Sunday, 15th March 2015 (Day 7, week 10)
More colour today! There were daffodils everywhere – on top of walls, in gardens, in hedgerows, on the road side and in fields. And daffodils in the woods too – it was quite a woody walk today.
Target: 1000 miles in one year (20 miles a week)
Achieved so far: 223.7 miles (Target 200)
Achieved this week: 22.7 miles
Helford circular via Manaccan, Gillan Creek and St Anthony-in-Meneague (4.9 miles)
This walk was taken from Classic Walks, Cornwall (3rd edition) and begins in the car park just above Helford village about which I just wanted a quick rant. When we got there at around 10.00 this morning, we were pleasantly surprised to see that there was no charge for parking. When we returned, less than 3 hours later we found that in our absence, parking charges had been reinstated and – had we arrived half an hour later – we would have been asked to pay £4.90 for the privilege of leaving our car on this piece of gravelled wasteland. Charges have been reinstated for the Summer season. There’s a lovely cafe situated in an old chapel here, and nowhere else to leave your car to visit the village or walk in this lovely place or even have a cup of tea at the cafe. Charges are, of course, collected by Cornwall County Council, who I believe, need to think seriously about whether they really want to attract tourists or put them off completely. We won’t be returning this Summer. So, the moral of this rant is – if you want to walk here, start and finish at Manaccan, about a mile away, where you can park for free!
We begin by walking down to the lovely Helford village with its thatched cottages lining the banks of the Helford estuary and then take the woodland path alongside a stream. Although there hasn’t been any rain for a few days now, it’s still muddy underfoot although the paths are ankle deep in browning leaves. We catch sight of a grey wagtail his tail flicking up and down as he hops from rock to tree and we can hear, but not see, a woodpecker drilling away at a tree trunk. After a while we leave the woods behind and climb some stone stiles to enter a field of golden daffodils.
A little further on and we cross a road to the village of Manaccan, passing a converted barn with an interesting wall feature – presumably once a dovecote.
Walking downhill and into the churchyard we stop to look at the fig tree growing from the walls of the church itself. The tree seems to flourish in this position and is said to be 250 years old.
The footpath takes us through the churchyard and along Vicarage Lane before we turn right and cross some more stiles to enter a wooded valley. Shortly after crossing a stream, we turn left and continue to follow it down to Gillan Creek, walking beside the water all the way to St Anthony-in-Meneague with its waterside church.
Dabbling in the creek is an egret and high up in a tree on the opposite side of the water is a second one. They look a bit strange, perched on branches, almost ungainly although they seem quite at ease and have a good view all along the creek.
There are swans and ducks in the creek too, and on the opposite bank we can see redshank, curlew (an adult and a juvenile) and what we think are sanderling. Lots of debate takes place later, with the RSPB book open, trying to decide if they are sanderling or knot or plover. But we’ve settled on sanderling – a ‘grain’ of sanderling according to my trusty book.
The road alongside the creek is in a perilous state, having collapsed into the water in a couple of places taking trees and plant life with it. On our right the dry stone wall is covered in tiny mauve flowers which I think are sweet violet.
We reach the church and climb the hill behind it, stopping for a look back at the view over the water. On the opposite bank is the little harbour that we visited on a walk a week or so ago and to our left the open waters of Falmouth Bay.
Bearing right to leave the road after the church we follow a concessionary path through the Bosahan Estate. There is, apparently, an intriguing garden developed by the Grylls family in the late 1880’s here although there is no sign of it for us as we head across to the coast path, on the way passing through a field of mangel-wurzels, a strange turnip like vegetable used for feeding cows – although they are perfectly edible for humans too!
This part of the South West Coast Path follows the Helford River via a woodland walk for three miles back to Helford. On the way there are a couple of shingle coves where we’ve previously sat and watched the river.
Today though we pass by without stopping, there’s a cold wind blowing and the tide is in. The wood itself is full of flowering daffodils and the promise of bluebells to come and the path runs alongside some cottages where hens and a solitary duck have free run of a garden.
Then its up some steps and a quick walk downhill, before turning into the car park next to the yachting club. Alas the cafe is still closed.
Associated Artwork for Ricketyrambler by Andrew Major: