Day 3 in ‘The Book’ is supposed to be 19 miles from Gwithian to Perranporth, but after the first two days I was feeling exhausted, stiff and a bit demoralised, and the prospect of more steep switchbacks to cross tiny streams was more than my legs could face. I decided to walk as far as Portreath and see how I felt before deciding whether to go further.
It turned out to be a very enjoyable clifftop walk with no dips until a couple of steep valleys just before Portreath. The going underfoot was close-packed springy turf and dirt/stone paths, making for surprisingly rapid progress given the state of my feet and legs. The views were stunning, as they have been since the start – if I haven’t waxed lyrical before now it is because it is impossible to do justice to the beautiful, almost tropical, turquoise colour of the sea in each rocky cove, or the lovely clean smell of clifftop heather and grass mixed with the sea breeze, or the way the vista changes as each headland grows slowly closer and then recedes. For large portions of the day I could probably see for 20-30 miles, looking back to see Godrevy lighthouse and St Ives in the distance and ahead to St Agnes.
I made it to Portreath in good time and had a leisurely lunch. Despite very sore legs and feet I had (nearly) made my mind up to walk on as far as Porthtowan, and was heading across the beachfront when I saw our car in the carpark. I gratefully accepted it as a sign that I should call it a day and spent an enjoyable afternoon pottering round the campsite with the kids, with a much-needed shower and a very early night.
Highlights: a seal basking in the sunlit water by Godrevy Point; bouncy turf and huge views on the clifftops; wildflowers in bloom everywhere; a hawk, hovering in the air just above me; schoolchildren enjoying a day out at Portreath beach; paddling in the sea with 4-year-old Rowan.