There’s nothing that quite compares to a bracing winter walk. During summer, the sea might be more enticing, you can stop off for numerous ice creams en route and meander in shorts and t-shirt as the sun warms your skin; but at the same time, it’s hot, clammy, you’re often jostling for position on the busy coast path, and parking at the start of the route can be somewhat problematic. No such problem today. We snare one of many available free seaside spaces in New Polzeath, and our spot provides a great vantage point for reading a newspaper and watching the surfers in the water, before heading a couple of steps away to the Doom Bar of the Atlantic Hotel for a pre-walk coffee.
Cornwall has a fantastic selection of walks which make the perfect setting for a winter getaway. Why not stay for the weekend and relax in one of Cornwall’s holiday cottages (http://www.cornwalltoday.co.uk/Accommodation/CottageInCornwall.aspx)prior to your walk, and wrap up warm before you head out into the cold.
This is one walk that you will be more than glad to have a woolly hat with you, to keep your ears nice and toasty and to stop your hair blowing in your eyes and obscuring the views. Also, as any conversation is stolen by the wind, it doesn’t matter if you can’t hear anything anyway; it’s actually quite nice to be engrossed in your own world for a while. After sitting inside and looking beach ward, it’s great to be heading away from Polzeath, and taking the coast path to Pentireglaze Haven, where the soft sand underfoot is the perfect place for a spot of beach rambling, though we find little aside from small mussels, plenty of kelp, and a cottage nestled at the back of the beach, which we enviably spy through the windows of. Heading away from the beach to climb the hillside, waving goodbye to our sleepy start point, we then return to beach level to discover a small pebbly cove. Tempted as we might be to take the grassy turning to Pentire Farm, we refrain in the knowledge that we will be passing through the farm on our return route.
Heading onwards and upwards, the increased puffing is worth it, the path levels out to provide expansive seaward views which include the day mark of Stepper Point and the lighthouse of Trevose Head in the distance. The deserted stretch of sand to the south of Stepper Point is Harbour Cove, usually peopled with bodies during the summer months. Looking inland, rolls of hay sit on the hillside, the lush green of the fields contrasting the grey and somewhat uninviting ocean. Eyes down, we discover a large hairy caterpillar in the undergrowth, and once we’ve seen one, a game of spot the caterpillar ensues; they’re out in abundance today. We pass a National Trust sign that points us up hill to the Tumuli – a prehistoric burial ground, where an abundance of heather disguises what lies beneath.
Continuing on the blustery route to the rocky outcrop of Pentire Point, here barren volcanic rock makes up the headland; look carefully and you’ll see gas bubbles in the rocks that formed when the lava cooled rapidly in the ancient seas some 350 million years ago. Newland Rock can be seen offshore, whilst Rumps Point is visible in the distance, like a stegosaurus, sporadic triangular rocks rearing out of the grass headland. As you head to explore Rumps, you will find area of shelter from the wind, although you won’t want to stay too long in these quiet pockets as the views are far more spectacular the further up that you climb.
On the unusually shaped double headland of the Rumps are the remains of an Iron-Age cliff castle, where a massive triple rampart and ditch system protected an area of around six acres at the tip of the headland. We explored the stone circles that sat within the enclosure, trying to envisage those who had stood in the very spot from which we now admired the views. If the hills could talk they’d have a lot to say; excavations in the same area have unearthed pottery from the first century BC, indicating trade with the Mediterranean area. The large offshore rock behind the eastern headland is The Mouls, which is a breeding site for puffins, gannets and kittiwakes.
Once you’re looking to head on, I challenge you not to want to roll down the hills that you have so recently puffed your way up. Carry on your circular route; following the stone wall until you reach a junction and bear right to start your inward loop.
Heading towards Pentire Farm, a helpful information board reveals that the whole peninsula is part of a working farm which produces beef, corn and sheep, the latter of which we’ve seen plenty of during our walk. Though there’s not a person around when we pass through the farmyard, there are cream teas available here in season. Descending to your start point, you’ll be able to appreciate the shelter, peace and quiet, before a last uphill stretch towards the car. As we hungry walkers head towards Trebetherick we pass Mowhay Café and Gallery where the atmosphere is warm and welcoming – it’s like stepping into someone’s front room. We feast on what can only be described as a delicious lunch before, quite frankly, wanting nothing more than to go home and curl up in front of the fire – with that lovely feeling that only fresh air exertion can bring on.