(Yes, I know Manfred Mann’s Mighty Quinn has two "n"s. Read on …)
At last, a dry day accompanied by relatively uninterrupted sun. Yesterday having been dry, too, the coastal path should have dried out and not be too treacherous in any of its more extreme sections. We’d been waiting for just these conditions to do the section from Port Quin to Port Isaac and back. We had done about two thirds of this route on a previous visit but had stopped early, whether from collapsing morale or collapsing weather, I cannot remember.
Port Quin itself isn’t exactly mighty. It has a National Trust car park at the bottom of a 1 in 4 (25%) gradient, a handful of cottages (half a dozen or so) and, well, nothing else; no cafe, no pub, nothing. For this reason it is best to start at the Port Quin end of the walk so that refreshment may be had at the other end in Port Isaac before making the return.
What is mighty, is the coastal path between Ports Quin and Isaac. It may be only three miles long in passing Kellan Head, Varley Head and Lobber Point, but this is a punishing, roller-coaster of three miles with around seven long, steep, lung-bursting ascents and, of course, approximately the same number of long, steep, knee-crucifying descents. The rewards for indulging in all this masochism are views of some of the most spectacular coastline on offer and, of course, a sense of achievement. Today, the air and light were magnificent. We were even rewarded by having a bird’s eye view of more seals foraging close to the cliffs beneath us.
This time all went well and we arrived in Port Isaac for a refreshing cider (carefully avoiding the pants pub, of course) and to refill our water bottle before inflicting yet further lung and knee pain on the return three miles. The seals were still there. Given the severity of the path, I was surprised just how many people were there, too. It’s a very popular route.
Waiting at our goal back in the car park in Port Quin was another reward in the shape of two sausage sarnies (sandwiches, to foreign speakers). There were even some picnic tables to make our late lunch comfortable. Given the long, steep climbs into and out of Port Quin, I was amused also to notice a bicycle stand in the car park. (Bravo, anyone who has used it.) We were happily munching away, glowing both in the sun and in our aforementioned sense of personal achievement when, calmly sauntering into the car park came a couple we had spotted earlier in Port Isaac. The man had a prosthetic right leg!
Our sense of achievement may have suffered a little but not our spirits. What a great day!