SWCP Day 14. Gwithian to Gurnard’s Head

Today’s distance walked – approx 32 kms (20 miles).
Ascent – approx 1300m (4265 ft)

I was up and out by 6.30am this morning. It was a beautiful warm, sunny day, without the cold wind of the past few days. The first leg was down to the beach on St Ives Bay for a couple of Kms on the sand around to Hayle. The tide was out, so I was hoping to be walking on hard sand, but it was pretty soft. The benefit of this was that it was a really good workout for the glutes!

Having the beach to myself
Having the beach to myself

The trail hit the Hayle Estuary, and headed inland to cross it. This stretch wasn’t all that nice, until 1. I arrived at ASDA and could use a toilet (public loos on the beach in Hayle were closed grrrr…) and 2. I got to the inner estuary and nature reserve – a road walk, but pretty. After the nature reserve it was another 5 Kms or so, of mostly road walking around Lelant to Corbis Bay and into St Ives.

A beautiful wall of flowers
A beautiful wall of flowers

St Ives was lovely!! It has a number of beautiful sandy beaches, and the part of town I walked through had a lovely olde charm about it, with it’s narrow streets and old buildings. I toyed with staying for the day, but figured I’d only spend money I haven’t got… so I walked on through. I stopped for today’s ice-cream on a gorgeous little beach near St Ives Head.

St Ives in the distance
St Ives in the distance
St Ives harbour
St Ives harbour

I was back on the clifftop trails by midday. The next stretch was detailed in the guidebook as ‘severe’ and not without good reason. It was initially pretty nice, with some ups and downs and the usual wonderful views I’ve become accustomed to. Then it became more hilly, and the path itself became pretty gnarly – a first on the trail. It started out as ‘a bit rocky’ then turned into ‘rock hopping’ then ‘small boulder hopping’. It wasn’t difficult but it just made things quite slow going. The sun was strong again today, and without the cold wind of the past few days, it was much hotter.

Between St Ives and Zennor
Between St Ives and Zennor

I had filled up my additional 2 litre water bottle in St Ives as I planned to wild camp tonight, so I was carrying a pretty heavy pack this afternoon. I stopped for a rest at one point and was entertained by 4 seals playing in the water just below me.

Rock pathway
Rock pathway

I reached the turnoff for Zennor and I knew I didn’t have much more in the tank. I carried on for another couple of Kms to Gurnard’s Head, and just afterwards found a flat grassy spot by a low wall on a little headland, with epic views overlooking the sea. It was 4pm when I called it a day. I made my dinner early and enjoyed a few leisurely hours in the late afternoon sun. I was joined by Mike, who is also enjoying a year off work, and who had recently visited NZ. We whiled away a very pleasant hour or so chatting.

Beautiful wild camp looking towards Pendeen Watch
Beautiful wild camp looking towards Pendeen Watch

Later, I put up the tent and let everything dry out – it was still wet from this morning’s dew. My clifftop position was amazing! At 10pm I got up to clean my teeth and was treated the most spectacular sunset – definitely the best one I’ve ever seen in the UK, and a close contender for lifetime best.

Sunset at 10pm
Sunset at 10pm

Comments

  1. Mari Gold says:

    Love that sunset photo! Was so good to meet you at the Minack Theatre yesterday: keep on tramping!

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