Taking up a suggestion from a friend, I have written to Mr Steve Moine, manager of the new Sainsbury’s store opening soon on the site of the former heliport just outside Penzance, inviting him to consider whether his company could sponsor one or more of the eight local bus services that are to be axed by operator Western Greyhound from November.The bus routes serve small, isolated communities around Penzance, and the cessation of the services, resulting from Cornwall Council budget cuts, will have a severe impact on residents who do not have a car.
Local opinion has been sharply divided on the decision to allow Sainsbury’s to build a large store on a site near two existing supermarkets. If they took up this suggestion they might win over some of their detractors and gain some custom as well as performing a valuable service to the community.
This was to be the final leg of the route along the south coast of Cornwall, from Polruan to Cremyll.
Getting to Polruan involved a journey by train and bus to Fowey, then a ferry crossing of the River Fowey.
Although this coast has little of the rugged grandeur of the north Cornwall cliffs, the walk from Polruan to Polperro was quite punishing on the legs, with steep descents and ascents into and out of a succession of coves,
before arriving at Polperro.
Now a nature reserve, the island was bought by two sisters in the mid 1960s and inhabited by them until their death.
Looe, with teeming beach complete with bouncy castle, was in stark contrast to the peaceful solitude of the preceding stretch of coast.
when looking back around the sweep of Looe Bay, while Rame Head loomed out of the haze at the end of Whitsand Bay.
Starting near Rame Head,
I soon reached Penlee Point,
which guards the entrance to Plymouth Sound.
I walked this stretch between October and December: fewer sunny days and the sun low in the sky, so the photographs may not be too good, but that is an excuse to come back in the summer.
It was quite a trek on the bus to Padstow on one of the first cold days of the autumn. I set off along the bank of the River Camel (no connection with humped animals; the Cornish name Dowr Camel means crooked river).
It was not until the following week that I reached Trevose Head. On a clearer day I would have been able to see Hartland Point (40 miles) in one direction and Pendeen Watch (35 miles) in the other.
Just beyond the head is Round Hole, a collapsed sea cave (I passed another last week near Trevone).
Nearing Porthcothan, the coastal scenery became more and more impressive.
Beyond Porthcothan at Bedruthan Steps the rocky scenery was again magnificent.
According to Wikipedia, ‘The name Bedruthan Steps is said to be taken from a mythological giant called ‘Bedruthan’ who used the rocks (stacks) on the beach as stepping stones, and seems to be a late nineteenth century invention for Victorian tourists.’
A diversion inland to cross the River Gannel brought me to Crantock Beach
and the final stage of my walk from Padstow to Perranporth.
Beyond Holywell Bay the path skirted Penhale Camp with its ominous warning signs.
It was a relief to get past all that non-ionising radiation without getting fried and descend to Perran (or Penhale) Sands below the most extensive system of sand dunes in Cornwall
before hurrying into Perranporth for the bus home.
I began the 43-mile section of the path from Place to Fowey on a glorious July day with my friend Duncan Pratt.
A few weeks later I continued alone past this delightful cottage
at Portscatho and on to Nare Head and Portloe,
where I just managed to catch my bus and avoid a two-hour wait for the next one.
It was late September before I was able to get to the next stage from Portloe to Gorran Haven. Perhaps the most significant geographical feature of this section is Dodman Point,the highest headland on the south Cornish coast. The National Trust says,
Adding to the drama of Dodman Point is a large, granite cross erected in 1896 by Rev. G Martin as a navigational aid for seafarers. Visible from several miles away, it still helps sailors find their way along this stunning stretch of coastline.
Perhaps Mr Martin had a further reason for erecting the cross. The base bears this inscription:
The following Saturday I had a seven-mile tramp from where the bus dropped me at Bessybeneath to the start of the walk at Gorran Haven, so by the time I reached Mevagissey
I was flagging somewhat. Fortified by a Marmite sandwich, I pressed on along the slippery, muddy path and reached Pentewan in time for the first of three buses that would get me home.
My next walk was accompanied by the constant sound of a naval exercise in St Austell Bay
that seemed to involve multiple assaults by landing craft at Carlyon Bay. At the end of this stage at Charlestown were some ships of an earlier era.
After completing the short walk from Charlestown to Par I embarked on the final stage of this section of the South West Coast Path to Fowey. After recent rain the path was by now extremely muddy, but the beautiful scenery
provided ample compensation.