WALK THE CORNISH COASTAL PATH

By Sue Lushey Posted on 22/02/2017

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I have never put ON weight when long distance walking before, but the the Cornish Coastal Path was the exception! The first week we covered was from Padstow to St Ives. Each day we started with a traditional full English breakfast. An hour or two of walking would bring us to a seaside village with a café for our coffee with scones, jam & cream. On we walked, and by lunchtime is was time to seek out a Cornish pastie in the next available village. Once our afternoon destination was found, and after settling in and leaving our gear, we would wander into the village for a pot of tea and and a slice of delicious Victoria sponge!

Fortunately week two from St Ives to Penzance had less opportunities for cake stops, and we modified our breakfast intake!

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The Cornish Coastal Path is part of the greater South West Coastal Path in England. The path is well signed, and managed by members of the National Trust who ensure any bad weather erosions are monitored, and the track suitably deviated where necessary. And in places, it often is. Severe storms can put pressure on the aging track, which has been in existence for hundreds of years, but well maintained. Aptly described on the www.southwestcoastpath.org.uk

"Much of it follows the route used by the coastguards and excise officers on the watch for smugglers. Right up until 1913 the whole length of the Path was regularly patrolled by the coastguards in the constant struggle to apprehend lawbreakers. They needed to be able to look down into every bay and cove and as a result, the Path closely hugs the coast providing excellent views but rarely the most direct path between two points."

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This website also provides a wealth of information for you to plan your route. You can be very flexible in choosing a starting point and finishing point and there is good access to towns and transport along the Path.

The section we chose to walk, from Padstow to Penzance covers 172km. We researched and booked our own accommodation in advance, ranging from B&B’s, to Youth Hostels and Pubs. It is worth ensuring your chosen accommodation is going to be open (there seems to be lots of yearly variation), especially if you go at the start of the season when we did (April), and also not fully booked as it can be in the busy holiday month of August.

All in all, an average of six hours walking a day would get us to our next destination in time to explore a little, and work out where we could enjoy dinner. We chose to engage the efficient services of Luggage Transfers Ltd to transport our main luggage along the way, so we only needed day packs with weatherproof gear, water, first aid kit, map, guidebook and snacks.

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Expect to spend a bit along the way, as even basic food and accommodation can be expensive compared to other walking trails, such as those in France.

The landscapes, and views however are priceless! And well worth the effort. Spectacular seascapes, fishing villages, and quaint towns abound. We were fortunate to experience fine weather, though cold for the first week (maximums around 12degrees C), and it’s pretty much always windy. Even rainy days had fine patches so we were never feeling soaked.

On two occasions, I even braved the conditions for a chilly dip in the briney – well worth it, though it does take one’s breath away! Chancing upon folk nights and quiz nights in friendly local pubs enhanced the experience.

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There are many BBC tv series filmed in this area, so watching Poldark or Doc Martin will give you a taste of what to expect.

Trailblazers Guides produce two books covering different sections of the walk.

So do your research, and get walking!