Walking from John O'Groats to Land's End in the winter of 07/08.

Monday, 28 January 2008

Trenance to Porthtowan

In the fresh sunshine of the morning I wandered into Newquay, past the long sweeping sands of Watergate Bay and Jamie Oliver's restaurant. As the sprawling town approaches, the coastline becomes more interesting with long thin golden coves and rocky headlands. Watching the waves roll in, I tried to work out what the tides were doing as my next obstacle, after endless roads where every house is a bed and breakfast, is the Gannel. There are a number of options for crossing the estuary, but the closer it is to high water, the further you have to walk (or maybe the wetter you'll get). Confident that I was looking at a low tide, I picked the easiest route that doesn't involve a ferry or private bridge, successfully crossing the seaweed coated structure and making fresh footsteps across the rippled sand.

Crossing the neck of the headland, the grassland and sandy soil led to huge dunes covered in prickly bushes. The path then loops around the military installations at Penhale Camp, above impressive caves, blowholes and foaming white water that I could watch for hours. I emerged at one end of an endless expanse of sand and followed it all the way to the town of Perranporth. It seemed to take forever to get anywhere, with no real landmarks on the huge canvas of sands, dunes, sky and sea.

The last part of the day had a slightly industrial feel with old tin mine workings littering the cliffs. I skirted around an airfield and ambled along a nice little path that contoured around the cliffs at about half height instead of the usual stroll along the top. Old stone chimneys, engine and winch houses made interesting diversions, as well as the few stream lined valleys. It's been another good day, although I am having disturbing daydreams about failing close to the finish line, maybe being run over on the road into Land's End. Although this has been a wonderful experience, the thought of starting all over again is worrying.

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