This was the day that I had been apprehensive about since booking this holiday. Apart from being the furthest distance at 13.1 miles, there was the problem of getting across Gillan Creek and the Helford river as the ferries only run dependent upon the weather and tides. Gillan Creek is supposedly passable at low tide by wading across or by using a set of slippery stepping stones neither of which are particularly advised by the SWCP Association. If the Helford river ferry is not running then it is an additional 13 mile walk to the head of the creek or a taxi ride. The other issue was that, because of the lack of B&B accommodation in Helford (most of the houses seem to be owned by posh non-Cornwall people!, apparently Roger Taylor of Queen fame lives next door to the pub), our B&B for the night was at Mawnan Smith about 3 miles inland on the other side of the river, the arrangement being that when/if we got across the owner would come and collect us from the pub car park.
Helford River Boats have an excellent Facebook site which they update early each day to indicate when they are running that day and to our relief the tide would be at high tide at about the time we expected to cross which was 16:00. Because there was no mobile phone coverage at Coverack we set off with the plan to sort out the Gillan Creek problem when we got there. (There was not much mobile phone coverage anywhere on our route all week but all of the B&Bs had WIFI good access).
The coastline from Coverack is much lower than the earlier sections and therefore the walking was much easier. It passes through a huge currently disused stone quarry called Dean Quarry.
The above are the stone staves where the stone was stored, graded by size (the last compartment was labelled “Dust”) waiting to be shipped by sea from the quay. Later on we saw posters in the local villages indicating that plans are afoot to reopen the quarry. Shortly afterwards at Godrevy Cove the coast path diverts away from the coast due to all the quarries along the coast as far as Porthallow. It was a nice change to walk across farmland and country lanes, first through Rosenithon …
… and then on to Porthoustock (pronounced Prowstock) on the coast and then inland again to Porthallow. Just before Porthallow were signs to the Fat Apples Cafe down a lane off the beaten track but teaming with people having breakfasts and snacks etc. After our morning coffee break we carried on to Porthallow where on the beach is an official marker for the half way point of the SWCP.
We wish! – we had only done about 100 miles, but as we will not be coming back this way we thought we had better get a photo. Having bought takeaway sandwiches in the Five Pilchards Inn we left Porthallow but not before spotting the very accurate whether forecast …
It was now back to the coast path around Nare Point where we had our first view of Dennis Head at the entrance on one side to Gillan Creek, and on the other, to the Helford River.
With fingers crossed we walked along the coast to Gillan and then followed the signs to where the ferry across the creek was supposed to leave from. Hidden away on the shore was a board with the instructions. Firstly, there was supposed to be a yellow diamond on the opposite shore indicating that the ferry was available on request, but we couldn’t see one. To request the ferry we had to open up a big board so that it displayed an orange diamond which someone on the other shore was supposed to spot and then come across to get us. After some minutes of inactivity we opted for plan B which was to call the phone number on the board and thankfully it was answered and shortly after a young lad in a skiff came across to ferry us to the very attractive St Anthony-in-Meneage village.
We then had a 3 mile walk along around Dennis Head and along the shoreline to the village of Helford. I know we have commented several times about the number of dogs on this walk, but what has been disappointing is the amount of dog poo, but worse than that was to come when along this beautiful shoreline there was a tiny cove with a large fallen tree trunk in the middle and sitting on the middle of the tree trunk was a white plastic bag of dog poo! What are these people thinking of when they do that? Do they think a dog poo fairy will come and clear up after them? Or they just anti-society?
The end of the walk was tantalising in that we could see the ferry landing stage just before entering the village of Helford, but we had to go inland to the head of Helford Creek to cross over the creek and then walk back to the landing stage on the other side. This was a killer last mile for Fiona at the end of the 13mile walk. We knew we were entering Helford when we saw that people were smartly dressed with notable plummy voices – not locals! I shouldn’t think many locals can afford to live in this beautiful spot – many of the houses looked to be in the multi-million pound bracket- a shame.
We had the same procedure of opening the board to request the ferry but I suspect that as it was a sunny Sunday the ferry was constantly toing and froing across the river. Arriving on the Helford Passage side we dashed into the Ferryboat Inn for a couple of beers whilst we phoned the B&B for them to collect us.
We duly met Allen Lake in the pub car park and he quickly drove us to Gold Martin, our B&B for the night. This was probably our favourite B&B of the week. Allen and Clare have a lovely comfortable home and made us very welcome. Clare is an impressive water colourist, mainly floral designs, and for the last forty years has designed fabrics on a freelance basis. Allen is retired from full-time business but is very active designing websites for local small businesses as well as short print run fliers.
In the evening we walked into Mawnan Smith for a meal at the Star Inn ready for our final days walk to Falmouth.