Rame Head – Polperro




Woke up at 0100 0200 0300 … the main problem was the noise. Back in the olden days – childhood holidays spent camping on a welsh hillside – tents made a good solid flapping sound as strong winds caught the thick cotton canvas. Modern fabrics are more akin to the skin of a drum, with similar acoustics. Thankfully the rain began to ease at about 0800, and by the time I was putting the tent away it had almost stopped. Well it had stopped where I was – sat on a bench finishing my breakfast and drinking a large tea – further along the path sheets of rain still lashed down.

Reached Tregantle Fort by mid-morning, just in time for a coffee from the roadside greasy spoon van. As the weather was cloudy but fair I decided to push on and stay out another night. From here on I was going to be heading into the great unknown – I had been to the main villages along this section of coast, but had never walked the coast. I know, it’s a bit strange, I live just 12km away as the crow flies, but that’s always the way isn’t it.

The walk through to Looe was lovely. I always find it strange that the coast, any coast, is just a mix of a few simple ingredients: sea, cliffs, coves, beaches etc and viewed on a map all look very similar, but a fresh section of coast path always feels different and exciting. Maybe it’s because the map doesn’t show the small details and idiosyncrasies, the geology, the changes in flora. Maybe it is simply the human need to see what’s just around the corner. Anyway, I got to Looe in time to buy an ice cream and some food just in case Polperro was ‘shut’ when I got there.

Leaving Looe I passed through Hannafore which looks to have been built in the 40’s and felt very different to the old unplanned and tight streets of its close neighbour. The wide coast road offered fine views of Looe Island, which I hadn’t known about previously as it isn’t visible from Looe itself, which is a small inhabited island, quite usual for the Cornish coast. The view was more reminiscent of the west coast of Scotland with its open streets and numerous islands.

Unfortunately this is where the day started to take a turn for the worse. I started to get twinges from my right knee. This is an old injury, not quite sure when and where it originated, but a few years ago I called it my ‘driving’ knee due to it playing up after the long drives up north. The last time it really hurt was back in May when I competed in the ‘Springtime in Shropshire’ orienteering weekend, where I had to bail after day two due the inability to walk. Anyway, I continued on – uphills where fine,but the downhills became increasingly painful. I pressed on because I had set myself the target of reaching Polperro and I wanted to get some chips for tea! By the time I reached my goal, each step felt like I was being stabbed in the knee with something pointy and I was taking sharp breaths and crying out – it was a little embarrassing! Unfortunately Polperro *was* shut unless I fancied a proper meal in a restaurant – which I didn’t, and they probably wouldn’t have allowed me in anyway. It started to rain. I was not happy. I spent a while sitting in the main square thinking of the options open to me: catch a bus? – just missed the last one; phone a friend – maybe not; curling up on a bench – er…

The only option seemed to be to continue along the path till I found a camping spot. Climbed up through the woods behind the town up onto Hard Head, to find or rather not to find anywhere suitable. The only spot other than literally on the path itself was OK except it was taking the full brunt of the unseasonal weather, but beggars can’t be choosers, so pitched my tent. Then after tying my tent to the fence, I decided that it just wasn’t going to work and hobbled off to find a better spot. I was disconsolate, this was the first time in my backpacking experience that I hadn’t found anywhere sensible to sleep. Eventually to my great relief I found a spot exactly the same size as the tent, but which did however involve stepping up a 2foot high bank to get in. However it was out of the wind, off the path and even had its own bench for eating my tea on.

After a pasty, chocolate and a tea and to feelings of immense relief I fell into a deep sleep.

~ by markbagley on Monday 23 July 2007.

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