Friday, 2 December 2011

St Austell to Falmouth via Boswinger - 2 & 3 August 2011

See the pictures

The 1012 from Birmingham to Plymouth was running 20 minutes late and my onward connection to St Austell was due to depart before we arrived.  There were sighs of relief all round when it was announced that the train departure would be delayed until we had arrived.  When the train stopped at Plymouth lots of people rushed across the platform to board the 2 carriage local train.  Had it departed on time, it would have departed virtually empty.  The train was packed as we made our way over the Brunel Bridge into Cornwall.  At the second stop, a group of boys with bikes were denied access to the full train.  Fortunately, my folded bike was already stowed away.

The train arrived late (1500) at St Austell.  I put the bike together and began pedalling out of the grim town and along the unclassified coast road towards Pentewan.  The sun was shining and there was a cooling breeze blowing from the sea.  The countryside was lovely and green with extensive views over the sea.  The road was undulating, but soon I was hurtling downhill into Pentwan (1545 - 4 miles).

Pentewan is in a lovely setting with stone and whitewashed cottages surrounding the harbour.  The harbour dates back to the middle ages, was rebuilt in the early 19th Century and for a time was busy with the trade in china clay.  During the 20th Century the harbour has gradually silted up to the point where it is no longer connected to the sea.

Onwards and upwards with lovely views over the sea at Tregiskey, then steeply downwards into Mevagissey (1610 - 7 miles).  During my teaching days is was often said the school would be "marvellous if it wasn't for the pupils".  The same sort of thing is true of Mevagissey and tourists, but I suppose I was one as well!  The situation couldn't have been nicer; a large harbour heaving with boats of every kind surrounded by stone and whitewashed buildings clinging onto the steep surrounding cliffs.  The people didn't seem right, though and I suppose I also looked a little odd to them.

I had some unmemorable fish and chips in Mevagissey, wandered around for a while and moved onwards on the bike.  The road climbed steeply upwards then dropped into unremarkable Portmellon, so I did not dwell and was soon descending down the narrow lanes of Gorran Haven (1715 - 9 miles).

Gorran Haven really is my idea of a Cornish coastal village.  The narrow lane led past the tiny Church of St Just to the small cove and beach where holiday makers were doing whatever holiday makers do on the beach.  Interesting to watch, but not my idea of fun.

The lane out of Gorran Haven was very steep and I found myself pushing  rather than riding the bike.  Soon, however, I was riding along a level minor coast road with superb views over Dodoman Point, until I passed through the unspoilt Hamlet of Penare and the beach at Hemmick, before I climbed up to Boswinger (1810 - 12 miles) and my abode for the night.

Yes, Boswinger does have a Youth Hostel, but I like my creature comforts and stayed the night at the nearby Old Carthouse, a solid stone building but nicely modernised.  There, I settled down for a restful night in a comfortable room, provided I did not sit too heavily on the wicker chair.  Before turning in, I had time to explore Boswinger which appeared to be a working village rather than a tourist trap.  It managed to hide a caravan site very well near the upper part of the village.

I rose well rested and ate an excellent "Full English" before bidding farewell to Boswinger and pedalling along a high lane.  The road then dipped into a beautiful green valley and I passed the early 19th Century Caerhays Castle which was exquisitely situated in the landscape.

I climbed out of the valley and departed from the road along a rough track.  This route kept me close to the sea and avoided a road detour of about 3 miles.  The track descended and deposited me in East Portholland (0900 - 15 miles) , a few stone houses pleasantly situated around a small harbour.  The harbour had recently been refurbished using concrete - why couldn't they have used stone that would fit into the surroundings?

Upwards again, through West Portholland which straggled up the valley along the road and nearby stream.  On higher ground, the countryside became "ordinary" for the first time - business like agriculture, but not pretty.  Very soon I was hurtling down again, this time into Portloe (0930 - 17 Miles), very Cornish, but too much traffic for such narrow lanes.  The 4x4 drivers were really inconsiderate, beeping their horns when I tried to take photographs.  Portloe was redeemed in the person of a friendly barmaid at the Ship Inn who refilled my water bottle without making any pecuniary demands.

I followed the upward road, walking since it was very steep chatting to a walking couple who were making for Portscatho.  This town was viewed from a distance, but I didn't visit it since I needed to make directly for St Mawes to be sure of catching the Ferry to Falmouth and the train home from there.

Gwendra (1005 - 19 miles) appeared to be a really nice place to spend time on the sand if you could afford to stay at the expensive looking hotel on the hill.  Pendower again was situated on a lovely beach, but the buildings were abandoned and becoming derelict.  They were virtually on the beach and perhaps were in danger of inundation.

I then joined the A3078 which was mercifully quiet and made my way to St Just in Roseland (1100 - 24 miles) - again stone and whitewashed  cottages arranged around an open area by the crossroads.  The road was thankfully level for most of the remainder of the journey then, suddenly, it was downhill all the way onto the seafront at St Mawes (1120 - 26 miles).

I had a little time before the Duchess of Cornwall (Ferry) carried me leisurely across the harbour and into the centre of Falmouth.  The town itself is in something of a time warp, having largely escaped the attention of the post-war planners.  It is quite attractive but could do with a little smartening up in places.

There was time for a meal and drink at the Packet Station pub before beginning my long journey home, leaving Falmouth Docks Station at 1520.  A wait at Truro saw me onto the 1641, changing to the 1825 for Birmingham at Plymouth.  After a seemingly endless journey I arrived home a little before midnight.

See the pictures 

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