What a lovely walk Mr RR and I had today! Can you believe that on Tuesday there was hail and sleet and freezing winds….and today the sun was shining, the birds were singing and the sea was deep, deep greeny blue….aaah wonderful. We almost didn’t really need coats.
We didn’t go far from home, but we hadn’t explored this area before, not sure why not, its very beautiful, around the mouth of the Helford River with views across Falmouth Bay. I think we’ll be going back again.
This walk came from Classic Walks, Cornwall (3rd ed). I’m always wary of walks from walk books, they can easily lead you astray while you look in vain for the ‘white cottage on the left’ which is now blue, or the ‘metal gate’ which is now wooden. Paths, especially on the coast, can be diverted as the cliff erodes and new paths may have appeared since the book was published. Today we took the Ordnance Survey map with us – just in case – but for the most part the walk was just as it says on the tin!
Anyway, I’m off to do some secret stitching…..enjoy reading.
Target: 1000 miles in one year (20 miles a week)
Achieved so far: 192 miles (target 180 miles)
Achieved this week: 15.4 miles
Porthallow circular via Gillan and Nare Point (4.9 miles)
At the little fishing hamlet of Porthallow, which sits on the coast just around the corner from the Helford River, there is a large stone sign letting us know that this is the mid point of the South West Coast Path from Minehead to Poole. The stone has, carved into it, names of birds and flowers that can be found hereabouts. Across the bay we can see container ships at anchor awaiting entrance to Falmouth Docks. The sun is shining, the sea is calm and the day is perfect for walking.
We set off through the hamlet, heading inland and crossing a little stream before making our way up the tree lined valley. There is, of course, mud! Lots of it! But boards walks have been provided over the worst parts and as we climb upwards we’re able to take our eyes from our feet to admire the view. There is birdsong all around us and we soon see a robin and a pair of blue tits.
Across a couple of babbling brooks and stone stiles before, eventually we join the road which will take us through hedges and rolling countryside to a track leading downhill to Gillan Harbour.
On the way, we pass through a farmyard and catch sight of these cute calves in the barn. They’re quite curious about us and not at all shy, but even so, we turn off the flash on the camera so we don’t startle them.
The track descends along a path, presumably once the drive to a large house as there is a carved gatepost at one point and it is lined with elegant beech trees, the floor littered with the remains of beech nuts, much prized by wood mice and grey squirrels, though we see neither of these.
Across the valley, on our left, an elegant art deco style house sits high on the hillside, no doubt with stunning views over the harbour and Falmouth Bay, which is ahead of us as we carry on down the muddy hill.
This is such a pretty place, so quiet and still. Across the water we can see five egrets on the shoreline. The collective noun for egrets is so disappointing that I considered not repeating it here, but my conscience won’t let me get away with that…….a heronry of egrets (it’s almost plagiarism isn’t it?). Moving quickly on…….
The little stone quay is owned by the National Trust and there is also the remnant of a Bronze Age settlement here, called The Herra.
We’re now on the South West Coast Path and need only to follow this back to our starting point. The path is of course muddy, with some steepish climbs and stiles to navigate, but the views along the coastline in front of us and out across Falmouth Bay towards the Roseland Peninsula are worth every step of it.
Along the way we see stonechats,bluetits, a meadow pipit and a long tailed tit. Down on the water’s edge are cormorants and a pair of Shelduck sitting amidst the gulls. After a short time, we stop to remove a layer of clothing, before ploughing on to Nare Point where there is, what must be, the Coastguard Station with the best views in all of Cornwall.
And then, after one very steep climb, we can see Porthallow in the distance, surprisingly far away. It doesn’t take us long, however, to tramp along the remainder of this muddy path and down over the hill. Just on the edge of the hamlet, right by the water’s edge, is the most delightful garden, beautifully landscaped, making you want to sit right there and drink in the view.
Not for us, sadly. We’re back at the car and removing muddy boots again!
Associated Artwork for Ricketyrambler by Andrew Major:
Last night as I sat studying an OS map and contemplating tea and cake in M&S while waiting for the car to be serviced today, some words suddenly popped out of my mouth:
‘We could always go for a walk while we wait for the car’ I said.
This is unprecedented, I’m not sure what’s happening to me……
Enjoy the ramblings.
(P.S: I forgot the camera again today – all photos are Mr RRs)
Target – 1000 miles in one year. Weekly goal – 20 miles
Total achieved so far – 143.4 miles (target 140)
Achieved this week – 15.5 miles
Hayle Estuary, The Towans and Phillack (4.9 miles)
So we did……we left the car to be serviced, walked straight past Marks and Spencer and followed the path up over the A30 and along the main Hayle road turning right to walk alongside the estuary with its reed beds and marshes. The tide was out and the river bed was buzzing with birdlife (do river beds buzz? Anyway – you know what I mean).
We saw dozens of wigeon – you may remember that we have previously been confused about the duck population, however, we are now fully signed up members of the RSPB (something strange really is happening to me!) and we have the book! These were definitely wigeon, with their little wedge shaped bright yellow patch on their heads, foraging in the weed. We saw a flock of lapwing (love these!), shelducks, redshank, a curlew, an oyster catcher and a heron (another favourite!) sitting regally in the middle of the river. And then we saw a solitary little squat grey bird with a short beak, we had to consult the book – a grey plover!
As you continue along the banks of the river you enter the George V Memorial Gardens, a subtropical garden completely maintained by volunteers. It’s stunning in Spring and Summer. Not much going on at the moment but the volunteers are hard at work pruning and tidying.
Coming out of the gardens we crossed the road to North Quay, which has been recently redeveloped to provide moorings for boats and will eventually have waterside cafe’s and restaurants and easy access to the beach as part of the Hayle Redevelopment Masterplan. We walked down onto the beach and round the corner away from the estuary, taking a look across at Lelant Church on the opposite hill, before ascending onto Hayle Towans via the South West Coast Path.
Hayle Towans – (from the Cornish ‘tewyn’ meaning sand dune) – includes the area from Mexico Towans to Gwithian, a Site of Special Scientific Interest. We’re heading for Mexico Towans – no idea why it’s so called – following the coast path across the dunes with the sea on our left and Godrevy lighthouse ahead.
At Mexico Towans we head inland, climbing a high dune for an excellent view of the area and a discussion about which way to go. We can see Phillack Church ahead so we follow the path out of the dunes and through the houses to the church, then down over a steep hill – on which someone has thoughtfully provided me with a chair, in case I was thinking of climbing back up the hill!
At the bottom of the hill we’re back at the estuary and a short walk across the road and round the corner finds us having a quick cuppa before reclaiming the car!
Associated artwork for Ricketyrambler by Andrew Major: