View from Crane Ledges to northwest at Kynance Cliff
My journey with a friend of the Cornwall Coast was 17 days: Walking 11, relaxing 2 in Penzance before the walk, relaxing 1 midway in Falmouth, and relaxing 2 in Plymouth at completion, plus another 3 days afterward to explore London. We walked an average of 7-1/2 miles a day.
This was my forth long walk in England having also walked the 192 mile Coast-to-Coast in 2010, the 100 mile South Downs in 2013, and the 100 mile Cotswold in 2014. Although it is difficult to compare the 80 miles we walked in Cornwall with the diverse Coast-to-Coast, it is easier to compared it with the other two. What I found special in Cornwall were quaint port towns, extraordinarily often excellent food, and delightful coastal views. But because Cornwall sticks out to the west like a big thumb, the weather was more fickle. In any case, you might want to look at the reports of my other long walks.
This report describes my relaxing two week walk with a friend of Cornwall along a piece of the 630 mile Southwest Coastal Path. The report also includes what to expect for weather, how best to navigate, what clothing & equipment to use, getting to/from the path, lodging & gear transfer, and a detailed itinerary & expense list with positive and a few negative comments.
Having completed several other long walks in England I knew of England's fickle weather. Because September is touted as statistically drier, I counted on my good luck for sunny skies. What I learned on this trip was that tropical storms that often originate in Africa and then travel to the Americas also display their wrath leaving the Americas for England especially along the exposed Cornwall coast. So while the east coast of the Americas were being pounded by storms in August and September of 2015, their aftermath ultimately reached Cornwall.
But weather be damned, I found the adversity of walking in a sometimes foul climate a minor concern. Armed with a good quality Gortex rain shell, rain pants, gators, and boots, I was prepared for what the elements could deliver. I always wore gators to keep the sometimes wet track from soiling my feet, and I sometimes donned a Gortex rain shell such as on the day walking from The Lizard.
The Cornwall Coast, part of the Southwest Coastal Path, is well marked and is an easy to follow track. Unlike other tracks which are inland, most of the time the path follows the coast, so going off path is less of a issue. Rule number one is obvious, follow the coast. There are, however, a few locales where a map and GPS were helpful. I recommend carrying National Trail maps of the Cornwall Coast, a handheld GPS, and a simple "key-chain" compass.
Before the walk I downloaded a map of Great Britain to my GPS, and I created a set of GPS waypoints for the walk which identified the main path from a few side paths comprising about 750 waypoints: 500 along the main route from Senna Cove to Plymouth, 24 alternate paths (official diversions or directions to lodging) comprising 100 waypoints, and 150 waypoints demarking various points-of-interest (such as bus stops, lodging, food/pubs, and points-of-interest). I also created a Take-Along Guide which identifies each waypoint, a milepost (referenced to the start of the Southwest Coastal Path in Minehead), OSGB coordinate, elevation, % grade, and a brief description. A snippet of this guide is illustrated here, while a comprehensive discussion of these waypoints and free downloads can be found elsewhere on my website www.wildtramper.com.
When my companion and I were walking, we relied on my Garmin eTrex 30 GPS with downloaded maps and waypoints and "Harvey's Southwest Coastal Path" map set 3 (from Portreath to Lands End to The Lizard) and map set 4 (from The Lizard to Plymouth) along with the Circerone guidebook "The South West Coast Path" for miscellaneous information. I copied (two-sided in color) sections of the unwieldy Harvey's map and placed the copies into a waterproof (Ortlieb brand) 9"x11" map carrier. I found using a map carrier both reliable and convenient, much more so than large cumbersome sheet maps.
Unlike other long tracks I've walked, the signing of the Cornwall Coast was well marked, but when in doubt just follow the coast.
While walking I always wore nylon pants, long sleeve light-weight silk shirt, wool socks, sturdy waterproof boots, gators, and hat. Because the weather was most always in the low 60s I also wore a nylon shirt and a 100 weight fleece jacket and often a pair of light weight gloves and sometimes a Gortex shell. I carried rain pants which I happily wore on the blustery day walking from The Lizard. Although I was sufficiently warm with this mix of layers, in retrospect I would have preferred a wool base layer rather than silk. I also brought a wool cap, but it was never used. I recommend walking only with fast drying, wicking fabrics (e.g. nylon, fleece, or wool) and to stay away from cottons because as the adage says cotton kills.
I strongly recommend bringing a bomb-proof rain jacket. Bomb-proof means a rain jacket made of seam-sealed, three-layer-laminated, Gortex fabric, and a jacket with proper head protection, that is a hood which stays in place in heavy rain or wind, and a shell length sufficient to cover part of your lower body. I own both three-layer-laminated Gortex and lighter two-layer-lamented rain gear, and I have learned that the lighter weight materials do not stand up to prolonged foul weather. It pays to use what I call bomb-proof construction for best prolonged comfort in inclement weather as you will likely experience at some point along the path.
Like rain jackets, I own various grades of rain pants. For the Cornwall Coast I brought a good quality, light weight, waterproof and breathable, nylon rain pant rather than bomb-proof Gortex. I happily wore the rain pants on the threatening day's walk from The Lizard to Coverack. I always wore gators to protect my legs from a sometimes wet or muddy track. I brought two hats, one to keep the sun off my thinning hair and the other with a large brim to shed rain.
What I Carried:
I carried a small 25 liter day pack outfitted with a 2 liter Platypus through-the-straw drinking system. Among other things, the pack contained a personal first aid kit [dental floss, iodine, paper tape, nitrile gloves, second skin, protective mask for first aid/CPR, ibuprofen, acetaminophen, moleskin, various bandages, sew kit with various needles, scissors], LED headlamp, extra batteries, bandana, emergency TP, ditty bag [sunscreen, lip balm, deet (never used), hand sanitizer, eye drops], 100 weight fleece jacket, wool cap, light-weight fleece gloves, and pack rain cover. Attached to the pack with both a Garmin clip and the all important safety lanyard (as I once lost a GPS when the clip failed) was a Garmin model eTrex 30 GPS with downloaded maps and waypoints. I carried a walking stick.
Reference Books and Maps:
• "The South West Coast Path" by Paddy Dillon is a comprehensive book of the path from Minehead to South Haven Point. It includes numerous maps of the route and sites along the path. There are numerous other guide books also available.
• Harvey's "South West Coast Path" polyethylene maps are continuous strips to 1:40000 scale and consist of six different map sets. For this walk I used two: Map Set 3 "Portreath to Lizard via Land's End" and Map Set 4 "Lizard to Plymouth." These maps identified mostly the main route, while walking off track to nearby villages the map is sometimes missing. Nonetheless, I found these maps useful to absorb a days journey. Before the walk I two-sided, color copied sections of the map to fit into a waterproof (Ortlieb brand) 9"x11" map carrier. The sections generally comprised one day's walk.
• My GPS was downloaded with Great Britian contour maps. Although these maps should be available through your GPS manufacturer, I chose to use free open source maps (talkytoaster) and I found these maps were both detailed and reliable. Alternatively free world-wide open source maps are available from Velomap.
• The National Trails website of the Southwest Coastal Path. This excellent site lists numerous trail information including FAQs and lodging along the way.
• Luggage Transfers (LT) offer excellent luggage transfer service across the entire 630 miles of SWCP, and they can also arrange accommodations.
Gear Transfer & Lodging:
Unlike most people who walk Cornwall, I booked my own lodging using Luggage Transfers (LT) for the day-to-day baggage transfer. LT can also arrange accommodations. If you choose to book as I did, then I recommend booking early. I booked nearly a year in advance and was able to select almost any B&B or inn using the LT website to find lodging.
Any unlocked, 4-band, GSM cell phone should work fine in England, the trick is to purchase the correct service provider. I purchased a SIM directly from service provider Orange in Penzance for £10 which included sufficient minutes for my month stay. As expected, service was fine while in the larger cities (such as Penzance, Falmouth, and Plymouth) but was usually non existent along the track and was spotty in smaller villages (such as Mullion, The Lizard, and the like).
Getting To/From the Track:
From Heathrow airport my friend and I took the express Underground to Paddington Station, then traveled by Great Western Rail directly to Penzance (£81, 5-1/2 hours). On return from Plymouth we again traveled by Great Western Rail to London Paddington Station (£54, 3-1/2 hours).
Distance / Elevation:
Above is a distance/elevation graph with distance in miles (relative to the milepost at the start of the Southwest Coastal Path in Minehead) and elevation in feet, while above the graph is a map of Cornwall illustrating the coastal paths I walked (red and blue but not green). From left to right the elevation guide travels from Senna Cove to Plymouth. In between are towns/villages, sometimes (slightly) off-track. The table below lists the paths I walked beginning just before Land's End at Senna Cove and ending at Plymouth.
On our day zero we had an early arrival at Heathrow and what seemed like a endless wait through customs & immigration. Then after a bit of transportation magic we were at Paddington Station boarding the10:10 Great Western Railway train to Penzance. Thankfully it was direct without transfers, but it was another 5-1/2 hours when we arrived. Once in Penzance we walked to our B&B, staying 4 nights at the most excellent Glencree House. At 6:00 we strolled out for dinner, eating at a pub called The Navy. We both had pasta with an assortment of vegetables, I had a excellent local beer. Jet lag was upon us.
Our official first day was one of exploring Saint Ives. We boarded the morning #16 bus from Penzance (nearby the train station) and reached Saint Ives 45 minutes later. We meandered to the Tate Museum after a bit of getting pleasantly lost. This Tate was contemporary to the extreme, much too so for my tastes. After the Tate we visited the Trewyn Studios, home, studio, and garden of Barbara Hepworth. She was an amazing sculptor who lived in the house from 1949 until her death at age 72 in 1975. Now a museum associated with the Tate, it displays many of her works, many in a backyard garden setting, and often on a massive scale. It was all most excellent. Afterward we had a bite to eat and explored this quaint port town braving the wind. At 4:00 we caught a bus for return. In the evening we had a very fine dinner at Blacks of Chapel Street. Not being very hungry, I opted for an appetizer of chili prawns with a lime and coriander dressing, most excellent. Both our meals were so good that we thought we might return on our final evening in Penzance, and we did.
The second day was our first official day of walking. In the morning we boarded the 9:45 bus #1A from Penzance to Senna Cove arriving at 11:00. It was a smart decision to start at the cove rather than at Land's End as the coastline for that first mile was most excellent. An hour later we reached Land's End where we had lunch in one of the many tourist restaurants. From there it was a 5 mile walk to our destination at Porthcurno, also the locale of the Minack Theater. Along the way we followed the coastline, rising and falling as we passed bluff after bluff. When we reached our 5 mile mark of the day we stopped at Porthgwarra for a formal break and an ice cream. We then continued, completing the remaining mile to Porthcumo at 4:45. Although we could have returned to Penzance by bus, rather we chose to hire a taxi (£22) because the next bus was not scheduled until 6:00 (assuming it arrived on time). We dined that evening at the Bakehouse. I had an otherwise tasteless fish main, but thankfully the desert of chocolate cake with clotted cream and berries was excellent.
The next morning on the third day was one of domestic duties, so we went to the nearby Laundromat located at the east end of the Grand Casino on Western Promenade Road. Then at 10:15 we hired a taxi (£20) to go towards the Minack theater, stopping at the nearby Telegraph Museum. While there we listened to an excellent lecture of the undersea telephone/telegraph cables first laid in the1850s, and we learned of the discovery of the relationship between electricity and magnetism, and learned about Morse and his "optimized" code, one that coded letters into the shortest length of dots and dashes based on common English language word heuristics, and then learned of both failed and successful attempts to lay undersea cables, and we learned that Porthcumo was selected as a good site because of its low vessel traffic and its sea floor characteristics. Afterward we walked up the hill to the Minack Theatre where we saw a production of Gilbert and Sullivan's The Sorcerer. At the bargain price of £11 it was performed by a theater group from Cambridge College called The Gilbert and Sullivan Society. The Minack Theatre (Cornish: Gwaryjy Minack) is an open-air theatre, constructed above a gully with a rocky granite outcrop jutting into the sea (minack from Cornish meynek means a stony or rocky place). The theatre was the brainchild of Rowena Cade (2 August 1893 - 1983), and over the winter of 1931 and into 1932 she and her gardener, Billy Rawlings, moved endless granite boulders and earth, creating the lower terraces of the theatre, much as they are today [references Wikipedia and Minack Theatre]. The theater atmosphere was stupendous, we sat in the 2nd row overlooking the water. Although the production was so-so, it was nonetheless loads of fun, what more could you expect for £11. After the performance we hired a taxi return to Penzance (£18). That evening we returned to Blacks of Chapel Street for another excellent meal. I enjoyed a meal served on a long plate with 4 bowls: Rice plus Thai monk fish & prawns plus spicy corn & vegetables plus grilled tiger prawns. For desert we shared a Trifle: Thick whipped cream with English Custard and light yellow cake and fresh berries.
Our forth day was one of overcast skies, but thankfully only a few drops of rain. We started from The Glencree House B&B in Penzance and walked the Cornwall Coast to Praa Sands. Along the way we took a side trip to Saint Michael's Mount, located in Marazion 1/2 mile off the main coast on a small rocky island. Around low tide the island can be walked to, and our arrival at 10:00 was an hour before the lull. We climbed the many stairs to the castle and toured its interiors, completing our visit at 11:30. We then found a nearby cafe for a simple lunch, and afterward continued walking the path along the coast. Most of the day's walk was easygoing with only moderate ups and downs, while much of the day's track was cloistered in hedges with limited views of the wild expanse of ocean and waterfront. At 4:00 we reached Praa Sands, and best of all a bus stop which indicated the bus would arrive in 15 minutes. As usual the bus was running late and after waiting 30 minutes a couple we met along the path offered us a ride which we graciously accepted. When we were dropped off in Porthleven the weather started to turn foul, but we made it to An Mordros Hotel before the storm let loose. This hotel was inconveniently located at the top of a hill, not a serious problem, but the slippery and hazardous shower floor in our room was a problem. That evening we walked to/from the hill top to the port area of the town in the umbrella destroying driving rain -- score: storm 1, umbrella 0. Thankfully we had an excellent dinner at Kota Kai. I enjoyed a Thai flavored bowl of seafood with mussels, shrimp, white fish, and squid.
On our fifth day the weather was forecast for sunny skies, I wished it were so. We walked from Porthleven to Mullion. Starting with brilliant skies and moderate winds we followed the road from Porthleven along the coast with excellent views of coastline and sea. After 2 miles we diverted to The Loe, a park centered around the largest freshwater lake in Cornwall called Loe Pool. There we walked as far as Penrose, a place with a house and historic working garden, but now mostly a place to relax and snack. This pleasant diversion lengthen our short walking day from 5 miles to 8. We then walked the coastline, sometimes in spitting rain, but never very threatening. We had lunch at a busy pub called the Halzephron Inn in Gunwalloe slightly off track. Afterward we walked with some ups and downs along the coast. We hoped to visit the Marconi Center, but sadly on this day it was closed because its all volunteer staff supports it only 3 days a week. Near the end of the day's walk we met a couple of local ladies, then chatted and followed their shortcut to Mullion and our hotel. At 4:15 we arrived at the Mount's Bay Inn. That evening we dined at the Inn having a fine, but otherwise unmemorable, meal.
We chose a modified plan for our sixth day. Rather than walking 8 miles from Mullion to The Lizard, we hired a taxi to drop us off at Kynance Cove. The shorter day gave us hopes to visit the Marconi Wireless Station. It, like the Marconi Center, is staffed by volunteers and is open from 12:00 until 3:00 on limited week days. From our taxi drop off we walked north to Kynance Cliff, a short mile. Grand views and exciting rocks formations were below at surf level. The plateau was carpeted in green, definitely a fine place for views. We then headed south towards The Lizard. It was a beautiful stretch of coastline. At Lizard Point we grabbed lunch at the Polpeor Cafe. We then walked along the coastal path to the Marconi Wireless Station. There we had a grand talk with an enthusiastic docent all about the history of wireless. He even played us a recording of a conversation he had with the international space station. Afterward we walked back towards Lizard Point to visit the Coastguard station. Then, in light rain, we walked the last 0.6 miles to our lodging, The Caerthillian. Dinner that night was at the thankfully-nearby-because-of-the-driving-rain Top House. I had a fine, but not outstanding, whole sole flat fish.
On our seventh day I realized my friend's weather magic was holding even though it seemed a bit rough around the edges. Yesterday's forecast for today was lots of foul weather, rather the morning forecast was for mostly clear, some rain and wind. With that we chose plan B, that is bus to nearby Kuggar (10 minutes) and walk from there. That shortened the day from 10 miles to 6. It was a lovely walk, not particularly difficult, although there were numerous undulations. Several times we endured short 10 minute rain squalls. We climbed up more than one plateau with commanding views of the rugged coastline. At 1-1/2 miles before reaching our destination at Coverack, at a point called Blackhead, is a small warming hut with a view. I hoped to visit the hut, but as I approached and was but 25 feet away Wizard of Oz winds so strong buffeted me such that I had to hunker down holding onto my planted walking pole so I wouldn't fly off the nearby cliff. Thankfully life and survival won out, and we diverted away from the exposed shelter back to the safety of the track. We arrived in Coverack at 3:00, had an ice cream, did a bit of walking around the quaint town (with more rain squalls), and at 4:00 we checked into the Paris Hotel. We had a delightful room with a fine view of the sea. Although there were five restaurants in town, three weren't open for dinner, one was not open on weekdays, so what remained was The Old Lifeboat House. I made a reservation to ensure we would get a table, and that turned out to be a brainchild. At dinner we were given one of three tables facing the waterfront with fabulous views. For my meal I chose a succulent roasted lamb shank with perfectly seasoned mash potatoes and a grand assortment of roasted vegetables, one of the best ever! It was truly a fine day.
We woke to fine weather, it was our eighth day, the forecast predicted clear most of the day. The skies were crystal blue, the seas were calm, there was little to no wind, and the Coverack harbor was idyllic. We had our usual 8:00 breakfast, checked out at 9:00, and our taxi (another £40) arrived promptly at 9:15. At 10:00 we arrived at Helford Passage where we took the Helford River Boat (£4) to ferry us across the Helford River to the formal start of the day's walk. The waterway was stunning, blue waters, mostly flat rather than yesterday's everything is buffeted. During much of the morning's walk we were joined by two other couples, they too were on the same ferry crossing, and it was nice to have varied conversation. Most of the walk was easy, with few ups and downs to plateaus and sea level. Just after 12:00 we approached the village of Maenporth and settled into an outdoor lunch at the Maenporth Beach Cafe. Soon a rain squall began so we moved to a nearby covered area. After lunch the rains subsided, but the skies remained overcast. The remainder of the day's walk was uneventful to Falmouth, and we checked into The Lerryn Hotel at 2:00. We then rambled to Pendennis Castle for a look see, very nice. At 4:00 we were back at the Lerryn, we cleaned up, and sorted clothes to be laundered and gave them to the Lerryn to clean for the bargain price of £8. That evening we ate at The Shack. I had an awful linguine and crab, much too salty. After dinner we walked downtown, and along the way we spied the numerous restaurants for a place to dine the following night.
On our ninth day we had a fine layover. Although the forecast was for rain, rather we enjoyed mostly clear skies, a tiny bit of wind, but no rain. Hooray! In the morning we ventured to the Maritime Museum spending 2 hours enjoying the exhibits. The primary exhibit was about the Vikings, it was simply superb. Afterward, we hopped the local train to nearby Truro, a short 25 minutes away. There we had a good lunch, visited the fine Truro Cathedral, and perused the Royal Cornwall Museum. The museum had an extensive exhibit on the history of Cornwall dating back some 4000 years to the present. Not my favorite format. Nonetheless, the side trip was enjoyable. We returned at 4:00. For dinner we dined at the Samphire Restaurant, a place we selected while walking the night before. I had a superb meal of grilled monkfish with an assortment of perfectly prepared vegetables, it was as good as it gets. For desert I had a luscious brownie with a scoop of ice cream.
Our tenth day was one of sunshine with only moderate wind. Our walk started at Portscatho, a place we traveled to by a very expensive taxi (£50). The ride traversed the waterways of the Helford River, and getting to our start locale was long and arduous requiring a car ferry crossing over the Helford River. All told it took most of an hour, but thankfully conversation with the driver was engaging. We then walked opposite our normal direction with the ocean to our left rather than right. It was the fine weather that made the day, we walked a short 5-1/2 miles. We stopped along the way near Killigerman Head and sat on a bench with a splendid view for a quick lunch at noon. Towards the end we walked along Saint Anthony Head. Near our water taxi pickup point, called Place, was the grand mansion called Place House and its Place House Church. We then boarded the water taxi (£5) to ferry us to St. Mawes. We then went to the castle at the entrance to this harbor, similar to, but much smaller than the castle across the waterway in Falmouth. Afterward we tried to visit the Lamorran House Garden, but sadly on this day it was closed. We arrived at Braganza at 4:00, a fine old house now run as B&B by a charming lady. Our dinner was at the Watch House with a reservation secured at this busy restaurant by our lovely B&B host using her clout with the restaurant owner, how nice! I had an excellent melody of seafood (mussels, crab legs, shrimp, and white fish) in a spicy Thai green chili-paste.
We started our eleventh day with a taxi ride (£40) to the beach nearby Caerhays Castle arriving at 10:00, a locale that made the day's walk 8-1/2 miles. Thankfully the weather was forecast for nice, and thankfully that was delivered. The day's walk was generally easy with the usual ups and downs between plateau and sea level. The dominant feature of the day was Dodman Point. Along the way we passed and sometimes chatted with variety of other walkers. At 1:30 we stopped for a proper lunch in Gorran Haven near the beach. We then continued past Turbot Point and Chapel Point where there are a couple of fancy residences and what looks like an old, now dysfunctional, church. At 4:00 we reached our destination, the delightful harbour and town of Megavissey and found our lodging, Honeycombe House. Although our room was cozy, the highlight of the B&B was stupendous views from the breakfast room of the harbor and town below. That evening we dined at the Harbour Tavern having traditional pub food, and although the meal was basic, the beer was excellent.
A very fine day with most excellent weather, a great start to our twelfth day walk of 7 miles from Mevagissey to Charlestown. The morning brought blue skies, while the afternoon begot skies cluttered with clouds. No wind and warmish temperatures maybe as high as 70, it was a nice change from the previous low 60s. When we reached Pentewan, 2 miles along the track at 10:30, we stopped at Cobwebs Tea Shop (immediately east of the pretentious The Ship Inn) for a tea and a slice of beetroot and spice cake (who would guess, but it looked good and it was most excellent). We then proceeded along the track. It went up & down and up & down and up & down, undulating between near sea level and plateau. Many of the ups & downs were sufficiently steep that stair step treads were laid to manage the slope. But even with this undulation it was most enjoyable. Somewhere near milepost 6 of the day, at Porthpean Beach, we spied a bench and took a break. From there we climbed up & down one last time to walk the final mile of the day. At 3:30 we reached the town of Charlestown, a town with a private harbor that moors a few tall sailing ships. We learned the harbor was often used for motion pictures, and in a couple days a film crew would turn the harbour and its old tall ships into an episode of the new Poldark BBC series. We stopped for a well deserved O2 soft drink at the Pier House Pub & Hotel sitting outside. We then checked into our hotel, the Rashleigh Arms. That evening we returned to the Pier House for dinner, and I had a most excellent seafood melody comprising a large filet of monk fish with scallops, prawns, and muscles all in wonderful seafood broth. At £21 it was a pricey meal, but the portion was enormous, and I made a pig of myself by finishing it all, but then I had no room for desert.
On our thirteenth day we had mostly fine weather, and an easy day walking. We shortened a 9-1/2 mile day to 7 by taking a bus to Par (£3 each). We caught the 9:28 bus at 9:45 and 15 minutes later arrived in Par for the start of the shortened walk. That cut off most of a beach walk and left us with the more interesting walk along a peninsula around Gribbin Head. Unlike the previous day's many ups & downs, this day was much easier with less elevation change. We reached Polkerris after 2 miles at 11:00 and decided to forego a snack (as I was still much too stuffed from the previous night's dinner). At Gribbin Head we spied the red and white "candy striped" day marker (similar to a lighthouse so ships can identify the head point, but used only during the day, hence no light). When we reached a beach area called The Grotto we stopped for a snack. From there we had an easy walk to Fowey, and along the way arrived at a beach called Readymoney Cove where we spied an ice cream vendor and couldn't resist enjoying a double scoop of luscious Cornwall ice cream. At 3:30 we checked into the Galleon Inn, located on the harbor. We then walked the small quaint town. That evening we dined at the highly recommended Globe where we shared a superb meal of roasted lamb with potatoes and greens and a side salad -- shared in part because I was still working off my gluttony dinner from the previous day.
At day break it looked like an ugly sloppy day, a far cry from the previous night's forecast. Thankfully the morning's forecast predicted clearing by noon. It was our fourteenth day in Cornwall. We thus braved the weather and cast off at 10:00, literally cast off as we took a small ferry (£4 each) across the River Fowey to the start of our walk at Polruan. The weather gods must have liked us because we only saw thick overcast skies in the morning, then by 10:30 the skies were showing signs of blue. Although it was very humid, it was an ideal temperature to walk. It looked like it was going to be an easy day. But as we walked we discovered it was a day of many extreme ups & downs, often so steep that we walked down stairs to a ravine only to walk up as many from the bottom. I counted several sets reaching 165 steps, and as the afternoon progressed so did the steps. The track was exposed much of the way, thus we had to carefully watch our footing rather than enjoy the view so as not to tumble into the abyss. At noon we spied a bench for a simple lunch. At 2:15 we walked 6-1/2 miles to Polperro. This town was very quaint with limited access by road. The streets were narrow, but there were many shops and places to eat, and what looked like many fine B&Bs. We only had a quick O2 drink and moved on in hopes to catch the 3:00 bus to Looe. That bus stop was a short walk to Crumplehorn, but upon arrival we learned the bus was scheduled for 3:45 rather than 3:00. We thus sat and waited, and of course the bus arrived late at 4:30. We then arrived in Looe and the Meneglaze B&B just after 5:00. We opted for an earlier dinner, and walked to town. We spied several places, and choose a restaurant called Papa Nino Italian Restaurant. I had linguine with salmon in a red cream sauce, it was tasty but not special, while for desert I had a luscious chocolate mousse.
The morning of our fifteenth day we boarded a train to Plymouth, leaving Cornwall for Devon. Our walk was complete, and this was a day to explore Plymouth. We toured the Plymouth Gin Distillery, visited the Mayflower Steps, walked Hoe Park. In mid afternoon we boarded a ferry back to Cornwall to enjoy Mount Edgcumbe Park, and there we had a fine time stretching our legs. When we returned we checked into the Rainbow Lodge, a B&B with a good location but sadly our room was below street level, thus it felt like we were in a dungeon. That evening we had a fine dinner at the nearby Thai House.
On our sixteenth day we traveled by bus to Buckland Abbey. It was a pleasant diversion from the coast to spend the day exploring inland. Besides the wonderful old abbey structure, we explored the gardens, viewed their famous Rembrandt portrait, had a relaxing walk in the countryside, and enjoyed a pleasant garden lunch. We returned by bus to Plymouth in late afternoon. That evening we dined at Zuzimo enjoying a fabulous tangine of lamb with apricot.
In the morning of our seventeenth day we boarded a Great Western Rail train to London. Just as in the past, we stayed at the centrally located Morgan Hotel for 3 nights. While in London we viewed two theater performances, enjoyed several museums, and had a celebration dinner of our walk at the fabulous Salaam Namaste Indian restaurant. And then it was time to pack up and fly home. It was a wonderful holiday.
Things I would Do Different:
• When planning the walk I hadn't realized the difficult logistics of traveling by taxi. Many of those rides cost £40 or more all because of the topology of the road system. So I would consider these costs next time when planning.
• We spent two nights in Falmouth, and one night immediately across the water in St. Mawes. In retrospect I would spend one night in Falmouth and one (maybe two) in St. Mawes. In this manner we could still tour Falmouth as we did on our layover day, and take the train as we did to visit Truro, but rather than return to Falmouth we could travel to St. Mawes. The following morning we could then walk from St. Mawes or just relax another day. Not only could this variation save an expensive taxi ride, but more importantly St. Mawes was a much more enjoyable experience.
• On the fourteenth day we completed the day's walk in the village of Polperro, and then traveled by bus to Looe. The former town was a delight, the latter was not. So in retrospect I would spend a night in Polperro rather than Looe.
Detailed Itinerary & Expenses:
The table below lists the places we stayed, various places we ate, and expenses incurred along the Cornwall Path but not including air travel or extra activities before/after the walk. The expense column is listed in British Pounds while the totals are in both British Pounds and US Dollars. My friend and I shared a twin room as noted by the "ea" (each) suffix in the cost column, thus that price indicates the cost to each of us, while the actual room cost was twice the "ea" amount. All lodgings were ensuite Bed and Breakfast (B&B). The comment column generally denotes favorable impressions, but there are exceptions.