Mountains by the Coast   14 comments

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Coastal walking seems to fall into two types. Stretches of easy walking along the cliff tops punctuated by occasional short drops to the sea. Then there are sections of punishing, relentless climbs and drops like a rollercoaster. We chose one of these for our last day in Cornwall.

We were looking for a section we hadn’t walked before so headed for Port Quin with a view to walking to Port Isaac or Port Gaverne and back.The sunny weather had been replaced by leaden grey skies and rain looked a certainty. Having had two pretty decent days in November, a third would be pushing our luck to the extremes so we weren’t disheartened and coastlines always deliver an experience even on the worst of days

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Port Quin is a tiny settlement barely worthy of a name. Just a few National Trust houses for rent (I think my parents stayed here once) and some run down looking apartments. The cove is tiny in width but long in length. Not unlike Boscastle further north

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The first steep climb of the day gave views across the dark and foreboding coastline

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The section in shot below, across Downgate Cove from Kellan Head, had three climbs of around 250 feet and back down to sea level. Its only about a mile and only a third of the way to where we were going!

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A couple of seals watched us from the water but it was far too gloomy to get a decent image

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Looking back along the first mountainous stretch

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And along the next one, Greengarden Cove. It rained on and off for a while on this stretch but it never materialised into the downpour we expected and we never really got wet all day which was a bonus

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These steps went on forever and would be brutal if walking the other up (we came down)

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Right down to sea level at Pine Haven

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You can see the steep steps in the shot below. Walking the coast path must be really hard work in stretches like this. On a bad day with wind and rain it must be morale sapping to trudge up one steep climb with a heavy pack only to drop back down and have to do it all over again a few minutes later and keep that going for a whole day. This section of the SW coast path is notoriously challenging

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It looked really dark and nasty further north. The “island” on the left hand side below is Tintagel and its castle

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After another steep climb we arrived at Port Isaac. No idea what setting my iPhone drifted on to here. Must be the “colour drained hangover look” setting

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Back to normal exposure

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Port Isaac was lovely even under a grey sky although it was as bright a part of the day as we had. It also had an excellent cafe, The Chapel Cafe. A superb, hearty veggie soup sustained us for the journey back. The Fish Finger sandwich here is legendary and looked awesome but I wasn’t hungry enough to do it justice

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We returned to Port Quin by an inland route. It was one of the muddiest, dreariest routes I’ve walked in a while (apart from coastal views at the start and finish). Long trudges across endless cow-pat spattered fields is not my idea of fun. Reminds you that rural Cornwall (away from the moorland bits) is pretty ordinary. It’s the coastline that’s its star attraction

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To finish on more of high we extended the walk beyond Port Quin to the west to look at Doyden Point and Doyden Castle

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It’s another NT property and you can rent it – must be an interesting place to stay

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It was cold and blustery up here so we didn’t linger but the views were immense

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Port Quin Harbour

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Doyden Castle

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A not too longish walk of 6 miles, in the end but with a mountain-climbing amount of ascent. My OS Maps app says 3,880 feet but that can’t be right. I’d estimate over 2,000 feet though, on very steep slippery paths. Who needs mountains

Port Quin & Port Isaac

We had a cuppa in the car park and headed off to try to see the display of starlings near Bodmin Moor. It was lashing down with rain when we got there and we were a bit late for the main show so I didn’t get any images or video as I wanted. What we did see was spectacular and it is a truly extraordinary sight. If you get chance to see one these displays then make the effort, its amazing

TBF was a little distracted as she thought she’d lost her wedding ring on the walk. It’s a family heirloom and irreplaceable so she was pretty upset. We were sure it was gone for good but luckily it turned up in the boot bag when we got home. It’s now been altered so it doesn’t slip off so easily.  A happy ending to great weekend away

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14 responses to “Mountains by the Coast

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  1. Glad the wedding ring was found! You’re like me – getting out on a hike no matter the weather. I like your coastlines and the little village was very cute.

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    • Its a spectacular section this one but hard work on the legs. Cornwall is packed with these picture postcard fishing villages. Winter is best time to see them when the crowds have gone

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  2. Love the little castle. I’ve been toying with the idea of doing parts of the coastal path. Maybe in 3 or 4 day walks, looking into it they say two the hard days are along that northern Cornwall coast and these photos prove it!! Brutal in places but a great view when you stop for a brew!

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    • Brutal is the word. We only did a very short section but it was up and down all the way, hardly any level walking. The section around Crackington Haven is also pretty fierce, the highest section on the whole walk I believe. My son did it on his own a while back and reported it was a tough day. Always a plentiful supply of cafes, the one in Port Isaac was a real cracker, great food and friendly staff. I need to go back have their fish finger sandwich!

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  3. It certainly is a tough area for walking, hard on the legs! Mind, seeing it in the off season, when all the crowds have gone, is a bonus.

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    Brenda-Dawn Linney
    • Its one of the reasons we visit to November to avoid the crowds in the beaches and pubs/restaurants. I think we’ll try the south coast next year as I haven’t really explored down there since I was a kid. My calves were complaining on a couple of the climbs!

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  4. Bleaker looking coastline than the last post but Port Isaac is in a lovely setting. Sort of place I love exploring.

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    Blue Sky Scotland
    • It was a bit of a bleak grey day but a spectacular (and hard work!) bit of coast. I imagine like everywhere else in Cornwall Port Isaac would be mobbed in summer so glad I saw it first on a quiet November day. Its a really nice spot and the cafe was superb

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  5. Up and down, up and down….probably why coastal stuff is not my favourite! Neither was Hadrian’s Wall…… 😀 Still picturesque tho!

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    • It can be brutal coastal walking. Great for a day out but no sure I could a multi day walk with a heavy pack. I’d have the same view of Hadrian’s Wall, interesting place for a day or two but I’d guess a bit repetitive after that

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  6. A shame about the weather, but you certainly made the most of it. I’m curious re the starling show. Natural or orchestrated?

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    • It was still a great day and we didn’t get that wet. The starlings are all natural. They gather at this time of year in their thousands at specific sites and swoop in huge flocks through the sky, even at a mile distant you can hear their wings flapping. It’s an amazing site when a large flock pass no more than few feet above your head

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  7. Didn’t bump into any singing fishermen then? ‘Colour drained hangover look’ 😂. That kind of coastal up and down is really tough sin’t it? That little castle is a bit of a curiosity. Incidentally, Tintagel is worth a look, although it was busy when we were there (there’s not much left of the castle).

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    beatingthebounds
    • Took me a few minutes to work out the singing reference. That’s more Uncle Fester’s bag than mine. The castle would be a great place to stay, really unusual. Most of the buildings in Port Quin seemed to be owned and for rent by the NT.
      We went to Tintagel last November. I was aware the castle was pretty much non-existent so I declined the staggering fee to enter and just walked along the coast which was spectacular. This stretch is renowned for being the toughest section in Cornwall. The stretch in North Devon is brutal as well but equally stunning

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