Annual Away Day – Fowey – Sunday 9th September

Once again the Club away day had arrived and over 40 travellers boarded the coach leaving Torbay for the dizzy heights across the border to Fowey, Cornwall.

We arrived in Readymoney where the sun was bright, the skies blue and we were blessed with good weather once again for our trip, despite the forecast earlier in the week.

Jules and Mandy were the planners this year and Jules set about organising the walking party of 29, starting with a long queue at the  (2!) conveniences in Readymoney so an opportunity for refreshment for some.

The walk started uphill through the woods before we emerged onto the coast path, drawing breath with a panoramic view before us.  We passed through Coombe Haven and down to Pridmouth Beach for an official tea break. No pressure on away day walks and some walked to the water (a distance away at low tide!) and enjoyed the cool sea. Others sat on the beach wall, enjoying the sunshine at the end of what has been a glorious summer of walking in Devon and beyond.

The group re-gathered (no mean feat to organise!) and set off along the coast path again, passing many locals who enquired our origin and destination, querying whether we owned passports for the border crossing into their County. No rivalry between our neighbouring areas of course, but Devon is clearly the most beautiful (just).

Polridmouth (pronounced Pridmouth) has a set of ornamental lakes behind the beach, created in the 1920’s when it was used as a decoy site from Fowey Harbour, damns were set up and lights installed to create the illusion to enemy bombers that it was the Harbour itself. This was especially important when 2000 American Navy Personnel were stationed in and around Fowey, in preparation for D-Day.

More well known than the D-Day story will be Pridmouth’s famous resident,  Daphne Du Maurier. Beyond the lakes is the path to Menabilly, a Georgian mansion and home to Daphne from 1943 to 1969. The house is privately owned and barely visible through the trees but it is widely thought to be the inspiration for the setting of the novel Rebecca.  Last night, I dreamt I went to Manderley again. Written when Ms Du Maurier was in Africa with her husband and missing her home in Cornwall.

Tearing ourselves away from the cove, we headed further along the coast path and the climb to Gribben Head where the daymarker stood proud and tall on this clear day. A navigational aid to shipping, it is occasionally open and today we were lucky. We split the group to allow some to climb to the top while others walked on, catching us up later when the first group turned back for their turn in the tower.

It has stood on the headland since 1832, erected by Trinity House and stands 29 metres tall, with 89 steps to the top – not for the faint hearted or those inclined to claustrophobia, but the 360 degree panoramic view was stunning. The intention was to warn ships of the dangers and ensure they were not mistaking the treacherous shallows of St. Austell Bay, for the deep waters of Falmouth Harbour.

We reconvened back at Readymoney Cove for ice-creams, some visiting St Catherine’s Castle en route, built in the 1530’s by King Henry VIII to defend Fowey Harbour.

A short walk to the town car park to meet with the day-trippers on the coach and we set off for our evening meal in Lostwithiel. A wonderful and varied carvery, excellent value all agreed, was enjoyed in comfortable surroundings before a sleepy band of travellers made their way back to Torbay.

An excellent trip, supported by all but special thanks to back-markers, Denise and Adam, leaders Jules and Mandy and our driver today, Robert from Grey’s, as well as the Best Western at Lostwithiel for welcoming the, occasionally noisy, band of 44 happy ramblers on this day.