It was an overcast and blustery day. Gone were the azure blue seas and bright blue sky we had experienced last time we were here. In had come the mean seas of October.
We made a good start and left Mawgan Porth by walking across the sandy beach, marvelling at the shallowness of the beach, even with the tide out, the rollers breaking well out to sea. The Scarlet’s gardener was adjusting the planting and encouraging each plant to stand to attention.
It was wonderful to be back on the north coast, though. The high cliffs, sheep-cropped soft grass and the towering cliffs were a contrast to the softness and density of population of the landscape of the Rame peninsular.
Any view over the edge of the cliff produced feelings of vertigo and were conducted by crawling on tummies to peer down at inaccessible sandy coves.
The gorse and blackthorn lay low on the ground and in places we passed great meadows of heather which must be a wonderful sight in the spring.
Bedruthan Steps are justly famous, having been a convenient charabanc distance from Newquay. The giant would have been proud of his legacy. As the surf and sand pounded against the columns, we wondered that they still managed to survive and had not been ground down by time.
Below us, a series of steep-sided coves rumbled to the road of the breaking waves and we spotted the first of many natural arches.
Around Park Head, we approached the Trescore islands -which tempted us to wonder again what makes them an island rather than a rock – which formed a tranquil pool in an otherwise fractious sea.
It is a surprise that no one ever attempted to close up the gaps to make a small natural harbour.
Porthcothan, a long thin beach, was disappointing in not being able to provide coffee and so we made our way onwards passed a series of maelstroms, one of which was throwing spume up high and covering the neighbouring cliffs with white blossom like a field of dandelion clocks. The entire cliff face was plastered with ‘shaving foam’.
A welcome break in a YHA cafe in Treyarnon – highly recommended – provided the necessary coffee before we descended into the touristic area around Trevose Head, our eyes looking seaward to avoid seeing the golf course.
Constantine Bay provided some enjoyable sand-dune crossing but we were soon back climbing the grassy slopes to the head. Here we met our first enormous, almost circular, sink hole. It does not do to wonder too hard whether the rock beneath one’s feet is as friable as the rock in the sink hole must have been to have been worn away from underneath.
A brief detour to Dinas Head was essential and we noted the Coastguard pole, set here no doubt, for training in breeches buoys and similar rescues, the pole standing in for the truncated mast of a ship.
But close at hand was another less welcome vista: a quite ghastly mobile home camp right up close to the path at the back of Mother Ivy’s Bay. Why, we wondered, did the units have to be so close together; so close to the edge; so white when they could have been brown or green to blend into the landscape as we had seen at shack-land on the south coast near Freathy? What might have been a charming view was ruined by the proximity and massing of the camp.
Quite suddenly, the sun came out and great shafts of light shone like a powerful searchlight on sections of cliff and the sea. The familiar colours were back: a blue-green sea and watery blue sky.
We stopped to admire the tamarisk which was in flower – a lovely soft pinky purple – and to watch two kestrels hovering effortlessly in the strong wind just above our heads.
The going had been sufficiently easy that we were considering revising our plan and to walk the extra distance to Padstow but, as we walked, we spied our hosts for the night and diverted with them to the generous comfort of Trevone for some rest and recuperation.
We had covered 12 miles in almost exactly four hours of easy going.
We picked up where we had left off the following morning, walking out of Trevone and once more up onto the high cliffs, passing another sink hole called, like its predecessor, by the simple and descriptive name ‘the round hole’. It was overcast.
Once again, the cliffs were high, solid and sheer. Below us the waves pounded against the cliffs making the ground we walked on feel as though it was shaking from their power.
Rising to Stepper Point, we passed a herd of bullocks, one of whom seemed to be contemplating a swift exit as he peered over the edge to a sheer drop of several hundred feet to the base of Butter Hole.
As we passed the point, the view over the broad Camel estuary opened on our right, the waves breaking far across the inland bay.
It was a little way from the mouth of the Camel to Padstow itself for the town is hidden behind yet another small headland: St Saviour’s Point which bristles with hidden fortifications which have been re-captured by nature.
Across the river, the dunes of Rock, St Enodoc and Polzeath beckoned us onwards but they were for another day.
We entered Padstow through the Chapel Style Fields, counting over 60 benches in a single long row, each named for some dear departed. It was hard not to agree that the view is well worth stopping and admiring but there was something depressingly municipal in the arrangement.
We headed for the church and a welcoming cup of coffee with friends. We had walked 5.2 easy miles in just under two hours. This is a lovely and classic stretch of north coast (except for the holiday park).
The rest of the day was given over to visiting other churches: St Merryn, St Ervan, St Eval and St Enoder.