Monday, 14 July 2014

Porthcurno to Sennen Cove (South West Coast Path 62)

Minack Theatre

Continuing along the coast from Minack, where we were lucky enough to enjoy a little of a rehearsal for a forthcoming performance of Puccini's Tosca, we soon approached the pretty, sandy beach of Porth Chapel, with St Levan's Well above it.

We followed the path along the cliff-top to descend to the tiny hamlet of Porthgwarra. It was only as we were climbing up the other side that we realised that it too had a pretty, sandy beach, with interesting caves at the back. Fun for the kids!

We were now on a sort of high heathland plateau whose plainness was enlivened by two mysterious structures. The OS map identifies them as "landmarks", which does remind you of the original meaning of that word. 

Turning Gwennap Head with its Coast Watch station, we had our first view of the white buildings which identify Lands End. It was clear that two or three miles of rocky terrain lie in prospect.

The first main bay had such massive rock erosion that we briefly wondered whether it was the remains of some wartime engineering work - submarine pens perhaps.There was a disturbing amount of scum floating on the surface.

The next bay, Mill Bay or Nanjival, had more of the same and required a typical Coast Path descent and immediate ascent to negotiate. There was a strong smell of seaweed.

As we started the ascent a glance back revealed a fascinating fissure in the cliff face. 

This was followed by a rather precarious cliff-side section. After Carn Boel the terrain became a bit flatter and out to sea some marvelous rock formations could be seen. The rock arch is called Enys Dodman and the rocky outcrop beyond it is the dramatically named Armed Knight. The Longships with their lighthouse are further out. 

Reaching Lands End was even more of an anti-climax than I had expected. After an animal farm the white buildings seen from afar are revealed as the Lands End hotel (with sea views!) and next to it this horrific structure. 

It looks like a shopping mall I quipped. No, wrong, it is a shopping village. We gave it a wide birth and continued on towards Sennen. Here is the next section of coast, not so very different from what has gone before.

And here is the wonderful Whitesands Beach at Sennen Cove, the end of this expedition to the coast, which does mark a change.

Conditions: warm, initially sunny, but clouding over later.

Grading: Moderate.

Distance: 6.4 miles (distance now covered 374.3 miles.

Map: Explorer 102 (Land's End).

Rating: four stars.

1 comment:

Dr Ruth Livingstone said...

Very much enjoyed reading your account of walking the SWCP. Am walking the coast and, like you, was disappointed by Lands End. Preferred The Lizard! And the two strange 'landmarks' were equally perplexing, but somebody explained they were navigation aids for ships. The trick is to get them lined up with the black one hidden by the red one, apparently.