20 members travelled to Cornwall in the sweltering heat for the club’s much-awaited first break of the year, at Epiphany House in Truro. Most came by train or car, but Bob and Hilary flew over from Essex in their own private plane! The house was run by a skeleton staff of 3 ladies all working exceptionally hard. Debbie, our chef, was an absolute star, single-handedly producing a succession of delicious meals for us all.
Over the week, the hot weather and proximity to the sea meant that swimming or paddling took place every day, on both ‘A’ and ‘B’ walks. Quite often more than once in a day in the case of the ‘B’ party, who became known as the Bathing Party! It would also be fair to say that various members of this party often tended to do their own thing, so they were not always walking as one!!!
The evenings were less formal than usual, with people mostly taking short walks, going to the local pub or sitting outside the house to chat. A new evening activity was bat watching! A colony of rare Greater Horseshoe bats was living in the roof of a nearby house, and we enjoyed watching them come out at their regular time.
Sunday: Both parties walked to the train station for the train to Falmouth Docks. Greg led the ‘A’ party throughout the week, while Peter led the ‘B’s for the first 3 walks, all on the southern coast. Both parties walked along the coast towards the Helford River and circling back inland, with the ‘A’ party making a larger circle! Both parties managed a swimming stop at Maenporth. The ‘A’ party had a teashop stop in Mawnan Smith before arriving at Penmere station (in a different area of Falmouth) for the train home, only to find that the train had been cancelled, so we had a rather expensive return journey courtesy of Donald’s Taxis! To add to our frustration, when we got back Peter informed us that the ‘B’ party had been provided with a replacement bus service! The ‘A’ party walked 13.9 miles in all, and the ‘B’ party 9 miles.
Monday: We drove to St Mawes, and took the ferry crossing to the Roseland peninsula, where both parties did a circular walk around the peninsula on the coastal path towards Portscatho, and back inland. The lunchtime ‘A’ party swim at Towan Beach was interesting, as we shared the water with a duck! It turned out that it was a family pet and having a swim with its owners. When they packed up and left, they put it into a rucksack! After a further loop, we stopped at a fantastic NT teashop inland from the beach, arriving just as the ‘B’ party were leaving. The ‘A’ party did 10 miles and the ‘B’ party did 6 miles.
Tuesday: Both parties walked to the train station again for the train to St Austell, followed by a rather crowded bus to Mevagissey to start the walk. This was undoubtedly the hottest day of the week; not the best for walking! The ‘A’ party did a small loop round to Portmellon, then followed the coastal path back to St Austell. Due to differing views on selecting a lunchtime bathing venue the group got split into 3, but soon reformed on Pentewan Beach missing only 2 of the 8. Unfortunately, that included the leader! After swimming/paddling, William led us along the coastal path, which included some very steep sections, back to St Austell just in time for the train. A total distance of 15 miles was covered. Greg and Mike A took a slightly shorter route back, catching an earlier train.
In stark contrast, the ‘B’ party had their shortest walk of the week. They walked from Mevagissey to Pentewan Beach (3 miles), where the rest of the day was spent sunbathing and swimming! However, when the walk to and from the train station is included, some degree of respectability can be restored, bringing the total distance up to 5 miles!
Wednesday: This was our ‘day off’, and members had a relaxing time visiting various gardens (Eden Project, Helligan, Trellisick) or doing local sightseeing.
In the evening we did a music quiz: identifying 30 pieces of music played on the grand piano by Peter, which was quite challenging for most of us, especially those who were not church-goers!
Thursday: For the last 2 days, we explored the north coast, and Roger led the ‘B’ party. We took the bus to Perranporth, where the 2 parties set off along the coastal path. The ‘A’ party went south west towards Porthtowan, and the ‘B’ party went in the opposite direction towards Newquay. For me, today’s ‘A’ walk was the best of the week: the gorse and heather were out in full bloom on the clifftops. We stopped at St Agnes for lunch and a swim/paddle, and nearing Porthtowan there we looked around the iconic disused mine workings of Wheal Coates. There was just time to grab an ice cream before catching the bus back.
The ‘B’ party walked along the coastal path by Perran beach, having a surprise encounter with a man wearing only his rucksack! Apparently part of the beach is designated a nudists’ area. They followed the coastal path to Holywell, with bathing at Porth Joke, then inland to Crantock, coming back at different times partly due to some confusion over different bus companies. The ‘A’ party walked 12 miles and the ‘B’ party 10 miles, both including the walk to and from the bus station.
Friday: A slightly cooler day at last! The ‘A’ party drove to Perranporth, and immediately took a bus to Newquay, in order to walk back to Perranporth along the coastal path. So much for tales of overcrowded beaches; we passed so many almost-deserted ones, with miles of golden sand! After a lunch stop and swim at Crantock Beach, we stopped briefly to look at all the seals bobbing about near a small island, The Chick. At Holywell, we came across a sizeable teashop/bar advertising cream teas, only to be told that it was too early (3:05pm); apparently they didn’t serve them until 4:30pm! They also had a takeaway kiosk selling hot drinks so we thought we’d settle for that, only to be informed that they couldn’t do tea as they didn’t have any teabags!!! Luckily we found an excellent place back in Perranporth instead. Our total distance was 12.8 miles.
The ‘B’ party again took the bus to Perranporth, and walked this time to St Agnes. Again, another relaxed day, with plenty of bathing! It was a smaller group this time, with 2 members having gone home and 2 not walking. Total distance 7 miles.
In the evening we did another tricky quiz, prepared this time by Chris B, based on map-reading.
Many thanks to Peter for all his hard work in organising the holiday, leading 3 of the ‘B’ walks and providing the musical entertainment, and to Greg for leading the ‘A’ walks and planning the routes and transport details for both parties, a very time-consuming task. Thanks also to Chris B for finding the venue and providing the map quiz, and Roger for leading the ‘B’ walks on the last 2 days.