South Cornwall Hike Day 6, I’ll Get There Dreckly
160-mile Hike On The South West Coast Path, South Cornwall – The Journal
Day 6, Falmouth to Coverack
Saturday 24th September 2022
- 19 miles
- 101.5/160 miles complete
- Weather: sunny and warm but with a strong breeze, clouding over eventually
Index to all entries from this South Cornwall Hike
Falmouth always looks gorgeous in the sunshine and I was glad to be back here this morning ready to get this south Cornwall hike done. The end is in sight – Land’s End is close, just 80 miles away – another goal for the year in the bag.
Today, and the next few days too, is on very familiar territory and when you know what to expect you walk on auto-pilot. I know where it’s easy to find wild camping spots and where it’s not, I know where the tarmac is that’ll drive me nuts, I know what the terrain’s like, what the views are like…but what you never know is how long you’ll have to wait for the ferry at Helford Passage.
I’ll Be There Dreckly
The Helford estuary is beautiful, full of boats moored in the middle of the river, a good pub on either side…it’s the perfect spot to watch the world go by. The Ferry Boat Inn on the Falmouth side is like a marker for me. About 6 miles or so from Gyllingvase Beach in Falmouth, it makes a good pit stop on a big circular walk and today was no different.
I was dying of thirst and the ferry wasn’t there so why not. I’d just drunk my lime and soda when it turned up so I dashed out to the beach raring to go. I stood on the pontoon, and stood and stood, for about 15 minutes (it felt like an eternity), by which time I was getting fed up with the weight on my back.
The ferryman was in the kiosk just 30 seconds behind me so I walked over and asked if they were running to a timetable now. “No, I’m just waiting to see if anyone else turns up.” FFS. “Sit on the beach and I’ll come and get you”. FFS. I look pleadingly at anyone who walked close by. No frickin takers. Another 20 or so minutes later and the ferryman comes over “Let’s go then.” FFS – why couldn’t he have just taken me when I got there? Whatever, calm down bird, it was a lovely place to eat your sandwich!
Finally, on the boat he said he’d had a really busy morning and it was just the last couple of hours that had been quiet. FFS, why do I always get the timings wrong?!
Across The River
Yet more tranquil creeks are on the opposite side of the river, but get the tide wrong at Gillan Creek and you can’t get across on the stepping stones which means an extra 3 miles to walk around it. Guess who had to walk around it?
It’s a peaceful walk on a quiet lane and along a wooded track to the hamlet of Gillan…where there’s a diversion in place thanks to a missing bridge on the coast path.
I was beginning to feel persecuted!
The diversion takes you up above the coast path and there are some great views and lush Cornish countryside to enjoy. Often, a walk through the countryside will take you through a farmyard or two, and when I got to Lestowder they were moving cows. And, as is typical, they barred the road while they did it.
A young girl (aged 9) in her well-worn, emerald green John Deere overalls held open a gate across the lane and asked me to wait. She explained that most of the herd had gone through but they were having trouble cajoling 6 cows and calves to take the 100-metre journey from one field to another. They can be stubborn buggers when they want to be and I could see the girl’s dad and a couple of other men trying their best to corral them. They were having none of it.
We chatted about how long she’d been working with the small dairy herd on their farm in south Cornwall, her Saturday morning dance classes, her two calves, which dairy she wanted to work at when she grew up. It was so endearing. Then she said something alarming “this is my last year being single”. Bleddy ‘ell! I was completely taken aback…until I realised it was her birthday soon – and she’d be in double digits!
After a 15-minute wait and still no sign of the errant cows, the farmer came down to the road and said he’d given up “they’ll have to stay there”. You couldn’t make this up – even cattle are on ‘dreckly time’.
The hike from Falmouth to Coverack takes you through Porthallow which is the midway point of the South West Coast Path. It might be a celebratory place for some, but it’s never been somewhere I like to spend much time.
I stomped uphill past the cottages (noting that a beautiful old door has been replaced with a hideous plastic affair) knowing there are a couple of miles of dull tarmac walking ahead. (Maybe this is why I don’t hang about.)
By now it’s late afternoon and I’ve still got a good few miles to go before I pass the eerie Dean Quarries (I don’t know anyone that doesn’t find this place a bit creepy) to find somewhere to pitch up for the night. What with all the hold-ups it was going to be dusk before I got there, but what perfect timing it would be (for once!).
I knew exactly where I was headed, a level spot with a view over Coverack, where swallows were still swooping over the south Cornwall fields. As sunset approached the sky turned to watery pinks and bruise-cloured clouds sailed above the sea. Moments like these, when you’ve timed it right, are priceless, and as I stood and watched I felt completely at peace, breathing in the tranquility as if I was trying to catch air in a bottle. This, I think, is what hiking’s about.
And getting your tent up before it’s pitch black. It’s also about that, and I just about managed it.
No rush, you’ll get there dreckly. I fell asleep listening to the sound of waves breaking and inhaling the heady scent of swathes of nearby watermint – who needs sleeping tablets when you can have this?
- Single train fare Truro to Falmouth (with a Devon and Cornwall Railcard: £3.30
- Pint of lime and soda, Ferry Boat Inn, Helford Passage: £2.00
- Helford Ferry, single: £7.00
Other Entries From This South Cornwall Journal
- Day 1 Plymouth, Kingsand-Cawsand, Rame Head, Whitsand Bay (14.5 miles)
- 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, St Anthony, St Mawes, Falmouth (6 miles)
- Day 6
- Day 7 Coverack, Cadwith, Lizard Point, Kynance Cove, Mulllion (Predannick) (18 miles)
- Day 8 Mullion Harbour, Gunwalloe, Porthleven (8.5 miles)
- Day 9 Porthleven, Penzance, Mousehole, Lamorna (21 miles)
- Day 10 St Loy, Penberth, Land’s End (10 Miles)
More From Around The South West Coast Path
The Women’s End2End Relay – I Did It! (north Cornwall coast path)
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