Rugged Tales

Wherever my feet may take me…

Dampened spirits

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This being the UK, the good weather couldn’t last forever. In fact I’ve probably been living on borrowed time for at least the last two days.

Today started well enough as I walked alongside the River Gannel and up onto the cliff overlooking Crantock Beach. But by mid-morning there was no denying a coat was required. With some brighter sky still left up ahead I optimistically hoped the shower would quickly blow over. An hour of heavy rain later, with my boots full of damp sand from clambering over soft sand dunes, it was impossible to resist the siren call of an early lunch at the warm, dry St Pirans Inn in Holywell. One jacket potato and two coffees later the weather looked as if it was easing off. I repacked my rucksack and took my boots to the beer garden door to try and get the sand out. But before I’d even finished the first one it was throwing it down again. There was only one thing for it: dessert. Looking at the menu it struck me that I’ve walked in the south west for some 16 days now without eating a single cream tea, a sacrilege that ought to be remedied immediately.

It is amazing how long you can string out a cream tea, through slow eating and judicious topping up of the tea pot, given sufficient incentive. Contemplating the resumption of my battle with the sand dunes as I watched the rain bounce off the picnic tables was a more than sufficient motivator. And it was a great cream tea I was happy to savour, though it now occurs to me to wonder if I can find a better one anywhere…

After 3 hours hiding in the pub, the rain finally stopped and I headed off again, hoping the worst of the weather was past. The path skirted Penhale Army Training Area and as a consequence bristled with danger signs. The warnings against picking up unexploded ordnance, or straying into the training area were par for the course and the notices of disused mine shafts not unexpected. But the sternest warnings and strongest fences were reserved for what appeared to be a kind of electrified art installation. Presumably it has some military purpose but I have no idea what? Answers on a postcard…

After a pleasantly dry 45 minutes, however, the heavens opened again. Stuart (another walker, doing the Coast Path a week or two a year, that I’d bumped into a few minutes before) and I zipped our coats up and made our soggy way down the cliffs and along Perran Beach to Perranporth. Even there we weren’t safe, with more signs warning against strong currents and falling rocks. Today was by a mile the most hazardous – as well as the wettest – stretch of the Coast Path so far!

Arriving in Perranporth heralded an exciting milestone. At 201.5 miles from the start, passing it makes this the longest walk I’ve ever done, topping the 200 mile Coast to Coast that I completed last year. Just another 428.5 miles to go…

Walking along Perran Beach in the pouring rain I’d been all set to stop at Perranporth, but by the time we arrived the rain had eased off and (as it had been such a short day) I decided to press on towards St Agnes as I’d originally planned. This final stage, over rugged cliffs and past disused mine workings, was my favourite part of the day. And it was lucky I arrived at the campsite in good spirits. Having deliberately picked a campsite with tumble driers earlier in the day I had the twin blow of discovering a) that more of my stuff than I realised – including the bottom of my sleeping bag – had got wet and b) that the tumble drier could only be operated with a token available from the (absent) warden. It looks like my stuff is going to have to stay wet a little longer. But looking at the forecast for the next day or two, damp clothes are the least of my worries. I’ll see what conditions the morning brings, but it may be time to work on a contingency plan…

Author: ruggedtales

Wandering the globe in search of insight and adventure!

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