We woke up this morning and evaluated how we felt. My stomach felt better, I even actually wanted breakfast rather than forcing various packaged products down my throat because if I didn’t I wouldn’t function. Tarrant’s ankles were their usual shitty selves but she’s way more hardcore than me and will walk through serious pain. She’ll squeal like a bitch though if a nettle so much as waves in her direction.
I don’t like walking through pain. My knee was a bit clicky until I put my backpack on then it went into full on rebellion. Fuck it. Stretching, Leukotape and as much Ibuprofen as I could take without melting my stomach, and we were going to walk to Newquay today even if it bloody crippled us. Dear reader, it very nearly did.
It’s actually reasonably uneventful between St Agnes and Perranporth. We made such good time that we sat in Perranporth for a while, enjoying the sun and pouring Red Bull into our faceholes. I really liked the town, it had a lovely vibe to it. We probably couldn’t afford to live here but if we could I think I’d cope quite well. I’d even learn to live with the sandy beach.
All love for Perranporth faded when the trail proceeded to steer us along aforementioned sandy beach. What a bastard. I abhor walking on sand. Probably shouldn’t have decided to do a trail which literally has the word “coast” in its name in hindsight, but out of the hundreds of miles of this trail only a bit of it is on actual sand. A fuck tonne of it, it turned out, was today.
We emptied the sand out of our shoes which was an absolute rookie error on account of the fact our imminent future contained a hideous amount of sand dunes. It’s quite feasible that we missed a crucial waymark and wandered of down the wrong path, but the dunes were criss-crossed with trails and there wasn’t a guiding acorn to be seen. We just followed the gpx on my phone which took us up and down sandy hills.
Have you ever walked up a sand dune? It is fucking soul destroying and it saps every molecule of energy you have. Every step you take is more than halved as you slide back down and sand fills your shoes. We probably should have gone barefoot but living in Brighton makes you very suspicious of what people leave lying around in beach-like places. Tarrant’s ankles were very unhappy, she was close to being in more pain than she could walk through.
At one point the gpx wanted to send us down a sandy hill, along the sandy beach, then back up a sandy hill. No. Fuck it. Absolutely not. With no acorns to steer us otherwise we made the executive decision to stay on the route we were on and walk through the MOD land, a decision we didn’t regret. Tarrant’s shoes collected enough sand to start her own fucking beach though, I don’t know what it is about her shoes but she has to empty them regularly or there’s no room for her feet. You know how when you do American trails you get given a trail name? Hers would be Sandy Claws. But then mine would be Pebble Dash because that’s what I’ve been doing to various toilets in beautiful villages.
To be fair, once the dunes are over and done it’s an easy walk. It’s not flat but the hills don’t make you want to sit down and cry. I’d call it Cornish Flat; little bit up, little bit down. We were taken around busy little beaches, the waves packed full of surfers. I’ve tried to learn to surf a couple of times but it’s not the past time for someone with the balance of a badger on ketamine is it. Plus my spatial awareness isn’t fantastic and I’d probably get myself smacked around the chops by a surfboard because I failed to get out of someone’s way.
Before you get into Newquay you have to get over the Gannel estuary. There’s a ferry in the summer at high tide, but I had my little heart set on crossing the tidal boardwalk. I just really wanted to walk it which meant we smashed out the last few miles between Holywell and Crantock Beach. You walk through a National Trust car park where you have to decide if you’re going to ferry it or walk it. It had been more than three hours since the last high tide but it still looked quite far out so we risked it for a biscuit and cracked on. My right foot had started really hurting though, right in the arch, so it was more of a frantic hobble than a purposeful stride.
We did get there though, probably with ages to spare, then made the mistake of having a little sit down. Oh. Oh dear. Now we had to get up again and walk the last 2.5 miles to our B&B. It was quite hot too, the occasional cold wind was so welcome but we were quite drained from the dunes and the rapid mission to the boardwalk. If I had to grade this section I would definitely call it easy compared to other sections but we were walking nearly seventeen miles with injuries. Plus, y’know, fuck sand.
We stomped through Newquay, barely stopping to take in the sights. Fistral Beach was packed out despite the cold wind. I think it’s the main surfer beach and Newquay is renowned throughout the UK as the top hot spot for surfing. The harbour is obviously very pretty as harbours around here are wont to be. But the best sight of all? Our B&B. Glorious to behold. We hobbled in and were shown to our room. John, our host, asked if we had dietary requirements for breakfast and when we told him Tarrant can’t have dairy we were given oat milk for room so she could enjoy the complimentary coffee. How good is that?
That evening we had two pints on an empty stomach, scoffed a footlong packed with salad from Subway, then passed out super early. We might end up spending three nights rather than two as a) we fucking love our B&B and not least because there are three dogs, b) we really need to rest our respective injuries, and c) Tarrant wants to have some ankle supports delivered as her ankles are getting so much worse and she doesn’t want to do long term damage. We’ve also both been so fucking tired it’s unreal. We intend to eat salad and fruit, and rest properly. We need to get stuff to help our injuries too, and hopefully by Tuesday we’ll be good to go again.
Day on South West Coast Path: 36
Day on LEJOG: 5
Distance walked today: 16.74 miles
Total walked so far: 640.16 miles
Weather: Hot all day
Coldest temp last night: 11.94°C inside / 9°C outside
Trigs bagged: 0
Trigs to date: 39
“Have you read ‘The Salt Path?'” (Running Total): 7
Jump to “Useful shit to know…”
St Agnes, Cornwall to Newquay, Cornwall, England
Stayed at: Smuggler’s Rest, Newquay
Useful shit to know…
- Toilets are at Trevaunance Cove, Perranporth, Holywell and, of course, Newquay.
- The YHA in Perranporth has a drinking water tap outside, and you cross a stream at Porth Joke.
- There are three ways to cross the Gannel: The summer ferry which runs three hours either side of high tide, the tidal boardwalk which is accessible three hours either side of low tide, or the long way round which you’ll need if the ferry isn’t running at high tide. Though we very easily crossed the boardwalk more than three hours after low tide, it very much depends on tide depth and time of year.
BUDGET for one person (based on two sharing)
Accommodation, Smuggler’s Rest, Newquay: £32.73
Groceries, Perranporth: £6.20
Stuff from Boots: £6.10
Pint at Concho Lounge: £10.10
Subway, Newquay: £6.78
Grand Total: £61.91