Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Magnificent Seven

Best for Campers

This is an ideal walk for campers, with several campsites within easy walking distance of both beaches. Polly Joke is a remote jewel nestling round the corner from Newquay’s brasher beaches, and this summer walk provides incredible views through the tamarisk trees on Pentire Head which is carpeted with red poppies in summer. From Crantock Beach, head up through the sand dunes past fields onto West Pentire Point, where skylarks soar overhead and rock pigeons swoop over the rocks. Drink in the stunning views before arriving at Polly Joke, where the soft sands beckon to families, surfers and dog walkers alike. The path winds inland over Cubert Common, while buzzards linger overhead, back to Treago Farm and along the road back to the Bowgie. Sit outside and watch the spray crashing off Goose Island, long waves rolling up the Gannel Estuary, and the misty outline of Trevose Head in the distance.

Best for small children
This beach is a children’s paradise, with fine golden sands perfect for building sandcastles and swimming. The walk is also suitable for small feet if you can bear to leave the tempting rock pools. From Daymer Bay, head out towards the Norman church of St Enodoc Church which was buried in the sand for many years and is the final resting place of John Betjeman. Keep an eye out for golfers as you cross the golf course and head towards Rock where you can stop for a drink in one of the many pubs, or catch the ferry over to Padstow. Wander slowly back through the sand dunes and look out over the Camel Estuary and the famous Doom Bar, which has wrecked over 600 ships since records began 200 years ago. Arrive back at Daymer Bay in time for a paddle and an ice cream – and back to those wonderful rock pools.

Best for exclusive hotels
St Mawes can be reached via the King Harry car ferry from Feock or by passenger ferry from Falmouth, both providing the feeling of coming abroad to this seaside town popular with those wanting a special holiday in one of the exclusive hotels. An easy walk rambles along Cliff Drive, past apricot coloured roses and walls of tumbling rosemary to St Mawes castle, where the sea sparkles and shimmers in the summer sunshine. Meander along Newton Cliff and pause at the top to look out over Falmouth harbour and the docks. On a Saturday afternoon watch dinghies, yachts and all manner of seagoing vessels race on the river Fal, or go for a sail yourself. Return in time for a cream tea or a cocktail. In these stunning surroundings, any of the exclusive hotels in St Mawes will ensure that your stay is unforgettable.

Best for painters
When the painter Lamorna Birch came to stay here, he decided to take the name Lamorna, so stricken was he by the quality of the light and the stunning seascapes. He was closely followed by other painters who made up the Newlyn School of Painting, and this walk, starting in Mousehole, shows the wonderful views that inspired them. Take in Lamorna Pottery, and their fabulous coffee and cake, before walking down to Lamorna harbour where Carn du headland lies to the left. On a clear day look out over to Tater Du lighthouse and you may see the satellite dishes of Goonhilly in the distance. The path passes through Kemyel Crease, up and down incredibly steep steps before arriving back in Mousehole. Enjoy the magical views out over Mounts Bay and St Michael’s Mount, then take time to enjoy the many galleries and craft shops here and in Penzance. You will return as excited as those famous painters of the early 20th century.

Best for seafood
Cadgwith hit the big screen with the 2004 film, Ladies in Lavender, starring Judi Dench and Maggie Smith as two spinsters who rescue a handsome young man who is shipwrecked and washed up in Cadgwith. Visitors are constantly drawn to this tiny fishing village where crab, lobster and local fish are still caught. The village used to be famous as being one of the most important pilchard fisheries in Cornwall: the old pilchard cellar still stands on the quay beside the pub. Take time to wander round the village and enjoy succulent seafood for lunch. The walk takes in Grade Church, the second most southerly church in England, and continues past the unforgettable Devil’s Frying Pan, a collapsed sea cave where the sea funnels through a narrow arch at high tide – a spectacular sight in a storm.

Chapel Porth
Best for mesmirising views
Climb up from Chapel Porth beach and pause at the top of the cliffs to enjoy the views over the beaches of Portreath and Porthtowan. Further on, come to Wheal Coates, one of the most photographed mine engine houses in Cornwall, and one that adorned the cover of Daphne du Maurier’s Vanishing Cornwall. Further on, come to St Agnes Beacon, where bonfires are lit on Midsummer Eve and other special occasions and on a clear day you can see 30 church spires or towers. From the highest point look westwards to St Ives, and up to Trevose Head near Padstow in the north. Surfers and swimmers alike enjoy the excellent café at Chapel Porth, so return along the cliff path as the sun goes down. Sit outside the café with steaming mugs of tea and cake while nature paints a fantastic backdrop of yellow, red, pale blue and rose pink.

Best for hikers
This is one of the loveliest summer walks, which takes about 3 hours and shows the many facets of the Helford river at their best, with a good variety of walking through woods, fields and creeks. The passenger ferry from Helford Passage (check return times) will take you to the whitewashed cottages of Helford Village, then through Bosahan Woods where the sunlight sparkles white on ivy leaves. Round Antony Head, walk through fields of summer grass and look out at the many boats on the Helford river, then round to Gillan Creek, where beautifully restored gypsy caravans perch on the side of the river bank. Every Good Friday local families gather at the cockle beds around here to collect cockles and other shellfish. This tradition, dating from pre-Christian times, is known as trigging. Continue along the creek to Manaccan where a fig tree grows out of the church wall.

Best for cyclists, horse riders - and historians
This walk is perfect for a summer’s day ramble exploring the mines of this area, and parts of it are also suitable for wheelchairs and buggies. At 3 miles long, the Great Flat Lode was the longest and richest vein, or lode, of tin in Cornwall and part of the group of Basset Mines. World Heritage status for this area was granted in 2006 and has helped provide funding to interlink all the mineral tramway projects in this area. There are many interconnecting walks here, with beautifully preserved mine workings which are safe to explore and information boards provided. Visit Wheal Basset Stamps to find out how the tin ore was crushed, and further on visit South Wheal Frances and associated buildings, some as elegant and regal as cathedrals. These walks provide a fascinating mix of quiet grassy lanes, high open moorland and a sense of Cornish mining history that is all around.

Porth Joke campsite, Treago Mill, Crantock, Newquay, TR8 5QS. Tel: 01637 830213
Treworgans Holiday Park – Cubert, Wesley Road, Cubert, Newquay TR8 5HH. Tel 01637 830200.
Polly Joke is dog friendly all year round.
Daymer Bay - The Camel Estuary is a haven for birds and wildlife.
The Camel Trail winds from Padstow to Bodmin, covering 17 miles: bicycles can be hired.
St Mawes Sailing Club -
King Harry Ferries -
St Mawes Castle -
Lamorran Gardens open Mon, Wed and Fri, April – September 10-5.
Victory Inn – 01326 270324
Cadgwith Cove Inn – Cadgwith, Helston 01326 290513
Helford Passage ferry -
Ferryboat Inn, Helford Passage - 01326 250625.
Shipwrights Inn, Helford Village – 01326 231235
The beach at Helford Passage is not dog friendly in summer.
The Cornish Mining World Heritage Trails are free and easy to use.
Go to
There are several free car parks in the area but beware of open mine shafts with children and dogs.

CT July 2011

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