I was staying near Boscastle the previous night so only had a fairly short drive to this walk. I prefer to get the bus journey done at the start of the walk, so I parked in the car park between Port Isaac and Port Gaverne, on the cliff top, and then took the bus from there to Rock. The weather forecast was for cloud and rain which was a shame as I was hoping to spend some time on the beach at Polzeath.
I allow far too much time and arrive early at the car park in Port Isaac so have around 20 minutes to wait for the bus. It is cloudy but dry so far though, which is good. The bus arrives on time and around 25 minutes later I arrive in Rock, at around 10:30am. It was a lovely journey giving me a preview of todays walk on the way. Sadly though the weather has taken a turn for the worse and now it is grey and drizzly, which limits the views.
Rock is a small place spread out along one main road. It has a pub but not a lot else but has become a very wealthy area in recent years, partly off the success of Rick Stein’s’ varios restaurants in Padstow and partly because it was (still is?) a popular holiday destination with some of the Royal family. It is a village really, but just a short ferry ride takes you to Padstow, as Rock is on the eastern side of the Camel estuary opposite Padstow.
Nearby on my map I notice another village called Splatt! I head down to the beach at Porthilly Cove. It is low tide and there is a mixture of sand and rock and feint views of the boats in the Camel estuary and Padstow beyond. Accross the bay I can see the little church in the hamlet of Porthilly.
Porthilly Cove and Church
Strictly I’m off the coast path here, as I got off the bus a little early (actually I’m not sure where it finished in Rock so got off when I got to the edge of the village) and the coast path doesn’t begin until the end of the road in the village.
I follow the main road through the village which is pleasant enough. Soon I come to the little harbour area. This marks the point where I re-join the South West Coast Path since it is from here that the ferry crosses the Camel to Padstow. I keep on the road to reach the car park at the end of the road through Rock. From here the coast path follows a path through the dunes alongside the lovely sandy beach of Daymer Bay. It is clear now what the attractions of Rock are – this is a lovely beach. Sadly the weather has turned from drizzle to rain and it rather spoils the view and I struggle taking photos as I keep getting rain on the lens. Still it is a nice walk through the low dunes. Opposite I can see the harbour of Padstow.
The path gently undulates through the dunes and is fairly easy going, if a little soft under foot in places. Soon I can see the mouth of the Camel ahead, with the lovely sandy beaches on both sides. Rounding a little rocky headland of Brea Hill I come to Daymer Bay. This is another glorious sandy beach. Inland is the little church of St Enodoc. At one point it was totally surrounded and covered by the dunes but it has been restored now, although it is a bit off the path so I didn’t go and look.
The bad weather means there is only one person on the beach too. I am often surprised in Cornwall how busy some of the beaches are with surfers regardless of the weather, but this seems to be the exception to that rule.
Because of the heavy rain I get frustrated with keep stopping each time I want to take a picture to get my camera out it’s bag, take the photo and put it back, as I can’t keep it out because of all the rain. So I put it away in my bag and swap to using a compact camera I can keep in my pocket. The photos aren’t so good but at least I don’t have to keep stopping!
The coast path follows the back of the beach but as the tide is out I keep to the hard sand nearer the shoreline, as it’s easier walking. Looking back I can see that the headland of Brea Hill is almost perfectly round.
The path now follows the low sandy path along the low cliff tops, with a few houses to the right. To the left is low rocks mixed with sand.
Soon I can see the beach at Polzeath. Sadly the weather is not good enough to spend any time on the beach as I hoped but after the deserted Daymer Bay I can see far more surfers at Polzeath, I assume Daymer Bay must be too far up the estuary to get any “surfable” waves.
I pass the main beach car park on the cliff top on the right, full of the usual surfers camper vans.
The path then heads down to the beach and there is another car park on the beach itself, it reminds me of Weston-super-Mare, all those miles ago. I briefly join the road around the back of the beach (which I travelled on the bus earlier) and then follow the road back up the other side, soon forking off to the left along the coast path which runs behind some houses. After around ¼ of a mile the coast path joins the road along the cliff top through New Polzeath, but there is a grassy path around the little headland here instead of the road, which I take.
Rejoining the road the path descends down to the small beach of Pentiregleaze Haven. I imagine at low tide these beaches are joined, but now the tide is coming in they are not today.
The path climbs up onto little low cliffs and almost immediatltly back down to another beach, really a part of the last beach except at high tide, but here the tide is in and this beach is less appealing, being mostly sea weed and rocks. I am quite surprised how big Polzeath is as I am soon looking back over the town and the various beaches that dot the coast here.
I’m now heading out onto Pentire Point and after the sand dunes I’ve had so far I can see the path is now getting more rural and rugged.
Soon I am back on the rock and earth path heading up onto the headland rather than the sand I have mostly been walking on so far. This isn’t an especially high cliffs but looking back the height gains opens up a lovely view back over the bays around Polzeath. Sadly given the grey and wet weather I had this isn’t it at it’s best.
Rounding the corner and looking ahead I can see a very jagged rock that looks a bit like the back of stegosaurs and is marked as The Rumps.
The path is becoming steeper now with a bit of a valley ahead although it is not much of one and the path from here to Rumps Point is fairly easy. The coast path cuts off this unusual headland but as I usually do I follow the path out to it anyway.
Just off the headland is a little rocky island with the rather un-appealing name of “The Mouls”.
Here I turn south with the coast and the coast ahead looks a lot more rugged. There is a bit of a sandy beach marked at Sandinway Beach, although I’m not sure whose way it got in. However today there is no sand, the tide must be too high.
The path follows the headlands around Com Head and Carnweather Point to the rocky beach at Lundy Hole. I see the hole that I presume gave it it’s name, a little cave. This time there is also sand on the beach which looks inviting, but sadly there is no access down.
Carrying on along the path the rain is now easing and I round the wonderfully named Pennywilgie Point to reach the next beach, Epphaven Cove. This is also marked on the map as sandy but is mostly rocky, although the light colour of the water hints that there may be sand at low tide.
Looking back to The Rumps I can see the Mouls Island in the distance. The path then climbs out of Lundy Hole and the beaches here and back onto the cliff tops. Once up it is a fairly gentle walk around fields to reach the tiny hamlet of Port Quin.
Despite it’s small size this is the only settlement on the coast here and so gives it’s name to the whole bay. The weather has improved now and with the rain stopped it opens up lovely views back around this bay.
As I near the village there is Doyden Castle on the cliff top. This is owned by the National Trust but leased I am not sure as a holiday cottage or for residential use. It is a lovely spot for a house though, giving a fantastic view down to Port Quin. Oddly ahead I can see a fence running all along the coast for miles, which seems strangely out of place.
I follow the coast path into the hamlet itself, all of which is I think owned by the National Trust. There is another mostly rocky beach here, although like others the map suggests at lower tide it might be sandy. It is a very pretty and peaceful spot though and I stop for a refreshment stop.
Suitably refreshed I continue up to the headland at the other side and can see Doyden Castle now very distinctive on the hill at the other side of the hamlet. As I gain height again I get a lovely last view of Port Quin, such a pretty spot, it reminds me a little of Boscastle, but on a much smaller scale.
The path heads out to Kellan Head past that fence, I wonder why someone spent so much on the fencing along the coast here. The path winds down to a lower level at Downgate Cove, but it is a rocky beach.
I round Scarnor Point and past the beach at Greengarden Cove, although there is no beach here at the moment. There is another headland here, Varley Head and beyond this I descend into the valley to the beach at Pine Haven. This is a secdluded little beach, but it being near high tide there is once more little in the way of beach.
Climbing out of the valley to Lobber Point it comes as a bit of a surprise to see I am now just coming into Port Isaac – the village is hidden from view until the last minute. It is very pretty, with the houses all crammed into the harbour and along the cliff tops. I have a little wander around the village again and stop for an ice cream on the beach.
This has been an enjoyable walk but slightly spoilt by the wet and overcast weather, which is a shame after the last few days of sunny weather.
Here is details of the public transport needed for this walk.
Western Greyhound service 584 runs 4 times a day Monday – Saturday and 3 times a day on Summer Sundays on this route : Camelford – Delabole – Port Gaverne – Port Isaac – St Endellion – Polzeath – Rock – Wadebridge.