Motorhome in Cornwall - the South West Coast Path
Their motorhome proves to be the perfect base for Mick and Elaine Statham as they arrive in Cornwall to walk sections of the South West Coast Path (SWCP)
St Mawes to Portscatho
Our first Cornish outing started from the beautifully peaceful campsite at Trethem Mill, a couple of miles north of St Mawes on the Roseland peninsula
From the road in St Just in Roseland there is a small track down to the creek where we were confronted by possibly the most beautiful situation for a church anywhere. This is the thirteenth century church of St Just in Roseland surrounded by semi-tropical gardens.
Approaching St Mawes, we passed Henry the VIII’s round castle, designed to deflect cannon balls, unlike a square one. This was the real beginning of our coast path adventure. It is possible to get the number 550 Western Greyhound bus from the end of the lane in Trethem Mill into St Mawes.
The coastal path crosses the Percuil Creek here via the ferry from the quay. This costs £4 per adult and walkers disembark at Place where the creek is dominated by the impressive Place House, a very French château-like building.
Over the hill, down a grassy path and the hare was well in front even though we were now walking. The St Anthony lighthouse and Falmouth were always in view through the pine trees. The reminders of World War II are all round this coast with remnants of gun emplacements preserved at St Anthony’s Head. We also came across a number of memorials to those who left the area for Normandy in early June 1944.
The path turns north and east along some of the most striking coastal walking anywhere. Harvested fields on the left, with the occasional runaway round straw bale on the path, and the inky blue sea crashing on the rocks below on the right. The path descends almost to sea level at Porthbeor and Towan beaches, climbing again to 40 metres at Killigerran Head for magnificent vistas north towards Nare Head which was to be on our route in a couple of days.
Portscatho to Curgurrell
We moved from Trethem Mill to Merrose Farm, a Caravan Club site a couple of miles north on the A3078. The site is about half a mile from the South West Coast Path at Curgurrell Farm … The views north as we returned to Curgurrell were magnificent, with Nare Head, Gull Rock and distant Dodman Point clearly visible in the autumn sunshine.
Porthcurno to Mousehole
We hoped to walk the 40-mile stretch of the coastal path from Penzance to St Ives in three or four stages using buses as we had in Roseland. Unfortunately, our plans were not feasible as the First 300 bus service that follows this route had stopped running by the time we were in Cornwall.
We had moved to Polmanter Touring Park near St Ives and took the First 16 bus from Halsetown to Penzance
The beach at Porthcurno is steep golden sand and, if you are feeling strenuous, you can walk a short way towards Lands End to visit the Minack theatre. From the beach the path climbs steeply to cliff top level. The Porthcurno Telegraph Museum is nearby. From here in 1872 the Eastern Telegraph Company, now Cable and Wireless, laid a cable to India, which handled up to two million words a day.
The cliff path to Logan Rock and beyond is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The coastal scenery is stunning. Logan Rock headland is a fierce jagged outcrop jutting out into the Channel with the path keeping a respectful distance from its steep cliffs.
Penberth Cove is a delightful little inlet with a few granite cottages huddled in the valley and an enormous man-powered winch to haul the small fishing boats up the slipway. It wasn’t long before we were on the way down almost to sea level again at Porthguarnon. No signs of human interference here, just a few sheep and another steep stairway to the Trevedran Cliffs.
From Merthen Point the character of the path changes to a wooded landscape in St Loy’s Cove with some isolated houses close to the shore … We climbed to the rocks at Carn Du where the coast path stretches along the cliffs north and east from Lamorna with superb views towards St Michael’s Mount and the Lizard. The steep cliffs give way to a gentler slope to the sea and massive shoreline boulders.
After a little more than a mile we reached the lane into the busy harbour at Mousehole (Mauwzel to locals). There are plenty of cafés and pubs here … A brilliant day’s walking successfully organised within the limited winter bus services available.
St Ives to Zennor
The walk from St Ives to Zennor on the north coast was along a wonderfully wild stretch of unspoilt coastline taking us high above inaccessible coves and inlets in glorious autumn sunshine.
Each headland offered another unforgettable view with the sea varying in colour from the deepest indigo to pale turquoise and edged with the frothing white of crashing waves on the rocks. No houses, no roads or internal combustion engines, just primeval coastline as it was before we all came on holiday.
We’ll be back
The coastal walking in Cornwall is outstanding, though the weather needs to be good to get the best out of it. We were a bit late in the year for the summer bus timetable but we found there were sufficient buses to get to or from the start or end of our walk back to the site. We will be back to cover more of this magnificent walking route.
Where to stay - recommended campsites in the area:
Trethem Mill Touring Park St-Just-in-Roseland, nr St Mawes TR2 5JF
Open: March 26 to October 6
Tel: 01872-580504 Web: www.trethem.com
Cost: £18 - £30 for 2 adults, pitch and 16A hook-up
Facilities: Motorhome service point, excellent showers, shop. Hardstandings available. Dog and nature walk. A friendly family-owned site with excellent facilities and beautifully maintained.
Merrose Farm Caravan Club site (members only) Portscatho, St Mawes, Cornwall TR2
Open: March 22 to November 4
Tel: 01872-580310 Web: www.caravanclub.co.uk
Cost: £16.80 to £23.60 for 2 adults, pitch and hook-up
Facilities: Motorhome service point, warm shower blocks and laundry room. Excellent information hut with DVD library. Small shop. Hardstandings available. WiFi available on all pitches. £5 for 5 hours to be used within 12 months on any Caravan Club site. Very friendly wardens with all the usual high standard Caravan Club facilities.
Polmanter Touring Park St Ives, Cornwall TR26
Open: March 29 to October 26
Cost: £15.50 - £37.50
Facilities: Excellent heated shower block with suites and baby bathrooms, motorhome service point, laundry room. Pool, shop and bar open in high season. Bus to St Ives in high season from site. Hardstandings available. WiFi £2.50 for two continuous hours on pitch. £1 for 15 mins on computer in reception. A friendly site with good facilities close to local bus stop and ½hour walk to St Ives where there are plenty of restaurants, cafés and shops.
This excerpt was taken from the Summer 2013 issue of MMM magazine, which as well as the Statham's Cornish coastal walk, also features motorhome travel articles on:
- Bristol’s heritage
- Devon’s best walks
- Abbeys of the Scottish borders
- Touring through Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania
- Hidden Spain
- The art of Provence