Wednesday, 3 June 2015

Trevone Bay to Padstow (South West Coast Path 76)

Trevone Bay

Our final walk of this trip is from the delightful Trevone Bay to Padstow. We walk along the back of the beach and then along a rising track towards Roundhole Point. There is a large round hole - we have seen three now in recent days - just inland of the point. It is apparently "a collapsed inland sea cave".

Looking into the mouth of the cove we watched as a young chap positively ran to get into the surf and then paddled himself further and further out. Either he had a very precise idea of what sort of wave he wanted or he kept mistiming his move. We would have loved to see him ride his board but it was not to be.

After the round hole the coast becomes very indented. We were sure this must be the result of slate mining, and certainly former quarries and mines are marked on the OS map.

Just before Gunver Head this rock formation is visible in a gap. I felt that it ought to be called "The pointing finger", but it seems not to have a name.

The next section is along a grassy plateau and Pentire Point and Padstow Bay, effectively the mouth of the Camel Estuary, are clearly visible, as is the Daymark on top of Stepper Point.

The Daymark is a rather pleasing structure. It was possibly built in the early 19th century and was originally whitewashed. Its function of course was to guide mariners entering the Camel Estuary. The unexpected thing about it was the two small gothic style windows on the seaward side

This is the view across the Bay towards Polzeath.

We followed the line of the coast inland and passed a Coastwatch station to descend towards the edge of the estuary. We were staggered by just how wide it was - a massive area of sand is exposed at low tide. The tide was just coming in and the wonderfully named Doom Bar sandbank was still clearly visible in the centre - the safe passage for ships is the wide channel to the left. Now we understood where the Doom Bar beer you see everywhere in North Cornwall got its name.

We walked right round the right hand edge of the estuary (spotting a pristine Brown Argus butterfly by the wayside) and then along dunes behind the sand before turning right at Gin Point and soon coming to the war memorial, high above the estuary.

This is on the edge of the town and the walk through parkland down to the harbour was quite populous. The harbour is in two sections. The larger outer section is fully tidal and at this stage had no water - at this time of day the ferry across to Rock runs from much further downstream. The small and picturesque inner harbour always has water as it is closed off by massive gates. It contains an interesting mixture of fishing vessels and pleasure craft.

Conditions: Quite warm and sunny. Some cloud.

Grading: Easy.

Map: Explorer 106 (Newquay & Padstow).

Distance: 5.6 miles. Distance now covered 463.6 miles.

Rating: Four stars.

Postcript: Prideaux Place

I always bring my copy of Pevsner for Cornwall on these trips, but don't always make much use of it. However, his write up of Prideaux Place, on the northwest corner of the town, was sufficiently enthusiastic to encourage us to make a visit. Pevsner calls it "one of Cornwall's great houses". The house dates from the late 16th century, but was remodelled in the 18th and 19th centuries and gradually made to look more gothick, with mock fortifications. This is the very imposing early 19th century south wing.

The house is surrounded by gardens which had become dilapidated but which the present owners, seemingly distant members of the Prideaux family, are progressively restoring. The gardens have a number of touching and very human notices describing plantings and changes.

Beyond the gardens is the deer park, with a large herd of Fallow Deer. There is a lovely view over the park down towards the town (the large building on the right is the Metropole Hotel, where we have been staying, once the Station Hotel).

We didn't go inside as that would have required waiting for the next guided tour, but this was a delightful addition to our walk.

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