South West Coastal Path, April 2014

ST IVES Sunday April 13th to Saturday April 19th 2014

South West Coastal Path – Stage 3 Porth Curno to Helford

Accommodation – Cottage Hotel, Carbis Bay, St Ives

Package Tour Operator – ALFA TRAVEL

Driver – Derek Hayton

The Cornwall Invasion Force – 49 people

Norman & Betty Thomas, John & Edith Pickton, Maxine Halstead & Mary Robinson,  Terry & Clare Pilkington, Julie Spencer, Margaret Parker, Diane Livesey and Kathleen Wilkinson, Chris Langabeer & John Clements, Mike Bushby, Steve Clark & Sue Boardman, Alf & Olive Clark, Doreen Viney and Gareth Seal, Judi Webster, David & Alma Walsh, Audrey Booth & Margaret Tomlinson, Fred Stubbs & Helen Durham, Val Walmsley and Stella Wadsworth, Joan Taylor & Sandra Robinson, Viv Pike & John Jocys, 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 

Monday April 14th : Porthcurno to Perranuthnoe 17.56 miles, 2082 ft. ascent
Tuesday April 15th : Perranuthoe to Mullion Cove.15.16 miles, 3104 ft ascent
Wednesday April 16th – DAY OFF!!!!

Thursday April 17th : Coverack to Helford: 13miles, 1736 ft ascent
Friday April 18th : Mullion Cove to Coverack: 17.99miles, 3315.ft  ascent

Total 63.71 miles 10,237 ft of ascent

After last year at St Ives I don’t think any of us thought it could get better – but it did!

This was our fourth trip with Alfa Travel and it topped everything that had gone before. I said that last year and I meant it. I’m saying it this year and again I am most sincere. All categories – food, accommodation, travel, the walk, the company, the weather – hit new highs. What an experience! It was brilliant. As regards this year’s Cornwall Invasion Force – what a Motley Crew!

Again we had forty nine people on a 49 seater coach with Ken and Jacqui (who have now lived in Devon long enough to be almost fully fledged Southern Softies!!!) meeting us at the hotel.

Sadly Kath Page and Jeff and Enid Parr had to give back word on their places just prior to the trip. Thankfully Kath’s dad and Jeff are now in much better health. Mike Bushby replaced Kath and, at the eleventh hour, Alfie and Olive Clark stepped in for Jeff and Enid enabling us to keep our proud record that no one as yet has dropped out and lost their deposit.

As with previous trips we used the “free places” money from Alfa to buy things for the trip, a Cicerone South West Coastal Path guide for the debutants (only four this year), an indestructible plastic beaker for rucksacks, map case with compass, little box of roses chocolates and a badge (both the beaker and the badge adorned with our logo). I also managed to give everyone a fiver but the “hand that giveth later had to taketh away”!!!! More of which later!

Yet again the highlight of the coach trip down was the superb quiz compiled by Dave and Alma. The picture quiz the previous year had seen the sly trick of a photo of Norman as a young man slipped in. We all expected a similar dubious little trick this time. This led to many of us thinking that what was actually a photo of Jane Austen was a young John Pickton with long hair! This is getting boring but the winners of the quiz were ….. Doreen and Gareth …… yet again.

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 the main reasons this trip somehow managed to outshine previous high standard excursions was the new manager Ingo Maxfield. How about this for his welcome speech? “I can only make sure you enjoy your stay with us if you tell me what you want. So if you want five sausages with your breakfast let me know you want five sausages and I’ll make sure you get it.”!!!

Ingo was very accommodating with the meal times arranging breakfast for 7:30 and the evening meal for 7.00pm.

Thanks to Barbara for the following breakdown of each day….

Monday 14th April : Porthcurno, Penberth, lighthouse at Tater-du, Lamorna Cove, Mousehole, Newlyn, Penzance, Marazion (with views of St Michael’s Mount), Perranuthnoe

Tuesday 15th April : Perranuthnoe, Cudden Point, Prussia Cove, Praa Sands, Trewavas Head, Porthleven, Porthleven Sands, Church Cove, Poldhu Cove, Mullion Cove

Wednesday 16th April : DAY OFF!

Thursday 17th April : Coverack, Lowland Point, Godrevy Cove, Rosenithon, Porthoustock, Porthallow (halfway point), Nare Point, Gillan Harbour (fresh baked buns & coffee!), St Anthony in Meneage, Helford

Friday 18th April :  Mullion Cove, Kynance Cove, Lizard Point, Cadgwith, Kennack Sands, Beagles Point, Black Head, Chynhalls Point, Coverack

The beauty of the South West Coastal Path is surely without equal. Every bend in the path brings another breathtaking view with a panorama that is a joy to the senses all day long. This year our route took us through some relatively remote stretches of coastline with precious few what you might describe as holiday resorts. Lots of wooded glades, alive with spring aromas, ending in picture postcard fishing harbours and villages. The Lizard Point was pure joy and there can be few more readily identifiable views in the UK than the amazing St Michaels Mount.  

The first day, Porthcurno to Perranuthnoe, was a long day with quite a long coach journey back and we hadn’t much time to get ready for the evening meal as we arrived back at the hotel. The same thing was to happen on the Friday evening but there is more of a story behind this. As with the previous trip, each evening Derek (the best coach driver in the world) got his laptop out, brought up Google Earth and went through the next stage of our planned route with Norman and Chris. He spotted that our intended Friday finishing point at Helford was a problem as he would be unable to get the coach down the narrow lanes. He hit on a brainwave. There was a small party of lads staying in the hotel and they had a 24 seater coach that could get down the lanes. Derek had a word with him and he agreed to help us out – bless his cotton socks! However he could do it Thursday not Friday so we had to swap the routes for those days around. We did, naturally, have to pay him so I had to ask everyone for their fiver back!!!! It worked perfectly and this is why Derek our driver is worth his weight in gold to us!     

As is the custom now people all went their own way on the Wednesday day off. I joined a small party who opted for a look round St Michaels Mount and what a fantastic day it was. It cannot be recommended highly enough and thanks to Barbara (again) for organising it for us.

The Wednesday night entertainment was again a hoot with Derek calling the bingo and Norman doing the quiz. His “beautiful assistant” this year was Alma, a more than capable replacement for Kath Page. If Alma said your answer wasn’t correct that was final – no argument! We had got Norman a “Bamber Gascoyne” quizmaster’s set of plastic black glasses and bow tie so he really looked the part and we laughed and laughed. It shows how good it was when a member of the other coach party in the hotel said it was the best evening’s entertainment they had ever seen in an Alfa hotel! 

It goes without saying that the winning team once again had Doreen and Gareth in their number!  

Ingo at the hotel also came up trumps with the Granite Rock real ale he laid on for us. It was good stuff  and we apparently managed to get through two 72 pint barrels plus a few cases of bottled ales – but who’s counting! It’s great going on an Alfa trip prior to Easter as you get a free drink, glass of wine or half of beer, with your evening meal. The food was superb and I didn’t hear a single complaint all week.

Another great success on the trip was the experiment with walkie talkies. Norman had been concerned the previous year that with such a large party and us getting spread out over quite a distance on clifftop walking communication between front and back of the group can be essential. As mobile phone signals cannot be relied on we reverted to more traditional technology. John Jocys kindly brought his walkie talkies with him and they proved to be almost perfect. Andy Dobney did a great job back-marking all week and I (unusually for me) tried to stay with the leading pack. We were in constant contact and they proved invaluable from making sure gates got closed to warning of slight deviations in the route. We’ll be purchasing our own set for next year’s trip. We had a bit of a laugh with the call signs such as “King Richard to Bonnie Prince Charlie” before finally settling on “Jock Strap” (Andy) and “Frilly Knickers” (self).  

So the 2015 trip will be to Falmouth, Sunday April 12th to Saturday April 19th, price £249 per person.

The countdown has begun!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!