BOOTS ON? LET’S GO
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.