It is early September, the tide is out, and Trevone Beach is a bare expanse of sand. On my previous visit in August the incoming tide had forced the crowds to huddle at the apex of the beach. But today I can only see a handful of people strung out along the water’s edge.
I look westwards, across to the Merope Rocks and the lifeboat station. It is always satisfying to scan the route of my last walk and so I spend a few minutes tracing my path across those distant cliffs.
I head along the east side of the bay to Roundhole Point, where I have a spectacular view looking to the east along the craggy coastline.
The walk ahead looks interesting, but not too challenging. It is about five miles to Padstow and I should get there fairly quickly.
It must be another collapsed cave system, similar to the one I came across yesterday near Dinas Head. But this one is even larger. I am sorry the tide is out, because I would imagine waves come crashing into the base, forming a mini-cauldron.
A Google search reveals a variety of photos, showing what this Round Hole looks like from various angles.
Onwards. There are some interesting rock formations and I try to work out their names from the map. I am walking above Longcarrow Cove. Ahead I see a rising slope and realise I must be approaching Gunver Head.
I can’t resist taking this photograph. The rock to the left of the photo is Middle Merope Island. More spectacular is the pointing finger beyond, but this one doesn’t seem to have a name.
The slope up to Gunver head is steep, rising up from a stream at the bottom of a narrow gully and turns out to be the only really strenuous part of today’s walk.
From the top are good views along towards the mouth of Padstow Bay. The South West Coast Path runs along open countryside, next to farmers’ fields.
Somewhere above Butter Cove (delicious name!) I stop and take a photograph looking inland and up the estuary of the River Camel.
Padstow is hidden in the dip behind the slopes on the right. I am making good progress.
The headland that guards the western entrance of Padstow Bay has no prominent name on my map, but I think it is commonly called Stepper Point.
A lighthouse is marked on the cliffs. But all I can see is a tall tower, which I assume is part of an old mine or a leftover structure from the quarry that used to function here.
This is, in fact, the lighthouse on my map. It isn’t a proper lighthouse, but a ‘daymark’ tower. I have come across a number of these around the coast. This one was built to guide ships into the Camel estuary but is, of course, only visible during daylight hours.
The daymark tower at Gribben Head, near Fowey, looked far more dramatic with its red and white stripes. This one is so plain, I wonder if anybody notices it.
Coming around the headland, and I look across the bay, assuming the place I can see across the water is Padstow. I believe I am nearly there, not realising that the beach ahead is Hayle Bay and Padstow is tucked some distance up the estuary.
Further round and I realise my mistake. Beaches ahead and no sign of a town. Still a long way to go. Onwards.
Hawkers Cove is quiet and pretty, just a few rows of terraced houses and a little harbour. The tide has come in, covering up The Doom Bar – an extensive sand bank and a hazard to shipping – that sits across the mouth of the bay. [This bank is the reason why the Padstow lifeboat was moved from Hawkers Cove to Mother Ivey’s Bay, back in the 1960’s.]
Beyond Hawker’s Cove is Harbour Cove, and a chance to walk along a beach for a short distance.
I look back towards the mouth of the estuary and I am surprised to see the sky has become dark. A rainstorm? I hope it isn’t coming this way.
I walk over Gun Point and find St George’s Cove below me. I walk down to the sand again and see the beach stretches away up the estuary. To my left the official South West Coast Path follows the top of the low cliffs, but I decide to walk along the sand instead.
The beach is not crowded, but there are several family groups and walkers with dogs. The sand is well-marked with footprints and I make the assumption that I can follow the shore all the way to Padstow.
But, when I round a rocky outcrop, I find the way ahead is covered by water. On the other side of the inlet, a mother is watching her children paddle. I see a cave and a slipway with steps. It seems so near.
I look to see if I can scramble across the rocks, but the cliff rises steeply to my right and there is no safe way around.
The water is only three or four feet deep. What if I carried my rucksack on my head and waded across? But I hate soggy boots. What if I carried my socks and boots on my head too? But then my feet would be wet and sandy on the other side.
Reluctantly I reconcile myself to the inevitable. I turn back. And get a shock.
The sky is an angry shade of dark grey. It is raining over the mouth of Padstow Bay. And the rain is heading this way.
As I retrace my steps I keep looking at the cliffs to my left, hoping for a shortcut route. Surely there must be places I can scramble up and get back on the path? But I don’t see any obvious way.
It is raining heavily by the time I get back to St George’s Cove. All the family groups and other walkers have mysteriously vanished. I follow the track that goes up and over the top of the cliffs, begrudging the wetness, the wasted time and the steep incline.
At the top is a war memorial and, if it wasn’t for the rain, there would be great views across the estuary and Padstow beneath. But it is too wet to take my camera out.
I am meeting my husband over the river at a place called Rock. Dripping wet, I hurry down into Padstow and am relieved the ferry landing-place is easy to find – but disappointed to discover the ferry is an ugly, open boat. Reluctantly, I take my place on wet seats alongside a group of wet passengers.
At the other side I
run walk quickly to the nearest (and only) café. It is crowded inside but I find plenty of space on the soggy terrace and treat myself to a pear cider while I wait for hubby to arrive and pick me up.
Miles walked = 6
Total miles = 1,275