Port Isaac to Padstow

June 24 and 25, 2018

Less than a month after returning from Spain we’re off again, this time to do some more walking on Britain’s Southwest Coastal Path. Our flight was scheduled to leave at 1:25 pm so we didn’t need to rush; we caught the bus and then took the train out to the airport, arriving there at about 11:30 am.

On our trip back from Spain Air Canada had delayed us unconscionably in Montreal, so they had given us some restaurant vouchers as compensation. We decided to cash in two of them at Subway, and had chicken and bacon paninis with Lipton’s iced tea. A very satisfying lunch and a good use of the vouchers.

Our Air Transat flight left on time and flew across the Atlantic to Gatwick without any excitement, arriving on time. But unfortunately neither of us could sleep very well so we were tired when we arrived. We sat down in Costa and had some tea and a “pannoresin”, which turned out to be a pain au raisin. After that we took care of administrative tasks: buying a Two Together rail pass and picking up all of our pre-purchased train tickets.

After a while we went down to the train station and caught our first train. It puttered around in the backwoods of Surrey, ending up in Reading. Our connection there was on time, and it was very full. Luckily we had reserved seats so we squeezed our way onto Coach A and got our seats. They were actually already occupied so we asked the two ladies to move, which they did, although grudgingly. Soon we found out that the train was so crowded because it was missing one coach, which meant that almost 100 people had to squeeze into the other coaches. And not only that, but the air conditioning in Coach A didn’t work!

So when we arrived in Bodmin Parkway after about three and a half hours we were very glad to get off. Rosemary had pre-arranged a taxi to take us to Port Isaac, instead of taking two buses with nearly an hour layover in Wadebridge. So seeing a man at the station holding a sign with our name on it was very reassuring. The journey to Port Isaac took about half an hour and cost £35—an excellent investment!

Port Isaac harbour
Port Isaac harbour

In Port Isaac we paid our driver, Phil, and then went into our B&B, the Terrace Tea Rooms. Our host, Steve, welcomed us and showed us our rooms. We settled in, had a cup of tea, and then went out for a walk about the town. It was good to be here.

About 6 pm we went for dinner at the Golden Lion pub down by the harbour. Both of us had the fish and chips, which were really good. After that we walked around the town a bit more and then returned to the B&B.

June 26, 2018

We had a leisurely morning, with breakfast at 8:45 am. By the time we left it was 9:30 am, so we could stop in at “May Contain Nuts” to buy pasties for lunch and then head out of Port Isaac.

This was our first day of walking; we hadn’t really done any serious walking for two years, since Rosemary blew up her knee in London. But now the knee was under control and we were ready to walk again. So off we went on the coastal path to Port Quin.

Six-spot Burnet moth
Six-spot Burnet moth

Well, we hadn’t remembered how steep and long the ups and downs were, and the weather was sunny and hot without any onshore breeze. So it took us much longer than expected to get to Port Quin. We could have taken the short route across the fields, especially since we had already done the coastal route on our last visit here. But no… Big mistake!

At Port Quin we sat in the shade and ate our lunch. We also had tea in our flasks, and although it was a very hot day the tea was very good.

The hard part of today’s walk was over, but we still had 15 km to walk before getting the ferry from Rock to Padstow. The scenery was spectacular, with the beautiful blue sky and equally beautiful blues and greens of the ocean. It was just too bad that the weather was so hot!

The Rumps
The Rumps

After another couple of hours we arrived at The Rumps, a set of sea stacks. All along the coast we had been watching for wildlife and one passer-by had told us he’d seen a seal, but when we got to the seal place there was only a cormorant diving there. Okay, maybe the seal had swum away. But we had a late snack at The Rumps and finished our tea. From here we could see Polzeath and also the entrance to the Camel estuary where Padstow was located.

View of Polzeath and the Camel estuary
View of Polzeath and the Camel estuary

We had been told by Steve that the last ferry from Rock left at 5 pm. We were a bit dubious about that but it could be true, so we walked as quickly as our tired legs would take us. But by the time we reached Polzeath (rhymes with “death”) we knew we wouldn’t get to Rock by 5 pm, so we slowed down to a pace we could handle.

Finally we got to Rock and surprise, surprise!! We saw a lineup of people waiting for the Padstow ferry, which was just arriving. Wow, were we ever happy. The one-way fare was £2 each and the ride took about eight minutes.

The Rock ferry, hooray!
The Rock ferry, hooray!

Virginia B&B was in the town so we got there quickly from the ferry dock. We’d blithely told our hosts we would be arriving around 3 pm and here it was 6 pm! That was a bit embarrassing. But we had a lovely room with an ensuite toilet and sink. First order of business was a cup of tea followed by a shower. It felt really good to clean off the caked-on salt from the sweat which coated our bodies.

We did a bit of laundry and then realized we needed food, so we headed out to find somewhere to eat. After looking at several places we ended up at the Old Custom House pub. The arrival of Rick Stein in Padstow several years ago seems to have made the restaurant scene more competitive, since the put had some interesting dishes. Rosemary ordered a chicken Caesar salad, but it wasn’t the North American style she expected. However it was actually very good. Paul ordered Thai green chicken curry which was also very good, although having prawn crackers as a garnish was also unexpected.

After dinner we headed out to look for an ice cream shop, but it was now 8:30 pm and all of them were closed. So we did a bit of a walk around the village and headed back to the B&B. Bed time was 11 pm tonight.

Next: Padstow to Newquay