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Thursday, 4 February 2016

Walk 163 Constantine Bay to Padstow (Cornwall)

Walk 163 Constantine Bay to Padstow (Cornwall)

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

Map: L/R 200
Distance: 12 miles or 18 km approx
Difficulty: Moderate overall
Terrain: coastal path and some road at the end
Access: Parking at both ends.
Public transport: 56 bus runs between the two destinations every 90 minutes or so.

Follow the path out of Constantine Bay past Booby's Bay (named after a seabird of the same name and where a wreck can be seen on the beach at low tide, maybe a German steam ship) and to Trevose Head and the oddly named Stinking Cove.

The lighthouse on the rocks of the NW corner of the headland was built in 1847 and originally had an oil light. It was automated in in 1995 to include an electronic fog detector and signal. The former keeper's cottage is now holiday accommodation. This is the most rugged part of the walk.

Further round is Mother Ivey's Bay. Mother Ivey was a witch in the sixteenth century who after a dispute put a curse on a field. There have been mishaps over the years and as late as the 1970s there were two deaths in the field which has resulted in the field being left fallow. We don't believe in such things now ...or do we?

At Harlyn Bay an Iron Age cemetery and Bronze Age burial mound have been discovered. The seaside village of Trevone is not far. This is an area of outstanding natural but beware of the blow hole (naturally made) on the cliffs above the beach!

Follow the path around for a few miles to the estuary of the River Camel and Stepper Point. The sandbar going across to the opposite bank of the river is called the Doom Bar because of its danger to ships. Local wreckers once misled ships on to it, plundering the vessels and killing the crews. Doom Bar is also a nice local ale and seems to be available nationally from The Rock Brewery. The tower near here is called The Daymark. This listed building from the nineteenth century served as a navigational aid during daylight hours.

Continue the pleasant walk into Padstow past the Celtic cross memorial which commemorates those lost in both world wars. A bit further down is the ferry over to Rock which saves a very long walk inland for the next stage of the coastwalk.

Padstow can be very busy indeed with, what seemed to me, a large number of dogs. There are several things to look out for: on the South Quay is the 16th century courthouse where Walter Raleigh presided when he was Warden of Cornwall; the harbour which has been around since medieval times and was a major pilchard fishing centre; the narrow attractive streets (pity about the yellow lines); the chef Rick Stein's outlets including fish and chips and pasties (there are several other shops selling these with every imaginable filling); the National Lobster Hatchery and visitors' centre – here there is global expertise on lobsters with particular concern for conservation of the species which have been depleted world wide.

The 'obby 'oss (think I've got that right) festival is celebrated every Mayday in Padstow. It is claimed to include the oldest fertility dance in the country where men dance around the town in fierce masks.

Photos: Harlyn Bay looking towards Trevose Head; one of the narrow streets in Padstow.

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