Monday, 19 May 2014

Helford to Porthallow (South West Coast Path 52)

Boats in the Helford River 

After a delayed start because of heavy rain, we set out from Helford Point, walking though this pretty village as the rain began again. We climbed past a former chapel, now a cafe, and walked along a wooded path parallel to the river. The rain water dripping from the leaves above evoked, perhaps a bit fancifully, memories of the rain forest of Costa Rica which we visited earlier in the year..

The signature flowers along this section were bluebells and pungent wild garlic. Later there was a profusion of cow parsley.

The whole area is part of the Bosahan estate, and Bosahan Cove was a pretty, secluded spot as we neared the mouth of the river. Eventually, the rain stopped and we could see across Falmouth Bay, dotted with stationary ships - are they fishing? The white St Anthony lighthouse can be clearly seen to the left.

Soon Dennis Head lay ahead, with Nare Point stretching out behind it. The inlet on the right is Gillan Creek.

 However, it was not as "nare" (forgive me) as it seemed. As we headed round Dennis Head, it became clear just how long Gillan Creek is.

We could see from the map that that the path essentially ran up one side and back along the other. There seemed however to be some possibility of a crossing. We walked down to the village of St Anthony-in-Meneage and photographed the church, which looked quite old. Pevsner says that the oldest part is 13th century.

We learned from a chap working on a boat that there were stepping stones across the creek, but that the water was already too high. Soon after, we saw a sign that they were currently closed for being unsafe. So there was no option but the 2.75 mile road tour. This was at least enlivened by a dramatic subsidence which had closed the road, mercifully not to pedestrians. 

Eventually we reached a point opposite the church and took a lane towards Gillan. An open field-gate offered a lovely prospect over the mouth of the creek.

We lunched at the back of a delightful cove and then followed a flowery, grassy path for another mile to turn Nare Point. Standing behind the Coastwatch station it was striking that the left half of the view was all coast - from at least Dodman Point round to the Helford River. This picture shows the Coastwatch station on the left and Falmouth and St Mawes across Falmouth Bay. St Anthony lighthouse is the white dot on the right.

Soon there was a nice view along the coast towards Porthallow, the white houses in the centre of the picture.

Porthallow is a tiny place, but it is significant to Coast Path walkers because it is the official half-way point. As we entered the village however, the first thing we saw was this droll weather forecasting device.

We then press-ganged a passerby into taking our souvenir picture. It is a bit blurred, so perhaps I would have done better to rely on the selfie I had been planning to take.

Conditions: mild, but very hazy.

Grading: Moderate.

Distance: 8 miles (distance now covered 313.3 miles).

Map: Explorer 103 (The Lizard).

Rating: four stars.

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