I love a good walk. I especially love any walk that is nicely undulated with some proper ascents and descents – a walk that offers something of a challenge but also rewards in equal measure in terms of views, willing wildlife, geographic phenomena, perfect pubs and refreshing restaurants.
I’ve had the good fortune to have spent time in many beautiful places – ranging from the Cairngorms, Grampians and Western Highlands of my native Scotland, the lowland forests and upland heaths of Sweden, the Dolomites, the Alps and of course the majestic Rockies and Coastal ranges of Western Canada. And all of these places tick many a box on my list – but if I am really honest the requirement of plenty of pubs and eateries along my route of choice is gaining in importance as I start to get more err… comfortable? Yes alright then – older!
I don’t always want to take rations along with me and I certainly don’t do much camping these days (although this is something that I am reconsidering…) so with this in mind and ignoring the most obvious hurdle to walking in these areas (convenience from London); I’d like to sing the praises of walking in England – a green and pleasant land if ever there was one, and of course brilliant for walking along routes bursting to the brim with excellent watering holes to slake one’s thirst and cosy inns selling first rate nosh to energise those tired and aching legs!
I am sure that you are all aware of the joys of walking the Lakes and Fells of Northern England and Wales, but today I want to tell you about a particular coastal walk – from Watergate Bay to Padstow in Cornwall. Why? Well because it is an absolutely stunning piece of countryside and almost the perfect example of a walk that ticks all of my boxes and perhaps more importantly its one that I would very much like to revisit later this summer.
The walk follows a coastal path that goes a lot further south (beyond Newquay) and a lot further north; however it is this stretch that is the perfect length and with the greatest variety that makes it one of my favourite walks.
Starting at Watergate Bay, always alive with active pursuits such as paragliding, surfing and rowing (even polo and power boat racing if you time things accordingly) the walk undulates from bay to bay; three of them in total each with their own different atmosphere. It provides endless vistas over both the sea, the silver sand but also on occasion inland as well. There are amazing cliffs and rock formations along the way and refreshments a plenty en-route. There are lots of birds to spy including kestrels and peregrines riding the thermals and if you are lucky you might see some seal and porpoise frolicking in the sea. Rounding the headland with the beautiful lighthouse you emerge into the wonderful Camel estuary with its fishing boats and pleasure cruisers and on into picturesque Padstow where you mustn’t miss a visit to the Lobster Hatchery – quite an amazing and enchanting little outpost!
In Padstow and surrounding area there are many great restaurants and bars – even if you don’t feel like dropping in on one of Mr. Stein’s (many and varied) establishments! And although it requires a little detour – a tasting at the Camel Valley vineyard is highly recommended. Once satiated and ready for a trip back, the local buses or a minicab will get you back to Watergate Bay in no time at all where you may even have a reservation at 15 Cornwall to watch the sun set into the sea in a burst of crimson and to help budding locals learn the trade.
The lucky ones (yes please!) have a room at the hotel overlooking the beach – and what could be a better way to end the day than a white russian on the balcony watching the stars and the ocean; a kiss, a cuddle, a passionate embrace; the waves breaking on the beach – the lovely rhythmic sound falling away to a murmur as the tide recedes and eyelids droop and heart rates slow; dreamtime approaching fast…