The Bedruthan Steps

This was our last adventure on the South West Coast Path for a while, so we wanted to make it a special one. We packed a bag full of pasties and beer and headed to Carnewas, around the corner from Mawgan Porth. Mawgan Porth itself feels very newquay, full of tacky shops and holiday cottages. It is a world away from the bleak, southern stretch of coast at The Lizard that I’ve come to know so well. The wind was howling and the tide was high. I had wanted to climb one of the steps if the tide was out, but it is probably for the best that it wasn’t.

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The Bedruthan Steps are huge rock stacks separated from the mainland by thousands of years of erosion. They are so huge and imposing that they have been given names such as Queen Bess Rock (apparently it resembled Queen Elizabeth I until its head fell off). If you like legends, like I do, you’ll enjoy the tale of the giant ‘Bedruthan’ who used the rock stacks as stepping stones to cross the bay. This jaw dropping natural landscape has been a popular tourist attraction since the Victorian times and as the rock is so soft, the stacks are forever changing. We walked down the old cliff staircase to the few feet of sand that remained below. It’s impossible to stand at the foot of the stacks, with the waves crashing in, and not imagine Bedruthan skipping along each one all the way to Park Head.

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To make this walk even more special, we were joined by Chewie my friend’s mum’s miniature yorkie. With an untrimmed beard, she looked particularly wild as the North Coast winds blew her this way and that.

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The walk from Carnewas to Park Head was stunning, with cove after cove of golden sand, completely deserted. The crumbling cliffs threatened to collapse beneath us as we made our way to the low lying headland in the distance. Through a slight haze we could see Trevose Head and its lighthouse. The North Coast is enormous compared with The Lizard. The cliffs are higher, beaches are bigger and headlands seem to stretch out for miles.

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Knowing the stupidity of sheep, Park Head seems like a strange place to have a farm. We found a ewe and two spring lambs perched right on the edge of the cliff. I slowly approached them to take a photograph, slightly worried they might turn and throw themselves off. They didn’t, in fact they were quite obliging and posed for several pictures. A bit further on we found the rest of the sheep, including a gorgeous black and white marbled lamb.

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Chewie had just about had enough by the time we reached the tip of Park Head, so we said our goodbyes. Hayley and I continued on around the headland to the rocky cove below. I have never seen so many rockpools. I was a child again, hopping around patches of seaweed, peering into crystal clear pools filled with limpets and anemones. We perched on a rock to eat our pasties.

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As we ate, I heard the high pitched call of an Oyster Catcher. I love their bright red shell busting beaks. I hadn’t seen one since last year on the cliffs at Godrevy, but this time I was close enough to watch it doing the same thing as me, looking for choice creatures in the shallow pools. They are beautiful birds, and the perfect accompaniment to pasties and beer.

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I scoured the cove for interesting rocks, finding some crystal-lined beauties. Before leaving, I scratched our names onto a stone and positioned it above the entrance to a cave. Our cave. When we return, we’ll begin here. It’s been the most wonderful week on the South West Coast Path and I’m sad to leave it behind. However, in a few days I’ll be camped out on the Norfolk coast with the UK’s largest colony of grey seals, so it’s not all doom and gloom.

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Will

 

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