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blog on walking in cornwall walking breaks and holidays in Cornwall
Updated: 7 years 23 weeks ago

Weather predicting. Art or luck?

Sun, 16/10/2011 - 11:01

Saturday October 8th to Saturday 15th October 2011.

Walking in bad weather is better than sitting in an office in good weather.

Bad weather still means good walking; it’s just that great weather usually means great walking. So the game to be played with Mother Nature is how to be walking in good weather all week. With forecasts ranging from calm to indifferent via murky and difficult to predict locally I have to rely on a variety of well-used plans. These include the website Magic Seaweed which has the pressure charts and incoming rain bands for the coming 168 hours, plus the Met Office with the five day forecast and symbols from its 13 areas of West Cornwall starting with the weather for my home area of Falmouth.

Plus don’t forget wind direction; when there is a full blown westerly, head for the East coast of the landscape. A southerly? Well, head to the north coast. With the three guests care of Adventureline; Tom and Pat from the USA and Adrienne from Australia we set off dodging the mist and rain that became a permanent fixture of early morning St Agnes. In short, the other guests of the hotels they were staying at didn’t believe the evening stories of sunshine, warmth and lack of wind. As they say on certain British TV adverts, Simples.

With north winds and the mist and fog dominating the weather, for the first few days we went to the Lizard peninsula and the Helford river heading to Holywell bay and Zennor in Penwith for the following two days and returning to the jewel in the Lizard crown, Kynance Cove on the last day. When mist and fog envelope the bays and headlands further up and down the coast from where you are standing in clear visibility one can be tempted to entertain smugness but pride comes before a fall so let it be fleeting. Cornwall is renowned for its microclimates. This extends to weather on a daily basis.

Be warned and more importantly be armed with as many forecasting tools as possible. So don’t discount using magic seaweed, pine cones and tea leaves to predict your weather.

My favourite and more accurate tool is using the following method. Stick head out of car and look at the sky! Happy weather watching folks.

Check the walkitcornwall facebook page for larger versions of the photos.

Autumns approach: An awareness of change

Sun, 02/10/2011 - 10:51

Saturday September 24th to Saturday 1st October 2011.

Intensity: Wind: Light: Waves: Perfect insects’ final dance: Natures last throw of the dice: Birds knowledgeable, warbling their mournful autumnal tunes.

Blink and you miss the subtlety of change; the announcement that we are in the death throws of growth and vibrancy and we are entering the time of decay, death and reinvention. If you are tuned in to natures warning then sit back and enjoy the intensity. Of crashing waves: of the last dance of butterflies that care not for which species they have their final flutter with: of mists hugging hills: of ripples in the warm wind that fast forward in their restricted rock pools.

Blink and you will miss the signposts of autumn on the coast. Step wisely and slowly along the coast path taking it all in. Remember it will be months before we can take new exhilarating steps celebrating the advent of spring colours and mother natures renewed energy. We ride our luck with the weather and manage to find the places that catch the last days of Cornwall’s duet with nature.

In a matter of days the flowers have turned to mourning, wearing natures death tuxedo of the panoply of brown shades.

We search for colour and it is there. In brooding blue, no more aquamarine in the sea: in fading and tattered butterfly wings whilst vivid and electrifying in berries and lichen. One must be physically aware of the delicate spin of webs that adorn rocks, bushes and across paths: the casts of lugworms and the few last calls of birdsong that have thinned out to the native and local trills searching vainly for the migrants songs.

Welcome autumn. Thank you for your pronouncement and final flourish. The light dims suddenly, earlier in the day that we have been used to and we ascend the final cliff to the Minack theatre.

Check the walkitcornwall facebook page for larger versions of the photos.

Check the walkitcornwall facebook page for these and more photos larger and better quality.

Lizard Peninsula walking holiday in Cornwall 2011

Sun, 25/09/2011 - 22:06

Saturday 7th September to Saturday 24th 2011.

The Lizard coastal walk. 60kms or 37.5 miles of coast path from Porthleven to Helford on the Helford River around the Southernmost point of the UK.

This was made for a five-day walk with neat 7.5-mile chunks for five days. Now all we needed was good weather and some friendly faces. With Linda and Stan from Seattle, Yunsuk from Germany, Helen from the UK and Mascha from Holland we had an International troupe tramping the coast path.

We cross a geological fault twice on the trip and this delineates the Lizard peninsula from the rest of Cornwall. It is an area unparalleled in its formation. In short the rocks we walk upon are from where the Earth’s crust and Mantle are that have been metamorphosised to create the Serpentine, Schists and Gneiss of the Lizard. Troctolite, Gabbro, Basalt, Granite and Slate make up the list of rocks that one can see over the course of the walk. With unique rocks come special soils, flowers and everchanging landscape.

Additionally, around every corner there is not only tales of shipwrecks and smuggling but also great tales of maritime prowess of shipbuilding, valour of the many Lizard lifeboat crews and the protection by the Navy of the British Empire. We relate stories of the beginning of International communication through telegraphy and wireless and satellite technology all starting from this peninsula in the backwater of Cornwall.

But it is the beauty of the place, unrivalled even within the county of Cornwall that brings so many people back here year after year and keeps us locals revisiting on a weekly basis. The colours and light forever changing and reinventing the words that describe a beautiful landscape.

We ran our first Lizard walking week in September 2011. We are planning two next year to take advantage of the floral display of plants one does not see anywhere else in the UK. From Spring and Autumn squill and Cornish heath to some of the rarities we saw this time around like monkshood whilst we saw the choughs on a couple of occasions.

Check the walkitcornwall facebook page for larger versions of the photos.

Check the walkitcornwall facebook site for larger photos of these and many more

Clouds on an invisible track

Sun, 18/09/2011 - 14:42

Saturday September 10th to 17th 2011.

What is it about September photos that are so different from the rest of the year? Suddenly we have processions of clouds from the South West to the North East following the hidden track of the predominant winds like hangers on a rail.

Another Adventureline walking group consisting of the wonderful Betty Lukins and her daughter Kelly and daughter in law Sue from the Seattle/ Washington area. Also Judith from Australia, a keen bushwalker around Brisbane and Kate from the sunny climes of Hastings, Kent.Without being ageist I have to say that when I get to 81 I want to be leading and providing walking holidays with an enthusiasm and energy that Betty was blessed with. She is heroine of the year, in fact any year. Bless you Betty for making us all appreciate life and the world with a renewed energy and through a new perspective.

We travelled far and wide over Cornwall with the weather perfect for walking. The Helford river, the Lizard peninsula, the wonderful atmospheric coast path surveying St Michael’s Mount, you can almost feel the ley lines drawing you on. We also traversed the extraordinary geology between Trevone Bay and Padstow whilst also dipping our toes in the waters of the Holywell Cave. We even had a bit of scrambling into the higher cave at Holywell.

Check the walkitcornwall facebook page for larger versions of the photos.

More photos and larger versions on the walkitcornwall facebook page.

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Low tide scrambling. The Cornwall coast is a new land.

Sun, 04/09/2011 - 10:25

Saturday August 27th to Saturday September 3rd 2011.

Very low tides mean scrambling! Very low tides mean you can see the Cornish landscape from an unusual angle where the sea floor is revealed and a different vista can be enjoyed. Caves can be explored, geology viewed close up that might not be exposed further up on the Coast Path. New beaches are yours to run about on whilst islands, so often out of reach can be accessed and conquered. Low tide coastline becomes a new playground for walkers.

We had the pleasure of all this, this week and we took advantage of it. At Portreath especially at Porth-cadjack Cove we could scramble for an hour over the exposed beaches and rocks. The Kynance Cove caves have very Victorian names like the Parlour and the Drawing Room. We could stand in them and imagine Queen Victoria and Prince Albert exploring the rooms of “new Marble” as Serpentine was called. Along the coast at Housel Bay some intrepid and brave souls were flinging themselves off of the rocks into the sea. Ah, youth!

Padstow and the Camel estuary at low tide means one can miss out on the coast path for quite a distance. Such a low tide as it was this week meant we could access the beach from Hawkers Cove a couple of miles up the estuary from Padstow itself. The bay at Nanjizal in Penwith a couple of miles from Lands End is spectacular at any time but with low tide one can wade out to sand banks immersed in aquamarine sea. Finally for those who love exploring rock pools the Helford River around Rosemullion Head allows one to indulge safely in a rock pool heaven for a good couple of hours either side of low tide. Our family favour Gatamala cove as there are some great stretches of beach, rock corridors and coves revealed for exploring too.

This weeks role call care of Martin at Adventureline included Ilona and Ruprecht and Ursula and Kathleen from Germany, Kathryn and Jeremy from the USA and Susan from Devon. Check the walkitcornwall facebook page for larger versions of the photos.

Check the walkitcornwall facebook site for larger versions of the photos

The shape of topiary 2011

Thu, 18/08/2011 - 08:56

Thursday August 18th.

This topiary was seen on a walk in the Mendips when I was up there recently with the family.

Now call me old fashioned but am I missing something here or are these topiary shapes, well you know, rather obvious? Or has my misspent youth come back to haunt me? Have the locals said anything, or even noticed?

We went to Cheddar Gorge, Longleat and the wonderful Westonbirt arboretum. If you love trees, their shapes, the complimentary planting of a wide variety of native and non-native species then go to Westonbirt. Especially in the autumn when the Japanese maples are in full colour.

The Mendips and the Quantocks are wonderful. How about the Mendips Hills and the Quantocks for a walking holiday? Now there’s an idea. Watch this space

Colours and moods whilst walking in Cornwall

Sun, 07/08/2011 - 09:13

Saturday July 30th – August 6th 2011.

The moods and colours of the landscape in Cornwall vary from day to day and I feel are more intensive in this county than elsewhere. It has a lot to do with the light and the fact that Cornwall is a stick of rock out in the Atlantic surrounded by the vast expanse of sea, which affects the light particles. The schools of painters that have made Cornwall their home understood this.

So the greys of possible storms, brood and dominate yet their darkness is cloaked somehow by a bright sheen almost like those glass jars one shakes that have a snowman in it and a snow storm. A scene within a scene. One can almost see the vast expanse of the light out in the whole Atlantic behind the inclement thick curtain of grey fluffy clouds parading across our skies. We had this threat of rain on Monday along the Helford. Our three walkers this week were Annette and Mum Brigitte with Susanne, all from Germany.

The coast around Zennor is more challenging for walkers than most of the Cornwall coast path as the path usually involves straddling large boulders, which in many cases are the actual path. With the sea out in the afternoon we spent a few hours on Porthzennor beach, swimming, scrambling and rock pooling. On Wednesday, the beaches at Crantock and Porth Joke were busy but we were not there long and were not too overwhelmed by the numbers. It’s great to see so many people enjoy the coast of Cornwall but I can’t help wondering how much of Cornwall they actually do see. Definitely not the variety that we see from the luxury of our guided walking holiday in Cornwall. The words “courses” and “horses” come to mind.

The beaches on the Roseland tend to be quieter than elsewhere as was the case on Porthbeor beach, which involves negotiating a lot of steps before one can enjoy the vast expanse of soft sand. So on our Thursday hike we were even treated to viewing some local Cornish wrecking with a family gathering in what looked like some remains of a boat with outboard gear and the like. Friday the light was special. We walked a circular route from Predannack NT land to The Vro overlooking Mullion Island on the Lizard peninsula, walking south via Soapy cove to the extremely busy Kynance Cove. The rich orange of the lichen and the soft blues and greens of the sea contrasted so well that these colours with the browns, greens and red of the serpentine are ingrained on my brain.

Wonderful walking once again.

What the devil’s going on? Is it a frying pan or what?

Tue, 19/07/2011 - 16:03

Saturday July 9th – July 16th 2011.

Another sunny and warm walking week in Cornwall in tandem with Adventureline with a threat of rain that only made a guest appearance 20 minutes from the end of the last day.

Inconsiderately there was also a shower rudely interrupting the Friday morning that had us scrambling for the waterproofs. However it developed into a Homo sapiens-cumulus game of staring. And what do you know? The heat won. We didn’t care if it was raining; it was just too warm for waterproofs.

The roll call was Pam and Melissa from the USA and Theresa from Germany. Jess made a guest appearance on Tuesday. And spoilt rotten she was too with carrots and Markies flying in from all angles. Lots of hugs and that was just for Jess.

I’m going to have to find another way to describe aquamarine blue seas. Padstow bound we were from Trevone bay keeping out of the way of the large collapsed cave near Porthmissen bridge. A band of limestone surrounded by the intrusive dolerite weakened the cliff face and caused the cave to form which then collapsed. There, in the middle of a gently angled grass covered cliff is a giant hole. Breathtaking every time as an innate homage to the forces that have caused the chasm.

It was not the only one we saw this week. The Lions Den at the southernmost point close to the lighthouse; the wonderful cave at Holywell Bay which we saw on Thursday and the largest of them all the Devil’s frying pan at Cadgwith where we visited Tuesday. We contemplated that name, the Devil’s frying pan, because I mistakenly called it the Devil’s punch bowl, after the so named place in Surrey. Well obviously it was something kitchen related. So where’s the Devils fondue set, I wonder?

Wednesday was the ever popular (well with me that is) Minack and Nanjizal Bay especially because Theresa already had a ticket for the evening performance of the Globe’s Hamlet. We couldn’t get another two tickets for Melissa and Pam for love nor money.

Friday was the Helford River as it had been threatening rain and we wanted to see some woodland, river catchment area and sea and this is the perfect walk for a great mixture of habitats and landscape.

The weather threatened on Friday but unlike the Globe’s actors the rain nearly forgot its entrance and effect on the audience. Lucky ol’ us.

Now where’s the fondue set?

Colours, laughter and 13 is not an unlucky number.

Fri, 08/07/2011 - 08:56

Saturday June 25th – July 2nd 2011.

Another walking week to follow last weeks in tandem with Adventureline. And what do you know? Mist on a Monday, now a regular feature of a walking holiday in Cornwall. Ok ok two weeks in a row, but it has a certain symmetry.

This week there were 13 people so the wonderful Jo Skews joined us and we were a convoy. Roll call of countries included Singapore, China, Australia, Canada, Poland, France, the mighty Lancashire and, how can I, a Millwall supporter, have let this slip through the net, a Charlton supporter on our walking break. Well it was fine and anyway, it will take ages for the authorities to find him.

So Monday being thick mist, I was in description mode “over there if you could see would be King Arthurs castle with dragons flying round” etc etc. We walked through Tehidy Park, tree hugging and yet the mist cleared along the coast for a while once we got close to Portreath. We actually saw the sea and for a while a mile either way.

Once Tuesday came, well it was as though we deliberately had mist on Monday so that the lack of colours had been deliberately borrowed for the next few days to intensify the ordinary and usual hues of the landscape. I don’t think I have seen the sea so aquamarine or blue/green. I know I say this nearly every time but we were in for a treat. The photos will testify to this and you can look back at the Nanjizal Bay, Housel Bay, St Anthony’s Head photos from last year and other walking weeks of 2011. We rounded off our week with a cream tea at the Budock Vean Hotel.

This week was full of international stories, lots of laughter and practical jokes, slating and all round tomfoolery by all. Turning strangers into great friends takes some doing in such a short space of time. But this is Cornwall and the shared experience; beautiful views and journeys make it so easy. Walkers tend to be giving, open, like-minded creatures. So why am I constantly surprised that all went well?

If you haven’t tried a walking holiday or are tempted, then just do it. Martin at Adventureline goes abroad to many countries and whilst he was away in the Dolomites I had the pleasure of taking these friends around. So why not join one of us here in Cornwall or overseas?