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Jay Walking

LEJOG: Praa Sands to Stithians Reservoir

I woke early at 6:45 PM and quickly ate my overnight oats and packed my stuff and was walking by 7:45 PM. I was carrying 3 litres of water but dumped one near the beach as it was too heavy. There were only a few people walking their dogs on the beach but my route took me along the coastal path up over the nearby headland and on to Risley Head. At Rinsey head is a restored mine used in the recent Poldark sequel but I was more interested in a climber I met and chatted to and his 2 dogs.

Distant view of Praasands Town snd beach in the morning,
An old restored mine, with chimney, set against the backdrop of the sea.

After this I headed inland saying goodbye to the sea and headed off on a badly maintained footpath, which traversed a few fields planted with potatoes. In one field the farmer even had the cheek to ask people to stick to the footpath and avoid the crops, the crops he had planted on the footpaths. Exiting these fields I chatted to a local who was surprised to see someone leaving them as apparently the farmer was not keen on people using the footpaths.

I was soon at the village of Breage where I sat in church and had a break beheading to the Post Office where I picked up a bag of crisps and a chocolate bar, then headed North to Carnmeal Downs, though I had to return to the Post Office as I had left my maps there. Carnmeal Downs was a large area of old mine workings and there were a number of old mine ruins visible and a lot of old mining spoil. I got a bit lost here heading South instead of North but I was soon on the right track reaching Crowntown around 12:30 PM, unfortunately the pub marked on the map was now a bed and breakfast so my lunch plan was scuppered. I needed water as the day was getting hot again so I backtracked to a nearby campsite and fill my water bottles before finding somewhere to sit out of the sun for 40 minutes.

Heading off I walked along cool tree lined roads and bridleways gradually going uphill to where two beautiful horse were roaming and where the path suddenly became a mass of ferns. I headed on though what looked like a path hacking my way through brambles and ferns until I came to a boundary wall, which I climbed over. Using the OS app I located myself and got back on the correct path, heading along a newly strimmed path. Turning a corner the path became very untrimmed though it looked liked someone had been along it recently. I headed on hacking through weeds and brambles getting cut and stung as I went. After a few 100 metres I was too far in to go back, heading on I rained curses on Cornwalls farmers, after some time I reached a road, feeling dazed and bruised. I had heard and read about some unmaintained footpaths in Cornwall but reading about it does not prepare you for the reality of it.

A well maintained footpath, recently cut and clear of obstruction
An unmaintained footpaths full of plants and brambles.

I changed my route to head along the road, I have never been so glad of a bit of road walking it was like heaven on earth, compared to hacking along the previous footpaths. Reaching the village of Porkellis I thought I could get some food in the pub but it was closed. Luckily the remaining journey was okay but the heat, lack of food and stress had gotten to me and I was feeling serious tired.

Distance view of Stithians reservoir

After Porkellis I headed over some old mine workings and through some farms, relying on the OS app to keep me on track. I eventually arrived at the campsite on Stithians Reservoir at about 5pm, though the final few kilometres were hard going. I quickly put my tent up, had a shower and headed to the pub for dinner. I ordered more than I could eat, the food was poor and probably out of a packet but the staff were friendly and I just needed something to eat. This is a bit of a bugbear for me, I slightly resent paying restaurant prices in pubs for poor quality food, that has just been microwaved. Going back to my tent I felt like I had been beaten up and laying in my sleeping bag I was sure I would give up and get the bus to Truro and then go home the next day. My morale was shattered, I was not worried about my foot anymore but all the other parts of my body which were all aching. It is hard to state how low I felt, my morale had completely gone, I had no confidence that I could continue or finish the walk or even if I wanted to.