Day 36 – Carne to Black Head (nr. Coverack)

Tarrant was most unhappy about the slug to tent ratio this morning and to be honest the slime trails criss-crossing the tent even made me a bit uncomfortable. Had they all had some manner of slug orgy on our roof as we slept below? Had we inadvertently pitched on a slug highway? Was it Slug Fest 2022 and we missed that memo? Aside from the slugocalypse though it was a great little pitch.

Not an awful start to the day.

We continued down the estuary into Flushing where the trail took us along a tiny beach. Yeah, there would have been no chance we could have passed through here yesterday evening. You could see that the tide had come right up and past the beach. We knew the tide was a big ‘un, as we crossed over the estuary yesterday the water was spilling onto the road and was still gushing in. We tiptoed gingerly around the boats moored right where we needed to be.

Okay so, just after Gillan there’s a fuck off great big diversion in place because there’s a footbridge missing further along. We’d met a chap coming the other way who’d thought, “Pfft! A missing footbridge won’t stop me!” then got all the way there before realising that yes actually, it really would.

This little guy looked like he’d fucked up his first attempt at flying. He was hopping awkwardly along the floor. Tarrant managed to scoop him up into a hedgerow so a dog wouldn’t get him.

He fucked up so we didn’t have to. The diversion was well marked through farmland (it’s better waymarked than the actual fucking trail) and was a lovely, refreshing change from the narrow, overgrown paths we’d become accustomed to over the last couple of days. I celebrated by zipping my trouser legs off and feeling the breeze through my leg hair.

Tent drying time!

As soon as we were back on the Coast Path proper we were back to dodging every spiky or stinging plant known to the UK on narrow paths made even narrower by lack of maintenance. For fuck’s sake. Good job we weren’t using all of the skin on our shins then hey? Plus it was all still drenched from yesterday’s pissing rain. Lovely. It slows you right down too, especially when it’s a bit muddy and you’re trying desperately not to stack it and faceplant a nettle patch.

We swung by Porthallow to utilise their facilities. Honestly, my bowels can sense a toilet block half a mile away. We spotted it across the car park it we were picking our way down and immediately launch sequence was initiated. There’s a little café next to the bogs, the owner was knocking around with a couple of blokes who I think were doing work there and he agreed to sell us a couple of cuppas a whole hour before he opened. How lovely of him. All of my basic motor functions were very grateful.

I wonder if there’s a direct correlation between how many roses a property has climbing up it, and how much it actually costs.

The weather was doing alright but it was set to change for the worse in the afternoon. I considered sacrificing a small goat to the weather gods in return for it not raining today. They probably don’t get a lot of goat sacrifices these days, I bet I’d get a fair bit of wish for my goat. Maybe even a whole month of dryness.

The trail steers you inland for a while, dips back to a coastal village, back inland, before depositing you on a beach with explicit signage telling you not to camp there. Ha. As if I would. The last sandy beach camp we did was enough to put me off forever. There were a couple of other hikers just getting out of the water, they said they needed to wash as they stank and they’d washed their knickers too. Fair play but I’ll stick to my surreptitious washes in pub toilets for now, thank you.

You walk through a disused quarry then you’re onto a very enjoyable section with swathes of very campable flat spots. It almost felt like a waste, just walking on past them. But we wanted to do a few more miles today and we needed to swing through Coverack to go to the shop there. This stretch though, it’s a bit rocky so you have to be quite careful that you don’t find out the hard way which way ankles aren’t meant to go, but it’s an open space and close to the sea, and there’s not a fucking sheer drop to your left so you can actually just appreciate it.

Coverack though. That made me sad. Not only was the shop eye-wateringly expensive it didn’t carry any noodles or other dried shit that we consider dinner these days. There were tins of stuff but they use a lot of gas to heat up and Tarrant can’t eat cold soup. It makes her gag. Fair enough really given that cold soup is the consistency of mucus. She won’t entertain cold beans either though so she probably just needs to stop being such a food snob.

Then we decided to stay at the YHA because they let you pitch a tent but you still have access to the common room which is ideal when the sky is trying to drown you. But nope, it didn’t open until 5pm and it’d be pissing rain by then. Fuck it. Let’s crack on then, see how much ground we can cover before the weather went to shit. We were uncharacteristically sensible and wrapped most things in their respective waterproof coverings so it wouldn’t be a mad scramble when the rain came in. Go us.

As we left Coverack, two completely separate people on two completely separate occasions told us the path ahead was fucking awful. I’m paraphrasing of course. The words one guy used were, “Steep, rocky, slippy, boggy, overgrown with nettles.” Oh. Good. These are a few of my favourite things.

Adding the finishing touches to our waterproof ensemble.

It was a bit shit. Hands were utilised in some parts as we scrambled over rocks. It’s crazy how scrambling is much easier when you don’t have to worry about an abyss to your left. It was slow going for sure and pretty much all of my blood has been replaced with nettle juice by now I reckon. It’s less than half a mile of misery before you emerge to a sign pointing you in the direction of an “easier and safer” route into Coverack. We certainly weren’t offered that route up to here. Fuckers.

Oh hello, conveniently placed waterproof structure!

It was, as predicted, absolutely pissing down by this point. We figured we’d just go until we found the first ideal camp spot, I didn’t even care that it was only 3.30pm. Give me something resembling a roof, even if it is sil-nylon. We rounded a corner onto Black Head and boom. Lookout hut. That’d shelter us for a bit. It had all manner of boards up telling you what rocks, flowers and birds you could put into your eyeholes in the area whilst you were being rapidly drenched too.

Yeah we live here now.

And you know what? Fuck it. We decided we’d bivvy in here tonight. We passed the time with naps until a chap called Daniel burst through the door. Sorry, Daniel. This is our roofed structure. He hung out for a couple of hours and chatted until the rain eased and pitched his tent outside. There’s loads of flat land around the hut. Probably less woodlouse infested too.

Day: 36
Day on South West Coast Path: 26
Distance walked today: 9.92 miles
Total walked so far: 512.02 miles
Weather: Overcast but warm until 3pm then it went to shit and pissed rain.
Coldest temp last night: 11.56°C inside / 8.75°C outside
Trigs bagged: 0
Trigs to date: 33
“Have you read ‘The Salt Path?'” (Running Total): 6

Jump to “Useful shit to know…”

Carne, Cornwall to Black Head (nr. Coverack), Cornwall, England

Stayed at: Wild camp in the lookout hut at Black Head

Useful shit to know…

  • There are toilets at Porthallow, Porthoustock and Coverack.
  • The shop at Coverack isn’t well stocked if you’re only boiling water to rehydrate shit. More ideal if you’re cooking actual food.
  • You can refill your bottles at the café in Porthallow, or you do cross a couple of streams. We refilled from the sink in the loos at Coverack.
  • The diversion after Gillan is obviously marked with a sign, and the diversion is well waymarked.

BUDGET for one person (based on two sharing)
Groceries: £10.72
Drinks at Porthallow Beach Cafe: £2.25
Toilets: £0.25
Grand Total: £13.22

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