Day 15 Monwell Beach to Plymouth
Today was Martin Lamač‘s 38th birthday This wonderful crazy man had flown to spend it with me camping and walking
Camping on the beach was brilliant (not including the impossible process of repacking the tent without an excavation sand) With our bags ready, Martin kindly took my pack and I was unashamedly relieved for the break from it.
Today started with my first tidal crossing of the coast path. Walking down the banks of the river Erme to the recommended crossing point, we felt skeptical of whether this section of water was low enough to wade across. Though the beach was starting to come to life with people, no one was crossing… Like boys and girls at a school dance stuck on opposite sides of a room. We waited a little in the hope tide would roll out further but eventually we just moved to a wider section of the river which seemed a safer bet.
I love sea swimming but haven’t been in a few weeks, the temperature of the water felt shockingly cold even for just my big toe! With a lot of laughter and deep breathing, we stepped over seaweed covered pebbles through the ice cold water, and made it over to Mothecombe. Putting my walking boots back on, my feet felt instantly warm.
The fog from the start of the day didn’t clear instead it got thicker as the morning progressed. I felt terrible for Martin to have travelled all this way to see not much more than his feet Eventually it started opening up around the Church of St Peter (referred to here as the poor fisherman). By the time we made it round the peninsula and down to Noss Mayo there was glorious sunshine overhead! Unfortunately (or fortunately!) the ferry was paused for lunch which meant a pub stop for us and a birthday pint for Martin
I was delighted for a break as the blister I’d been keeping at bay through careful management was not feeling good. I think sliding on the rocks the compeed came loose
The ferry was another small boat and was happy to take us straight over to Warren Point (saving us a detour around the River Yealm). The kind owner made a donation to the charity after he heard the reason for our walk
By the time we got to Wembury beach, I was hobbling The compeed was not sticking and the blister had torn in my sock. I was in agony. Each step, I winced with pain as my left foot hit the ground. Unfortunately plasters were not helping in the same way and I had run out if compeed. With a feeling of defeat, I decided to abandon the remaining 5 miles of the day to Mount Batton ferry and got a bus to Plymouth so we could go to Boots before the shops closed.
It was lovely to have a few hours to rest and relax.
At the hotel, I realized we were staying near Plymouth Pavillion and I recalled with a smile taking mum to “here come the girls” … an evening with Anastasia, Chaka Khan and Lulu back in 2009 when I was an undergraduate studying here. Not my cup of tea but mum LOVED it and I remembered us dancing together
Not only did I do my psychology degree in Plymouth but also my Doctorate in Clinical Psychology. I have such wonderful memories from my time here; especially with my DClinPsy cohort many of whom have been sending messages of love through the trip
I was absolutely delighted when Cheryl Bullion and Hannah Clarkson offered to meet us for dinner tonight (in the hotel to save extra steps ). It was sooo special reminiscing about studying together and catching up on life. We had a round of sticky toffee pudding to end a wonderful day.
Cheryl kindly brought the resupply box of food I’d posted ahead of the trip with our food for the next week. Seeing her carry it, I was taken aback how large it was Cheryl also brought us a surprise gift bag from the wonderful Olivia, Luke and Otis
I was so grateful to the hotel staff who made such a sweet gesture to decorate our table in honor of Martin’s birthday
Today was filled with love and laughter; the best kind of day
Day 16 Plymouth to Portwrinkle
I was chuffed when Hannah Clarkson decided to join us walking today We met outside the hotel and mooched the long way around to Crymell ferry.
Hannah and Martin Lamač kindly pandered to my desire to reminisce at the Hoe, which for me holds beautiful memories of university graduation ceremonies… being with mum, family and friends
First task of the day… crossing via ferry to Mount Edgcumbe. Hannah mentioned to the ticket lady that the walk is for charity and my ferry fare kindly became a donation!
On arrival, I got to celebrate making it to Cornwall! My third and final county for this hike of the coast path (excitingly meaning I’ve moved to the purple section in the guide book ).
I’ve never been to Mount Edgcumbe before. It’s beautiful from what I could tell through the fog. So often I don’t explore enough where I’m living. There is such valuable comfort in familiarity but embracing novel places and activities brings joy. Exploring because of this hike has been such an unexpected gift to better appreciate places I’ve worked or lived in the past in Dorset, Devon and Cornwall.
Walking through the estate, Cowsands was up ahead. Hannah shared how Louis took her over for a date in Cowsands early in their relationship… sailing himself from Plymouth! Martin agreed it was a smooth move It was so special to be at their wedding last August
It had been brilliant chatting away, I was feeling reluctant to say our goodbyes so we kept Hannah company while waiting for the ferry but couldn’t stay too long as needed to get more miles under our belt for the day.
To celebrate reaching Rame Head, we ate a picnic of fresh fruit gifted by Olivia Fksa, Luke and Otis. It was such a treat from all the dehydrated meals! We didn’t linger, as the fog had returned to push us along.
Martin and I watched as people summited to the little medieval chapel but we were not in the mood to add extra steps
There were lots of cute chalets past Polhawn cove hidden in the cliff side. At this point I realized Martin was hobbling… he’d been developing blisters but had just been soldering on We stopped to plaster them up with compeed but with hot feet, they didn’t seem to want to stick properly.
At Tregantle Ranges we decided to take the offical road route option for the path (longer distance but less up and down terrain) in the hope to inflict less pain on Martin’s feet.
Finally reaching Portwinkle (the target for today) we were excited for a pub dinner but learnt the kitchen at Finnygook Inn was at max capacity so had to make do with cheesy chips like all the other walk-ins. Not particularly satisfying but we were grateful for something cooked. The pub is named after the “Gook” (ghost) of smuggler Silas Finn or ‘Finny’ as he was popularly known… who died a bit of a nasty death! We stayed till we felt warm enough to hunt out our wildcamp spot and pitch for the night. That proved challenging with much of this section of cliff being steep! The rain and fog made camping feel a bit ominous after that story but feeling exhausted, I didn’t think too much about it
Day 17 Portwinkle to Lansallos
We set off early to get in our miles today.
It had rained through the night meaning lots of slugs and snails were out. I started to refer to the path as a highway with so much traffic to dodge… every so often you could hear the crunch of a collision and I would wince! Luckily as the morning dew evaporated the path traffic cleared as treading carefully was slowing my pace and making it a stressful start
Our first task of the day was coffee. I’d packed tea bags and dehydrated milk as an essential item but forgone coffee much to Martin’s disappointment We found nowhere open so sat and waited for Seaton Beach Cafe to open. With the fog there was no view to enjoy but lots of dogs and swimmers for people watching.
Heading up Looe Hill we were overtaken by three men, a similar age to us. We chatted for a bit. They have taken 7 days off work to hike to Penzance from Plymouth . That seemed impossible to me. It was interesting noticing how in reaction I was feeling as though I wasn’t doing good enough with my walk (even though I honestly can’t walk at any faster pace). It was a good reminder that we need to do things at own pace and in our own way… someone else achieving doesn’t take away from our personal achievements
Martin Lamač kindly pointed out they weren’t carrying camping equipment or food. With their small rucksacks and staying in hotels/airbnbs they save time to pitching as well as cooking. Its great how people find ways to walk the SWCP to suit them Reflecting on the expense of different options, I’m mindful how money can be a barrier to people hiking the coast path. The coast path association advise the whole path of 630 miles takes 56 days to complete. Its hard for people to take time off work for that, let alone covering the expenses on top.
I’ve tried to keep costs low by dehydrating meals and carrying them which has really helped but they aren’t particularly appetizing and the portion sizes have been a bit small so have found the need to buy some carb-loaded pub meals. Its also felt great to support local businesses along the way and to enjoy some treats!
We arrived in Looe about 11.30. It was heaving with people and few restaurants were taking walk-ins with the shortage of chefs. Luckily the Jolly Sailor Inn opened at 12 which became our refuge for lunch as the afternoon section was going to be tough. This 500 year old pub is the oldest in Looe. Its beautiful oak beams were once part of a ships hull.
We stepped out of the pub to glorious sunshine, a complete contrast to the morning weather and decided to indulge in an icecream on the beach. I was feeling grateful for Claire’s sunscreen!
The walk to Polperro was utterly gorgeous and Polperro was a cute little fishing village that I would have loved to have explored but we needed to make it to our campsite at Lansallos before the end of daylight. We got there eventually and even managed to pitch in time for sunset! Making our Huel dinner that little bit more palatable
Day 18 Lansallos to Par
Setting off early from our National Trust campsite to rejoin the coast path, we met another couple hiking down to the beach. The husband was returning to share a special spot on the path with his wife. This gentleman had travelled down last year for his first solo camp to mourn the loss of his best friend, and had found solice in this Cornish section I explained about my walk and how I have been touched by all the benches dotted along the path in memorial to deceased loved ones. We agreed nature offers space and comfort to people grieving There is healing in finding ways to honour the love and loss we feel for our loved ones through objects and rituals but also through our connection with other people. The wife in the couple had problems walking with her knees but was determinedly making her way down the gravel path to the beach. I was so touched by his pride in memorializing his friend and also her commitment to share in her husband’s special place. I have very much valued how people have supported me in my grieving process from family, friends to complete strangers. Those who have generously shared their own pain and not been afraid to bare witness to mine have helped beyond words
It was a day of mixed weather and terrain fluctuating from flat to steep, clouds to sunshine… much less intense than the day before which Martin Lamač appreciated with all his blisters
Eventually we made it to Pulruan and crossed by ferry to Fowey. Such a fab place! The sculpture of a giant bird holding a book dominates the promenade where you first land… created to celebrate the writer Daphne Du Maurier who lived in Fowey. Around the corner is a barometer honoring the creation of the coastal weather communication system by Admiral Fitzroy… there are 200 dotted along the coastline but this is the first I’ve noticed! We stopped for a delicious curry lunch before pushing on past Saint Catherine’s castle, Gridlemouth cove and Gribbin Head. At Polkerris the sun came out. We had a little stop to recuperate before making it to Par Beach and onto our destination for the night … East Crinnis Holiday Park.
Martin was not impressed to learn the distance between Fowey and Par by road (2.5 miles) compared to on the coast path (7 hilly miles). Martin mentioned something about wanting to kill me but it was “too much hassle” (extra steps)
Roel, the Manger of the park, greeted us with such a warm welcome; his humor a balm to our weariness. “Oh I forgot to mention the FREE three ply toilet paper!” After learning that the reason for our journey is fundraising for Buturi school he waved our camp fee and instead donated it to the charity
Being completely out if clean clothes, I was utterly delighted to learn of the laundry facility at the park. Waiting for the washing machine to become free, I got chatting to another visitor who happened to be another SWCP hiker… this 72 years young chap is hiking the whole path in two stints camping/wild camping! We chatted about ways to keep motivated while walking long distance and I enquired about his military experiences and opinion on the TV show ‘who dares wins’ being ex-special forces himself. He was such a thoughtful, interesting man He shared he checks in daily with military mates via Whatsapp and dares miss a day to avoid another incident of the coastguard and police being sent out in search of him(!).
As I put my clothes into wash, embarrassed he admitted he forgot to carry washing powder. I offered a handful of the detergent sheets I’d brought with me and tried to comfort him in sharing I’d also forgotten items like a water filter. He said he’d take the sheets if it was for an item swap … he offered me iodine tablets. I happy agreed. Not because I particularly needed them but because it felt special to be part of the walking community supporting each other! Getting back to the tent I found Martin hobbling out with a frown… not from his blisters but worry I’d been gone for so long
Day 19 Par to Penare
A couple that check blisters together stick together, right? Martin did so well as blisters make walking up and down hills horrid
It proved surprisingly difficult to find the coast path from the campsite this morning but after navigating the trainline and golf course we eventually found our way to Charlestown. We managed good timing for a coffee at the Gallery Cafe. The owner was so kind offering to refill our water bottles if needed… embracing us as backpackers (which doesn’t always happen!)
Charlestown holds special memories of one of the first road trips Martin Lamač and I did together in England. Sadly though erosion has caused a path diversion cutting out Duporth beach and diverting to Porthpean. There are constant reminders of climate change and land loss along this walk
Mevagissey is impossible for me to pronounce which drives Martin mad , its another picturesque little place and was great for a rest stop before Portmellon and Gorran Haven.
Our stop tonight was at YHA Boswinger, a cute hostel with every amenity for comfort. It was fun listening to another guest practice on their accordion before dinner and such a treat to have dessert after our protein shakes and dinner of packet rice and chicken slices… a feast for our last evening together on this trip
Day 20 Boswinger to Falmouth
Martin Lamač ‘s final day walking with me. We agreed that the 18 mile walking itinerary I’d set (on the logic we’d have increased our fitness!) was not realistic with his blisters, a planned lunch with friends, a ferry crossing and given he had a bus to catch for an international flight … so not as my miles logged today as intended!
Reflecting in this change I had to process feelings of disappointment and guilt to miss a section of the path, but reminded myself that an important part of the beauty in this walk is enjoying quality time in these places with people who I love… the celebration of being in connection
We set off today in glorious sunshine from Boswinger to Porthlear beach laiden with fresh croissants gifted from the hostel staff It was such a beautiful 8 mile walk to Portholland and then on to Porthloe. Spring flowers are blossoming and there are so many butterflies out. We had planned to have lunch here but it turns out the pub we’d found on Google is now an airbnb and the Lugger restaurant is not currently open for lunch (chef shortages).
We were soon uplifted to meet our mates who’d driven from Penzance to see us… Bronwen, Emma Louise Clunie and little Ester! Emma and Martin first met working together on a wine harvest in New Zealand We all became friends living in Penzance I had such fun exploring South Cornwall with Emma and Bron on days off Hanging out again and with Ester just being the cutest little lady… just a fab day!!
Emma drove us on to Porthscato where we enjoyed sitting outside for a pub lunch and a little wander on the beach. Esther was loving playing in the sand Emma kindly drove us on to St Mawes where we nosed around the quant thatched cottages of this old fishing village before crossing to the bustling maritime port of Falmouth.
At the pier, we were met by Melanie Smith, Ken and Mr Percy it was lovely to catch up together over dinner before Martin needed to head back to the Czech Republic to finish his thesis
Feeling tremendously grateful for such loving people to share and create these memories with
I’d just like to thank Martin for not only supporting me in this charity hike with encouragement and practical help but also for participating; its been such a special trip for so many reasons and making memories together through this has been wonderful. I wasn’t keen to wild camp alone (this has been my first experience of solo camping at all) so Martin organized his travel and study to keep me company on the days it proved impossible to find accommodation. I’ve learned so much from his knowledge of adventuring and self-confidence outdoors, its rubbed off on me in the best way to bolster my own confidence
Hiking for 8 hours a day while carry heavy loads; constantly feeling hungry; pitching, cooking, decamping; being mindful of water supplies and supplies of clean clothes… its a test for anyone aloneand especially a couple Mum died one month after Martin and I moved in together in Somerset, and then only a few months later we had the lockdowns. Through it all he’s been utterly amazing (I’m purposely not mentioning the annoying moments I/we all have )
Day 21 Falmouth to Helford Passage
Today I had the pleasure of walking with Ken; Melanie Smith‘s partner. Mel and Ken have been together for 37 years… longer than I’ve been alive! Ken has been a constant in my life and our Smith family. I’m so proud to think of him as a brother … a cool, collected, fountain of knowledge and wisdom with the best (albeit dark at times ) humor. I’m under no illusion that I’m the uncool younger siblings of our motley crew of Smiths… the person whos been an avid Harry Potter fan and cringe pop music lover. As such a connoisseur of films, I don’t think Ken’s ever forgiven me for getting him to watch Harry Potter in my youth
Mel and Ken love walking. My childhood is full of memories of them visiting Devon to walk with our dad, my mum and siblings; as well as us visiting them in Surrey. Its heartwarming to think that when I was a child and would tire on family walks, Ken would give me a piggy back.
As a teenager I rebelled against walking (too big for piggy backs!) but the older I get, the more I’ve come to appreciate it. Their epic adventures in the UK around the world have definitely inspired me to enjoy walking more.
The morning started with a lot of steps before actually reaching the path…. Mel managed to pick the furthest spot for our tents away from the showers but what a beautiful sunrise view though! At least we had a hearty breakfast to fuel today’s walk.
Ken and I enjoyed beautiful sunshine as we circled Falmouth docks and Pendennis Point. Unsprisingly we reached the halfway mark for our miles in good time (Ken notoriously walks quickly!!) but I think we were both surprised at how I’d managed to keep up with him (which also explains my lack of photos today from not dawdling ). It meant we could have a leisurely coffee at Swanpool beach, lunch in the cool shade of trees before Rosemullion Head, and add a detour to St Mawnan church (a whole extra mile of steps ).
Walking with Ken today was special. I learn so much about history, music and politics from him… he always knows an interesting backstory.
Reaching Helford Passage Beach in the early afternoon, we found Mel chatting away with other tourists at the Ferry Boat Inn with Mr Percy enjoying a rest in the sunshine After a celebratory drink we made our way to Coverack YHA for our camping spot tonight, only for us to upgrade our booking to bell tents… meaning ready made beds and a log fire for heating My favorite quote of the day goes to Ken in response to Mel’s excitement… “your very excited about not camping in a tent, while camping in a tent”