SOUTH WEST COAST PATH NATIONAL TRAIL
Stage 27: Portloe to Portscatho
Friday, May 30, 2014
I arrived back in Portloe just after midday, wasting little time in setting off on the Coast Path, which climbs out of the tiny harbour on a rough footpath beside Beach Hill Cottage.
The path quickly climbs up onto the rocky ridge that shelters village from the sea (picture 1). The path runs along the seaward side of the ridge, known as The Jacka (picture 2), continuing to climb steadily for about 500 metres to reach Manare Point, which overlooks the rocky Parc Caraglooze Cove (picture 3).
The path begins to descend as it heads around the cove, soon crossing a stile to follow an overgrown path along the edge of a small sloping meadow signed as part of the National Trust's Broom Parc. After leaving Broom Parc, the route snakes its way downhill through scrub to find a long footbridge in a valley shown on the map as The Straythe (picture 4).
Beyond the footbridge the path continues to wind its way through the scrub for a few hundred metres more before emerging into a large sloping pasture that is crossed by two indistinct paths trampled into the grass. The closest path to the sea heads downhill towards a stile, but this is not the Coast Path. Instead the correct route climbs fairly steeply about thirty degrees further to the right, aiming for the right-hand end of a patch of scrub, behind which the route joins a path just outside the fenceline of a field on top of Blouth Point. Along this stretch of the path there are good views of the large Gull Rock lurking about a kilometre offshore (picture 5).
After rounding Blouth Point, the path skirts around the clifftops above Kiberick Cove, where a small yacht had weighed anchor (picture 6). Just beyond the cove, the path crosses a shallow, but steep-sided valley, climbing up the far side onto Rosen Cliff, where the path passes a short distance to the left of some kind of bunker built into a large mound (picture 7). After another 500 metres of level walking, the path rounds the tip of Nare Head, marked by a prominent crag of exposed rock (picture 8).
The path now runs along the western side of Nare Head, looking out across Gerrans Bay. After 500 metres the path drops down steeply to the right of a ruined fisherman's cottage to cross a footbridge over a stream in a valley known as Tregagle's Hole (picture 9). A steep climb out of the valley takes the path back to the clifftops, where it winds its way through gorse to a small meadow above the end of the large and sandy Carne Beach (picture 10).
The route follows the edge of a pasture part of the way across the back of the beach to meet a lane that bears inland past the Nare Hotel. Just beyond the hotel's carpark, a Coast Path signpost points along a fenced path that skirts around the hotel grounds to return to the low clifftops above the adjoining Pendower Beach (picture 11).
The path sticks to the clifftop as far as a carpark at the far end of the beach, crossing it to find a short path up to the end of Rocky Lane in front of the former Beach Hotel. The lane is followed uphill for about 300 metres, curving inland to pass behind the Pendower Beach House Hotel. At the next bend the Coast Path turns sharp left off the lane, heading into the National Trust's Treluggan Cliffs property and following a trail inside a band of trees to return to the cliffs (picture 12).
The path hugs the undulating, gorse-covered cliffs above a rocky shoreline for the next kilometre up to the small, rounded promontory of Creek Stephen Point (picture 13). After rounding the point the path runs above Porthbean Beach, which is divided by rocks into three sections. The path descends to the third section (picture 14), but this is a very brief encounter, with the path almost immediately climbing wooden steps up through trees and back to the clifftops once more.
The path runs beside fields around the National Trust-owned headland of Pednvadan, passing a small lookout station at the tip. Sheltering on the south side of the headland is the wide, sandy Porthcurnick Beach, with the small town of Portscatho (my destination for the day) less than a kilometre away in the background (picture 15). Unlike the other beaches on this stage of the walk, this one was quite busy due to it's proximity to the town.
Behind the beach the Coast Path descends a slipway to the sand, crossing the back of the beach to find a long flight of steps climbing up into a sheltered gully and then back up to the edge of a large cliff-top field. An easy 500 metre stroll along the clifftops leads to the edge of Portscatho, where the route joins North Parade. The street is followed down to The Square, where the Coast Path turns left along The Lugger towards the town's small harbour (picture 16).
Here I left the path for the day, with another 12.1 kilometres completed. This stage had been quite strenuous in parts, with many ups and downs and several stretches where one had to be quite careful to keep a solid footing. Consequently, this stage had taken me just over four and a half hours; well below my usual pace.
To find public transport, I turned back up through The Square and walked about 400 metres up Gerrans Hill to the conjoined village of Gerrans, from which the bay that I had been circling for the last half of the day's walk takes its name. At the T-junction at the top of the street stands the parish church of St Gerendus, where I caught a bus back to Truro.