5 minutes after starting my walk, I was heading into a strong Westerly wind while raindrops made a ‘tock-tocking’ sound on the hood of my waterproof. I had only just started my exploration of this section of the South West Coast Path (SWCP) in Cornwall and I was already feeling the conditions.
Walking the SWCP is not for the faint-hearted. Even if you’re not completing the 630 miles from Minehead in Somerset to Poole Harbour in Dorset (or the other way round, as I am) it can still be tough going. I can think of many sections – Sidmouth and the coastline near Lulworth Cove to name but a few – that involve steep and long climbs.
However, I would recommend it every time to walkers. The SWCP offers some of the finest walking in the British Isles. You can encounter an amazing variety of landscapes, views and wildlife all in the space of one day as well as visiting various places of interest en route.
I had decided to spend 2 days walking between the villages of Portwrinkle and Polperro in Cornwall. It is a distance of 12.7 miles. I have been walking the path for more than 3 years now, completing sections when I have had the time, starting from Studland/Poole in Dorset and Polperro I had decided was my next port of call.
One of the great joys of this section is the variety. On leaving Portwrinkle village there is the tiny harbour protected by 2 converging old stone walls. From here the path twists and turns through exposed grass uplands and gorse bushes, the sea a permanent and dramatic presence to the left. Buzzards are a common sight and if you’re lucky you might see a peregrine.
I pass through the villages of Downderry and Seaton each with its own sandy beach before eventually arriving at the busy and picturesque town of Looe with its straight river, arched bridge and harbour.
Looe can in parts have a down at heel appearance but it is also full of character and characters. As I arrived at about 5 in the afternoon, many of the pubs were buzzing with people while others gathered outside the bakery to get whatever pastries were left at 2 for a pound and exchange gossip about what had been going on in town the night before.
It was Polperro that was the highlight of this trip, though. Nestled around an idyllic little harbour which still has a thriving fishing industry, the whitewashed old houses of the village cluster together separated by narrow pathways and the odd little stone footbridge that crosses the River Pol.
Yes, when walking the SWCP you might get a bit cold and a bit wet but my bet is you will leave having witnessed dramatic settings, met interesting people and felt the invigoration and achievement of completing a truly memorable walk.