Weekend walk: Lundy Hole, north Cornwall
A RE-RUN of Cornish detective series Wycliffe lured me from my direct A39 route home the last time I was in Cornwall.
I headed for a bay I'd seen in the series.
The coastal glories to be found between Lundy Bay and Port Quin on the North Cornish coast are too good to miss, even though there's no obvious return route inland.
Entering the secret domain high above Port Quin Bay is more reminiscent of one of those Famous Five-type adventures kids used to read some time in the last century than some sordid detective story.
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But I am certain this is where Charlie Wycliffe and his female sidekick were standing here in the rain in the programme I watched recently.
In "real life", the path that descends from the Pentireglaze lane, in the north of the parish of St Minver Highlands, seems to offer more of a promise of excitement and adventure than it does murder and mayhem.
You'll see the path across the lane from the National Trust car park, which offers an excellent base from which to explore the handsome stretch of coast that is centred on Lundy Bay.
If you look for this bay on the OS map you won't find it; however, the chart does mention Lundy Hole, which is a massive sea cave just to the west of the cove.
It is one of the first things you will see once you've walked down the leafy lane and passed the vertiginous walls of Markham's Quay.
Legend has it that booty used to be smuggled here.
Lundy Hole is next door, and an awesome pit it is. Locals used to believe it was made by the devil while he was pursuing St Minver. They might still believe it, for all I know: "Take care when visiting the site," warns a local National Trust leaflet, and quite rightly so.
Lundy Beach and neighbouring Epphaven Cove offer splendid sandy strands when the tide is out. When the tide is in, bathers and beach-goers have to find a comfy space in the rocks.
The coast path links the two coves and then climbs the heights of Trevan Point. The summit offers fine views of the entire Port Quin Bay – from The Rumps to Kellan Head in the east.
The coast path now follows an old stone wall on its way east, and this is crowned by the finest swathe of sea pinks (or thrift) I have ever seen.
Throughout this section of the walk you will be able to spy one of Britain's smallest castles. Wealthy Wadebridge businessman Samuel Symons built Doyden Castle in the late 1820s so that he and his friends could party in the privacy of this wild and scenic bit of coast.
The Trust now runs the place as a holiday cottage and asks walkers to respect the privacy of its lucky occupants.
And, seeing I've been talking about a famous Cornish-based TV series – readers of a certain age might recognise the castle from the old Poldark programmes in which it appeared as the home of Dwight Enys.
I wandered around the peninsula upon which it stands to enjoy the viewpoint of the deep rocky "fjord" that is Port Quin.
This is our final port of call before we turn on our heels and return from whence we have come. Port Quin is as comely a corner as you'll find anywhere along the north coast. Now it houses a handful of trust holiday cottages, but it was once a busy fishing port boasting a population of 94 living in 23 different homes.
Minerals were exported from the little harbour and the sheltered valley played host to several market gardens, though the annual pilchard season (August to December) is believed to have provided the lion's share of employment.
"The desertion of the village is curiously undocumented," says the Trust information leaflet, though I have heard a legend that claims the entire male population was wiped out in a terrible storm. Indeed, a maelstrom in the winter of 1697 did completely destroy the village's herring fleet, though it's not clear how many lives were lost.
You can pretend you're Charlie Wycliffe and mull over the riddle of Port Quin on the way back along the coast. But unlike him (for he comes across as a melancholy sort of bloke), you will be happy in the knowledge that all the views you see walking in this direction are completely different to the ones you enjoyed on your way out.