Thursday, 24 April 2014

Trail Report - Coverack to Helford

Following on from the last outing on the Lizard I thought I might take a look at the section of coast running North from Coverack over Easter weekend. Having had a couple of days of good weather my long run was, predictably, scheduled for the first day of rain in a week or so. That said, the day dawned sunny and calm and I couldn't believe my luck as I got out of the car at Coverack.

The road down to the harbour was closed for some sort of works which must be a nightmare for the locals, though there is a car park on entering the village with an honesty box and adjacent toilet block.

Looking back to Coverack from Lowland point
After a quick stop at the latter I was off; with no signs to show the way I followed the road left and soon reached a gate barring the way and sporting an official looking sign. The coast path revealed itself on the right and led down and around what my nostrils revealed to be a sewerage works but soon I was out in the open and away from the village. The next mile is simply stunning, running just above sea level over boulders and open grassland. It was very dry underfoot but the presence of well maintained stepping stones gave a hint as to what the terrain might be like in less pleasant conditions. 

Soon I was at the aptly named Lowland Point. On rounding the headland a less attractive sight comes into view - the industrial landscape of Dean Quarry. A nice official sign warns of the dangers of straying from the path though I think work here has now stopped. 

Danger Will Robinson!

A well maintained (and signposted) gravel track skirts the quarry and before long drops down to Godrevy Cove (its a common theme throughout Cornwall that place names are repeated, often at different ends of the county, as they often describe some aspect of the landscape. "Godrevi" it turns out, translates to "Small farms"). 

Godrevy Cove

This is a private beach and the last part of the actual coast that the coast path traverses for a few miles. At the back of the beach is a bridge which leads to a path running steeply up through farmland and eventually to the road. From here its a couple of miles of road running, skirting another quarry and leading you through Porthoustock.  

The Giant's Quoits

On the way I passed the Giant's Quoits, a stack of rocks that had stood a Manacles Point for thousands of years and were moved to accommodate the expanding quarry during the 1960's.

After Porthoustock the route continues a little way along the road, until a path can be taken just left of the Porthkerris Divers site sign. This passes the well sign posted Fat Apples Cafe before rejoining the road into Porthallow. Here, on the beach, is a sign informing travellers that they have reached the half way point on the South West Coast Path - which runs from Minehead to Poole.


A boat on Porthallow beach


Leaving Porthallow via a set of steep steps the path has been diverted slightly through farmland due to a section of rockfall. Some fields and beautiful narrow trails follow, this year the Blackthorn is full of blossom, hopefully signalling a good harvest of Sloes in the autumn, and they compete for space here with the ever golden gorse.

A headland is soon apparent with a coast guard lookout at its extremity. This is Nare Point. The inlet beyond I had thought was the Helford but this was where things went a little wrong for me. 

Nare Point
 After following the track from the Coast Guard's I soon reached a small group of houses which I now know is Flushing

Looking across the creek I could see a village with a church and I followed the signs along the water through a beautiful bluebell wood in full flower. After following various paths up to, and into, various gardens and back down to the water I realised this was not the Helford (on reflection it was way too narrow). 

Lost in the woods
At low tide this is the coast path

Looking across the water I could see what I thought was a coast path sign. Retracing my steps I read the signage properly and discovered I had followed directions for a low tide only route.  Turning inland and onto the road again a hilly couple of miles ran behind Gillan Creek, via some dream properties with boats moored up close by before reaching St Anthony - the village I had seen from the other side.  

St Anthony

Gillan Creek

Lugger on Gillan Creek
Leaving the village the path climbs steeply to a headland then cuts back and drops down into woodland. The path here is covered in roots and demands your attention before, finally, arriving at Helford village. I arrived just in time to see the end of the Easter Egg pushing race!   

View from Helford Village

In all its about 13 miles; maybe 11 or a little less if the low tide crossing can be made. Whilst there is a little too much road for my liking the variety encountered, from wild coastline, to industrial wasteland, peaceful woodlands and picture postcard waterways this really is a classic route. turning around the clouds had moved in and before long it was raining. Still I really enjoyed the journey back and felt strong even at the finish which was a welcome change to my recent runs.

For anyone who's interested here's the route on Strava:

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