This section of the South West Coast Path (or SWCP, as it’s known) is my favourite walk and is arguably the best section of the path, certainly in North Cornwall. It’s on National Trust land, and therefore has ample car parking and easy access. One of the great benefits is that being a peninsula type walk you can shorten it by taking one of the several footpaths back to the car park, or you can extend it for as long as you like. Being near to Polzeath, there are several good restaurants, pubs and places where you can get good eat in or takeaway lunches.
The Rumps (so called because they resemble the backbone of a dinosaur in shape), jut out seawards more or less due North. Technically this is part of the Bristol Channel, but to all intents and purposes we might be as well to regard this as part of the Atlantic Ocean. Certainly there is a predominant ocean swell, and Polzeath is a well known surfing beach. This area can be treacherous for mariners, the Maria Assumpta went down just off the Rumps, another shipwreck occurred near Port Quin at Carnweather Point, whilst legend has it that pretty much the entire pilchard fleet of Port Quin foundered in one night because of a gale, or so I was told by the fishermen of Port Isaac, and they know a thing or two of legends.
This is not to mention any number of shipwrecks that happened off the entrance to Padstow estuary to the west, known as the Doom bar, and celebrated as a local beer. At anything less than high tide you may see breaking surf, caused by the abrupt change in depth as the swell enters the estuary platform. Stepper point reaches out beyond the bar, watched over by the white Coastguard station,and way marked at the end for sailors by a cylindrical day mark. The Headland beyond is Trevose Head, marked by a white lighthouse, the island to seawards is Gulland, and nearest to is Newland.
We start at Lead mines Car park which is about 200 metres along the drive to Pentire farm on the right. On the way, it’s worthwhile pausing at the Ranger’s house as they have a notice board detailing bird and flower identification. (You may also wish to check on seal and dolphins as you may well see them). Binoculars are certainly worthwhile.