The north coast of Cornwall, St. Agnes Head to Perranporth along the South West Coast Path for roughly 6.5 miles, visiting many lovely coves along the way.
Starting from the carpark behind the National Coastwatch Observatory we head east, spotting our destination of Perranporth in distance, there seem to be many headlands to navigate along the way, but the path so far is fairly flat and easy going. We cross Newdowns Head carefully peering down to the many arches and rock stacks protruding from the ocean below us as we start our descent into Trevaunance Cove. This section of the path was clearly man made many moons ago, with giant white rocks almost lighting the way amongst the green heath on either side and to the right of us deep crevasses and caves open up in the ground.
As we follow the path that snakes down to the cove, we see the remains of the old harbour, where ore from the local mines was brought for export. Passing the beautiful fishermen’s cottages, we arrive down in the cove and decide to sit and enjoy the beautiful Jubilee Gardens whilst rehydrating. When the tide is in the beach is mainly shingle but as the tide goes out the central area of the beach is sandy and the exposed rocks on the right-hand side reveal some awesome rock pools for exploring.
We re-join the footpath going up just behind the public toilets, this path is quite steep with several steps to negotiate, once at the summit we stop to catch our breath and enjoy the stunning views as we look back towards the cove. This whole section of footpath is called The Blue Hills, the reason why being evident all the way along, as if you look carefully you can see the blue shimmer of the in-ground slate embedded into the cliff faces.
It is not long before we head down a rocky path, which used to be part of the Motorcycling Club’s Landsend Trail, into Trevellas Cove, with its abundance of towering stack houses whispering to a strong history of tin mining which has been prevalent in this area for many centuries, using the stream running through the valley to provide power for the tin processing.
We make another steep ascent out of the valley, keeping our eye out for Fulmars who call this section of headland home. Fulmars are gull-like birds but are actually related to the Albatross and can have a wingspan of over a metre! With the footpath levelling out it passes along the edge of Perranporth Airfield, used as a base by the Royal Air Force during World War II for their Spitfire Squadrons. This site was awarded National Heritage status in 2000 and is the best-preserved Spitfire base in England with many of its aircraft shelters still intact.
Taking the right-hand path to stay well back from the exposed cliff edge, we pass a large, capped mine shaft on our left, this being one of the shafts belonging to the Wheal Prudence complex. Marching on along the path towards Cligga Head, we see the expanse of what once was a wolframite mine and explosives factory, with the old brick shafts and tunnels of the mine still present, making for some eery underground investigations and with the massive concrete footprint of the explosives factory there is lots to explore (and climb!) so we decide this is a good spot to stop for lunch, and after dropping down into one of the old settling tanks to shelter from the wind, we devour our picnic.
Fed and watered we proceed on as the path passes by Hanover Cove, named after the ship that was wrecked here, along with its valuable cargo in 1763, parts of which are still visible at low tide. Ahead of us we see the massive stretch of Perranporth Beach and we follow the path down some steps until it joins the road by the Youth Hostel overlooking Droskyn Point, home to the remains of yet another tin mine, visible as various holes in the rock at low tide.
We pass by the Perranporth Millenium Sundial, which tells ‘Cornish Time’, some 20 minutes behind GMT, otherwise known as ‘dreckly’, before heading down into the town to reward ourselves with ice-cream whilst waiting for the bus to take home some very tired Wildings!
Some very steep narrow paths