Day 30 – Portwrinkle to East Combe

Fuck my life what an awful night’s sleep. Clearly our definition of acceptably slopey is getting more and more liberal as the trail presents less and less places to camp. The slope we were on meant I didn’t even have to wait until I fell asleep before I started slipping down my mat. I spent half the night clawing my way back up the tent whilst questioning our choice of pitches.

What a beautiful morning to behold through a haze of sleep deprivation.

It was quite a brutal climb out from where we spent the night and not long after the trail eventually flattened out we met a bloke packing his things away on a lovely, very flat little patch he’d had the fortune to nab last night. Jammy bugger. Bet he slept. The trail seems to be getting busier. What’s the etiquette when someone has pitched up in a spot you quite fancied? Do you challenge them to a fair fight or do you just nick all their tent pegs? I should probably find this out.

You know shit got real when the steps even look steep in a photograph.

We stopped off at Downderry to drop the kids off at the pool then we were on a mixture of footpaths and roads at various degrees of calf muscle massacre. They’re fond of steps around these parts it seems. Also hills that you think have finished until you round a corner only to be faced with another fuck off hill. Sneaky fuckers. At least the hills we’d been tackling in Devon and Dorset made it very clear from the start that their whole mission in life was to end you.

Looe has all manner of exciting things like shops and toilets and cafés offering vegan butter.

We swung through Looe which is, obviously because it’s a Cornish seaside town, a stunner but it clearly gets obnoxiously busy in the summer. It was already humming with activity, humans everywhere, and it’s a Thursday in May. But you know what I’ve not had yet? A cream tea, and I love a cream tea. We found a café that had room for us and our big, daft backpacks and I ordered one. Tarrant was chuffed because they also offered dairy free scones with dairy free spread and jam. Just short of the clotted cream but I’m not even sure vegan clotted cream exists, and if it does I would probably question the dark magic used to create it.

Anyway. A quick resupply in the Co-op and off we fucked along the trail, fully intending to just crack on with it like the proper, serious hikers we like people to think we are. The weather didn’t have a clue what it was doing either. We’d expected cloud today but every now and then we’d see wet shit falling from the sky off in the distance. Oh. Good. Well that can stay over there then.

A few spots of rain started pattering down onto us so I put my camera away and we wrapped our phones and ourselves up in their respective waterproof packaging. It wasn’t even proper rain. Like, you know when it’s spitting? But more than that? Like, aggressive spitting. It soon stopped and we overheated so off came the jackets, then a bit later it started again. Oh for fuck’s sake. Crisp packet on, crisp packet off, crisp packet on, crisp packet off. We were less than a mile from Polperro when it started again so we made the executive decision to just press on to the village and go to the pub for a bit.

Bloody hell, Polperro is pretty. I mean, most places we’ve walked through have been Insta-worthy but this village, holy fuck, it’s jaw-droppingly beautiful. Mostly holiday lets unfortunately, not much scope for people to actually live here. Perhaps its a ghost town in the winter.

We ended up at The Three Pilchards sipping a Cornish Pilsner called Offshore which slid down a little too easily. Then we realised that everything we’d eaten today had a sugar content. Hmm. Should probably get a bowl of chips or something… nah fuck it, we’re on holiday and our diet hasn’t been great. We assaulted our digestive systems with a massive burger each under the guise of the fact we’re hiking and need real food and quite frankly I’m a grown up and I’ll do what I want. I could barely get my chops around it. It was everything I hoped for. God I miss real food. Wetherspoons just doesn’t quite get me there.

At least the weather cleared up for our waddle out of Polperro.

The hills after Polperro were utterly fucking ridiculous, perhaps made more so by the two pints of motor impairment juice and the half a cow I’d just consumed. The path hugged the literal coast, largely on account of it being the Coast Path, and I did my standard listing to the right thing. I’m sure the left of me was beautiful but I guess I’ll never know given that I pointedly ignored it.

The waitress at the pub had mentioned a spot she’d seen people camp but it was pretty firmly fenced off with barbed wire. A chap called Rupert we’d met on the trail had mentioned a place near West Combe, but you never know if a place one hiker loved would suit you, so when we saw a bench in the distance at East Combe, surrounded by flat land, we beelined for it. Tarrant is a bit more sure-footed than me so she raced ahead to claim our prize. It’ll do. It wasn’t at all sheltered so I’m sure I’ll be kept awake all night by the wind and dreams of being carried off to Oz to have adventures with nightmare beings, but you know what? It’s fucking flat. We’ll take it.

These two were going at it outside our tent this morning. Apparently this is how snails have sex. The white tube is sperm, or contains sperm, and because snails are hermaphroditic the dominant snail impregnates the less dominant snail. I’ve also Googled “snail sex” so much today I fear for the content of my targeted ads.

Day: 30
Day on South West Coast Path: 20
Distance walked today: 14.7 miles
Total walked so far: 436.02 miles
Weather: Mostly overcast with a bit of rain. Sunshine late afternoon but windy.
Coldest temp last night: 10.19°C inside / 7.19°C outside
Trigs bagged: 1
Trigs to date: 31
“Have you read ‘The Salt Path?'” (Running Total): 6

Jump to “Useful shit to know…”

Portwrinkle, Cornwall to East Combe, Cornwall, England

Stayed at: Wild camp at a bench by East Combe

Useful shit to know…

  • There aren’t a lot of camping spots at all along this section. I would take whatever you can find at a reasonable hour.
  • Plenty of toilets today; Downderry, Seaton, Millendreath, Looe, Hannafore, and Polperro. There are some at Talland Bay too but they were closed. Maybe seasonal?
  • For water, you’ll pass plenty of cafés and pubs. Also the toilets at Downderry and Looe have proper taps you can fill up from (we didn’t use the others so I don’t know what they’re like). Couple of streams too.
  • Looe has everything you need including two Co-ops.

BUDGET for one person (based on two sharing)
Groceries: £8.30
Honesty box strawberries: £0.50
Cream tea, Cafe Fleur, Looe: £5.55
Food at Three Pilcards, Polperro: £14.95
Beers at Three Pilcards, Polperro: £11.24
Tip at Three Pilcards, Polperro: £2.50
Tissues: £0.60
Grand Total: £43.54

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