Distance Walked: 209km
Distance covered this section: 69km
- April 26 – Treyanon to Padstow (18km)
- April 27 – Padstow to Tintagel abandoned due to miserable weather
- April 28 – Tintagel unplanned but welcome rest day (10km local walk)
- April 29 – Tintagel to Boscastle (8km)
- April 30 – Boscastle to Crackington Haven (11km) and then bus to Bude due to accommodation challenges
- 1 May Bude to Elmscot Hartland (22km)
Things have really changed in YHAs over the last 30 years. Gone are the dormitories, curfews and chores. YHAs are now affordable and comfortable accommodation with private rooms, ensuite facilities and in set in beautiful locations.
Just the occasional downside. Like, having thoroughly enjoyed our rest day, Treyanon YHA became the destination for a school group of pubescent, hairy and hearty young Welshmen who took up a great deal of space, seemed to have been created with no volume control and thumped about their bunkroom above our room til the wee hours! Ho hum. Can’t have everything!
Thankfully the next day brought a lovely flat walk along the cliff tops to Padstow – a very picturesque harbour side village on the massive sandy estuary of the Camel River. There are no actual camels here. Camel River is actually the Cornish for crooked river.
The following day poor weather made the to bus to Tintagel just too appealing so we missed out the section of the walk from Padstow. This was a shame as it meant we missed Port Issac where the TV show Doc Martin is filmed. But having booked accommodation in advance we can’t sit out the rain as we did in New Zealand. Still an additional rest day didn’t go amiss.
All the busing about made us realise that we have been getting quite a surreal impression of Cornwall. We arrive from the cliff tops to these pristine, time capsuled villages without any idea about how they connect together on the landward side. So they appear very isolated. On the bus we saw the more modern outter edges. And the B&B in Padstow also reconnected us with the wider world through an impressive gallery of paintings of the Royal Family all the way up the stairs to our room. Princess Diana was clearly a favourite while Prince Charles and Camilla were noticeably absent.
Tintagel is a village with a very long history and mythical association with King Arthur. More interesting was the Tintagel post office dating back to 1300 when it was built as a long house, (basically a large one room dwelling) complete with a high shelf over the main hall/room.
In those days everyone slept on the floor of the hall, except for the maidens who slept up on the shelf -unmolested. The girls just needed to make sure they didn’t take too long to marry or they might end up… ‘left on the shelf’.
In this area tin mining made way for slate mining and the remnants of quarries were all along the coast. Tintagel youth hostel is a repurposed quarry building. Right on the cliff edge. It really has the best outlook of any accommodation in Cornwall.
Next up a short but spectacular walk to the Boscastle YHA. Just not enough descriptive words to really capture the grandeur of this coastline.
In the Valley of the Rocks, half way to Boscastle, we took a short detour to a disused mill house where we discovered, on a rock face behind the mill, Bronze Age labyrinth carvings dating back to 1800BC. While there was a small plaque, this amazing site didn’t warrant a signpost or any protection.
Onward from Boscastle was a couple of days hiking described as ‘strenuous’ and ‘severe’ in the guide book. With trepidation we anticipated NZ-like scrambles and rock hopping perhaps with the path broken away on precipitous edges. However while the path was steep, and very high in places, with large climbs and descents, it was in such good condition that we didn’t find it as hard as we had expected. Long staircases on most of the climbs did put pressure on the knees but no physical breakdowns to report.
And so at the close of our second week we left Cornwall and entered Devon. It has been a fairly lonesome two weeks with only occasional day walkers to say hello to and dog walkers appearing on the approach to settlements. Not many through hikers. We did see this fellow though who came out to make us feel at home.
We are beginning to wonder if we have spent a little too long in each other’s company as conversational topics are becoming a bit thin on the ground. It was as Dave started to recount the LP records that Milly his mother owned in the early 70’s that I started to feel a little woozy. 🙂