3 Magical Spots on the South West Coast Path between Plymouth and Falmouth
Setting off from Plymouth late afternoon on a Sunday, the sun followed me across the Tamar to start my journey in Cremyll. Sometime towards the end of June, I hope to complete the entire Cornish section of the South West Coast Path, finishing a few miles north of Bude. But for now the focus was Falmouth. Inlets, ferry crossings and secretive bays line this section of the coast path and quintessential Cornish ports and villages provide a charm and character that is only present in this part of the world. My journey would take me over Whitsand bay, down through Looe and onwards to Fowey and Charlestown, before continuing around the increasingly remote stretch between Mevagissey and the Roseland Peninsula where only small and isolated harbour towns break up the coast path to Falmouth. This whole section of the path is beautiful and well worth the time and effort to explore, but here I have tried to capture the sections that really gripped me, pulled me in, and made me feel like I was truly experiencing Cornwall at its finest.
Mount Edgecombe – Rame Head
The short ferry crossing from Plymouth to Cremyll sees you straight into one of the most beautiful and inspiring stretches of this part of Cornwall. Wandering through the maze of paths that comprise the Mount Edgecombe Country Park, the path leads you through withered trees and hidden viewpoints that lead the eye to the other, more populated side of the estuary.
As you push on round the headland, out of the park itself, very little changes in the scenery. You are forced to bypass hidden coves and clear waters that are inaccessible by land and I saw but a few other walkers on this entire stretch. Despite the weather and the fact it was a Sunday, it was remarkable just how quiet it could be so close to Plymouth itself.
The town of Kingsand is your typical Cornish setting. A quaint little inlet gives way to a shingle beach and the winding roads and town houses lead right up to the shore. Sounds travel through the streets here, and as soon as I reach the outskirts I can hear distant live music and voices from a pub on the other side of town. It was evening now, and holidaymakers and residents alike were enjoying the last of the weekend sun to create a vibrant and welcoming atmosphere.
The contrast comes from the next portion of the path. Breaking out of the town you again climb into thick forest before it thins as the coastline becomes more and more exposed. Rame head is the Southernmost point on the coastline until past St Austell, and as it protrudes out into the ocean it certainly has an air of the wild about it. Wispy evening cloud had descended onto the horizon and as I rounded Rame Head and looked west, the sun shone rays through to hit the sea and illuminate its surface in hues of orange and yellow. The view leads the eye of Whitsand bay in the foreground across to Looe in the distance, and rounds off this section with an awe-inspiring and equally dramatic vista.
Talland – Polperro
As you walk out of the pleasant town of Looe in the wake of St George’s Island, the next section of the coast path climbs around the corner to reveal Talland Bay. Nestled between two protruding sections of cli
A short jaunt around the coast yields the harbour of Polperro. I managed to find a room in the quaint Penryn House Hotel situated at the top of the town, and what struck me most was the quiet. All that could be heard was the sound of birdsong and swell from the distant ocean as the sun descended behind the cliff above. Greeted by Anna, we discussed the day’s walk and what lay ahead before she recommended a pub for the evening and showed me everything I could need during my stay. There was a welcoming atmosphere to the whole town, and grabbing my camera I staggered through the aches and pains down to the waterfront to snap the picture perfect harbour setting.
Polperro has to be one of the most beautiful towns in Cornwall. Working fisherman clean their boats on the low tide and the bustle of the local pub rings out across the harbour as people discuss anything and everything about the days past. Succumbing to fatigue, I limp back up the hill in preparation for tomorrow and what was likely to be one of the hardest stretches of the path yet. This town has everything; a beautiful setting, harbour-front restaurants and pubs and an atmosphere that mixes a working harbour and holiday vibes. Independent bakeries and boutique shops line the winding and tight streets that are pedestrianised due to their inaccessibility. It is a ‘must visit’ for anyone seeking that quintessential Cornish town, and I will most certainly be venturing back to stay there again.
Roseland & St Anthony’s Head
I approached the Roseland and St Anthony’s head having already covered 14 miles of the path that day. The path climbs and then descends in and out of fields giving wave to the sands of two main beaches on the southeast of the headland. As you cut back on yourself the contrasting setting is such that you could be forgiven for mistaking this for a whole new section of coast.
The waters become calm and clear and the lush growth of plants return in shelter of the prevailing weather. Each cove provides something new, and breathtakingly refreshi
ng. Stopping on the wooden footbridge a mile out from the ferry landing, the water is so clear that you can clearly define the ripples in the sand metres below the surface. The neighbouring views over St Mawes and Pendennis Point provide a decorative backdrop to the countless sail boats and shuttling ferries running through Falmouth Bay. It is amazing howthe start and end to this whole section of path is so similar.
From the Rame Peninsula isolated from Plymouth, to the wild and barren Roseland just a stones-throw from Falmouth, both sections of this coast lay quiet and pristine overlooking their contrasting counterparts. It is a beautiful way to finish this section of the walk; a quiet and remote coastline that shows that with willing and a little adventurous spirit some of the most inspiring parts of our coastline are sometimes a lot closer than we think.
Find out more about the Cornish part of the South West Coast Path.
Follow Dan as he makes his way round the Coastal Path on our Instagram page or his personal page @cheersthengone