My apologies for the long time without a blog entry – internet connections have been few and far between during the last two weeks!
This was a tough day’s walking, which started with me, groggy from lack of sleep, failing to take out cash in time from the machine in Wadebridge, and looking up from fastening my backpack just in time to see £50 being sucked back into the machine. The bank wasn’t open to sort it out so I cursed, sighed, and set off. That was shortly followed by negotiating a field full of large and vaguely hostile cows, then crossing the A39 in rush hour, then a short walk up another busy B-road, before escaping with a sigh of relief into a walk across fields, only to find the field full of crops with no marked path. A city girl’s dilemma – even I know it’s bad form to walk straight across a field full of growing wheat, but what to do when the field edges are three-foot deep in giant nettles?
Chapel Amble was very pretty and the lady at the tiny post office and stores in the centre of the village was very friendly. The footpaths into the village were completely overgrown with nettles and brambles so I opted for a cautious walk through some grazing fields, only to prompt a mini-stampede of nervous cows and sheep. The path from Chapel Amble went through a stream valley, and clearly hadn’t been walked by anyone in a long time – and as I made my way through the cow parsley, hundreds of tiny frogs, no bigger than my finger, jumped to the side so it looked like the ground itself was moving.
The paths didn’t get noticeably better all day – some of the footpaths used in the trail guide were completely overgrown with brambles and impassable, others were simply ankle-deep in muddy water, and most had lots of nettles and brambles. Whilst I didn’t want to spend too much time wandering round the roads at the mercy of tractors and cars, it would undoubtedly have been quicker in many places than taking the ‘short cut’ across country. Also, Cornish ponies must be talented mountain climbers, as some of the alleged bridleways were more a scramble than a saunter. On the other hand, it was a nice route through some very pretty villages, the strip maps were generally easy to follow, and it was a nice change to be walking inland, feeling the country change as I approached the coast.
Port Isaac was very pretty, and I made it in time for an excellent coffee in the sunshine by the harbour, gazing at the day-trippers and feeling slightly smug, before heading up the steep hill out of town for the rest of the day back on the Coast Path. I was prepared for some tough walking on the stretch north from Port Isaac, but was unprepared for just how tough the repeated switchbacks were; foolishly, I had relied on the book’s confident statement that Jacket Point was the worst of these, with the result that the much steeper decsents before and into Port William nearly did me in. The stretch between Port Isaac and Port William was also very overgrown in places, with weeds and grasses almost up to my armpits, and it made for slow going – being allergic to grass pollen, it also made for very itchy legs and arms! I stopped for a much-needed cup of tea at Port William and watched the waves crashing on the rocks and a very bored lifeguard. By the time I got to Tintagel, it was nearly 6, and I decided to stop for the day.
Highlights: the tiny village post office and stores at Chapel Amble; cresting the ridge and smelling the sea on the descent across fields into Port Isaac; overtaking two very fit-looking walkers at the bottom of one of the switchbacks; the wonder-working power of a strong cup of tea; a series of stiles on the way into Tintagel which were so complicated and covered with warning signs they made me laugh; the church at Tintagel shining in the late afternoon sun.