Friday, 25 April 2014
Gorran Haven to Portloe (South West Coast Path 48)
Back on the South West Coast Path. We climbed up from Gorran Haven and enjoyed a great view over the deceptively large beach. As we walked along the grassy cliff top there was soon (minor) excitement when I spotted my first Green Veined White of the year.
We followed a charming path descending towards sea level.
We followed the path round the headland and had our first views of Dodman Point, with Bow or Vault Beach (it says on the map) in the foreground.
Once we reached Dodman Point we saw that there is a large, but rather crude, cross erected in 1886. The Lizard can be glimpsed on the horizon to the left.
The next section of coast stretched away invitingly.
We followed a grassy cliff top path to reach to a rather nice, quiet beach at Hemmick.
Greeb Point offered a nice view back over this part of Veryan Bay towards Dodman Point.
After a while, we reached Portluney Cove, with Caerhays Castle improbably behind it.
Seen from the road which passes the back of the beach, the castle is undeniably picturesque. It was built in 1808 by John Nash of Brighton Pavilion fame for John Bettesworth-Trevanion. Later in the 19th century new owners opened up the view to the sea. It now has a garden famous for its collection of magnolias and azalias.
The next landmark was the very exposed village of East Portholland with its substantial sea defences.
A little further along is the smaller West Portholland where we visited friends in October 2006 and had our first and never-to-be-forgotten encounter with the coast path. We were dropped off somewhere - we can't quite remember where - and walked back to their house. It took us far longer than we could ever imagined and we arrived in the gathering dusk with them wondering what had happened to us. A couple of photos from 2006 strongly suggest that we walked from Portscatho, via Portloe - 9.5 miles. Well outside what we what we would have regarded as normal!
Just beyond West Portholland there was a fine view across the whole bay to Dodman Point. We never tire of saying "look how far we've come".
The final two miles to Portloe are rated as strenuous and this was well justified. I did see however see my first Wall (or Wall Brown) butterflies of the year. Soon afterwards we encountered a rather ill-matched couple: she was wearing black leather boots and a dress, he was wearing walking clothes. We wondered if perhaps they had met for a first date with rather different expectations.
The wildflowers, which we had seen in profusion all day, were extremely numerous. It was like walking through an overgrown herbaceous border.
We were also struck by dense drifts of bluebells on both sides on the path on one sloping section.
As we approached Portloe, we could see the next big landmarks - Nare Head and Gull Rock, with Zone Point behind them. One of the inlets concealed Portloe, but which one would it be?
Of course, it was one of the further ones, but finally we made it to the pretty village of Portloe.
Conditions: mostly bright and sunny, but clouding over towards the end.
Grading: Moderate becoming Strenuous.
Distance: 8.8 miles. Distance now covered: 281.7 miles.
Map: Explorer 105 (Falmouth & Mevagissey).
Rating: four stars.