Muddy boots and breathtaking views are all part of the charm of the Hall Walk from Fowey in the South West of England.
Primroses tickle my ankles and the wild garlic, buttercups and Atlantic air whip up an aromatic storm.
From the cliff-top track high above the River Fowey, the Georgian bungalows, bobbing fishing boats and the medieval tower of St Fimbarrus church are like a 5000-piece Cornish jigsaw puzzle.
We are catching our breath midway through Hall Walk, one of Britain’s most stunning coastal paths showcasing the very best of Cornwall.
Start at the tiny village of Boddinick or pick up the footpath anywhere on the 6.5km circular woodland walk.
Take a couple of hours, savour the views for an entire day or finish up with a quayside pub lunch.
We choose a Fowey departure which begins and ends with a ferry ride across the harbour.
The ferry leaves Caffa Mill carpark at the bottom end of North Street regularly from 7am (from 8am on Sundays and in winter).
The trip takes a few minutes It takes just a few minutes and costs £1.80 ($3.13) one way.
From the spillway, we head up the steep lane, past the blue shutters of Daphne du Maurier’s old quayside literary sanctum and the 400-year-old Old Ferry Inn.
The sharp incline leaves us breathless but we’re determined to leave the elderly blondes we met on the ferry in our wake.
But as we spy the National Trust acorn, signifying the track ahead, the oldies dressed in Barbour oilskins stride past.
The path before us is immediately breathtaking.
Hall Walk was created in the 16th century by the Mohun family, of nearby Hall Manor, as an ornamental promenade.
The track quickly leaves Boddinick behind.
The chestnut leaves crunch underfoot and the wild blackberry, thyme, hazelnuts and hedgerows create a pretty woodland tunnel.
Timber seats emerging from glades surprise us at every peak and spots for photographic treasures are many.
Half an hour in, before the path turns north at Penleath Point, we pause at the Q Monument, a tribute to Cornish writer Arthur Thomas Quiller- Couch who published under the pseudonym Q.
It is also the spot where King Charles I was nearly shot during the English Civil War in the mid-1600s.
Locals say the King was taking a stroll on Hall Walk during a visit to the Royalist stronghold when parliamentary troops fired a musket.
Don’t miss the lichen-covered pillbox a little further along, a remnant of Fowey’s role as a World War II embarkation point for US and British naval forces.
We slide a little on the rocks en route to Pont Pill, disturbing a couple of thickly set cart horses.
Longwool sheep watch with interest as we scale another stile and wander in to the hamlet of Pont — now a sleepy gathering of stone farmhouses and a far cry from the once- busy port where barges unloaded coal and limestone.
It’s from Pont Pill that many detour to St Wyllow Church, where du Maurier and Major Tommy Browning were married.
The spire of this 14th century church can easily be seen through the oaks, so it’s an easy sidetrack to find. Back on the main path, we cross a wooden sort-of bridge and climb through gated fields and thickets.
We pass few walkers and as we hit the ridge, and our hiking boots are pounding the path in unison.
But it’s over all too quickly and suddenly we are descending into picturesque Polruan.
The visitors’ book in our Airbnb loft recommends the granary-encrusted fishwich at Polruan’s Lugger Inn.
Washed down with a St Austell draught beer, I’m not disappointed.
The Lugger is a picture.
There are views across the harbour to Fowey from every window and the pub is dog and muddy-boot friendly.
It’s not easy to drag ourselves away from the wood fire for the final ferry ride back to Fowey.
Cornwall - visitcornwall.com.
Fowey - fowey.co.uk.
Polruan and Boddinick ferries - ctomsandson.co.uk.
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