Day 13 Sunday August 11 Bolventor to Launceston

Distance walked today 15.4 miles cumulative 185.9 miles

Over inquisitive bullocks 2 herds

Lots of showers today and much time was spent putting on and taking off wet weather gear.

I truned left out of Jamaica Inn and I found the underpass under the A30 so crossing the road this morning was safer than yesterday evening. I then followed a farm lane north east and continued on a path back on to Bodmin Moor. There was a good view back to Brown Willy with threatening clouds over the ridge

I had been disappointed not to see any Bodmin ponies up until now, but I saw a few in the distance across the Moor My ability to spot prehistoric monuments hasn’t improved, I failed to find a stone circle marked on the map.

As the rain fell and the wind picked up I came upon a small group of ponies trying to get shelter behind some rocks

The ponies on Bodmin Moor are not an individual breed but were abandoned there by their owners. A few years ago horse charities were worried they were being neglected and started to care for them. There are now about 1000 on the Moor.

I then followed lanes through the villages of 5 Lanes and Alturnan, which also feature in the Jamaica Inn novel.

Alturnan church. The vicar plays an important role in Jamaica Inn

Old bridge in Alturnan

After Alturnan the path passed through fields, mainly used for grazing. In one field, it was rather disconcerting to have about 20 bullocks lined up and following me. I don’t mean one by one but 20 bovines spread out in a long line as if trying to outflank me. I exited the field ASAP.

The sun came out and I finished the day with a walk along quiet lanes to Launceston.

A typical view, small fields with hedgerows and lots of trees. Mostly cows with a few sheep but not much on the way of arable crops.

Of course, having a castle, Launceston is on a steep hill. On arriving at the town centre I passed St Mary Magdalene church which has an interesting facade said to date from the 15th century

I have completed my first County! Tomorrow, after about a mile, I will cross the Tamar river and enter Devon

Day 12 Saturday August 10 Bodmin to Bolventor

Miles walked: today 19 miles; cumulative 170.5 miles

Whoops! Estimated mileage today was 16 miles. The distance walked was not helped by poor map reading and then I failured to find the permissive path down from Brown Willy.

First, thanks to Ros at Scrumptious for a lovely B&B and nice breakfast. I continue to surprise my hosts by not going for the “full English”. I find it difficult to set off on a full stomach, particularly if I have a long day and need to get going from the off. My favoured breakfast is porridge. The slow release carbs keep me going with little else to eat for most of the morning and I find I usually only need a light lunch in spite of the exercise.

2 mascots are now riding in the rucksack, one is more useful than the other

The weather forecast was for rain but, apart from a little drizzle at the start there was no rain at all today.

I set off on the Camel Trail (the old railway line(, turning North-east at a branch towards Wenfordbridge. It follows the course of the Wenford to Wadebridge railway, one of the earliest to open. It is stated that this was built to transport sand from the coast to inland farms to be used for fertiliser. However it’s main use was to transport china clay from quarries near Wenford. Little remains now apart from a derelict factory and old track where the railway crosses roads

Bridge over the Camel

By the way, there are no camels in Cornwall, the name derives from the Cornish for crooked, the river has a very tortuous course.

Walking was very easy and I made good time. I was mostly in mixed woodland interspersed with river views.

After 6 miles I left the river and walked along quiet lanes to St Breward for lunch

Light at the end of the tunnel?

After lunch things went a bit awry, nothing to do with the pint of Tribute I had at lunchtime (the porridge does not reduce my appetite for a lunchtime drink). I took the wrong path out of St Breward. Not to worry, it went the right way (sort of). I then started to climb on to Bodmin Moor.

Disaster! Sloppy map reading. I headed too far North and wasted time and distance to get back on course. I walked past King Arthur’s hall, a Neolithic structure who’s function is unknown

With a lot of zig-zagging to find the path, I walked around Garrow Tor, an area of special archaeological interest ranging from Stone Age remnants to medieval field systems. I always think there is little for the layman to see, and this was no exception; however, there is a beehive hut but I found out too late to search for it.

I then climbed to the top of Brown Willy. For the first today I was troubled by gales along the summit ridge. Fortunately I was stabilised by the weight of my rucksackApproaching the summit of Brown Willy.

The hill has a good claim to have the most sniggered about name of a summit in England. There are 2 theories regarding its name. One is that it is a corruption of the Cornish Bronn Ughella meaning highest hill, it is the highest hill in Cornwall at 420 metres. The other is that it derives from Bronn Wennili meaning hill of swallows.

Legend says that an ancient Cornish king is buried under the summit cairn but no exavations have been carried out.

The next two navigation problems were not my fault. I couldn’t locate the permissive path off the summit to Bolventor. This didn’t add to the distance but required more effort to walk through the long grass. Then, as I approached the Jamaica Inn I could almost taste the pint…. I was separated from it by the dual carriageway, in a cutting, of the A30. Unlike the nursery rhyme (Bear Hunt for those who have forgotten) couldn’t go through it ; had to go round it

Mark Moxon, in his book, found the Jamaica Inn very disappointing. He describes the food as “self service cafeteria like”. I am pleased to report that things have obviously changed since 2003. The current landlord has only been there 3 years so I do not know if he or his predecessor changed things, but there was nothing wrong with my steak and ale pie and the beer was well kept. When I walked in I was struck how the bar was as I had imagined it from reading the book. I don’t know whether it dates from the 1930s or whether it has been restored. The author, Du Maurier lived there at the time she was writing the book, her writing desk is in a small museum adjacent to the bar.

Spoiler alert! The pub is not named after Jamaica rum but after a local landowning family two of whose members were governors of Jamaica. It was never deserted as in the book but was a busy coaching inn. However, it is likely that smugglers did stop there in the 19th century when they were transporting the loot.

I certainly was not woken by smugglers during the night

Sunday June 23 Day 11 Trevone to Bodmin

Miles walked: today 16.9 cumulative 151.5

Well my luck with the weather ran out today. While most of the country has had unseasonal rain Cornwall was bathed in sunshine until now. I walked along field paths and roads to Padstow in the drizzle. Cherry Trees coffee house fed me a tasty breakfast and it stopped raining.

Padstow at 9 am on a Sunday morning was very nice, most of the tourists are still abed.

Padstow is a working harbour at the mouth of the Camel estuary, although I seem to have taken pictures of posh yachts and not fishing boats.

It used to be connected to the rail network at Bodmin and the old line is now a cycling and walking route, the Camel trail. Most of the trail is tarmac, although there is a short stony section towards Bodmin. A good day out for families with bikes for hire and tea opportunities at the three main towns along the route.

Good views back to the estuary and across to the village of Rock, where there appeared to be a regatta.

I stopped at Wadebridge for coffee and it really started to rain. Fortunately the next section of the old railway is lined by trees but I had planned a leisurely walk with the hope of sitting quietly and seeing otters. Instead it was head down and keep walking. There is a steam railway just before Bodmin

No, I didn’t cheat! I had hoped to whet my appetite for the next stage of the walk with a view of Bodmin Moor but it was shrouded in mist. I can’t really grumble as I have kept fairly dry for the last 2 weeks despite the wet weather afflicting most of the country.

So, what have I learnt? I should be able to complete lejog in stages. I think I can reduce my pack weight by at least 5 pounds. 18 miles per day is about my limit. You should walk boots in well before starting a multi day walk, I did get a few blisters.

Oh yes. I mentioned some sources in yesterday’s blog. I used other people’s’ blogs and books in planning. I will start a bibliography when I get home.

Thank you for staying with me so far. I have given myself a month to recover but please rejoin me in August for the second leg: Bodmin to Worcester.

Saturday 22 June Day 10 Newquay to Trevone

Miles walked: Today 17 cumulative 134.6

So, after my lazy afternoon on the beach I went straight to the B & B instead of visiting the promontory called Towan’s Head. This morning, it would have added 2 miles on to a long day to go back so I missed seeing the “huer’s hut”. This is said to date back to the 14th century and was used by a lookout to alert fishermen to the presence of shoals of fish.

Instead I headed out of town on the cliff road. This passes the Barrow field, containing the remains of 15 Bronze Age burial sites

I was wearing my sunglasses which are not varifocal. I read a map label as “Lusty Gaze.” What is this? Was it a nudist beach for voyeurs? A local glamour model?? In fact, it is “Lusty Glaze” and was the Sunday Times beach of the year a few years ago. I don’t know how it got it’s name. It is usually open to the public but you can hire it. A couple were getting married today so it was closed to the public and I had to admire it from the road, they had picked fine weather.

Next there is a promontory called Trevelgue Head where there are the remains of an Iron Age fort

You can see the remains of fortifications as “humps” on the hill. The fort has been excavated and there was evidence of a large round house that was probably a meeting chamber as well as smaller dwellings and evidence of arable fields.

From the sublime to the ridiculous. In the next field was a football crazy golf course

I then crossed clifftops above the beautiful Watergate Bay

The walking was much easier today. Most of the ascents were not steep and, once at the top of the cliff, the path tended to be fairly flat. Views were excellent, I could see back to St Ives and forward to Trevose Head. Unfortunately these appeared as smudges on the photographs.

Then a descent to another beautiful cove: Mawgan Porth

The North Cornish coast is a surfers paradise. However, today they were grumbling as the sea was as flat as a millpond, although body boarders and paddle boarders were still giving it a go. I got an ear worm, Christy Moore’s “Delerium Tremens” the end of the chorus being:

“As I sat looking up at the Guinness ad I could never figure out

How your man stood up on the surfboard after 15 pints of Stout”

(You probably need to be of a certain age to understand)

After coffee (and cake) I continued to Carnewas and the Bedruthan Steps

These rock stacks were allegedly put there by the giant Bedruthan so he could cross the bay at high tide. Unusually, for Cornish giants, there are no records that he ate anyone.

This part of the coast was really beautiful. These islets are the Minnow islands.

I was getting tired and the muscles behind my left knee have been sore for the last few days so I reluctantly left the coast path and crossed inland to Trevone. There was a brief return to the coast path before arriving in Trevone

I would definitely recommend the Cornish section of the Coast path. I used the Cicerone guide. It describes the whole SW coast path, but in the opposite direction to the direction I walked. I didn’t take it with me but I found it very useful in planning and I annotated the map where I would find cafes and pubs so I only had to carry food one day. The official SW coast path web site is excellent

The odd facts come from the Cicerone guide, the National Trust web site, visitcornwall.com (the official tourist board), notice boards put up at some of the sites and by internet searching on the name of the site in question.

If you are visiting Cornwall and not walking, the Minack theatre is a must. Take a picnic or buy food there ( I had a very nice goat curry) but dress up warm.

Friday 21 June Day 9 Perranporth to Newquay

Miles: today’s 9.7 cumulative 117.6

The summer solstice. A glorious sunny day. Last night I stayed at The Seiner’s Arms, which overlooks the beach, a good view from breakfast!

I crossed the river and noticed a pierced rock at the side of the beach

I set off along the beach, a number of jellyfish had been washed up and were providing breakfast for the sand flies. I don’t know why, I am scared of jellyfish, even though I have never been stung.

There is an aptly named Chapel rock at the entrance to the bay, although I am unaware whether anyone has preached from there.

I set off across the beach, accompanied by dog walkers, but the tide was in too far so I had to deviate over a cliff before returning to the beach. This part of the beach was deserted apart from a man drawing a (poor) picture of a girl in the sand with a heart above it. Ah! Young love or unrequited love?

At the end of the beach the path climbs up to the cliff top. I could still see St Ives behind and lovely views ahead as far as Trevose Head, where I shall leave the coast path on Sunday morning. Walking was easy.

There was a drop into Holywell where I had coffee. The path returned to the cliff top and passed an old army base. There is a curious array on the cliff top which I assume is a militaary radio transmitter as there is a sign warning of non-ionising radiation.

The path passes round Porth (or polly) Joke. This is a beautiful deep cove well worth a visit. The name is a corruption of the Cornish Pol-Lejouack meaning Jackdaw’s cove.

The coast path continues around Pentire Point West but I was intrigued by the colours in the fields up on the hill so I left the official path. (Remember, my rules; I am allowed to walk where I choose) . They turned out to be fields owned by the National Trust where no pesticides are used and wild flowers are allowed to flourish and self seed. The majority of flowers are poppies and corn marigolds

I descended to Fistral beach. It was only 2pm so it was time for beer, pizza and a sit on the beach. 2 long days ahead.

Thursday 20 June Day 8 Portreath to Perranporth

Miles: Today 12.4 cumulative 107.9

Two milestone today. 100 miles and the first map walked. It doesn’t look very far on a map of mainland UK.

Another nice day steeply uphill from the off. There are two lookouts at the entrance to the harbour, the lower one called dead man’s house as it was used as a temporary mortuary for bodies washed up on the shore.The cliff is unsafe so the route starts up a quiet road before turning back to the cliff top. Good views back towards St Ives Bay.

The path passes a disused airfield which has a golf ball so large a crane has to lift it

The airfield was used by both the RAF and American Air Force during World War Two. A little further on there are some arable fields demonstrating that seagulls don’t just follow trawlers (Eric Cantona)

The path was strenuous with several steep ups and downs. This is a typical feature of the cliff path

There are several sandy bays where the waves are good for surfers. Great views to be had both back along the route as well as ahead. After another Bay the path rises to St Agnes head. There are often seals here but they were hiding today. About a mile off shore are the Bawden rocks, also known as Man and his man, these are an important breeding site for sea birds

This stretch of cliffs was another important tin mining area and the cliffs are disfigured by spoil heaps in several places. As you wind around the heaps it feels like you are on a different planet.

At Cligga Head there is some dramatic rock scenery as different coloured strata are seen in the cliff face

The path descends to Perranporth will fine views of Perran sands and the dunes behind, the start of tomorrow’s walk.

Perranporth is named after St Piran who came across from Ireland in the 6th century and is credited with introducing Christianity to the County. He is also the patron saint of tin miners. The Cornish national flag (white cross on black background ) is St Piran’s flag. At the entrance to Perranporth there is the millennium sundial, set to Cornish time which is about 20 minutes behind GMT.

Until the 19th Century there was no National time standard. With the advent of the railways, it became important to have a uniform time across the country so that train routes could be planned and timetables published. Greenwich Mean Time, the time at the Greenwich meridian, was set as the UK standard. There is still a clock in Bristol that has two minute hands, one set to GMT the other to local Bristol time.

I came upon a shop selling unusual ice cream

I wasn’t keen on the chicken liver ice cream but I now have a glossy coat and a waggy tail.

Wednesday 19 June Day 7 St Ives to Portreath

Miles: today 18 cumulative 95.5

I needed the rest day yesterday! Today was long. The rain had stopped by the time I woke up and by 9 the sun was coming out. I set off through St Ives, alongside Carbis Bay. The path passes between houses and the sea and I couldn’t see the contour lines on the map. I got a shock how up and down it was.

Carbis Bay is on the Hayle estuary and, although it was low tide, I didn’t fancy trying to wade across the river. The path takes about a three mile detour along the estuary. Nice views to Porth Kidney sands and back to St Ives.

As I approached the church of St. Uny in Lelant I met a man walking the pilgrims route from the church to St Michaels Mount, the St Michael’s way. The path is one of a number of pilgrim routes across Europe that converge on St James’ cathedral in Santiago de Compostella in Galicia. Pilgrims from Ireland used to land here and walk across Cornwall before catching another boat because the waters around Lands End were considered too dangerous to sail.

I can’t tell you much about Lelant saltings except it used to be a port until the harbour silted up and the author Rosamunde Pilcher was born here. When you cross the estuary there is an area that looks like it has been dug out into linear trenches but I do not know why, possibly to harvest sea salt??

The path then crosses the Hayle and makes its way back to the coast. It then passes through dunes called the Towans, derived from a corruption of the Cornish for dunes. I followed the dunes for a short while and then descended to the beach. This was a beautiful walk around St Ives Bay, although some prefer to see it from the sky

The first picture is a view of Godrevy Towans and Godrevy Island, the second a view back along the beach.

The path then takes to the cliffs again. Very easy walking with no steep ascents for most of the day. The nice thing about the path is there are always opportunities for a healthy lunch

That’s 2 of my 5 a day: white chocolate and raspberry. Why am I not getting thinner??

This is the lighthouse on Godrevy island

Easy walking along the cliff path with fine views back towards St Ives Bay and forward towards Portreath.As you can see, nice and flat.There has been an abundance of lovely flowers throughout the walk. Examples:

All flat paths come to an end and after an easy stroll there were two sharp descents and ascents.

The path then crosses the cliff above Ralph’s cupboard. This is a collapsed sea cave.

There is a legend that this was the home of the giant Wrath of Portreath. He would throw rocks at passing ships to wreck them. He would then eat the crew and steal their treasure. He wasn’t at home today. Other stories say it was used by (human) smugglers as a hideaway and to store their loot.

I feel bad I criticised the SW coast path signage a few days ago. Since then it has been perfect. I have got lazy navigating, I just need to keep the sea on my left. On many of the signs there is a grid reference so you can always work out where you are.

Also, where the path is overgrown somebody has cleared it with a strimmer. In some places the cliff has collapsed or is unstable and there is a clearly marked diversion.

Finally I turned the corner and arrived at Portreath

Cornish cream tea – How to do it

This is very important. If you get the order wrong you will be deported back over the Tamar bridge to Devon where they do it differently.

First divide your scone, which should be fresh and ideally warm

Then spread the jam

And finally the cream (clotted, of course)

If you care about your waistline it is ok not to finish the cream

Or you could invite a friend

Of course, you get a bigger pot of cream

Monday 17 June: Day 6 Zennor to St Ives

Miles Walked: today 6.8 cumulative 77.5

A short day today. Before I left Zennor I looked round the church and saw the mermaid chair.

The chair is said to be 400 years old. Legend has it that there was a boy who had an exquisite voice and sang in the church choir. People came from far and wide to hear him sing. A mermaid used to sit on the shore and listen to the singing. One day she came into the church and led the boy down to the sea and neither were ever seen again.

The above story is printed in the church. However, on the internet it suggests that the mermaid enticed the boy away by the sound of her voice.

As I have already said, there is no “fixed” route for lejog. I left the coast path and headed away from Zennor down the B3306 for about half a mile with nice views back to the village

I then headed south on to the Downs to visit Zennor quoit.

Quoits are megalithic burial chambers consisting of several upright stones supporting a large capstone. As you can see the roof has collapsed after one of the supporting stones was dislodged. The 3 standing stones you can see in the foreground are the remains of a cow shed from the nineteenth century. It is said the local vicar had to stop the farmer from completing the building with stones from the quoit.

I returned to the road and after a further half mile turned down a lane to pass through an old mill and back to the coast path. There were a large number of day walkers from St Ives. A few seals were lazing on rocks on the shore.

After a gentle walk I arrived in St Ives for lunch

A day off to follow. I spent it wandering round the Tate gallery (highly recommended). I planned to spend the rest of the day on the beach. However a wet day so I have had a lazy afternoon. Back on the coast path tomorrow.

Sunday June 16: Day 5 Cape Cornwall to Zennor

Miles walked: today 12.7 cumulative 70.7

This was the hardest days walking so far. Although shorter in distance, the path was much more rugged with steep ascents and descents, total ascent 1800 feet.

The breakfast room was busy as there was a tournament on with a shotgun start ( all the golfers start at the same time, split between the 18 holes). I wandered across the course, down to the Cape and starting back on the coast path. I now entered the Tin Coast which is a World Heritage Site.

the last picture shows a mine shaft, many are still open shafts, the ones on the footpath have walls round them to stop day dreaming walkers falling in!

I stopped to look at the Levant mine, owned by the National Trust where there is a working beam engine.

I mentioned that tin mine shafts tend to be vertical; based on the web site cornwall-calling.co.uk. However, at Levant horizontal levels were dug out from the vertical shaft and extended out under the sea. Lots of info is present on the internet but a few interesting facts:

Tin ore is called Casserite

Women and girls worked at the mines, mainly on the surface. The women were called Bal maidens and worked with hammers and picks to break up the raw ore ( called dressing the ore). They would work at the mine from about 6am until 5pm and then return home to do the washing and cooking. Many were widows of men who had died in the mines.

Arsenic is a significant component of casserite. This was extracted by heating the ore in a furnace and condensing the arsenic on the walls of the tall chimneys. Men or children, with minimal protective clothing, would brush out the arsenic dust from the chimneys to use in dyes, medicines etc.

Mining in Cornwall started 1000-2000BC and, of course, heralded the Bronze Age, bronze being an alloy of tin and copper. Copper was also found in the tin mines.

By the way, why and how did someone first have the idea of heating stone up to extract metal?

I wondered a couple of days ago whether the mines may reopen with the increased demands for these metals in modern electronics. In researching this I read that a Canadian company is trying to raise investment to reopen the South Crofty mine.

I continued around the coast with great views. The weather became very overcast with occasional showers so not many photographic opportunities. As I approached Gurnard’s Head I could see rock climbers in the distance. They reminded me of the seabirds I saw on the cliff top a few days ago, you can just see their red helmets.

Gurnard’s Head actually looks a bit like the fish from the South-west.

I couldn’t upload a picture of the fish. If you have a good fishmonger they sometimes sell the fish. They work out quite expensive because the head is so big. They make an excellent fish stew, but remember to take the head and bones home as well to make a fish stock. Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s fish book has the recipe.

Tired and hungry I arrived at the Tinners Arms in Zennor. After 2 pints of Tinners Ale and an excellent roast beef dinner I was happy to retire to the White House next door