Walking the Cornish Cliffs: Porthcurno to Mousehole (11 miles)

20 Sep

Recipe for making Sloe Gin (as told to us by a local couple picking berries by the path)

Wait for a sunny day in late August or early September when the wild sloe (berries) on the South West Coast Path between Treen and Penberth ripen and become plump and purple.
Pick a half kilo of sloe
Rinse well and dry
Macerate by hand (using a potato masher) in a large very clean bowl
Add a quarter kilo of sugar and a bottle of gin and mix well
Decant into a large sterile bottle (sterilise in the microwave or in boiling water), lie on its side and keep until Christmas time turning a half turn every couple of weeks
At Xmas shake well before sieving the mixture into a second sterile bottle

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You now have tasty pink sloe gin! Just add sparkling water for a festive cocktail.

Wednesday started cool and grey but quickly gave way to another sunny day. The 152 vertical step climb out of Porthcurno got our heart rates up and we were soon into wild pony country.

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Throughout the morning we tackled a succession of moderate hills into and out of coves. At one we chatted with a fisherman, Uncle Bob, and his dog. Bob’s boat had a groaning boatful of mackerel from his morning fishing trip.

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A small detour took us to the site of Treryn Dinas, once a clifftop iron age fort. The two challenges we’d been warned of (and had mentally prepared to deviate from should they prove unconquerable for any of us) were St Loy’s boulder beach and the cliffs into and out of Lamorna. Both difficulties were overstated.

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John and Marg

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At Lamorna we walked a half mile inland to find The Wink Inn so Stuart could have his ale with lunch. Avril, the barmaid, wasn’t having a good day and couldn’t seem to get the hang of the whole serving customers thing. Our question as to what their Ploughman’s lunch actually contained got the response, ‘Oh cheese and bits and bobs’. On the other hand we did fall into interesting conversation with a local man called Robert who knew all the colourful historical characters in this artists’ enclave.

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A mile from Lamorna we passed through a nature reserve, a sub tropical microclimate with butterflies and plants totally different from anything that had gone before.

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We were then in farmland again followed by the descent into Mousehole harbour where two nubile young women had claimed a small patch of sand to sun bathe and top up their summer tans.

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We’d decided to cut the 11 miles to nine by stopping for tea at Mousehole and taking a taxi to Penzance. This gave us a chance to wander about the pretty town and for Stuart to locate the perfect Cornish tea of clotted cream and jam with scones. Number 2 Fore Street is the cafe made famous in a children’s book series featuring a family of mice on holiday who stay in the flat above the cafe.

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Our group was travelling well despite a couple of mini dramas of lost belongings and a missed luggage transfer. Stuart realised he left his motorcycle jacket somewhere en route and John similarly lost a jacket. Prue at Encounter Walking rang around for us and located Stuart’s jacket back in the St Ives bed and breakfast. Why Tim of Cornerways had found it in the wardrobe but not followed up with us or the company we will never know. Unfortunately John’s jacket stayed lost. Prue arranged a 20 pound taxi courier for the motorcycle jacket to Penzance and all was well.

It was Marg and John’s luggage that didn’t get transferred from Porthcurno to Penzance. Quite why we shall never know but Pippa and Pauline at the bed and breakfast had been a little vague generally. Again the error was rectified quickly, this time by the luggage transfer company with some help from Steve who runs Treventon House bed and breakfast in Penzance (the best B & B of the trip).

All was forgotten over a good fish dinner at the Navy Inn, Penzance, vegans well catered for.

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