I set out from Mevagissey and climb up steps from the harbour, following the South West Coast Path.
The first section of my walk is along roads. I am heading for Chapel Point, a promontory with a collection of white buildings. I can’t see Chapel Point from the roadside. The photo below was taken from the cliffs yesterday, as I walked into Mevagissey.
I walk through a residential area called Portmellon. The houses here have great sea views and look expensive. Eventually I come to a private road – but a public footpath – and this should take me to Chapel Point.
I leave Portmellon behind. Through the trees I look across to the lighthouse guarding the entrance to Mevagissey harbour. Beyond are the cliffs where I walked yesterday.
The footpath leaves the road and runs along a grassy area above the sea. Ahead are the white buildings of Chapel Point. The Point itself is private and I wonder who is lucky enough to live in this beautiful place.
On the other side of the peninsula is a wonderful beach. Colona Beach.
I stop to admire the views and take photographs of Chapel Point. I meet a middle-aged couple who have walked here from Mevagissey. They say the main building (the one that may have once been a chapel) looks shabby and in need of some attention. We discuss how the weather will damage these properties over the winter – exposed to the wind and sea spray. I wonder if they are lived in all year round?
Below me, according to my map, is Great Perhaver Beach. I’m not sure if there is a way down. It seems very isolated – just a grey strip of shingle or sand.
Beyond the beach is a small headland and I can see Gorran Haven in the next bay. It has taken me longer than I anticipated to get here. The path was more rugged than I expected.
After Gorran Haven, there is no building, or place to eat, for many miles. So I plan to have a picnic lunch at Dodman Point. I don’t see anything I fancy in the Mermaid Cafe. It all looks rather pre-packaged – although someone arrives with fresh supplies just as I am leaving.
On the way out of the village, I see a small cafe perched alongside the path – The Coastpath Cafe. I ask for a sandwich to take out. The cafe is run by a couple of older women and, from listening to their conversation, I think it’s a new venture for them. They cut a fresh loaf of bread and make me an excellent, cheese sandwich, giving me a choice of pickles and salads to go in it.
The Coastpath Cafe is well situated for coastal walkers. If you walk the right way along the South West Coast Path, it will be the first cafe you come to after Caerhays Castle – 4-5 miles distance away.
The next section of the path is fantastic. Maenease Point is wild and rocky – the scenery dramatic. Rounding the headland, I come across Vault Beach (also marked as Bow beach on my map).
I don’t go down to the shore but I gather the sand is not as wonderful as it looks, being mainly shingle. It is a beautiful sight, nonetheless.
The sun comes out briefly and the landscape glows with the colour of golden gorse flowers. Below the sea is clear and blue and, in the distance, I can see the white sails of ships.
I feel a surge of energy and joy. This is what coast walking should be like. Beautiful, peaceful, wild, and with great views.
The sun comes out again and I take one last photo of Vault Beach lit by sunlight.
Dodman Point is a thick thumb of land, pointing into the sea. It is National Trust property and there is a car park at the base of the peninsula. The paths are well trodden and, as I near the Point itself, I begin to meet people.
On the slopes below the path are ponies. A sign asks you not to feed them and says they are either Highland or Shetland ponies (I can’t remember which – but they are definitely Scottish). They have been introduced here because they eat almost everything, including gorse. This helps smaller plants and flowers to thrive.
As I walk along I hear a coughing sound. Repeated coughing. I peer over some bushes to see who the bronchitic person is and find myself nose to nose with a coughing pony. Maybe the Cornish winter has been too tough for these soft Scottish animals?
Apparently Dodman Point is the site of massive Iron Age fort but I must confess I missed noticing the remnants of its fortifications. At the end of the Point is an impressively large granite cross, erected as an aid to navigation.
The views from the end of Dodman Point are spectacular. From the plateau with the cross, the land tumbles down towards the sea, 300 feet below. The upper slopes are covered in gorse, below the gorse is tough grass and here the ground falls away steeply, before ending in rocky cliffs.
I look to the west and see the curving coastline, indented with small bays and coves. The walk ahead will be fantastic.
On the west side of Dodman Point I leave the path and make my way through prickly gorse to a flattish outcrop of rock. Here I sit and take out my cheese sandwich. It tastes delicious. What a wonderful place to stop for lunch.
It is very tempting, when I am on my own, to rush my lunch break and not have a proper rest. I make myself stay here for 30 minutes. I don’t want to end up with a sore hip again.
The views are wonderful. The sun is shining. The breeze is strong but exhilarating.
After half an hour, I struggle to my feet. This part of the South West Coast Path is busy with walkers and looks deceptively easy. Flat. Along the top of the cliffs. But the path becomes progressively harder and, as I approach Hemmick Beach, it dips down to sea level.
The path winds downwards and, sheltered from the winds by high bushes, there is a profusion of spring flowers.
Hemmick Beach is nestled in a small cove and is divided into two by a shallow stream. Fishermen have their rods out at the edge of the sea. People are enjoying the afternoon, playing on the sand and having picnics. A large social group has gathered at the far end of the beach.
But beyond the sand I can see the cliff is slipping. There is evidence of recent rock falls and, as I trace the line of the South West Coast Path, it looks like the path has had to be diverted and a new route created.
I walk down to the beach and spend a few minutes sitting on a wall and enjoying the moment. Then I begin my ascent up the far side of the valley.
The path runs through fields and, as I suspected, at one point a new section has been created. A fresh track has been scraped out along the edge of a grassy field. The ground is still bare and there are loose stones and rocks underfoot.
I come to a place where some cattle are standing. One large cow gives me an evil look, as if to ask why I am walking across her field. Then I realise it is not a ‘her’. It is a bull. Not a bullock. A proper bull. And the other cattle are his cows. Oh dear.
There is no choice, I have to walk past him. I avoid eye contact (as advised by Ju – aka The Helpful Mammal and another keen walker). I get past him safely but keep listening for the sound of thudding hooves behind me. The cows stand among the gorse and watch me. Once I am sure I am not going to be charged by the bull, I swing my camera up and take a quick shot. Nosey things!
The next section of the walk is uneventful but reasonably challenging, as the path dips up and down, following the contours of the coast. I take a last photo of Dodman Point.
Caerhays Castle is a revelation. I knew there was a castle here, but I didn’t know what to expect. The South West Coast Path emerges onto open grassland. Below is a beach – marked as Porthluney Cove on my map. The castle itself is an impressive looking building, set in green lawns. There is a lake with ducks. It is very picturesque.
I walk down to the beach. There is a small beach cafe – an unexpected bonus – and it is still open. I have a cold drink and sit on a plastic chair in the sunshine, while I wait for my husband to arrive with the car.
Miles walked = 9 miles
High points = Dodman Point
There is a great page about walking around Dodman Point on Martin Hesp’s West Country Walks site.