Day 3: Sand
St Ives to Portreath. 16.94 miles. Miles to date: 40.12.
If you are walking a 16.94 mile day then you are allowed to eat fried bread for breakfast.
Which is how the day started.
After that I meandered out of St Ives on the coastal path, through hillside copses and foliage-pressed paths that made passing other walkers a cosy experience.
Looking back at St Ives.
Public loos at Carbis Bay. Clean and free. Take note London.
Clifftop path above Carbis Bay. Breathe in!
Then it was down to Levant for the eagerly anticipated detour around the Hayle estuary. Adding two miles to anyone's walk is irritating enough, but it's difficult to find much love for the 'Hayle bootleg' among any guidebook author; Andy Robinson calls it "frustrating" and "grim".
The grimness starts with a golf course. Naturally.
Every walker knows there's little love lost between them and golfers. Unfortunately golfers - by virtue of having a golf club and ball - hold most of the trump (should that be Trump?) cards. But not all of them, rights of way being what they are. One of the amusing diversions to be had when crossing courses is to enjoy the passive aggression of warning notices (the "We welcome walkers. You may die walking on our course," kind). But even by those standards, the goodly owners of West Cornwall Golf Club Limited are taking their responsibilities to the safety of walkers VERY seriously. I counted no fewer than 9 DANGER signs on the 200 metre stretch across the links - including one on a pill box.
I've seen fewer warnings on live military ranges.
Flying golf balls can come from any direction. Be mindful...
Having successfully avoided the "flying golf balls", the coastal path follows the salt flats through housing developments, along a dual carriageway, past an industrial estate and an optimistically large ASDA store before reaching Hayle harbour and the start of what became the dominating feature of the day... a very long walk across sand.
Just what every luxury new-build estate needs... a huge tree stump.
Home delivery kebabs... Keep that number.
If the tide's in, the next part of the day's walk is dominated by sand dunes in the shape of the various Towans. I had the mixed blessing of low tide, which meant close to three miles of walking across Gwithian beach. Although I couldn't fault the big skies - or my first few rays of sunshine on the walk - by mile two I was flagging. Sand's great when it's compact. But when every step gives you that sinking feeling it's a struggle. After looking at a guy in a kite-buggy with envy I wondered why I was still wearing boots. After removing them the walk became easier and a lot more fun, though I can confirm that the sea temperature around Cornwall is still close to zero.
Danger: Remove boots if walking for miles on sand.
Lots of sand.
He didn't offer me a lift.
Back on solid ground I rounded Godrevy Point with its much-photographed lighthouse and even more-photographed seal colony, then got back into a rhythm on the clifftop path. Although this stage of the walk is over downs as opposed to the dramatic cliffs of yesterday, this meant ascents, which by this stage was welcome. That's not to say there's no drama; the collapsed sea cave of Ralph's Cupboard is quite a sight - even though you have to have a better head for heights than me to take a great photo of it.
The lighthouse on Godrevy Island.
Path over the downs. Hedgebanks on both sides.
Retrospective of Godrevy Island in the... wait for it... sunshine!
Ralph's cupboard. Watch the edge...
A mighty impressive cliff.
My stopping point for the night is the secluded fishing village of Portreath.
It's a perfectly nice little spot with a couple of pubs and my lovely host for the night, Sue, who has put my boots by the fire and after smelling the fumes issuing from therein, has offered to do my washing. For which reason alone her cosy and homely room comes highly recommended.
Next: Day 4 – Portreath to Perranporth.