Monday Inspiration: Porthcothan Walks

We have been lucky enough to visit this beautiful place in Cornwall multiple times in recent years. Because of recent global events we weren’t sure we’d be able to go again this Summer. But as we were booked to stay in a self-catered house we found ourselves fortunate with timing and the easing of lockdown. Padstow and Newquay are normally VERY busy during the holidays, but the smaller coves and villages were wonderfully calm and peaceful. There were still plenty of families trying to enjoy the sea air, but everyone was respectful and keep to their own space. The kids of course, loved every minute down at the beach and would paddle in the cold surf all day long. But for the adults, we re-discovered our love of hiking with these Porthcothan Walks. We found opportunity to make two good sized stomps along the coastal paths. The first Nicky and I did together, then on the following day (feeling thoroughly inspired by the weather and the views!) I set out to do some sketching.

Day 1 – A Wander to Watergate Bay

We parked up in the morning at the National Trust site at the Bedruthan Steps and began an extremely sunny walk along the cliffs, aiming to be in Watergate Bay by lunch. We took a steady pace but found ourselves very distracted photographing the heather and wildflowers. The colours were simply amazing against the blue skies.

We captured a little video of the inspiring landscape, which I think will come in handy for remembering the feeling of the day. A lot of the colour choices in my paintings can come from the emotional reaction to a place.

The path along the coast is clearly marked Is we didn’t need a map to guide us. Here’s a map that I sketched out of the coastal route between Bedruthan and Watergate. It was an easy two hours, pausing plenty of times to gawp at the seascape!

Porthcothan Walks - detail of map, route from Bedruthan Steps to Watergate Bay
There was colour to be found everywhere, even the lichen across the rocks was a golden sunflower Yellow. We found a particularly beautiful spot just along a gully off the main path. Quite something to walk between the shadow of lush green banks and suddenly have the reveal of the perfect blue sea. This lookout was obviously a good choice for the little memorial plaque set into the rock for Squ Ldr Edward Gregory – ‘Look up to the sky; that’s where I fly, Now look down to the sea and remember me.’ Another moment to stand and reflect on the landscape… but more specifically our place within it.

After a wonderful lunch we rambled back towards the car under an open sky and cooled by a fresh breeze. The whole day was a much needed tonic. We’re quite ready to do it all again!

Day 2 – Porthcothan Sketching

The second of my Porthcothan walks was not a full day, rather a morning opportunity to strike out on my own. This time I set out from Porthcothan Bay on foot, heading up to the coastal path and along towards Trevose. The weather was wonderful again, perhaps a little more windy. Interesting that there were fewer wildflowers in this direction; more white clover and swaying grasses.

I took my iPad out for a proper ‘in the field’ test of it’s sketching capabilities. Just like any other new medium i’m still learning how to use it in a way that works for me… but I thoroughly enjoyed a second day out in the sun with time to draw and feel inspired.

I found two spots that I liked. One down at Fox Cove where I could walk out onto a rocky shelf with a view back onto the cliffs. I could see the strata and patterns in the cliff face, with the sea spray flinging itself against the rocks. The other was a flower covered hillock above Wine Cove that had a truly excellent viewpoint for Trevose head and rocky outcrop known as The Bull.

Again I sketched a map of my route. Even without my Nicky as my trusty camera operator I managed to get some snippets of video. Including two quick time-lapses captured as I was busy playing and sketching away.

Porthcothan Walks - detail of map, walking from Porthcothan Bay to the top of Wine Cove

The experience of both Porthcothan walks was inspiring. An excellent reminder of all the things we’ve missed out on during the lockdown. I hope there will be opportunity to head out again soon and i’m wondering if I might choose some locations closer to home where I can do further warm up drawings… we’ll see how it goes!

Porthcothan Walks - More Soon?