Cornish Cliff Walking: St Ives to Zennor on the South West Coast Path

31 Aug

It has been a dream of Stuart’s for as long as I can remember, to spend a week walking a Cornish section of the south west coast path from pub to pub.

The 630 mile south west coast path from Minehead to South Haven Point near Poole is England’s longest waymarked long-distance footpath. The trail hugs the coast of Dorset, Devon, Cornwall and Somerset and has some of the most staggeringly beautiful seascapes in the world.

So, great idea, but not so easy to organise from Australia you’d think, but by using a local company, Encounter Walking, to book accommodation, arrange luggage transfers and provide a detailed itinerary including maps it proved straight forward. We even managed to persuade friends from Brisbane, John and Marg Lavery, to walk the last few days with us. Now we just needed to get ourselves to St Ives on the appointed day and pray for fine weather and for Stuart’s knees and my nerves to hold up.
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That day, August 29, coincided with the annual raft race around St Ives harbour to raise funds for the lifeboat rescue service. The harbourfront was crammed with spectators either cheering on their team or throwing flour bombs at the competition.

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St Ives heaves with holidaymakers three months of the year according to our taxi driver and we arrived on the last day of school summer holidays. I’d love to return out of season to see it without having to weave around prams, dogs, people eating fish and chips, licking icecreams, and lost drivers stuck in narrow one way streets.

Our bed and breakfast, Cornerways, had the distinction of renting rooms to the author Daphne du Maurier and her children when she visited her artist sister there in the 1940s. Today it’s run by flamboyant Irishman, Tim, who delights in decorating each room to a theme. Ours was ‘Out of Africa meets La Boheme’.

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Cornerways B & B

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With a ten per cent chance of rain we set off early on our seven mile walk. We’d bought a spicy veg Cornish pasty each for lunch and plenty of water. St Ives to Zennor is fairly challenging, lots of ups and downs, muddy underfoot and several boulder scrambles. Stuart’s dodgy knee held up ok, he’s become proficient using a borrowed walking stick to take some of the pressure off. And as far as my vertigo goes, on a scale of one to five with one being a walk in the park and five being sheer terror, there were a couple of sections of cliff edge that rated a three. A good start!

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I’d read about the carved wooden mermaid chair in the Zennor church purported to be between 500 and 600 years old. I half expected it to be protected behind plastic but no, the church was open and the chair stood in a small alcove to the right of the centre. It was more like a bench, big enough for two people to sit side by side with a buxom mermaid carved on each end. Children had been drawing the chair during this morning’s service and left their artwork behind.

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Dinner at Tinners’ was unremarkable except for the presence of a statuesque, beautiful black woman with a London accent dining with her boyfriend. She was unfamiliar to us but we could tell from the fuss the staff made that she must be a celebrity. We found out later she was Lorraine Pascale, a former model and popular TV chef with a series of cook books. She seemed genuinely nice, no diva behaviour at all. A quick search online revealed that she has created an enviable personal web brand. Good on her.

4 Responses to “Cornish Cliff Walking: St Ives to Zennor on the South West Coast Path”

  1. Michelle September 1, 2014 at 9:40 am #

    Hi Sharon and Stu. Lovely photos and we really miss that Cornish coastline. We go back to Porth near Newquay most Novembers and are also ticking off sections of the SW coastal path.
    We finished our big bike ride last week – from Menton on the italian border to Hendaye on the Spanish atlantic coast. 4 stages- one in March, May, July and August – over 1200km on the bikes. Enjoyed it so much we are hatching a plan to do something next year too (for our 25th wedding anniversary year!).
    Had a busy summer with cyclists and we close the doors on Sept 25th. Building work starts straight away! No rest then….
    Enjoy the rest of your journey.
    Love from us and the mountains. M&B.xx

    • Sharon Tickle September 1, 2014 at 4:29 pm #

      Hi Michelle and Bryan, First up huge congrats on completing your cycling challenge for Michelle’s big year!! Would love to see the photos so pls email me a couple. What’s your building project? Sxx

  2. Paolina September 2, 2014 at 2:39 am #

    Wonderful Sharyn,
    Happy to see you both well and continue to travel and enjoy life to the max!
    Best regards,
    Paolina

  3. Paolina September 2, 2014 at 2:41 am #

    Wonderful Sharon….
    Paolina

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