South Cornwall Hike Day 1, The Consolation Prize
160 Mile Hike On The South West Coast Path, South Cornwall – The Journal
1. Plymouth To Portwrinkle
Plymouth, Kingsand-Cawsand, Rame Head, Whitsand Bay
Monday 22nd August 2022
Travel day: Truro (Cornwall) to Plymouth (Devon) by train, then a half-day hike.
- 14.5 miles
- 14.5/160 miles complete
- Weather: heavy rain (the sort that’s really fine and soaks you to the skin in 30 seconds flat) turning to sunny spells. 21 degrees
Before I Go Ahead: Disclaimer – Rubbish Writing Is Not My Fault!
I’ve always loved the idea of publishing a daily journal from the trail (which is what this is) but frankly, the thought of lugging my laptop around put me right off. I don’t have one of those lightweight, long battery life iPads – or the van-life to go with it; what I have is my phone.
Typing on a phone is frustrating and laborious, or maybe I’m just all thick fingers and thumbs, but I’ve decided to give it a go because I fancy a challenge. There’ll be plenty of typos and errors over the next few days I’m sure – and probably fewer photos than usual because they take forever. Please forgive me.
That’s the disclaimer over, so here goes, today’s entry from south Cornwall.
The Reason Why
I admit it, committing to this hike felt like accepting a consolation prize.
In fact, it was the Pembrokeshire Coast Path that was the glittering prize I wanted – and it slipped out of my hands with every pound that slipped out of my meagre bank account. It was a tough blow. Tough enough to leave my mood skulking at the bottom of a murky trough for weeks.
A hike on the south Cornwall coast was my contingency plan. I’d hiked its counterpart on the north coast in June with the Women’s End2End relay, so to do the other side of the peninsular felt right.
Except that it didn’t. I hoped against hope I wouldn’t have to put it into action because it definitely smacked of a ‘been-there-done-that god know how many times’ kind of scenario. (In case you’re new here it might help to know that I live in Cornwall and I’ve also hiked the whole 630-mile trail.) So, grudgingly, I left the idea simmering at the back of my mind just in case.
Now here I am a couple of months later tapping away as I’m tucked up in my tent somewhere near Portwrinkle on the South West Coast Path, south Cornwall.
And you know what? I spent most of the day speaking to myself as though I was remonstrating with a surly teenager: ‘don’t be so ungrateful, ‘lots of people would give their right arm to do this’, ‘you’re so lucky to have all this on your doorstep’. Yes to all of the above. But it’s not Pembrokeshire.
I was three hours late. And it was nothing to do with the train, it was just me and my mood. Sapped of motivation, I faffed around at home making last-minute plans until I mustered up the energy to walk up the hill to the station. I reasoned that 3 hours represented about 7.5 miles and I’d just have to make them up over the following 8 days. Easy.
I rolled into Plymouth about midday and walked across the city centre with my head down, thinking that the only good thing about Plymouth is that I know how to read a map to get me out of it. (I don’t have a lot of love for it.)
It was pissing down and I couldn’t wait to leave it behind; luckily it’s only a short hop on the Cremyll Ferry
Back on Cornish soil, the South West Coast Path winds its way up through the oak woodland of Mount Edgcumbe country park and on to the picture-postcard version of Cornish life at the adjacent villages of Kingsand and Cawsand.
I hoped I’d feel some excitement by the time I got there but there was nothing; nothing but the knot of anxiety I’d left home with. (I’ve been in a low mood for a couple of months and my anxiety’s been mounting as the days go by.)
I enjoyed the woodland walk though, and the after-the-rain scent of the earth, kicking through the wet sweet chestnut and sycamore leaves (which have changed colour already), but there wasn’t the thrill of anticipation I usually have on the first day of a hike. It worried me.
‘Get out of your head and be in the moment – distract yourself’, I kept telling myself, but it wasn’t working – it was all I could do to lift my eyes to the horizon.
The path out of Cawsand runs straight down to a derelict chapel on the tip of the headland. I took my usual pit stop here (it’s about 8 miles into the walk) to enjoy the spectacular views over Plymouth and Whitsand Bay, and dump my rucksack for 10 minutes before heading off. (I’ve never been up here when there hasn’t been enough wind to dry out my sweaty back!)
It was an easy walk along Whitsand Bay towards Portwrinkle, marked by holiday chalets that edge the cliff top like gappy teeth. I don’t like the vibe here (it screams retirement) and it’s a drag to get through (not helped by Tarmac) but when I did take my eyes off the road and look up the light on the sea was exquisite.
Wild Camping Near Portwrinkle
I’d had enough. Plymouth was well behind me but my mood hadn’t lifted and I just needed to stop. I looked at the map and discovered I had to stop right where I was – there didn’t look anywhere reasonable to camp further ahead. Fine by me. 14.5 miles done.
The day passed quickly enough – I just wish I could shake off the mood. Still, there’s always tomorrow.
Right now I’m falling asleep listening to the waves, moths crashing into the tent and crickets chirping. I wonder, do they ever sleep?
Thanks for reading.
Train fair – single from Truro to Plymouth £7.90
Coffee and muffin for the journey £5.18
Cremyll Ferry £2.00
More Entries From My South Cornwall Journal
- Day 1
- Day 2 Portwrinkle, Looe, Polperro, Lantic Bay (20 miles)
- Day 3 Lantic Bay, Fowey, Charlestown, Pentewan (20 miles)
- Day 4 Pentewan, Mevagissey, Gorran Haven, Portscatho, Towan Beach (23 miles)
- Day 5 Towan Beach, St Anthony Head, St Mawes, Falmouth (5 miles)
- Day 6 Falmouth, Helford Passage, Gillan, Coverack (19 Miles)
More from the South West Coast Path
See you tomorrow for the next instalment from the South West Coast Path in south Cornwall! Until then
Support Me To Write More!
If you enjoy my writing and trail guides why not come and support me on Ko-fi ? Fuel me up with a £3 ‘cup of coffee’ (aka donation to the cause!) to help me put fingers to keyboard so I can bring you everything I learn on the trail. (I share regular mini-updates over on Ko-fi too – come and say hi!)
Or simply share the love, I’d really appreciate it! Thank you.