Dear Readers: I have been diligently working on writing my book from my 630-mile South West Coast Path journey. Here is a shortened version of one of my days, July 5, 2017, about a month into my three-month walk, where I had a beautiful 6.5 mile day.
I “slept in” this morning till the alarm went off at 7:00. I woke up to perfect weather! It was already sunny with blue skies, and as the day went on, it stayed like that. Probably a perfect warm 70F/21C day out. I loved it! I got ready, video chatted with Scott as we usually do about twice a day, and had breakfast an hour after waking. I ate a big bowl of muesli with fruit, and asked if I could take some hard boiled eggs with me for today’s walk as a snack. Anne agreed, and also suggested I take a “butter sandwich.” I wasn’t fond of that idea, but took it anyway, being appreciative.
Anne’s husband John drove me to St. Ives from my B&B in Carbis Bay. I knew that the more rustic walk started at the end of St. Ives near the “bowling green” area having done this stretch last year, so that was where I had John drop me off. I will do the mile and a half to two miles from Carbis Bay to the bowling green area of St. Ives tomorrow as part of my rest day/day off.
As I started walking, the trail started on a paved path for about 10 minutes, where a few benches offered the scenery of a small beach, a small hilltop with St. Nicholas’ Chapel on top, part of the town of St. Ives, and the beautiful blue waters and skies. The paved trail turned into a dirt trail, with a rocky beach below and more amazing blue and turquoise waters. It was crowded the first 15 minutes, then all but one person disappeared. A couple of nice gentlemen were doing some trail maintenance, using weed whackers to trim the shrubbery that had overgrown on the trail, which I much appreciated.
I made it to Clodgy Point a few moments later. As I walked the two miles between Clodgy Point and Carn Naun Point, part of me could not remember this trail from last year, except for a few spots. I know Scott and I did not have the great weather last year that I was having today. The sunshine allowed me to see several shades of blue. The deep turquoise waters where the seas were shallower, the deep blue of the seas beyond, the light blue skies, and even some darker blue waters due to a layer of seaweed underneath. This was colored with the dark green from the shrubbery of the cliffs, splashed with seas of purple heather, and yellow and white wildflowers. Below at the edge of the cliffs transitioning to the seas were the light and dark brown colored rocks, and the white of the small waves. The occasional spot on the water of a fishing boat or motor boat added to the scenery. What a colorful day! As of course most days are!
The trail itself was a lot rockier than anything so far in all the miles I have done since Minehead. I kind of remembered this from a year ago, but did not remember how rocky. Later on in the day, I would be scrambling over large boulders, carefully navigating walking on rocks, and gliding through slippery small pebbles. It felt like I was hiking in the mountains near home. I had to watch my footing very carefully as I went along today. Since I knew this, I wore my hiking boots instead of my purple trainers, and used my hiking poles all day long. I arrived at Carn Naun Point with three miles done, and three and a half miles to go.
Up until now, I had only seen one person on this stretch of the path. It was a man who was not too far in front of me, the only person on the path that I had seen since the dirt trail. Then the crowds appeared. At first it was a large group of people walking together. When I caught up to the group, the one man passed them and I never saw him again. I would see the group of people on and off the rest of the day. They were from Italy. I was behind them at one point and overheard them talking. It sounded Italian, so when I had the chance to say hello, I said in my best French accent, “buon giorno,” and sure enough, they were Italian. I let the Italians get ahead of me as I paused for a break at Carn Naun Point. I passed them a bit later on as they went off-trail at one point to sit on a ledge and watch some seals.
Soon I stopped for a longer break. I ate a surprisingly good butter sandwich, thanks to Anne, and the hard boiled eggs. Even basic food always tastes so good out in nature. I took a good look at the scenery around me. Same colors as before, just in a different configuration. It is just amazing how from day to day to day to day the landscape changes, I thought to myself. One day I am walking near beaches, and the next day it is more rugged. That’s what people love about the SWCP. It never gets boring (well except maybe that part where I biked between Braunton and Bideford might have been a bit monotonous if I walked it, and there was that bit yesterday through the noisy town of Hayle), but by and large, the constant change of scenery is incredible! The Italians passed me by as I sat there on Carn Naun Point. I took pictures with my hiking boots in the foreground of the scenery.
It must have been “International Day” on the SWCP today between Carn Naun Point and Zennor. In addition to Italian, it sounded like I heard a few other languages, perhaps German, perhaps Spanish, definitely English. There were various sizes of groups out walking too, some single women, couples, and friends. Everyone was out enjoying the sunshine.
I did have a conversation with a woman from Poland, as we crossed paths going in the opposite direction. She was walking on her own for a week from Penzance to Newquay, which is the opposite direction I am going. She was staying only in hostels, and was carrying all her items with her. For a week, she was not carrying much. We got on the subject of how I was walking the entire SWCP. She asked how many miles I have done so far. I answered about 225 so far, less the approximate 22 miles I have missed, mostly due to bad weather, in about a month’s time. She seemed impressed. She said to me, “Well if you can do that, then I can certainly do my week.” I told her though that I need to remain humble about my walk. Perhaps though, I influenced her in some way and made her walk a bit easier.
More colorful scenery continued as I walked. Headlands ahead, and headlands behind, covered in green. A few coves with brilliant turquoise waters. Boulders to climb over. I ended up catching up to the Italians, and stayed behind them for the last less-than-mile into almost Zennor. There were too many of them for me to pass, and we were close enough to Zennor that it didn’t matter. Since they were walking slower than I was, which I didn’t mind, I would actually get too close to them at times, so I would stop on purpose so as to not interfere with their walk. I would take a look around at the colorful scenery while I waited.
Up ahead I knew there would be a choice of routes to take. The official SWCP would go around Zennor Head, and a public footpath would cut the headland inland. I chose the public footpath today to see different scenery because last year Scott and I did the official route. When the two paths joined up again, I backtracked a bit on the path to get to some large boulders at Zennor Head which read, “Zennor Headland given to The National Trust December 1953. In proud and happy memory of the friends whose love has sustained me.–A.B.”
I sat at the boulders a few moments still taking in the colorful scenery and the headland beyond. Then I walked back down the path as it ran into the road that would take me into the village of Zennor. I remembered walking down this road with Scott last year. It started to rain then. But not today! I stopped and put my flip flops on. I went into the Zennor Church, with its famous carved Mermaid Chair and The Mermaid Legend. I enjoyed walking around the inside of the church, but there were some men doing renovations outside and chatting and had music on, so it was not as quiet inside as it could have been. But it didn’t matter.
I was actually an hour early for my prearranged pickup with Anne. I went into the Zennor Chapel, which is now a café and accommodations, where Scott and I stayed last year. I called Anne to tell her I was there already, but didn’t mind waiting. She said she would be there in 45 minutes. That was enough time for me to get something to eat. A couple slices of fresh hot pizza with some bell peppers, caramelized onion, and bacon. First time I have eaten any sort of meat, and it was good!
Anne picked me up and on our way back, we chatted a bit. She asked me why I chose to walk the SWCP. I explained: My 50th birthday. Something epic. The challenge. The constant seas. The ever-changing beautiful landscape. The colorful scenery. The fresh air. Nature.
Anne did my laundry for me today too while I was walking. In a washing machine. Proper laundry! She did the majority of it today, and I will give her a second small batch tomorrow. It was so nice to have just about everything freshly washed. The last time I had freshly washed clothes from a machine was in Croyde Bay several weeks ago.
For dinner, I wanted to go to yet a different restaurant in Carbis Bay. I searched online and found “The Bean Inn,” a vegetarian/vegan place about a five minute’s walk up the road. It was good! I had their “Spanish Paella & Pepperonata – vegetable paella and a Mediterranean sweet pepper stew served with romesco salsa and garlic and basil olives.” I also bought their cookbook, “the bean inn yum! vegetarian recipes,” which was only 6 GBP, as another souvenir cookbook. Who knows though, maybe I will cook something from this cookbook, and the one I bought at the Parish Church of St. Nectan in Hartland, “Hartland Cooks,” when I return home!