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Day 4: Coves

Portreath to Perranporth. 12.38 miles. Miles to date: 52.5.

What a great walk! Not just because of the weather (blue skies, sunshine, sea breeze), or the route (steady clifftop walking punctuated by a series of secluded coves), but mainly because I set off early and took it easier than I've done so far. What a difference it made.

Day 2 was breathtaking while Day 3 was often a slog. But both were long walks, with a lot of ascent, and by the end of each I was over-tired and more than ready to put my pack down. Two things told me I needed to change my approach. Firstly, a meeting with a long distant walker heading south yesterday who'd managed to clock up 10 miles before I'd hit my second. He'd grabbed an early breakfast and was on the road by 8, which meant he'd get a full afternoon at his stopover. That sounded like a luxury after my post-7pm clock-ins each day. Secondly, I became feverey last night - almost certainly because I'd pushed myself too hard. I may do the occasional 16 mile day back home, but not day after day - nor with the kind of weight I'm carrying.

So today I changed things. I reduced my average 16 mile day to just 12 and I set off at 7.30am, which was a game changer. I had the first couple of hours to myself on the cliffs and could justify a pasty for brunch at 10. And having slowed it all down a few notches, I was able to relax and enjoy myself, which is, after all, what this walk is meant to be about,

The walk today was similar to the best of yesterday: steady clifftop paths on which you can stride out. Mines are much in evidence, and there were a few of the big-dipper style up-and-downs so characteristic of the South West Coast Path (eat your heart out Seven Sisters).

The pit of Sarlack. Carefully sealed to avoid any more unpleasantness.

But the highlight of the day was the coves you drop down to. First Porthtowan, next Chapel Porth, then - best of all - beautiful Trevaunance Cove – which, in its history, has lost a grand total of five harbours - in which I spent an idle tea-drinking and pasty-eating hour watching the world go by: a solo surfer on the morning swell, a fisherman in the sun throwing stones for his dog, postman doing his rounds.

Beach for breakfast: early-rising holidaymakers on Chapel Porth beach.

Trevaunance Cove: Visit Cornwall calls it a 'best-kept secret'. I wouldn't disagree.

Trevaunance Cove again. The beachside café is fantastic.

Beach near Blue Hills (Trevellas Porth I think) - note one of the dreaded 'big dipper' ups on the far cliff.

A little café by the NT car park near Blue Hills. A lovely spot.

Just shy of three hours after leaving Portreath I dropped down to the surfers bay of Perranporth for lunch. Waiting for my sandwich to arrive I checked my email to see where I'd be staying - to find out it was the pub I was in. Which ended a good day on the best possible note.

I've had a bath and a pint (not at the same time), and even had energy to wander through the village (nothing to write home about). Tomorrow is a longer stretch: through the crowds of Newquay to Trenance.

But unlike a couple of days back, I know I'm in the groove now.

Pinks and whites.

There are hundreds of seats with dedications lining the South West Coast Path. Many of them are beautiful. My favourite so far was for a female 'Author, Editor and Seafarer' on a seat somewhere on remote Day 2. The carefully carved wooden inscription pictured above says simply: 'IRENE'.

For the first time I could see where I'd come from: that's Lands End in the distance!

View from the descent into Perranporth.

Don't look down!


Previous: Day 3 – St Ives to Portreath.

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