Thursday, 16 February 2012

Crantock to Mawgan Porth

Looking back from Newquay across the Gannel to Crantock Beach

Richard had elected to get back to Polperro earlier than originally envisaged, and to do so by public transport rather than getting Niki to pick him up. So we parted after a very good breakfast – he to catch the 10:13 train (generously driven to Newquay station by Bernard. I was away by 9:20, leaving my case to be taken to Newquay station later in the day by the incredibly generous Bernard.
The walk out of Crantock was a pleasant cross-country stroll – initially more uphill than expected – to the Gannel tidal crossing. Fortunately we were on neap tides, and it was still two hours before high tide, so the footbridge was easily accessible. Then across the Western end of Newquay to Fistral beach, which I crossed on the sands to the Surfing development at the far end. Surfers already in evidence, including a couple of boys, no more than ten or so, obviously about to have their first lesson.
Then it was round the former hotel near Towan Head – now being redeveloped, presumably as apartments, and a relatively easy walk into Newquay proper.
Guess who?
This was the least attractive part of the whole walk from Land’s End. Newquay is not an attractive town. I had expected golden sands as elsewhere on the coast, but at high tide very little was evident. There are cliffs all the way, and even if they are largely fairly modest, they make it much less of a seaside resort than I had expected. There are lots of surfing-related shops, amusement arcades, and the town as a whole has a general air of being rather run down. Maybe it was just because it was February, but I was not impressed.
After the final bit of Newquay, Porth Beach, things improve. Trevelgue Head can be avoided by keeping to the road, but it is worth the extra few hundred metres. And after that the SWCP gets back up to scratch.
The two miles or so to Watergate are reasonable cliff-top walking, with the fields under RSPB management for corn buntings (though I didn’t see any). Watergate itself is obviously being significantly enhanced with much new building, and is clearly becoming a major surfing centre.
Watergate Beach
After that it’s a long climb, initially steep and then steady, to the highest point of the day’s walk. This is a wonderful, undulating stretch, with rolling country behind and the beach beneath. Mawgan Porth itself is inset from the coast with a fine beach in front, and steeply sloping development behind – more attractive than other resorts passed in the previous few days. There was even a little faltering sunshine to brighten the scene – sorely missed for the last three days.
A beer at the local pub, and then a bus back to Newquay. It was actually a minute early, and took me by surprise: I had to dash to catch it after taking a photo to record my arrival at the end point of this first week.
The bus travels through narrow country lanes, via Newquay airport, into Newquay itself. There I saw the bus to Crantock pull out just as I realised it was the one I needed. So an hour to wait!  Fortunately there was a Costa nearby, and I was also able to replace the rucksack cover I  had lost the previous day.
Finished! My objective for Week 1
I was back at Carden Cottage just after 4:00, where the Clarks generously provided me with a cup of tea, a shower, and the opportunity to change into civvies. And then Bernard drove me into Newquay to catch the 1722 train to Par.
This was a single carriage that can’t ever have gone at more than 40mph, and generally seemed to go much more slowly. It arrived at Par a little after 6:00, and I then had a wait of three quarters of an hour before the train for Paddington arrived.
Due in at Paddington just before midnight. The end of a very pleasing week. No blisters, no cramps. Tired, but not exhausted. Muscles know they have been working hard, but I was able to do the whole trip without too much difficulty.  And I had excellent company to make it even better.

Bernard and Pat Clark at Carden Cottage -
the best B&B in Crantock
Cloudy; about 9C, with a little brightness in mid-afternoon. 17.44 km. 400m ascent and 400m descent (estimated, as I failed to stop the Chronometer until half-way through the bus journey back to Newquay).

Totals for Week 1 – 129.90km; 3,210m ascent; 3,188m descent.
(The latter figures are from my Timex watch/altimeter; those recorded on the Map my Walk website are not as impressive, but I suspect they don’t account for all the little bits over stiles and the like!)

Map -

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