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martin@martindinham.co.uk

Location: Exeter, Devon.

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January 18, 2018

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Chapel Porth to Portreath.

November 2, 2017

 

6-7 miles or so with a few steep climbs but generally easy going. Cafés at start and along the way at Porthtowan and Portreath. Parking either free up the hill or paid at the NT car park by the beach.

 

This is copper and tin mining country. They’ve been doing it industrially since the 13th century and at some sort of level since prehistoric times. The evidence is everywhere from abandoned buildings such as Wheal Tye with its tall chimney pointing up and its 183 meter shaft pointing down (no you can’t get in), to the numerous steel-wire cones protecting unwary walkers from skydiving down old air shafts.

 

Chapel Porth is a small or large sandy beach, depending on the state of the tide, between high hills on either side. There’s a café and car park (National Trust) and a few cottages just inland—and that’s it. A place for quiet and beach lovers.

 

Climbing west, you’ll see what remains of the Wheal Charlotte mine in the heathland this area’s famous for. Bear in mind gorse, heather and particularly ferns are adept at hiding old mine shafts. Don’t assume all are protected by cone cages. Stay on the coast path if you don’t fancy a long dark fall and a hard landing.

 

Apart from heathland, impressive cliffs, the wide Atlantic and atmospheric old mine buildings, you’ll have the pleasure of Porthtowan halfway along the way. A Celtic name, this landing place (porth) at sand dunes (tewynn) is popular with surfers and a good place to take a break and have an ice cream or beer—or maybe a surf.

 

Near Porthtowan are the extensive ruins of Wheal Tye mine. There’s been a mine here for centuries but these are not the romantic stone ruins you usually find. They’re concrete, built in the 1920’s to test the viability of reopening the mine. Interesting nevertheless.

 

Approaching Portreath you’ll find a wire fence cordoning off the land to your left. It’s Ministry of Defence so—KEEP OUT! Those sci-fi white spheres that hide the radar or listening devices remind me of those old Quatermass films (man comes out of one covered in slime going aaaaaartghhhh before collapsing in a smoking heap).

 

The path now starts dropping toward Portreath, a place I talked about in an earlier ramble blog.

If you don’t fancy the long walk back, it’s a taxi I’m afraid. 

 

Enjoy!

 

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