South West Coastal Path. April 2013



ST IVES Sunday April 14th to Saturday April 20th 2013-05-01


South West Coastal Path – Stage 2 Newquay to Porth Curno – 70 miles


Accommodation – Cottage Hotel, Carbis Bay, St Ives

Package Tour Operator – ALFA TRAVEL

Driver – Derek Hayton


The Cornwall Invasion Force

Norman & Betty Thomas, John & Edith Pickton, Maxine Halstead & Mary Robinson, Ann Oliver & Kathy Page, Terry & Clare Pilkington, Lyn Brindley & Julie Spenser, Helen Boyer & Margaret Parker, Chris Langabeer & John Clements, Jeff & Enid Parr, Steve Clark & Sue Boardman, Doreen Viney and Gareth Seal, Judi Webster, David & Alma Walsh, Audrey Booth & Margaret Tomlinson, Elaine Eccles & Keith Pickup, Fred Stubbs & Helen Durham, Val Wamsley and Stella Wadsworth, Viv Pike & Lynn Rossiney, Paul Banks & Jeanette Howard, Ken Noble & Roger Jackson, Geoff Halliwell & John Bates, Viv Lee & Barbara Shelton, John Bullen, Andy Dobney, Howard Smith, Neil Smith and, last but certainly not least, Ken and Jacqui Beevers.


Daily Schedule – what Norman said it was going to be!

Monday April 15th – Newquay to Porth Towan – 20 miles

Tuesday April 16th – Porth Towan to St Ives – 20 miles

Wednesday April 17th – DAY OFF!!!!!!!

Thursday April 18th – St Ives to Pendeen Watch – 15 miles

Friday April 19th – Pendeen Watch to Porthcurno – 15 miles


What it actually was! (thanks to Ken Noble for these stats)

Newquay to Porth Towan 19.00 miles with 3,623.49ft of ascent.

Porth Towan to Carbis Bay 20.25 miles  with 3,507.14ft of ascent.

Carbis Bay to Pendeen Watch 17.85 miles with 4,747.23ft of ascent.

Pendeen Watch to Porth Curno 15.7 miles with 3,173.38ft of ascent.

Totals for 2013  72.8 miles with 4,587.62 metres or 15,051.24ft .


This was our third trip with Alfa Travel and it was undoubtedly the best. Whichever category you wish to take – food, accommodation, travel, the walk, the company, the weather - everything just seemed to score ten out of ten. What an experience! As regards the touring party - a better bunch never left these shores! (But then again I say that every year!).


Forty nine people on a 49 seater coach was always going to be a bit of a squeeze but thankfully Ken and Jacqui, our Devon-based star celebrities, were meeting us at the hotel. Their absence on the journey down just about created enough space to fit one of Viv’s bags in!


As with previous trips we used the “free places” money from Alfa to buy things for the trip, a Cicerone guide for the debutants (13 of them) and baseball caps, one for everybody including Derek the Driver! Norman had patiently pasted onto the front of the fifty caps an East Lancs badge and he reckons he was high for week after all that glue-sniffing!


The trip down passed relatively quickly, helped along by a superb quiz compiled by Dave and Alma. The photo questions in particular were a real puzzler, the snapshot of a quiffed Teddy Boy thug proving not to be a former East End gangland mobster as we all thought but Norman as a young man! Doreen and Gareth picked up the 1st prize for the most correct answers.


The Cottage Hotel is situated at Carbis Bay, slightly outside St Ives itself, but its promontory position affords excellent views of the bay and, with the dining room running virtually the length of the front of the hotel, feeding time was a real pleasure.


One of our few problems of the week surfaced on the first morning as the dining room staff struggled to get everyone served breakfast in sufficient time for an 8.30am prompt start. To counter this we were given a 7.20am breakfast for the rest of the week and this proved successful.


The location of the hotel outside St Ives proved not to be a problem. It was either a very pleasant walk down into town or a train runs every thirty minutes - £2 for a group of four if you pay on the train, £2 per person at the machine on the station car park! A local taxi firm ran us back a couple of times charging roughly two pounds per head.


I have decided against doing a long list of the beautiful and breathtaking places we passed through on the walk. Suffice to say :-

Day 1 – Newquay to Porth Towan – leader Norman Thomas

Day 2 - Porth Towan to Carbis Bay leaders – Ken Noble and Dave Walsh

Day 3 - Carbis Bay to Pendeen Watch - leader Jeff Parr

Day 4 - Pendeen Watch to Porth Curno - leader Norman Thomas


As with Newquay the only day of indifferent weather was our day off but then again we would have bargained for that had we been given the choice. During the walk not once in four days did we have to stop and put our waterproofs on and the weather on the Thursday and Friday just got better and better.


People all went their own way on the Wednesday but those who partook of Dawn’s Guided Tours of St Ives had a very enlightening and educational stroll round the old town. Well worth a fiver!


The Wednesday evening saw one of the highlights of the week, Quizmaster Norman and his “beautiful assistant” Kath Page testing our grey matter with four pages of questions, compiled by Kath and her husband Julian. The rivalry between teams towards the end grew to such a pitch that fisticuffs almost broke out! What a laugh! And Driver Derek proved the perfect warm-up act with a full house of bingo, John Bates, who’d not clue what he was doing when it came to checking the numbers off, walking away with the jackpot!


The staff at the hotel could hardly have been more helpful. We even had the use of a hosepipe outside for cleaning off our boots when we got back, although we did get in trouble for not tidying up after ourselves!


We’d also made a request for some “real ale” on the bar and they’d sorted that out for us in grand style. We did our best to return the compliment by drinking as much of it as we could and it ran out about ten o’clock on the final evening!


Laughter abounded all week. We had bought Norman a bell for getting everyone’s attention and as usual he made good use of it. Kath Page picked up a red card for ringing his bell without permission!!!! Apparently it is the first time Norman has had his bell rung by a young lady for a long time and he did say “Hopefully a different young lady will be ringing my bell each day!”


Julie Spencer did us all the honour of spending her 50th birthday on our trip. When she came down to breakfast on the Friday her chair was nearly floating with balloons and we all sang “Happy Birthday” as she opened her cards! She was presented with a birthday cake at the evening meal.


Scotsman Andy Dobney was a late signing for the trip and so ended up with one of the bestrooms in the hotel with a sea view which he didn’t have to pay for. His mates at work had found out about this and nicknamed him “Sea View Jimmy!”


Derek the Driver was an absolute star and took Betty and Edith, Alma (back injury) and Claire (broken foot) all over the place. He was also the orchestrator of an hilarious leg-pull on Norman. They had visited a high class jewellery factory and Betty came back wearing a very expensive-looking bracelet. It turned out to be one of Alma’s but for days Norman was led to believe Betty had spent the whole of his life’s nest egg!    


Every evening Derek got his laptop out and went over the route for the next day with Norman, Chris and whoever else was interested. He it was that pointed out that Norman’s original intention of moving on to Falmouth for the 2014 trip was over-ambitious and that we would be far better served logistically staying at the Cottage Hotel St Ives for another year! There wasn’t a single objection to this suggestion!


To have people say this was one of the best holidays they have ever had speaks volumes. It really was a memorable occasion. The booking for next year could hardly be more straightforward – same time, same staff, same rooms!!!!


So it was all down to the managing director at Alfa’s HQ to come up with a proposal for another stay at St Ives.


He came up trumps – TEN POUNDS CHEAPER than this year at £229 per person and they’ll throw in the packed lunches this time! Plus because we are going before Easter next year we’ll get a free glass of wine with our evening meal!


So the countdown begins!



Thanks to Howard and Barbara for the photos.