Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Wadebridge to Morwenstow - 28-30 July 2012 - 50 Miles

Photograph Album


I had a long debate with myself about whether I should try to walk this stretch of coast in Cornwall or revert to the bike.  In the end, the bike won for three reasons:
  1. The distances involved on the Southwest Coast Path meant that I might not complete this part of the coast for several years.... if ever!
  2. Since I like to travel alone, I would be exposed to some lengthy rugged walking and exit from some parts of the path would be difficult, if needed.
  3. Although I would appreciate the sea and cliffs, I would miss many of the lanes and villages.

Saturday 28 July - Wadebridge to Port Isaac - 13 miles

I arrived in Birmingham in good time to catch the 0812 train to Exeter.  This was a very pleasant journey since, although the Inter City 125 trains are old, they are still among the quietest and smoothest around.  We sped through the countryside, arriving in Exeter on time at 1046.  There followed a short wait for the Western Greyhound 510 bus which would take me to Wadebridge.

I had expected a modern coach that would take me in comfort on this two and a half hour journey.  I was disappointed - in the event a small, apparently clapped out bus appeared with the wrong route number displayed.  There was no obvious provision for luggage or folding bikes, so I wedged the thing into a gap at the front of the bus and nobody objected.  The bus then proceeded to rattle at an alarming speed along what seemed like every Devon lane.  The driver seemed barely in control at the helm as we careered ever onwards from Devon into Cornwall.  The journey was punctuated by a dispute between one passenger and a group of Germans as to whether a window was to be open or closed.  Oddly enough, the Germans wanted it closed - in my experience they generally take every excuse going to obtain fresh air.  That window must have opened and closed half a dozen times as we travelled.

Thankfully, we arrived on time at Wadebridge, so I pressed the bell and bailed out at the first opportunity.  I wanted to move on, so took the B3314 under increasingly leaden skies through rolling, lush countryside.  After 3 miles, I turned onto a minor road and headed for Rock.  It was at this fairly non-descript place of bungalows that the heavens opened, but my recently acquired cycling cape came into its own.  Old fashioned perhaps, but extremely effective in keeping myself and luggage dry, except for the feet!
Thankfully, the rain did not last long and I was soon cycling through Polzeath (1505 - 7 miles).  Famous for sand and surfing, the place looked somewhat grubby to me, so I took a couple of pictures and rode on.  As I progressed, the inclines became steeper and steeper to such a degree that I found it more comfortable to walk rather than ride up many of the hills.  The descents, of course were exhilarating.
Port Quin
Port Quin (1540 - 10.5 miles), by contrast, was lovely - a small rocky inlet with no more than three or four stone houses.  It was really a peaceful spot.  By now, I was running behind schedule, so I decided to press on to Port Isaac and travel by bus to Bude.  The countryside remained lovely and green, but very hilly.  I arrived at Port Isaac (1600 - 13 miles) just in time to catch the bus without having the opportunity to look around.  That would have to be left until the following day, so we sped along the lanes in the rattling bus to Boscastle, where I had almost an hour to wait before boarding my connection to Bude.
Boscastle Harbour
Boscastle is situated in a deep valley and, for such an attractive place, remains unspoiled. Yes there are shops, but they are where they ought to be, in the town.  The car parks are out of sight and the path past whitewashed cottages to the harbour remains free of traffic and unsightly commercial enterprises.  I spent a very pleasant time wandering around Boscastle before taking the now familiar Western Greyhound boneshaker to Bude.
I quickly found my B&B for the next two nights, the "Sea Jade", which turned out to be an excellent choice and is to be highly recommended for the traveller on a budget.  If you want to find out more about this accommodation, you will find it and my review on "Tripadvisor".  After an al fresco meal of fish and chips and a gentle stroll around the town, I was ready for bed and slept soundly.

Sunday 29th July - Port Isaac to Bude - 27 miles

I woke refreshed and, after the customary "full English", I spent half an hour exploring Bude.  We visited Bude as a family a few years ago and were disappointed as it seemed scruffy and jaded at the time.  On this occasion, my impression was very much reversed.  The whole place looked freshly cleaned and the canal was resplendent in the morning light.

By dint of poor planning, I had to make my way back to Port Isaac to continue my journey.  The bus arrived promptly at 900 and, despite a significant collection of people at the bus stop, found myself as the only passenger on the now familiar form of transport.  The going was slow and we eventually arrived at the destination at 1100.
Port Isaac

Despite this, there was plenty of time to explore Port Isaac which is a truly lovely old place.  The narrow lane drops steeply between the stone houses to the harbour encircled by cliffs with small beach and ramp for boats.  Sure they sold ice creams, sandwiches and postcards, but you need ice cream, sandwiches and postcards on holiday and it all fitted in naturally.  I climbed the hill again and bid farewell to Port Isaac at about 1120 having marked it down for a visit sometime in the future.
Port Gaverne

Having climbed out of Port Isaac, there followed a swift descent into Port Gaverne (1130), no more than a collection of a few houses at the end of a rocky inlet, but none the worse for that.  Past another rocky inlet and I was into an upward slope that led me for three miles to the B3314.  Now the road was relatively level, so I was able to make better progress.  Towards Delabole, I parted company with the B road and took the by-way towards Treknow.  After a little way (1225 - 5.4 miles) I passed The Poldark Inn, made famous through a television drama series of many years ago.  I was expecting the inn to look old and sinister - I was disappointed.
Towards Tintagel

From now on, there were many sharp descents and ascents and I found myself walking as much as cycling.  The gradients were particularly severe into and out of Treknow, but I soon arrived at Tregatta (1250 - 7 miles) and the road to Tintagel remained fairly level from now on.  I made a detour around to the church which was isolated from the village near the edge of a cliff.  This sturdy stone structure which has stood the test of time was the best part of Tintagel.  The rest of the place was a real let down.  King Arthur must have been a real businessman as he had a bookshop, a cafe and an inn all within a short distance of eachother.  His mate, Merlin, wasn't doing too badly either.  There were plenty of Celtic influences and the amusement arcade bore a trifling resemblance to a castle although the mock stones more closely resembled breeze blocks.
I was not amused!

After taking a few pictures, I moved onwards and arrived in Boscastle (1400 - 12.8 miles).  Having enjoyed Boscastle the previous day, I only paused to take a few pictures from the hill as I entered and moved onwards and up a lengthy hill on the B3263.  At Trewannett, I turned left onto a minor passing through the villages of Middle and Higher Beeny which were set in lovely rolling countryside.  Soon, the lane gave way to a green road, but I was horrified to see a very deep puddle almost across the width of the way, thanks to the recent rain.  Fortunately I was able to get past the water and the remainder of my journey along the lane was fairly dry, but only passable on foot.

Near Newton Farm
Soon the road inclined downward and I hurtled into Crackington Haven (1530 - 17.8miles).  This turned out to be something of a disappointment despite the lovely setting - the car park was full and the day trippers seemed to have nothing to do but shuttle between the shop, the ice cream parlour and the pebbly beach.  Prices were extortionate and I was very thirsty - a tiny bottle of water was 75p, so I made it a condition of purchase that they also filled my water bottle from their tap.  They were happy enough to comply.
Crackington Haven

I climbed steeply out of Crackington and joined the coastal lane at Coxford.  meadering left, right, up and down through lovely countryside, I eventually dropped very steeply into Millook.  This place consisted of only a handful of stone houses at the mouth of a very steep valley with rugged cliffs to both sides.  This quiet, inaccessible hamlet was in stark contrast to overcrowded Crackington.
It was hard going pushing the bike up the very steep hill out of Millook - riding was out of the question.  High up on Budwill point, I had an extensive view to Bude and beyond to the GCHQ establishment further up the coast.  After more ups and downs, I arrived at the holiday village of Widemouth Bay (1650 - 24.2miles).  There was nothing of interest here, so I took no photographs and moved on to the Sea Jade B&B at Bude (1720 - 27.1 miles).
Widemouth Bay, Bude and beyond
In the evening, I popped out for an excellent jacket potato at the town before a good nights sleep.

Monday 30th July - Morwenstow to Bude - 6 Miles

My original intention for this morning was to take a bus to Welcombe Cross, cycle to Welcombe Mouth and travel to Morwenstow over a steep green lane.  Folloing my experience the previous day, I decided that the green lane might be impassable following heavy rain, leaving me stranded and unable to return home at the scheduled time.  This decision means that I shall have to walk the 3 miles between Welcombe Mouth and Morwenstow at some future time.

Instead, I took the 0918 Western greyhound bus, arriving in Morwenstow at 0950.  Morwenstow is a small isolated village comprising a church, an attracive stone pub and a few houses.  The village is set in green grazing coutry and the inclines, in general were much less extreme than experienced on the previous day.
Bush Inn, Morwenstow

Setting off, the most obvious features ahead of me were the white dishes at GCHQ, Bude.  These provided an alien-like intrusion into the landscape and they are certainly visible for many miles around.  The ride progressed steadily until there was a sudden and steep descent into Coombe (1015 - 2.6 miles) and a equally steep climb out of it to the National trust property of Stowe Barton which appeared to house National Trust Offices and was not obviously open to the public.  From Coombe, a minor road runs to the quaintly named "Duckpool" on the coast.  Curiosity did not get the better of me and I did not venture down the lane.
GCHQ from Stowe Barton
There followed a straightforward ride through Stibb to Poughill (1050 - 5 miles)which boasted thatched cottages, sturdy stone houses and a fine church.  Onward through less interesting Flexbury until I reached Bude (1100 - 6.4 miles).
I had time to purchase a supply of sandwiches at Sainsburys before making my way to Bude Strand and the bus to Exeter followed by a train home.

Photograph Album

Next Trips

Askam in Furness to Barrow in Furness and Fleetwood Ferry - Saturday 25 August

Folkestone to Dover - Saturday 29 September

No comments:

Post a Comment