Sunday, 29 April 2012

Mawgan Porth to Padstow

Any hope that today would not be as bad as forecast was dashed as soon as I looked out of the window. Water dripping from overflowing gutters, wild convulsions by every bit of visible vegetation, birds battling against the gale, and low scudding cloud cover.

The traveller's assemble - before the storm
After a (necessarily) hearty breakfast, it was a question of putting on every bit of available wet weather gear, taking a photograph of posterity, and venturing forth into the gale.

The vey first bit of the coastal path gave a clear foretaste of what was to come. We were in a stream bed, with water cascading down the steps, as we climbed out of the village. Wherever the path was at all worn below its surrounds, it was full of water – flowing downhill against or with us, or in giant puddles on the occasional level bits. No gloves, as it’s Spring, after all – but my hands were stinging with cold within ten minutes. Within twenty I could feel the water in my boots, and in half an hour it became abundantly clear that my waterproofs weren’t.

So it was 4½ hard miles along the Coastal Path to Porthcothan. This is spectacular scenery, particularly around Bedruthan Steps, but its charms were hard to appreciate. Every time I looked up to see how far ahead Richard had walked I could see the vista – but also got a face-full of stinging rain. God knows why I chose to wear glasses – they were rain-spattered throughout the day – but at least they marginally moderated the assault of rain in the face. Perhaps a marginal compensation was that this stretch has only moderate descents and climbs, though there was a slight reduction in the intensity of the weather’s assault at these points.

At Porthcothan the decision was simple. No more of the Coastal Path; just a straight walk along the B3276 all the way to Padstow. If we’d done the whole of the SWCP it would have been the best part of 16 miles; as it was we reduced the stage to 9½. Quite enough! Nothing to note on the road walk – apart from the fact that for long stretches the road was as much a river as a highway. I’ve seldom seen anything like it – certainly not when walking.

At least dinner was as occasion - the Padstein experience

I should have taken photos – or movies – to prove just how atrocious the day was, but my hands were too numb and the camera too deeply pocketed to make it a realistic proposition. Besides, it’d probably have got completely soaked anyway.

We reached Padstow just before 2:00pm after a four-hour stint with no stops. The destination always appealed more than any thought of a temporary respite. There it was a question of climbing out of waterlogged clothes (nothing was dry!), having a long shower, dry clothes, and then a drink and a snack. The afternoon was largely dedicated to recovery and recuperation, but we did venture forth later on. The wind was already moderating, and there were only a few drops of ain by late afternoon. C’est la vie!

We are staying in the Golden Lion – probably the most popular of the many local pubs. It’s been jam-packed all day long, and now the music has started. Mayday in Padstow is a major event, and everyone is getting in the mood. The streets are decorated with maypoles and bunting, and the town is full.

Dinner was at the Rick Stein fish and chip shop. Nothing particularly exceptional, but he has the name and wins the game. Everything is served in smart labelled paper trays or tubs, and they even charge for tartar sauce. Half the restaurants in the town are the Rick Stein this or that, and he has delicatessens, shops, you name it. Padstein, really.
Musings over dinner on projects. What do I do after this trip? Richard has embarked on a project to use the local library in Polperro as a location for briefings on health topics for people “of a certain age”. It appears that it may be gaining traction, and could be rolled out across the county. And we also chatted about how one (Richard, not me) could produce an entertaining book of “Why am I here?” Lots of angles, and one I would love to see him explore more fully.

The weather’s fine this evening, but it’s another dire forecast, with severe weather warnings for Cornwall. Oh well …

Horrible wind and rain; only about 6-8C. 16.0 km (estimated). Tracking did not work; failed to switch on altimeter; estimated 350m ascent and descent.

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