• Abbi

Walking the SW Coast Path - Port Isaac to Port Quin - 3.25 miles

This part of the coast path was the big one for me. When it's described as a rollercoaster and as being strenuous, I knew it was going to be tough! When I woke up in the morning, I wasn't really sure what walk I was going to do. The weather had been really windy and they still were on this day. I was hoping to do it on a clear sunny day but sadly, that didn't happen. I decided to just go for it and I thought that the more I think about it, the less likely I'm going to do it.

Because of the nature of this walk, I knew that I would need my trekking pole. Annoyingly, I had left it in my car, which was parked at the top of Church Hill in Port Isaac. Anyone who knows the village will know that this is a very steep climb so it was a shame to tire my legs going in the opposite direction before I had even started. Anyway, I knew that I would need it so I went and got it.

Before starting this walk, I wasn't feeling my best. I'm in pain every day and I honestly cannot remember a time when I wasn't in pain. If you imagine the pain you feel when you have the flu with the aching all over. It's like that but with a tingling, burning feeling. Sometimes it's like having knives stabbing in you. I also have issues with three discs in my lower back pinching the nerves and I have some nerve damage in the side of my right calf. If the camber is wrong so it pulls the muscle up the side or it's strenuous terrain, it gets really painful. Sometimes to the point that I can't move my leg. That's how I was feeling on the day I did this walk. I probably should not have done it but I was so determined to do this walk.

The walk started from my front door on Fore Street before walking down into the village passing The Golden Lion, turning right up Roscarrock Hill where you will find Doc Martin's house and the house used as Alwyn's B&B in the film, Fisherman's Friends. I love Roscarrock Hilll and it's where you can get the best views of the village. The coast path goes all the way through the village and climbs up onto the cliff top from the top of the hill.

The path goes up steps to get the best panoramic view of Port Isaac and the coastline round to Tintagel. The path opens up to an open grassy expanse where you can often expect to come across cows. I'm petrified of them but I've never had any problems with the ones here. I tell myself that they must be used to human visitors walking through their patch.

From here you walk down to Pinehaven. This is the first place where it got tough for me. There was a very steep flight of steps up the cliff and I had to stop a few times on them to allow my legs to relax. Once I had done that, it was a fairly gentle path weaving around the edge of the cliff. I did find it difficult to get my stride in because the path was quite narrow in places with high sides. When I walk my feet turn out quite a bit and with my size 7 walking boots on, my feet are quite big so I felt like my feet were too big for the path at times.

I felt that I covered quiet a bit of ground quite quickly, until I met the top of 'The Rollercoaster.' This is the part where the path steeply weaves down and round to a lower level path. I had seen pictures of this bit and was feeling a bit trepidatious about it but when it came to it, this was the easy part. It was the other end when I got tough again. I just felt like it was constant up and up and up. A mixture steps and slopes but I did reach Foxhole and thought to myself, "I can't do this." The doubts started to creep in and the pain and fatigue was ramping up. I remember sitting on a rock watching the sea crash in front of me. I remember watching the energy behind each wave wishing that I could have some of that energy to spur me on. Dottie sat beside me and she knew I was struggling. She is so in tune with me, she makes the perfect companion. She nudged me with her nose and gave me a little lick on my cheek as if to say, "you can do it. I believe in you."

I pressed on around Kellan Head, which seemed to take much longer than I thought. With each corner, I expected to see Portquin, but still no sign. I was so relieved to see Portquin come into view when I did finally turn that corner. I sat on the beach in the cove and ate my cornish pasty from May Contain Nuts in Port Isaac. I kept telling myself that the hard part was done. I had achieved the toughest bit and that I had made it.

After a decent rest, I set off to take the inland route back towards Port Isaac. As I started, a car past me which was a couple who had started walking the coast path from Port Isaac, at the same time as me, but decided to turn back and drive to Portquin instead. They did kindly offer me a lift back but I decided to carry on. Dottie was so muddy that I didn't want her to mess up their car and I was aware of keeping safe too.

The inland path was pure MUD! Bearing in mind that this was February and there had been quite a bit of rain a few days before but it was literally inches thick in mud. I was so relieved that I had put Dottie in her Equafleece suit as I knew I wouldn't have much strength left to bath her after the walk. The inland path is mostly on a track and through fields apart from a short woodland section. I was so relieved to see Port Isaac again. I was dead on my feet but I was elated! I'd done it! I'd achieved what I'd set out to do, which considering how I felt when I started, was a massive achievement.

I staggered back to the cottage and washed Dottie's muddy paws. We then retreated to bed to sit and watch the sea from the bedroom window. You could not see the sea from the living room window but I was ready for a lie down. It all felt a bit surreal that I had managed to walk that section of the path. It hadn't seemed possible but down to inspiration from others with chronic health problems and my own sheer determination, I did it. Growing up, my favourite book series was about a girl called Sophie by the author Dick King Smith. Her catchphrase was, "she may be small, but she was very determined," and that's been my moto for most of life. It's got me far and it will continue to. Any walk as part of the challenge was a doddle in comparison with this one!