Day 13, Cornwall’s North coast

As we drive back and forth between Cornwall’s north and south coast I am constantly amazed at how we travel from a remote cliff framed countryside of fishermen and old tin mines across rolling plains of pasture and crops to the southern coast’s Mediterranean climate and the extraordinary flora that thrives there. All this in a space under 40 miles wide. A magical place indeed! Today’s adventure takes us back to the north coast, starting at Zennor.

Our hosts, Sue and Graham recommended we visit this quaint little village on the north coast and do some of the coastal walk there. Another great recommendation as it turns out.

We started at the little church in the main square. From there we headed east through fields in farm country… we even met some cows and chickens along the way. One of the farms “Wicca” had a sign saying that these fields had been farmed since the bronze and iron ages!

Dan consulting the walking guide before we set off. You can see the unique stile that we crossed…huge granite boulders laid across a deep chasm..humans can step across them, but sheep won’t go near them.
Lovely pasture lands rolling down towards the Atlantic.
Another beautiful stile crossing leading out of a pasture and into an archway of Hawthorn bushes
Our pathway leading up to the coastal walk. The wild flowers were beautiful…lots of wild hyacinths, primula, etc and of course hawthorn and gorse.
We crossed a lovely stream on our way down to the coastal walk…I’m sure this was the cause of us doing at least one major up and down to get around it later!

We decided on the short loop instead of the long one that would have had us walking to St Ives and back…this was supposed to be about 8.5 km…turned out to be more like 11km, but who’s counting! Anyway, the pasture walking was lovely and we made it to our turn north to the coast in about 45 min. I thought “Great!” This will be a quick walk and then on to St Ives. And then we got to the coast! I should have taken the hint when a woman we met on the trail said that she didn’t do the coastal route because the days of her rock scrabbling were behind her.

Our walk started out fine…narrow paths, winding around headlands and inlets all along the way. Of course, each time there was a stream creating a lovely waterfall in a bay, it meant you had to go closer to the shore (down, down, down) to cross it, and then of course, back up it! Lots and lots of up and down and back and forth…and did I mention the boulders we often had to climb over or around. This was the first of our walks where 4 point scrambling was needed…at least by me! All this complaining, but it was an absolutely beautiful walk..not rain, but cloud formations that were astounding.

A nice gentle walk at first…and of course, we were going against the wind for the most part!
If you blow up this photo, you can just see a group of hikers before they head into the rock crossing.
Looking back at Dan after we successfully crossed yet anther boulder field!
This was one of the paths we needed to climb up…yes, that’s actually a shallow stream bed!
An in case one wanted to do a short cut!
Looking back along the trail we had just crossed
Looking forward towards our destination…just one more point of land after this one!

Once back at Zennor, I took a little side trip into the small church to tour it and see if I could find the 400 year old carved pew with a mermaid on it. Legend has it that there was a choir boy there with the most beautiful of voices. One day a mermaid heard him sing, and decided to follow the voice as she herself loved to sing. They met, fell in love and were last seen swimming out Pendour Cove. This carving was done in memory of this young man.

400 year old carving of a mermaid on the side of a church pew in the chapel at Zennor.
Pendour Cove, where the mermaid and her choir boy swam out to sea.

We had thought we would grab a quick lunch at the pub, but missed the last serving by 15 minutes! On we went to St Ives, where I wanted to have a quick visit to the Tate Modern, St Ives. This is a lovely community purportedly attracting contemporary and modern artists included Barbara Hepworth around the time of the Second World War. The gallery is small, but makes for a striking building on the shores of a massive beach.

The Tate Modern at St Ives

After our quick visit, we got back into the car and headed to Newquay and Fistral Beach (a surfing haven) where we had reservations at Paul Harwood’s “The Fish House”. This restaurant received a Michelin plate in 2021, and the meal was stellar!

Ready to tuck into this wonderful meal. I had local hake with a wasabi seaweed mayo and chilli glass noodles and Dan had grilled sea bass. Casual dining, with exceptional food at a very reasonable price!

As we left the restaurant, the sun was just beginning to set. What a joy to see the setting sun over the ocean! It certainly lifted our spirits for the drive home!

Sun setting at Fistral Beach, Newquay, famous for its surfing.
Just a little further east along the cast at Mawgan Porth. Very close to home for us.

Tomorrow will be our last full day in Cornwall. We have thoroughly enjoyed our stay in this wonderful corner of England. From hiking, to wonderful seafood; yummy pasties and sumptuous scones with clotted cream; historical sites and whimsical…there is something for everyone to enjoy in this part of the world! Until tomorrow!

Categories: Hiking in Iceland and the UK

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