Anyone For A Hedgehog?
What better way to start the new year than with a ramble around the Cornish coast? Which is exactly what I did on Sunday 12 January 2020. I pulled on my hiking boots, popped Purdy in the van, took a deep breath and made my way to Chapel Porth. I’d organised this first Cornish Ramble of 2020 back in 2019 when things were slightly different…a lot can change in a matter of days can’t it. I was a little apprehensive to say the least about how this first walk would go, now that I had landed into the year 2020 with an unsteady bump. But luckily for me, I needn’t have worried because as the cars started pulling into the National Trust car park and the smiling faces of my ramblers gathered around me, I suddenly felt more at home than I had in a long time.
I counted in total a mixture of 30 familiar and new faces. Wow! I always knew that the first few rambles of the year would be busy because it’s a time where people make decisions to do something different; find a new hobby, lose weight, get fitter, meet new likeminded people, join a walking group. It’s that saying, ‘new year new me’ I think. But it still always overwhelms me with joy and appreciation that people choose to join me and my walking group.
This particular walk is one of my favourites and is 6-miles of pure Cornish bliss. Along the way we took in the spectacular sights of St. Agnes Head, Trevaunance Cove and Wheal Coates. I wanted the first ramble to be challenging enough to get the heart rates pumping, but not too challenging where it put people off. Especially if they were those, like me, who needed to shift some Christmas pounds, and regain the fitness that had been lost through spending the festive season sitting down for prolonged periods of time to binge watch Miracle on 34th Street, The Holiday, Scrooge and Elf multiple times!
This ramble had a few steep inclines, but nothing too extreme or which went on for too long. They were enough to get the blood pumping and your heart rate lifted without feeling like you needed to stop to puff on your asthma inhaler. What made it even better was that the sun was shining, and the sky was the bluest it had been in a long while. The views out to sea could literally take your breath away, and that wasn’t from the gusts of wind that assisted us along the coast.
The name Chapel Porth comes from a mediaeval chapel and Holy Well, situated near to the beach. The beach is looked after by the National Trust and has a large expanse of golden sand when the tide is out. One of the best bits is the café, which is located at the back of the car park and boasts their legendary ‘hedgehog’ ice cream; a delicious concoction of Cornish ice cream slathered in Cornish clotted cream and topped with crushed hazelnuts. Definitely worth a taste if you’re visiting and want to indulge in something yummy and Cornish. You can also purchase hot and cold drinks as well as food which is great if you’ve just finished a 6-mile circular ramble to St. Agnes and need refueling.
As we made our way out of the car park and up towards the coastal path, we were greeted with a short incline and treated to a panoramic shot of Chapel Porth Beach when we got to the top – totally worth the sweaty foreheads. The great thing about this walk is that you can literally just follow the coast path for the majority of the way. I do use a certain app on my phone to help guide me, especially as it is run off GPS so there is no chance of me getting 30 ramblers lost in Cornwall when I take the wrong fork in the path! But getting to St. Agnes is pretty straightforward and the entire way you have the divine sea views to keep you company.
As we made our way along the coast, I would keep looking behind to make sure everyone was okay. I love nothing more than to hear the sounds of laughter and chatter coming from my ramblers. You can start the walk by yourself and end it having made new friends. There are no obligations when you come along for a ramble, other than to enjoy yourself and what Cornwall has to offer. And that’s what I love most about my walking group. There are no expectations from anyone and you can either come along to make friends, or just enjoy the walk on your own but as part of the group. Sometimes, for those who come alone, it’s the confidence of walking with a group that they need to push them out of their comfort zone and to get outside on a hike. The fear of not knowing the way, getting lost or walking alone is taken away when there is someone doing it for you. This is why walking groups are great…not that I’m bias in any way! But looking back and seeing the stream of people following me does give me a sense of euphoria, and I feel like the pied piper of walking.
Continuing around the coast, we approach St. Agnes Head, Newdowns Head, Polberro Cove and then finally Trevaunance Cove. Popular with surfers, Trevaunance Cove in St. Agnes is a shingle beach at high tide, but when the tide goes out makes room for a glorious sandy stretch with plenty of rockpools and coves to explore. This is also a good place to stop for a comfort break as there is the Driftwood Spars pub and a couple of cafes should you need something to eat or drink.
After the group had had a little stop, we then made our way up a steep hill to reach Little Orchard Village. Here we made our way in the direction of Polberro via a more inland route, taking us across farmland and fields. The walk takes approximately 3 hours depending on how many times you stop to take pictures, or how many benches you stumble across and sit, staring out at the views. Eventually this circular walk will bring you back out onto the coast and along some of the path you took at the start. This means beginning and ending the walk with those fantastic views of the sea and Chapel Porth. Just perfect!
‘For last year’s words belong to last year’s language.
And next year’s words await another voice.’
T. S. Eliot
If you’d like to join Cornish Ramblings for a walk then please contact Jody at email@example.com for further details, or head to www.cornishramblings.co.uk where you can sign up to the mailing list.