There are some sections of the coast path that are so familiar that it is like walking home: each step brings more memories, more delights. This walk was one of those.
We walked it again in September 2016 and some additional notes relate to that visit.
We had ‘reached’ St Loy Cove beneath Boskenna in an earlier walk and simply needed to fill in the missing piece to Porthcurno: a short stretch of about 3 miles. The books advise a half day trip from Porthcurno to Lamorna but doing a circular walk made a single car possible.
You have to enjoy steep ups and downs on this walk. The book says ‘Strenuous’.
St Loy Cove is a gem: wooded and with mature gardens running down to the sea of the sort you might expect on a river bank further east. It is probably a very different prospect in a winter storm but today it was a delight. There was a small well alongside the path which we christened St Loy’s well since all wells are named after Cornish saints and thus holy.
St Loy’s is very unusual cove as it consists of very large rounded boulders, scattered across the ‘beach’. there are two sorts: plain ones and others made of the usual golden stone of Penwith, familiar from Laura Knight’s pictures. How were they formed? Is this a particularly stormy beach where the stones have been rolled around and smoothed over the years? If so, how is it that the houses that cluster around the cove edge, directly facing the prevailing winds, have the most wonderful green gardens which have a luxuriance seen nowhere else along this stretch of coast? [Sept 2016]
Reaching the top of Merthen point we were delighted to see the wit of a local farmer who had erected a standing stone which reminded us of a monkey: perhaps a Japanese macaque or proboscis. [Sept 2016]
Walking on the cliff tops was easy and a sheer delight for the range of flowers. The bluebells were well past their best but the vegetation was turning to pinks and red. Thrift was joined by white, pink and blood-red campion. The foxgloves were in full flower and in places the dodder covered the top of the gorse like mat of red spiders’ webs.
Walking up to the cliff tops was another matter for the coves of Porthguarnon (especially) and Penberth had steps to test the fittest of legs.
Penberth is a delight, perhaps verging on National Trust ‘Model A – A Cornish fishing cove (with signs)’. It, and Porthgwarra further west, are the most evocative of the small fishing coves that must once have dotted this coast. Thankfully this one is still working with four cove boats drawn up on the slipway.
By now we had spotted that the colour of the water over the sand had changed to that clear azure which is completely transluscent and invites searches for glimpses of passing mermaids.
Climbing Cribba Head we came to the great C3 BC Iron Age fortress of Treryn Dinas and its famous Logan rock. The fortifications stood out clearly showing that it must once have been a mighty fortress indeed.
Very tame and proprietorial ponies were grazing the vegetation as we made our way to the rock itself. We eschewed the opportunity to set it rocking – it has never been the same since it was replaced in 1825 – and ate our picnics watching others attempting the feat.
In the distance the next great landmark was twinkling at us beneath a darkening sky: the wonderful Minack Theatre. Each step invited another glance and another photograph of Rowena Cade’s incredible creation which appears to sprawl down the cliff towards the great rock which gives it its name.
The beach below was uncharacteristically empty. Now one of the most famous and popular beaches of the peninsular, it is loved by all. In the distant past it was shunned by the local who knew all too well that the sewage outfall for the valley was on the right hand side of the beach, encouraging good fishing but making the water less enjoyable for swimming. How times change.
We passed the little shed where the trans-Atlantic telegraph cables come ashore: a wonderfully prosaic little shed for such an important task. The romantic names pinned up on small signs are all that hint at its importance.
The little beach house, also constructed by Rowena Cade, and one of the few follies of Cornwall, is sadly neglected and cemented up. It was once open and damp like a deserted pillbox and a wonderful playground for children.
The steep steps up to the theatre provide one of the greatest coastal views anywhere: the Logan rock, an azure sea – no basking sharks today – and the clear clean bright sand of Porthcurno and Pedn Vounder beaches.
And finally, because it is always impossible to refuse, we added a few yards to our trip by wandering through the theatre itself where a performance was in rehearsal. ‘Behold the head of a traitor!’, ‘We are such stuff as dreams are made on …’ Echoes of past performances came flooding back. A home-coming indeed.