September 26, 2014
It was raining this morning when we got up, and outside the clouds were really low and the views almost nonexistent. But by the time we finished our breakfast and packed our bags the skies were brightening and we could see blue sky in the west. It was after 9:30 am when we set out, and now we turned away from Port Isaac and walked eastwards on the coastal path towards our destination for today, Tintagel.
We followed the road down to the tiny village of Port Gavarne and then climbed up to the cliff-top path. Our pattern for most of the day was to plunge down into a gully and then plunge right back up again to the top of the cliff. Because of the overnight rain the ground was damp so we slipped and fell a few times, but luckily didn’t hurt ourselves. We had looked into having our large pack transported to Tintagel, but the company wanted £15 to do that and we weren’t sure if they could deliver to the YHA there. So in the end we arranged our stuff into Rosemary’s day pack and her large Serratus pack, and strapped Paul’s almost-empty day pack onto the outside of the Serratus pack. The result was rather heavy but it was still doable.
There was nobody living near the path for quite a long time, so it was very quiet, but we did have to chase cows away so we could use one of the stiles. After about three hours we stopped for lunch. Because we had packed everything differently we thought we had forgotten to pack the lunch, but eventually we tracked it down. We sat up on a headland and looked out at the ocean. After lunch we continued the down-and-up routine, finally plunging down to Trebarwith Strand. There were a lot of people on the beach and at the cafés there and we paused for ice-cream cones.
From here we climbed back up to the cliff-tops for the last of nine times. It only took about half an hour to get to the Tintagel YHA, at Dunderhole Head. It was a low-slung white building which sat right by the cliff. Unfortunately it was 3:30 pm and the reception hours were from 5 pm to 10 pm. But luckily for us one of the guests was there, so she let us in and gave us the door code so we could store our packs inside. This made it a lot easier to go into town to buy groceries.
We walked past the old church, with its “Beware of Adders” sign, and then along the road into the village, where we bought food for the next three days from the Spar. It was hard work carrying the bags of food back to the hostel! Just as we got there we met the volunteer manager, Liz, who checked us in. So we made our beds and had showers, after which it was time for dinner. The kitchen was very well stocked with pots, dishes, and utensils and there were two cooking areas. We had the kitchen all to ourselves while we made our meal, which was very nice. For the rest of the evening a lot of us sat in the common area and chatted for quite a while.
September 27, 2014
Still no rain this morning—our dry-weather streak was still alive! Our plan today was to take the bus from Tintagel to Crackington Haven and then walk back on the coastal path. After breakfast we made up our flasks and packed food for lunch and then set off for the bus stop. We had to walk quickly to catch the bus but we did make it in time.
We boarded at the stop across from the Visitor Centre and off we zoomed down the road. The route took us overland through several small villages; pretty soon we came upon a German tour bus taking up most of the road, and our driver had a sarcastic comment as he took evasive action. At Boscastle a man got on and when the driver told him the fare he said, loudly, “Four pounds fifty? Four pounds fifty to Bude?” We had had similar thoughts about the bus fares, but the bus driver only collects them.
After about 25 minutes the bus plunged down the hill into Crackington Haven. After we used the public conveniences and put on our packs we set off. As usual we went uphill, and then walked along the cliff edge before descending again. This was the process which we repeated several times this morning. Today there was a herd of long-horned goats on the first headland, which was new for us, but they just watched us as we passed them. We met very few people on this part of the path, except for one man who pointed out a seal bobbing far below in the ocean.
By 1 pm we were both hungry so we sat on a bench to eat our lunch while enjoying the view. The sky was overcast, but the views were still good. There were a couple of kestrels hovering in the area, and then a peregrine shot past us.
After lunch we continued on, reaching Boscastle at about 2 pm. This was a place where we could leave the trail and catch a bus back to Tintagel, but we decided to continue walking. So we went into the National Trust shop to look around and then headed once again up the trail. There were a lot more people on this part of the trail, and we also encountered a group of about eight Dartmoor ponies. As we got closer to Tintagel there were more and more features like caravan parks, although the coastal path still managed to go through grassy areas or gorse-lined paths.
We passed by the Tintagel Castle ruins before climbing the last hill of the day, and arrived back at the hostel at about 5:30 pm. After having showers and rinsing out some sweaty clothing we made our dinner—a repeat of yesterday, so it was easily made. After dinner we chatted with Liz and her friend Chris while also writing our journals.
September 28, 2014
Today was our last day on the Southwest Coastal Path, for this trip anyway. Our plan was to buy return tickets from Tintagel to Bude, but to get off at Crackington Haven and walk from there to Bude before taking the bus back. We were up earlier than usual, so today we didn’t have to rush to catch the bus.
As our Western Greyhound bounded along the B3623 like a green greyhound there was fog down over the headlands, but by the time we got off at Crackington Haven the fog had lifted, turning into the low clouds we had become used to. The start of our path was up the road a bit, and when we turned onto the path, as usual we went steeply up to the top of the cliff and then walked along it for a while. This part of the path didn’t have as many ups and downs as our previous sections, but the ones we had were very steep. It usually took us 10 or 15 minutes to climb them.
There were not many walkers on today’s section so we walked for long distances without seeing anyone. By 1 pm we decided it was lunch time, so we stopped at the small village of Millook and sat on the beach to eat. A lot of the rocks along the Cornish coast are very warped and twisted, and Millook had a good example of this. But the layers along the coast turn into flat areas which look like beaches, except not made of sand. Anyway, we headed uphill again from Millook, but now the route became more rolling.
Soon we were at Widemouth (pronounced “Widmouth”) Bay, which had a very large beach. There were a lot of people there and since the tide was low they had to go a long way to reach the water. Our path went through the car park and then through the dunes to the next headland. From there we had a good walk through the fields to Bude.
Our choices of bus out of Bude were at 3:25 pm and 5:25 pm, with nothing later than that. We figured if we picked up the pace we might just catch the 3:25, so we decided not to do that. When we arrived in Bude we walked along the canal. We had been told that we could rent a swan boat to paddle up the canal, but unfortunately the swan boat rental place was closed on Sundays, so we bought ice-cream cones instead. There was a castle in Bude, not a very big one but still a castle. We went in to look at the exhibits and found that it had been built in the 19th century by Goldsworthy Gurney, a little-known Cornish inventor who had invented a lot of things but somehow failed to get the credit for them. After that we had a look around the Mountain Hardware shop to see if anything of interest was on sale, before heading to the bus stop to wait.
Our bus arrived at 5 pm with a “Not In Service” sign, but luckily the driver just had to go and refuel the bus. Then we were off at 5:25 pm and rocketed back to Tintagel, arriving there a bit after 6 pm. We went for dinner at the King Arthur’s Arms pub for Sunday Roast, but unfortunately for us they were sold out of the roast. So we had to settle for fish and chips instead. Not the best fish and chips we have ever had, but at least somebody else was cooking tonight. We walked back to the hostel in the gradually darkening evening, arriving with a bit of pink sunset still in the west. We did a bit of laundry and hung it in the drying room before having some hot chocolate.