Cornwall Life - - WALK -

This short and fairly easy walk around Pen­tire Point West and Porth Joke (also known as Polly Joke) is ideal for blow­ing away the win­ter blues. The stim­u­lat­ing views from breezy Pen­tire Point re­veal a long stretch of the At­lantic coast and Porth Joke’s long, sandy beach is pleas­antly se­cluded and un­spoilt, even in sum­mer – partly be­cause pun­ters are obliged to walk to it. There are rock­pools and caves to ex­plore and dogs are al­lowed all year, but please be aware that strong cur­rents can make swim­ming dan­ger­ous at times.

It is also per­fect for an evening’s stroll in sum­mer, when the head­land is ablaze with wild­flow­ers. Thrift, oth­er­wise known as sea pink or rock rose, is in its el­e­ment here from April into high sum­mer, when pop­pies, corn marigolds and many other in­creas­ingly rare meadow flow­ers grow in pro­fu­sion.

These wild­flow­ers (154 species ac­cord­ing to the South West Coast Path As­so­ci­a­tion) find a haven at West Pen­tire be­cause the Na­tional Trust man­ages the farm­land un­der the Higher Level Stew­ard­ship Scheme as a na­ture re­serve for plants and an­i­mals as­so­ci­ated with arable crops. This man­age­ment dif­fers from com­mer­cial farm­ing prac­tice (which is ded­i­cated to ef­fi­cient mono­cul­tures of food crops or graz­ing for stock) in sev­eral ways.

Half the fields are ploughed in spring or au­tumn and then left fal­low. The other half are ploughed and sown with bar­ley in spring. As well as shel­ter­ing rare arable plants, this helps de­clin­ing bird species such as corn bunt­ing and sky­larks and mam­mals, in­clud­ing hares.

In ad­di­tion to the ce­real crops, there are wild­flower plots, which are ploughed and left for dozens for species to ger­mi­nate, in­clud­ing count­less pop­pies. These flow­ers are supreme op­por­tunists and for­ever as­so­ci­ated with Re­mem­brance Day. The dev­as­tated fields of Flan­ders and North­ern France af­ter the First World War, when massed armies and their ar­tillery un­in­ten­tion­ally cre­ated sim­i­larly favourable con­di­tions. 1. Start from the en­trance to the signed car park at West Pen­tire. Fol­low the tarred track ahead for 50m to a junc­tion. Bear right. Con­tinue ahead at the fin­ger­post, signed ‘foot­path to Cran­tock Beach’ – un­less you wish to divert left to the Bowgie Inn for re­fresh­ment. Con­tinue ahead ‘to the coast path’ down a nar­row path. Reach­ing the Coast­path, turn left. Ig­nore the path signed ‘West Pen­tire’. When the coast path di­vides, keep left, fol­low­ing it around Pen­tire Point. Con­tinue to­wards Porth Joke beach.

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