The coastal path from Looe to Polperro is well worn and friendly. Approximately 5 miles, the hike takes you along the cliff edge with magnificent views of the rocky beaches below. It was a gorgeous warm day of mixed sun and cloud, so, with water bottles and snacks in hand, we headed out.
We meandered through fields of cattle and yellow flowered gorse bushes (said to flower every month of the year), passing the occasional dog walker and being passed by more serious hikers and making sure to stop and breathe in the sea air.
We arrived in Polperro about 2 hours later, ready for a good pub lunch.
Polperro is an even smaller fishing village than Looe, with tiny houses clustered around the harbor. We were pretty tired and hungry from our hike and we headed to the first pub we saw, The 3 Pilchards. It is the oldest pub in Polperro, and has dark low ceilings and lots of homemade food. A Pilchard is a kind of sardine and was the catch that made Polperro a vibrant village in years gone by. Tim opted for the “2 Pilchards Plate” which, when it arrived, was a mound of shrimps, prawns, calamari, crab, smoked pilchard and mussels. I had ordered the Thai fish stew (a specialty of the house), but Tim’s plate was enormous and it took both of us to polish it off. The fish was some of the freshest I have ever tasted and went beautifully with Sharpes Ale, a local from Rock, Cornwall.
Because Polperro is small, the proportion of tourists on a fine Sunday was rather off putting, so we decided to travel on fairly quickly. Not ready to finish our hiking day, I suggested that we push on to Lansallos, which I had heard of in our search for cottage accommodations. We decided to walk along the roads inland from the sea to get there, walk back to Polperro along the coast and then take a local bus back to Looe in the late afternoon.
Going inland, Lansallos was about 3 miles away.
It was a beautiful country walk with tall hedgerows on either side of the road and picturesque farms dotting the landscape. Lansallos consists only of a few houses and a magnificent Norman church built in 1321 on the site of a Celtic chapel. An incredibly peaceful site, the Church is surrounded by a very old cemetery. One of the gravestones is dedicated to: “John Perry Mariner, who was unfortunately killed by a cannonball by persons unknown”. Poor John Perry was only 24 when he died, and the imagination boggles at this unusual death in 1779.
We saw not a living soul in Lansallos. “Benath Dew Genough Why” – “God be with you” in Cornish.
We headed back along the coastal hike. We probably should have found out more about it before heading off.
The hike from Lansallos to Polperro is, to say the least, a challenge. Some of the cliffs have steps to help the weary traveller, but they really serve to let you know how high or low you are going. 168 steps up, followed by 130 steps down, followed by… Tim kept chirping up “We’ve just climbed an 8 story building. That was 13 stories” etc. Not only that, but the path is right on the edge of the cliff. It is a severe challenge to anyone suffering from vertigo.
Thankfully, there are occasional benches to help you to recover between climbs. It was an incredibly strenuous hike, especially for two rather inexperienced hikers. But it was astonishingly beautiful.
Two hours later, with the sun just starting to set, we hobbled into Polperro to catch the bus back to Looe. Adding it all up, we put in well over 12 miles. Triumphant, we got back to the cottage, gratefully soaked our aching joints in deep baths, made pasta and curled up in front of a cozy electric fire.