Stephanie Boon hiking on the South West Coast Smiling at the camera.

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My one-person tent is pitched beside a wire fence with views over the cliff tops to a wide bay

South Cornwall Hike Day 3, Plans Change (And it’s Annoying)

I'm bent over my tent in this hazy photo looking towards the sea on a bright sunny morning

Breaking camp above Lanivet Bay

 

160 Mile Hike On The South West Coast Path, South Cornwall – The Journal

Day 3, Lantic Bay To Pentewan

Lantic Bay, Fowey, Charlestown, Pentewan

Wednesday 24th August 2022

  • 20 miles
  • 54.5/160 miles complete
  • Weather: grey, overcast and muggy. Torrential rain cleared the air a bit in the afternoon.

Sleep

What a beautiful wild camp spot – right on the top of the cliffs with stunning views of two bays. And the light this morning – serene.

 

The photo is taken from inside my tent looking out across my legs to the sunlight on the sea

First a protein bar then a 3-mile walk to Polruan and the Ferry to Fowey for a decent breakfast

It was quite exposed though and I had barely any sleep again, maybe 4 hours (that’s about 8 hours max in the last 2 days). Strong winds, torrential rain – all night. My tent was flapping like crazy and I thought it was going to blow away with me in it; I could have pitched it better I guess but couldn’t be bothered to get out to check the guy lines. Stayed totally dry though.

I don’t know how I’m going to cope today with so little sleep – along with the anxiety that’s been gnawing away at me for months.

 

A late start – not just because of tiredness. I couldn’t be arsed to get out of the tent until the rain stopped and I wanted to have breakfast in Fowey – nothing much would be open before 10 and it’s only 3 miles and a ferry ride away – about an or so’s hour’s walk. So an 8.30 start then, ideal.

 

Looking across fading bracken and down to a small sandy beach at the bottom of a sweeping bay

It looks so inviting, doesn’t it? Lantic Bay

Polruan

It’s an easy walk from Lantic Bay to Polruan, the little village where you catch the ferry to Fowey, and without much to distract me I decided to try a new technique to get out of my head: listen to music. It’s not something I often do when I’m hiking – I prefer to tune into natural sounds, whether it’s the waves, gulls, the wind or the rain. But desperate times call for desperate measures as they say. No earphones though – just a loud tinny sound from my phone. 90s. Suede. ‘Obsessions in my head don’t connect with my intellect…’ Focus on words. Focus.

They wouldn’t let me on the ferry: “we’re full”. Yeah only because an entire party just pushed in front of me. Twats. (Or was that me for letting it happen? Whatever.)

Waiting for the ferry at Polruan quayside and enjoying the view of Fowey across the river

It’s a pleasant quayside anyway, and it wasn’t raining for five minutes – plus, there’d be breakfast in the bustling town of Fowey in less than 20 minutes. Patience…

Fowey

Worth it.

A plate of bright red shiny berries with sliced banana on top - there's a pancake under there somewhere!

Breakfast at Brown Sugar – omg an American pancake, yoghurt, berry compote and bananas, plus a cappuccino – bleddy awesome!

I took my time in the cafe and it was all too easy to just sit there and zone out. Then there was the inevitable wander around the town which meant I didn’t leave until about midday – and only 3 miles into the day’s walk. Playing catch-up yet again and no one to blame but myself.

This hike is a battle between me and my motivation, and constant ruminating – and it shouldn’t be. It has absolutely nothing to do with the disappointment of not hiking the Pembrokeshire Coast Path and it’s not a consolation prize. It wouldn’t matter where I was right now – the Pembrokeshire Coast, The Pennine Way or Timbuktu for that matter – this mood would still bear down on me.

Is Going For A Walk Good For Depression?

It’s about mental health and determination – digging in and being pig-headed. Until I run out of steam anyway. It’s also about remembering it’s ok to go home for the night when I get to Falmouth tomorrow. If I get that far.

Home. I usually can’t wait to get out of it, but right now I just want to get under a duvet and stay there for as long as it takes.

 

An old narrow high street busy with early morning shoppers

Fowey’s a lovely place to while away a bit of time

 

Looking along a tarmac lane past old houses with colourful planters outside to the steeple of the steeple of the church in the background

The parish church is a prominent feature in the town centre

 

Looking down a narrow street of old cottages and shop fronts

Who doesn’t love summer bedding and bunting? Fowey does it well

 

he river to a small harbour on the other side. You can see houses on a hill and small boats anchored in the harbour

Polruan on the other side of Fowey harbour

 

A tranquil view across the sea to a small headland

Polruan

Gribbin Head

Right now though there’s Gribbin head to focus on – the next landmark on this section of the hike with its day marker visible for miles around (that being the entire point). And the rain again, getting heavier by the minute.

Down at Polkerris the heavens really opened and being in the sea looked like the best place to be! (Plenty of people were.)

 

A view across a beach to a headland with a tall tower on the top

The first real climb of the day is up Gribbin Head to the red and white striped day marker (view from Polridmouth)

Most of the hike from Polkerris out around St Austell Bay to Charlestown is worth forgetting to be honest. It’s a trudge through Par and Carlyon Bay, tarmac, industrial (definitely not in the holiday brochures), and docklands, with a side order of golf course. And the torrential rain made it all the more unappealing.

One thing was remarkable though, I realised at this point, as I exchanged hellos with another solo backpacker going in the opposite direction, that all the solo backpackers I’d seen were men. Every single one. In fact, the only woman I’d seen at all was hiking with her partner. What stops women from getting out on the path, I wondered, again. (If you’ve not tried it let me know why in the comments – I’m really curious, but I think I probably know the answer.)

Anyhow, I bought a 125g bag of sherbert lemons in Par and, out of boredom, had eaten the lot by the time I got to Charlestown; the roof of my mouth was red raw. I might just as well of poured half a bag of sugar down my throat.

Charlestown

When I arrived in Charlestown it was still raining and muggy, but finally, there was some life – I could hear the squeals of delight before I even got down the cliff, which was lovely and uplifting.

Charlestown’s a busy little harbour, thanks to the Poldark marketing campaign (although it was always popular tbf), but I doubt you’d of seen Ross Poldark jumping off the harbour walls into the sea like today’s visitors! What I’d give for some of that, especially when the air’s so oppressive.

 

Tall masted ships in the old harbour lined with typical whitewashed cottages

Charlestown

 

Looking across the harbour to a masted barge with old cottages on the street above the high harbour wall

An old barge moored against the harbour walls

There was just one issue with Charlestown: where’s the coast path gone? Down the cliff and into the sea that’s where. I’d conveniently forgotten this fact and blocked the tarmac road diversion from my mind.

Someone from the village told me there was another way across the fields and although it was “churned up” I should “just about get through”. I didn’t just about get through. It was a total wild goose chase that I spent way too long investigating (it wasn’t on public paths and his description was more than vague). I wandered back down into the village and consoled myself with a Kelly’s berry sorbet before stomping off up the hill, cursing my shoes and painful feet.

My feet are so incredibly sore after all this rain – soaking wet and festering, my toes swollen and about to crack open like overripe fruit. I’d slowed right down, gingerly making my way forward by taking the weight on my poles, so I was getting behind, time-wise. I knew what was ahead too – Mevagissey. Which is well known for more gruelling climbs.

Pentewan

Before Meva there’s Pentewan, with more road walking between them. I can’t handle all this tarmac…

Hundreds of steps are cut into the side of a steep grass-covered cliff. You can see a small village on a distant headland

Heading towards Pentewan near Mevagissey – more steps!

 

High rugged cliffs

Don’t forget to look back. Yeah, I’d just done those steps too – most hikers agree that going down is far worse than climbing up. Totally true.

I’ve Had Enough

But there was some relief for my flagging willpower at the back of the village: the bus stop

I’d spent the last hour doing calculations in my head; I wanted to get to Falmouth tomorrow. I could walk an extra few miles tonight to the other side of Mevagissey (on yet more bloody tarmac in fading light, knowing how hard it is to find a camp spot on this section) and then have about 24 miles to walk tomorrow. A long day’s hike, doable…if only the Place ferry didn’t stop running at 5 pm. There’s no way I could walk that distance in stupid shoes before 5 pm without starting in the middle of the night. I was already sleep-deprived – it was a ridiculous idea…and there was this really easy way home right in front of me. A 10-minute bus ride to the railway station, then a 20-minute journey back to Truro.

Deal. An hour’s wait for the bus and then I could care for my feet properly (ironically, there are 23 ways to care for your hiking feet in this article! I should have read it…)

(I realise I’m quite good at making plans and decisions on the fly. Probably much better than I am at making plans beforehand…)

Type 2 Fun

So far this South Cornwall hike goes down as type-2 fun: the constant ‘noise’ in my head, the anxiety I can’t shake off, the sore, painful feet (pain at both extremes of my body then) balanced by some memorable moments like a lovely family I met on the Cremyll ferry and bumped into again the following day near Polperro, a dip in the sea at Looe, breakfast in Fowey, a couple of wild camps…not forgetting some fantastic scenery and terrain along the way.

But once I got home I knew I wouldn’t be back on the trail tomorrow. My feet need to heal (I’ll swap out my shoes next time) and I need to sort out a few things that might help bring my anxiety down. But I have a plan.

Let’s Get This Hike Finished!

I plan to hike from Pentewan (where I left off today) to Falmouth over 2 days this coming week (with one night’s wild camp). They’ll be much shorter walks but it’s the only way to organise them around public transport, including the two ferries (Place and St Mawes).

Then, the following week, I’m off to Dartmoor for something a bit special (more on that soon), and the plan is to finish the south Cornwall coast after that. Falmouth to Land’s End is around 77 miles, so I reckon about 4 more days on the trail – public transport permitting! (It has to be done before October when all the timetables change.)

It’s worth knowing that if you’re planning your own hike on the south Cornwall section of the South West Coast Path some of the ferries and buses are seasonal. For example, there are no buses to/from Land’s End outside of the tourist season. (The Coaster bus runs from St Ives to Penzance through Land’s End up until October.) This article has more public transport info for South Cornwall – check it out before you travel.

Sometimes plans have to change, but you can rely on the fact the trail’s not going anywhere and it’ll be there whenever you’re ready. So, trail, I’ll see you next week! And I hope I’ll see you here too?

Thanks for reading.

 

Today’s Costs:

  • Breakfast in Fowey: £11.30 (I highly recommend Brown Sugar cafe – a lovely atmosphere, fantastic breakfast, a chance to charge my phone and great service (I was asked if I’d like my water bottles filled before it even crossed my mind!)
  • Polruan Ferry £2.70
  • Sugary drink and boiled sweets £2.05
  • Kelly’s sorbet £3.00
  • Bus fare from Pentewan to St Austell: £2.00
  • Train fare to Truro: £4.25

More Entries From This Journal

  • Day 1 Plymouth, Kingsand-Cawsand, Rame Head, Whitsand Bay (14.5 miles)
  • Day 2 Portwrinkle, Looe, Polperro, Lantic Bay (20 miles)
  • Day 3
  • 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)

The next installment is coming soon! Don’t miss it – click the green button below (or above!) to get an email notification when the posts go online

Want To Hike A National Trail? You Might Find These Articles Helpful

Plan Your South West Coast Path Hike The Easy Way

How To Plan A Backpacking Trip On A National Trail – Travel

Offa’s Dyke National Trail – The Backpacker’s Guide

 

Until next time…

Happy hiking!

Stephie x

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Comments

  • 29 August, 2022

    So hard and so disappointing but, as you say, the trail will always be there. Disappointing for me as well as I’d hope to meet you coming the other way at some point. I start out from St. Ives on 3 September, walking to Plymouth. Wild camping but I have a bed with friends near Truro when I get to Falmouth.

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