight. Sadly, just checked and the YHA no longer owns/runs the hostel….Looking forward to following in your tracks along to Mevagissey this week. Thank you!

    • Hi Liz, and hope you enjoy the walk. How wonderful to get close to badgers. I see plenty of badger sets and, sadly, dead badgers on the roadside, but never seen a badger yet. Best wishes.

  7. Sheelagh says:

    I am travelling to st Austell by train from Cumbria This Wednesday. Your blog has inspired me and I intend to do this walk this Thursday in similar weather. How long did it take.? I will get the bus back. I am doing the around the mount charity swim from marizion on Saturday with my daughter who lives in Cornwall! Thanks so much for sharing your walk!

    • Good luck with the swim, Sheelagh. You’re a brave woman 😀
      Hope you enjoy this walk and hope the weather is good for you. I just looked at my photos (which are time-stamped) and I took 7 hours. That included a pub lunch with my husband, lots of stops for photographs, and I am a very slow walker! It’s only 7 miles. With the terrain, you should average 2mph, and so it should only take you 3-4 hours I think.

  8. Karen White says:

    Poor badgers, it seems they can’t do anything right! Such beautiful animals, I would be thrilled to see one and even more thrilled if they visited my garden.
    Beautiful photos of the coast, harbour and boats.

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