21st October – 31st October 2022
We took our campervan down to Cornwall. Originally, we were just planing to visit Jo, Sim and Lotte who are currently living on their boat in Mylor.
We hadn’t seen them for a while, so we were keen to catch up with their news. Their boat had been hauled out of the water because they needed to do some work on it. We thought maybe we could help in some minor way.
Each year when the clocks go back, we like to go on a long-distance walk and, as we would be in Cornwall, it seemed an ideal opportunity to knock off another section of the South West Coast Path. Our friend Selma would join us for the walk with Agatha, her super friendly working cocker spaniel. Selma’s son, Jack, who is working in a nearby Falmouth boatyard would join in some of the fun too.
To add to the growing social melee, our friends Paul and Diana were working on their “cottage” near Plymouth, so we persuaded them to drop their tools for a day and join us for the first part of the walk, from Falmouth to Helford Passage.
And the crew list didn’t stop there! This is what happened.
We drove down to Cornwall on a Friday not realising that in was half term and the roads were rammed with holidaymakers. It was late and dark by the time we found “Coastlands” in Mylor, and, as we didn’t know where our proper campervan pitch would be, we just stayed the first night in the car park not daring to venture into the minefield of wet slippery fields.
In the morning we were directed to our proper hardstanding pitch with power and a view over the estuary. It was a great place to park up with clean facilities and friendly staff. To add to my joy, we were surrounded by hundreds of Cornish Crabbers, which is a grand improvement on ugly caravans. Thanks Jo for suggesting the venue!
We soon met up with Jo, Sim and Lotte and explored the area. Lotte is a true dog lover so we handed Tilman over to her and they were both very happy with the arrangement. Lotte took us on a delightful circular walk along the estuary to Flushing and back across the fields.
On Sunday we all enjoyed a blow out roast lunch in Castaways.
I was impressed with the set up in Mylor. The boatyard seemed very professionally ran and mega busy. I’ve never seen so many yachts laid up, the yard must be half a mile long! Our friends boat was at the very top corner of the yard, overlooking fields and far away from the bustle of most of the boat movements. Our task for the week was to help make a protective cover so that work could be carried out without fear of rain. We brought our Sailrite sewing machine with us in case it could help.
To keep everything together and not to bore those who simply aren’t interested in boat covers, I have put a brief description of the cover making at the bottom of a blog where I talk about boat covers! (coming soon)
We loved our stay in Mylor and it was so nice to catch up with Jo, Sim and Lotte, but Friday came quickly and it was time to get walking.
We followed Lotte’s route along the coast to Flushing to catch the ferry to Falmouth.
We managed to get the 09:00 ferry and because we were a bit early we had time to enjoy a cooked breakfast in an award winning café on the pier before Paul and Diana arrived.
We set off along the South West Coast Path through the bustling town centre towards Pendennis Point. Here we passed the huge Pendennis Shipyard where the classic yacht Adix was standing in the yard. In 2020, the owner of the yacht was accused of smuggling and he was sentenced to 18 months in prison and a €52.4 million fine. This wasn’t your common-or-garden drug smuggling, but something much more classy!
I suppose if you decorate your yacht with Picassos, then you can afford to have your yacht antifouled by Pendennis. We walked out around the Pendennis Headland and after rounding the point soon stumbled on the lovely Gylingvase Beach which tempted me in for a quick dip. We walked on feeling it was strange to still be in Falmouth about two hours after starting the walk!
We only had a shortish distance to cover so our snail’s pace was no problem. The great thing about walking, is the talking. In this respect walking beats cycling.
Paul was considering old age and whether the price of personal helicopters would drop to an affordable level so that he could take off from their new cliffside “cottage” direct to their little yacht moored below. Hopefully Diana would have one too. You may laugh but knowing Paul, it could even happen!
We arrived too early at Helford Passage so we booked in to the hotel up the road and were then forced to while away an hour sitting outside the Ferry Boat Inn drinking beer – what a miserable task to undertake.
We had booked a table for 19:30. The arrangement was originally a table for Grit, Paul, Diana, Selma, Jack and myself. Jack then asked if he could be joined by a friend and then Paul and Diana remembered that two sailor friends were staying nearby and could they join in too? This was getting to be quite a large social gathering!
Grit and I had actually visited the Inn the day before because myself and @amarinerslament are attempting to visit every Shipwright Arms as a challenge. I will soon start up a post called “The Shipwright Arms Challenge” where you can find out why we were in the Ferryboat Inn on a Shipwrights Arms Challenge.
After our sociable evening meal and a few more beers, Selma, Grit and I plus the two dogs retired to the nearby hotel. Sadly the days of £20 B&B’s are well gone. It seems to be either bivvy bags or posh hotels nowadays. Muddy dogs don’t go down too well at these 4 star hotels.
We set off for Coverack in the morning catching the ferry to Helford and walking around the coast to Dennis Head and up Gillan Creek.
At low tide you can walk across Gillan creek saving a couple of miles. However, as the Helford ferry doesn’t run at low water, this isn’t so easy to organise.
As it was half tide, we walked up to the head of the creek and then got lost. I seems strange to be able to get lost on a coast path, but we managed it several times. The signage is rather vague. All three of us would express a different opinion as to the correct meaning of the arrows.
At Gillan Creek, the book and the map direct you along a road, but the brand new oak leafed sign says clearly to go along the path. Then you come to a sign with two arrows at a junction. What does that mean? We took the right one thinking maybe the left one went to a beach, but the right one went to a hill-top view point – not exactly what you want on a long distance walk.
We were ready for the Five Pilchards pub when we arrived in Porthallow and stopped for a quick lunchtime drink and a pasty. Looking out of the window, I saw a Landy arrive with Noble Masts written on the side, and sure enough, out stepped Wes with his dog. I knew Wes because he had built a mast for me when I was working on a large Louis Vuitton Exhibition. We needed a slightly shorter version as the one we had was too tall for some venues.
We enjoyed a drink together and caught up with news. Wes mentioned that he races his Laurent Giles Gaffer locally and Selma kindly offered her Falmouth based son as crew. A great opportunity which I hope comes together. I asked Wes about the confusing coast path at Gillan and he implied it was a mythical route which no one had yet discovered.
In the afternoon we, once again, got confused by the signage so we asked a local lady who seemed more confused than we were. Eventually we followed some other signed foot path which at least headed in the right compass direction. It involved climbing up walls and then walking across a field with inquisitive cows and a large bull which got much closer than we would have liked. The gate out of the field led into a yard full of cows so I called to a chap over the wall to ask whether it was OK to continue (along the marked footpath I might add) and he muttered something about a rock and a hard place and wandered off. We survived.
Unlike the first day, we needed to leg it to get to Coverack before nightfall. So, although Selma kept saying “I’ll probably slow you down”, the reality was that I struggled to keep up with her brisk pace. We safely arrived at Coverack before it got dark and booked into the Bay Hotel. The chap behind reception confused me for the local postman. Luckily he had no mail for me that night which was lucky because I was quite tired and didn’t fancy an evening posting letters. We had forgotten that we had booked an evening meal but were grateful that we had. The food was great and the service was exemplary, maybe to make up for his minor earlier confusion. Not that I minded, I rather like postmen and women, they always seem very happy.
Jack joined us in the morning for the final days walk to the Lizard. After all the variety of the second day’s walking, this last section was a bit more “samey”. It was certainly more very good walking but nevertheless lacked the variety of yesterdays walk. Here the path was exposed and rugged.
Our lovely walk was just about to come to an end when I received a text from an old friend who had just moved to Mylor Bridge. We arranged to meet that evening in the Lemon Pub, but not before a parting drink with Selma and Jack at Lizard to celebrate our little walk.
In the morning we had breakfast with Jo, Sim and Lotte, our West Country jaunt was finally over. I have never met up with so many friends over such a short time, what a brilliant holiday!
Pilot Book – We took the Official Trail Guide – Padstow to Falmouth. However it is devilishly difficult to follow a path backwards, we kept tripping up. You might find it better walking from The Lizard to Mylor if you have the option, then the book we make sense.
Chart – Ordnance Survey Number 103 The Lizard. To be honest the scale isn’t quite large enough to get you out of trouble when you spot those confusing waymark signs. If you can get one printed to order try for a larger scale?
Distances – All quite short. About 10 – 12 miles each leg depending on how lost you get
Difficulty – Relatively easy compared to the North Devon stretches
Accommodation – We stayed in Budock Vean at Helford Passage and The Bay Hotel at Coverack. To be honest I would have preferred simpler, and cheaper, accommodation especially as we had dogs but this was all we could find at this time of the year. They were both excellent but a bit OTT for us.