Day 44 – Zennor to Gwithian

I slept so well last night! Honestly, best night’s sleep in ages. The cat didn’t use the tent as a climbing frame either but it did kill and decapitate a young rabbit for us and deposited about a metre from the tent. Thanks, kitty. Obviously thinks we’re shit cats and need feeding. We enjoyed a cuppa with our breakfast which is always a treat, before shuffling off up to Zennor Head to begin the six mile hike into St Ives.

Some of the less bouldery boulders.

We’d been told tales of this section. “Boulders!” we were advised. “Huge ones! Awful section!” At least we were mentally prepared for it even if our entire lower body disagreed with, well, pretty much all of the last 43 days. It doesn’t start off bad though. It lures you in, gets you to relax then boom! Climb this! But we then it calms right down again. I not going to lie, it took a good while to get into St Ives, so much so I was starting to think it was a myth, but it wasn’t as bad as we’d built it up to be in our heads.

Sure, it was rocky and ankle breaky and you had to think about every single footstep, and there were swampy bits where you had to execute some pretty fancy footwork unfitting of someone with the balance of a three legged giraffe after six pints in order to avoid being ankle deep in mud and shit, questioning all of your life choices. There were the promised proper bouldery bits where you had to chuck your poles ahead of you and clamber over after them because you needed every limb available in order to cling on for dear life, but only maybe three of those? But mostly it was alright. I’d say that section between Mousehole and Penberth was infinitely worse.

Oh hello, St Ives! Thought you were a myth for a while there.

St Ives was busy. It probably gets busier in the summer but even right now in May it was almost overwhelmingly busy. We resupplied and made our way out of the town as quickly as we could weave through the masses and through to Carbis Bay. The rugged, desolate cliffs dotted with ruins of tin mines, the waves crashing dramatically into jagged rocks below, had been replaced with huge, long sandy beaches patrolled by lifeguards, surfers and body boarders bobbing around in the water. I think I prefer the cliffs. I’d like them more though if they didn’t wait until you were right at an edge before battering you with wind.

We had a hideously tedious walk around the estuary through Lelant and Hayle. Seriously, it was shite, all on the road too through construction sites and past souless buildings. Okay so it was flat which meant we could make some progress but I hated every footstep. Last time I complained about soul-crushing flat tarmac walks we had to go bouldering for hours so I kept my displeasure (mostly) to myself.

The next section was sand dunes. Honestly, what a fucking contrast we’d had today. Cliffs, beaches, a pit of misery and now this. Vast swathes of dunes and that long, spiky grass you get in places like these. Shit loads of paths criss-cross the area but the Coast Path is clearly marked with large, slate signs which I became immediately enamoured with. Because pretty. The sandier bits of the dunes are a prick to walk on but it wasn’t too bad. There are lots of camping options too if you’re one of those maniacs that isn’t bothered about sand.

Probably the only thing to break up the monotony of the walk around the estuary was this very good dog stood on a wall waiting for pets.

Talking of camping, a random bloke stopped us to say, “Not that I’m saying that you’re wild camping but if you are avoid anywhere near a National Trust carpark because the rangers patrol at night.” Well, shit. Because Godrevy Head was exactly where we were intending to camp. I believe they had a lot of trouble with fly-campers in 2020 so it might be old news but the universe has been sending us people who tell us things we need to know right when we need to know them.

Add to that I’d not been feeling well for most of the day. My stomach hadn’t been right at all, it’s hard to explain, but I felt bloody awful and the closer to the end of the day we got the more I had to sit down for a minute. I’d no idea what was causing it either, Tarrant was fine. Maybe it was because I ate nutrients last night and my body had no idea what to do with them? Had I accidentally licked something I shouldn’t have? I’m a swine for chewing my fingers and they’ve been pretty fucking grim on account of all the rocks I’ve been scrambling over. Who fucking knows.

We decided to get on a campsite in case I needed quick and unfettered access to a toilet. I felt like an explosion was imminent, I didn’t even know which end it’d come out of. Could be either, could be both. Could be neither and it was just trapped wind but that wasn’t a chance I was willing to take. It’s one thing being caught camping by a ranger, it’s quite another being caught crouching over a hastily dug hole.

I’m completely in love with these slate waymarks.

Gwithian Farm Campsite is great actually, I wished I felt better to enjoy it more. The woman who checked us in told us that any time you call a campsite around here the first words out of your mouth should be, “We’re walking the South West Coast Path…” Most places won’t turn away hikers. She certainly won’t, even in August when she’s packed to the rafters she’ll always find room for hikers. Hot tip for you there!

Looks great! Utter ballache to walk on, mind.

In other news, my Thermarest mat is popping baffles all over the place. The seam failed at The Lizard and it’s being replaced under warranty anyway but it just has to remain vaguely comfortable until Saturday when, hopefully, I’ll have a spare mat delivered to our accommodation in Newquay. Assuming I’m well enough to bloody walk to Newquay anyway.

Kinda looks like an alien is going to burst out of it and lay eggs in my chest.

Day: 44
Day on South West Coast Path: 34
Day on LEJOG: 3
Distance walked today: 18.2 miles
Total walked so far: 607.52 miles
Weather: Overcast but warm. Perfect hiking weather.
Coldest temp last night: 13.94°C inside / 11.88°C outside
Trigs bagged: 2
Trigs to date: 38
“Have you read ‘The Salt Path?'” (Running Total): 7

Jump to “Useful shit to know…”

Zennor, Cornwall to Gwithian, Cornwall, England

Stayed at: Gwithian Farm Campsite, Gwithian

This is the hikers’ space at Gwithian Farm Campsite. She says at £8 per person you don’t get your own pitch but you also get WiFi, a place to charge your devices and a fantastic shower block. There’s a pub over the road too. Great campsite, highly recommend.

Useful shit to know…

  • There is absolutely nothing between Zennor and St Ives apart from a couple of streams you can fill up water at. We didn’t see any wild camping opportunities until St Ives either, then they had “No Camping” signs up.
  • There are toilets in St Ives (quite a few actually), Carbis Bay and by Hayle Surf Life Saving Club.
  • Even if Gwithian Farm is booked on their website it’s worth calling and telling them you’re walking the SWCP. They don’t turn down hikers.

BUDGET for one person (based on two sharing)
Accommodation, Gwithian Farm Campsite: £8 Groceries: £18.18
Grand Total: £26.18

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