Today’s distance walked – approx 27kms (17.3 miles).
Ascent – approx 850m (2789ft).
I woke to a dew-covered tent in my sheltered little spot this morning, so I set about doing the wipe-down, and got going around 8am. It was a lovely sunny day but really cold! I think only about 13 degrees Celsius. The trail was pretty easy out of Mawgan Porth, up and around the first headland then along undulating clifftops to Watergate Bay. Inland the fields of wheat were shimmering green in the blustery wind.
I’d been to Watergate Bay when I last visited Newquay about 30 years ago. The beach was as huge as I remember it being, with massive long rollers pounding into shore, but there were no surfers out yet. On the bay, there was quite the little resort with lots of holiday rentals, hotels and even a Jamie Oliver restaurant – I didn’t remember it looking anything like this 30 years ago!
I continued on to the next bay, Porth Beach, where the toilets were free – yay! From there I shot across Newquay as quickly as I could. I popped into Asda to get some supplies, then walked through town. I vaguely remembered the main street, but it looked really dated, like there’s been no investment in it over the past 30 years.
I walked up towards the Headland Hotel. This part of the main Street had a couple of nice shops and cafes. I passed the ‘Fat Willy’s Surf Shack’ store, which I remembered from all that time ago.
I thought of my friends Markus and Anja as I strolled past all the Cornish pasty shops. They observed on Te Araroa trail, that in NZ lots of things were ‘award winning’, ‘gold medal winning’, ‘world’s largest’ etc… It’s exactly the same in Cornwall with pasties. Every shop claims to have won an award, medal or world championship in pasties.. I chuckled to myself!
The Headland hotel is an imposing, large red brick building just before Towan Head. I remembered it being stuck right out on its own, but a lot more buildings have gone up around it since. As I walked around, I thought about going in for a high tea, then thought better of it. Instead I ate my peanut butter wrap on a bench outside, overlooking Fistral beach.
Fistral beach is a popular surfing beach and hosts lots of events and competitions etc. The toilets at the Western end were the best public toilets so far on the trip.. free, and sparkling clean!
I skirted the suburb of Pentire, and came around to the Gannel estuary, which was insanely pretty. I crossed the estuary via the little ferry boat, and chatted to a couple of chaps also walking the trail.
More beautiful undulating cliffs later, and I strolled into the very lovely Holywell bay. I used the (free!!!) toilets to reapply my sunscreen. I’m on factor 50 now – the strength of the sun is ridiculous!
The next bay was the very long and beautiful Perran Bay/Perran Beach backed by the mighty sand dunes of Perran Sands/Penhale Sands. The size of these dunes is immense! Interesting side-note, the Eastern end of the beach is nudist, or at least it was when I walked by.
I walked the couple of Kms the length of the beach on the sand, as it was low tide, and soon I arrived into Perranporth. Although the sun was out, it was still really cold. It was blowing a gale, and it was a perfect reminder of being British, and going on your seaside holidays. The beach was full of families surrounded with their stripey, brightly coloured windbreaks (which aren’t really that much of a thing in NZ). Kids were in their togs; mums, dads and grandparents were all dressed up in jeans and jumpers, some with coats and scarves! Despite the very less than perfect conditions, they would definitely see out the full day on the beach :-). I bought a wonderful cherry and white choc ice-cream and sat out of the wind for a while.
I’d intended to finish walking here, but there were no campsites close by, so I filled my water bottle and decided I’d wild camp. As I got over the next headland I got so cold that I decided to abandon the wild camp idea and walk to the next campsite, for a bit of shelter. I ended up at the Blue Hills site, near Trevaunance Cove just outside of St Agnes. A lovely spot, with free showers and even free tea, coffee and hot choc – what a treat!
I’m now a few days ahead of schedule and the weather’s looking up into next week, so I’m looking forward to taking a day off somewhere.