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Thursday, 28 January 2016

Walk 160 Perranporth to Newquay (Cornwall).

Walk 160 Perranporth to Newquay (Cornwall)

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

Map: L/R 200
Distance: 8 miles or 16km approx.
Difficulty: Moderate – beach walking is pleasant but can be tiring
Terrain: coastal path and beach
Access: Parking at both ends.
Public transport: 87 bus goes hourly between Perranporth and Newquay. Rail links at Newquay.

This walk is best done in the summer when a ferry can be caught from Crantock Beach across The Gannel to Newquay. Otherwise there is a detour of a few miles along the coastal path into Newquay.

Follow the path out of Perranporth and northwards along Perran Beach. I found it easier to walk along the sands rather than the dunes which were hard work and difficult to navigate. Much of the duned area is fenced off by the military.

After a mile or so you can cut across to St Pirian's Oratory, a chapel, on a marked path. There are disused mine shafts in the area so do not be tempted to plot your own route among the dunes. The Oratory was rediscovered following a storm in 1835.

Continue round to Ligger Point where lead was once mined. Penhale Camp is nearby and there are warning notices about keeping to the path and away from the areas of infantry practice. The camp was established in 1939 as an emergency military training centre. There is a strange collection of circle type aerial constructions near to the path – probably of some military purpose.

The path cuts into Holywell and back on to the dunes above Holywell Beach. At low tide there are a series of natural rock basins to which pilgrims came from all parts of Cornwall to obtain water which was said to have miraculous healing properties – hence the name Holywell. The beach is now owned by the National Trust and is popular with surfers.

At the far end of the beach the walk continues around The Kelseys which includes Kelsey Head. This is an area of Special Scientific Interest providing habitats for several species of sea-bird. An Iron Age hill fort was also found here.

After Kelsey Head is Porth or Polly Joke which is a popular sandy beach. I have been unable to find why it is called a joke. Funny that.

The walk winds its way around Pentire Point West then Crantock Beach. There are good views of the The Gannel which is a marshy tidal arm of the sea. Until the 19th century there was a sizeable port here but it seized up. The village of Crantock dates back to 460 AD when a group of Irish monks established a small chapel. From here get the ferry over to Pentire.

Follow the path around to Fistral Beach, a haven for surfers. Fistral comes from the Cornish meaning 'cove of the foul water', probably referring to the waves which make it an unsuitable landing site for ships. Follow one of the roads into Newquay.

Pictures show: one of the disused mine-shafts; Holywell Beach.

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