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Monday, 18 January 2016

Walk 159 Portreath to Perranporth (Cornwall)

Walk 159 Portreath to Perranporth (Cornwall)

(Third leg of English coastal walk – Lands End to Bristol)

Map: L/R 203 and L/R 200
Distance: 14 miles or 24 km.
Difficulty: Moderate
Terrain: mainly coastal cliff paths
Access: Parking at both ends.
Public transport: Buses run from Redruth to both places. However, travelling this way does eat into the time you have for walking especially as the trip back from Perranporth involves a change of buses. On the other hand buses go early in the morning and run until mid evening. Check with Traveline for precise details before travelling.

The path out of Portreath soon passes alongside fenced off MOD land with occasional notices telling you to keep out. It is marked on the map as a disused airfield. On the coast side of the path are, what appear to be, remnants of World War 2 defences.

A couple of miles further along is Porthtowan. This was once a booming copper mining town which became a seaside resort in Victorian and Edwardian times. When the tide is out the whitish sand stretches for one and a half miles.

After about a mile the path skirts around the back of the beach at Chapel Porth. I understand the tide can rush in here and there is a danger of getting cut off if you venture out on to the sands.

At Tubby's Head there are some excellent views of the bright blue sea contrasting with the white sand of the beaches. Near to Agnes Head Iron age barrows (burial mounds) have been discovered.

Looking back inland towards the town of St Agnes are old mining buildings with their distinctive chimneys. Huge steam engines pumped water out of the mines and drove the machinery. Copper, tin and arsenic were mined here until the 1920s and three harbours were built over the years. Sadly, the last one was washed away in 1934.

In the middle of the 19th century two thirds of the world's copper was produced in Cornwall and combined with other mining, especially tin, 50,000 men were employed. However, competition from abroad meant that production fell drastically and thousands of Cornish miners were forced to emigrate to countries such as Australia and South Africa.

Look out for the The Motor Cycling Club gates near Trevallas Porth. It was formed in 1901. Car and motorbike trials started in 1908 and still attract crowds of people. In 2013, 140 old motor cycles and 250 cars took part in rallies over the Easter period. This area was known as the Blue Hills because of the bluish slate which was mined.

Enjoy the views as the path winds its way around the last few miles to Perranporth.

Perranporth is named after St Piran who is the patron saint of 'tinners'. He is supposed to have floated over from Ireland on a millstone. Look out for the millennium sculpture on the cliffs at Perranporth, it looks part mini Stonehenge structure and part concrete bollards with a nautical structure in the middle. Author Winston Graham lived in the village where he wrote and set his famous Poldark novels. The beach is very popular with surfers.

Photos show: Tin mine on path near Portreath; the cycling club gate on the Blue Hills; a view and blue sea on the walk to Perranporth.

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