Polperro – Portwrinkle (12.6 miles)
Distance from Minehead – 398.3 miles / Distance to Poole– 234.1 miles
This stage is perhaps the one that I know best. My very first school trip was to Hannafore. I was 5 years old and we went exploring the rock pools. My first school trip from secondary school was to walk the stretch between Looe and Polperro, identifying all the different geographical features. Then there were the countless trips to Looe Island– I am quite privileged in this respect as most locals have never been. But dad knew the sisters who owned the island and was their handyman and bee keeper. It is an amazing place, despite the lack of amenities, and my brother and I would spend hours pretending we were shipwrecked!
But my dad taught at Looe school for 33 years and it seemed whenever we ventured into Looe, Polperro or the surrounding villages, we bumped into students or ex-students of my dad. This, along with the whole area being a tourist magnet, resulted in us rarely ever coming to this stretch of coast for a fun day out. This meant, without me really realising it, I had grown to dislike the area and I considered it to be inferior to other stretches of the coast path. I knew lots of local people were coming to join me today and I was looking forward to that, but hadn’t given any thought to the scenery I would be passing – it was old hat and I had seen it all before.
I was wrong. I was very wrong. As I walked along pointing out points of interest to friends who had come from Manchester to walk with me, I suddenly realised how beautiful a stretch of coast it is. The water is crystal clear and the rocks protrude elegantly from the turquoise sea. The magnificent Looe Island stands proudly in the bay and then the glorious Whitsand Bay spread out before you as you approach Portwrinkle. It is stunning and I am not ashamed to say I was taken aback. I had taken this area for granted as I thought I knew it, and yet it was a stage which provided some of the greatest scenery.
I was really pleased to have had this opportunity today to re-evaluate my opinion of this section of the coast path, and to re-adjust my attitude to all things familiar. I am sure that there are, if I take an honest look, many areas in my life where an over familiarity has bred contempt. Things and people that I take for granted and because I know them well I begin to see their flaws, instead of the way that I look at new things, new places, new people, who all seem exciting and fresh. Perhaps today has been a necessary reminder of the beauty and goodness that is right there under my nose, but which I have failed to notice and appreciate for a long time. I hope that I will have the integrity to change my attitude of indifference and to truly appreciate what I have around me.