Day 69 Crantock to St Agnes Wednesday 20 July

Distance 14.81 miles , cumulative 1,251.81 miles, time 9 hrs, walking time 5 hrs, pace 3 mph, camped Beacon Cottage Farm
We left Crantock and climbed over to Holywell and passed St Piran’s pub to rejoin the coast path. Fortunately the pub is doing better than his Church and Oratory the remains of which are buried in Perran Sand’s dunes. We walked around the headland past Penhale Camp and dropped down to walk along the 3 miles of Perran Sands into Perranporth. 

Perranporth beach brought back memories of pain and suffering. The Devon and Cornwall Police Cross Country championships were often held at Perranporth and the route invariably included the length of the beach and back over the dunes twice round.

There is also the annual Perranporth surf triathlon. One year the event tried to kill all the participants which included Steve and Terry W. The sea state was so bad that in hindsight the swim section should probably have been dropped. As it was the event went ahead and most competitors abandoned the swim or had to be pulled from the water. Even the surf lifeguards were being thrown from their jet skis only to watch helplessly as the jets got taken down the beach by the surf. 

It was like being in a washing machine and became something of survival exercise. Lynn and Terry’s wife, Karen, had been on the beach witnessing the carnage and when Terry and Steve eventually emerged from the surf and were running past them up the beach to transition, tears of relief could be seen on their eyes. Well that is what Lynn claims, Steve suspects they were a different kind of tears as Lynn had probably been adding up the life insurance policies. Barry F videoed the event and it makes quite scary viewing. Fortunately the following year the surf was benign. 

Perranporth has been a surfing spot since the 1920’s and appropriately the first surf boards used there were coffin lids.

Perranporth like so many spots along the north Devon and Cornwall coast is full of surfer dudes and girls with their VW vans. Lynn would like to point out that whilst Steve has a VW van he is no surfer dude. His longboard is the size of a small aircraft carrier and if the waves are over waist height he is likely to be found sat in the van listening to Radio 2 and reading the newspaper.

At Perranporth we left the beach by the surf Lifesaving club and the Waterjng Hole pub and went to visit the Coop for supplies. 

It is worth mentioning the Coop stores. All along our route in the smaller villages and towns the Coops have been the only grocery stores. The quality of their own brands has been very good and they have stocked everything we have needed including usually having an ATM. They have been a godsend and the store in Perranporth is typical of their commitment to smaller communities. They should be supported. 

It should come as no surprise that we stopped off at the ‘The Green Parrot’, a Wetherspoons (sorry Ryan) for an endless coffee, breakfast wrap and sneaky phone charge. 

Suitably refreshed we climbed out of Perranporth and over to St. Agnes (Trevaunance Cove) past the tin mine remains and into the lovely beach at Trevaunance Cove where we were determined to spend a few hours in the sunshine. These beach stops in St Agnes have become a ritual for us when walking the SWCP.

St Agnes is not a lucky town when it comes to construction. Five harbours have been built at the Cove.

The first built 1632, not finished destroyed the same year by gales.

The second built 1684 got further than the first but destroyed by gales the same year.

The third built 1699 to a Winstanley (Eddystone Lighthouse) design lasted until 1705.

The fourth built 1709 destroyed 1730.

The fifth built 1793 lasted until 1915 when it too was destroyed by gales. 

Today there is no harbour at St. Agnes but the beach is lovely.

Four ships, schooners, were built in St. Agnes.

The first built 1873, 1906 stranded and lost.

The second built 1874, wrecked 1901.

The third built 1876, left Port Talbot in 1930 and was never seen again presumed ran aground and sunk.

The fourth built 1877 ran aground in 1937 with a cargo of slate from Porthmadoc, managed to return to port where it was abandoned and left to decay. 

Do not build anything in St. Agnes.

The pub overlooking the beach is fittingly called ‘Schooners’ and the cafe is called ‘Breakers’. The lifeboat station is next door. 

After a long break we rounded St Agnes Head to get our first good views of St Ives and passed the much photographed Wheal Coates Mine – no

Poldark to be seen – and cut inland to the campsite at Barton Cottage Farm. A further spot of sun bathing in the lovely weather rounded off a good day. 


2 thoughts on “Day 69 Crantock to St Agnes Wednesday 20 July”

  1. Weather looks perfect but a little hot for those steep gradients. I was thinking of flying down to Perranporth airfield today to surprise you from the air but alas our radio has gone US. That’s a technical term for buggered. From now on you are now entering one of my old sub divisions so behave yourselves!


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