Sunday, 27 November 2011

Strolling through the cliffs and ancient sites of Cornwall

120km in 4 days walking on the extreme southern coastal paths of Cornwall and exploring the numerous archaeological sites of the Iron and Bronze age. 

Day 1 – Penzance to Porthcurno

We took the South Costal Path - Penzance to Mousehole: the worst part of the entire journey. Mousehole to Lamorna: great views-you walk through a colourful natural reserve and stunning cliffs. Lamorna has a beautiful and rich flora that hides ancient mills and 18th century country houses. Near Lamorna we saw the very popular archaeological site of Merry Maidens. On the way to Porthcurno through internal paths you can see many other standing stones, the Tregiffian Barrow (about 3000 BC tomb) and then on the coast again you meet the fabulous village of Penberth. The last 3 miles of the path are quite strenuous and steep.
Dinner: Cable Station Inn Pub (the only restaurant in the area) - decent food.
Overnight: Sea View  B&B – nice and clean place and friendly owners.

Day 2 – Porthcurno to St. Just 

Some of the best views and locations of the entire walk, including: Porthgwarra bay, little sandy beaches coves and the protected local bird Red Billed Chough. From the touristy Lands End (1 hotel and 1 shopping centre) onward, the scenery is much rockier and with less interesting vegetation even you still see amazing cliffs. Sennen Cove is a surfers paradise, offering a huge and windy beach. Walking through internal paths, we explored the Iron settlement of Carn Euny, famous for its beehive shelter and its underground passage, both perfectly preserved. Beware from here to St. Just it’s very easy to get lost as many of the pathways are not very well maintained.

Dinner: The King's Arms – Good but overpriced food.
Overnight: Wellington Hotel – AVOID THIS PLACE! – Noisy, dirty, rude staff and very expensive hotel-pub.

Day 3 – St. Just to St. Ives 

We took the internal Tinners Way. Again, the path signs are very bad kept. Bring a good map and compass with you at all time. You can’t miss: Tregeseal Stone Circle, Carn (rocky hill) Kenidjack, the holed stones, Chun Quoit, Chun Castle, the infamous Men an Tol (the legend says that it’s connected to a fertility ritual), and also many 18th century mines.
Dinner - The Loft: romantic fish restaurant.
Overnight - Sea Forth B&B: luxury see view B&B, featuring extremely friendly and caring owners. Highly recommended.

Day 4 – St.Ives to Marazion

We followed the St. Michael’s Way (the route used by the Irish pilgrims to France and Santiago de Compostela). Very relaxing and easy paths. Green hills and kettles all around. At the end of the St. Michael’s Way it is possible to admire St. Michael’s Mount, a little isle with a hunting medieval castle in front of Marazion that it’s connected to the coast only during the low tide (Must see).

Dinner The Victoria Inn: great country gastro pub, serving delicious but expensive food. Reachable only via cab (ask for the funny Jolly Roger) or car.
Overnight The Old Vicarage B&B: huge and comfy 18th century style room. The owner is a grumpy old horse breeder.

Practical tips:

- Best time of the year: May to September.
- Mind the internal paths, very bad signs.
- Don’t miss: Lamorna, St. Ives and almost all the archaeological sites.
- Try the Cornish Ales.

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