Walk Lands End to John O'Groats with a Cicerone guidebook
The End to End Trail
A long distance trail from Lands End to John O’Groats by Andy Robinson
A practical guidebook for anyone planning the epic walk from Lands End to John O'Groats. The 1935km (1200 mile) long-distance route, or end to end trail as it is also known follows paths and tracks rather than road, and takes to the hills whenever it can. The route is divided into 61 daily stages averaging just less than 32km (20 miles). More...
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Day 5 The Camel EstuaryMawgan Porth to Wadebridge (28km, 17 miles)
‘After a walk of about thirty miles, reached Wadebridge for tea’ Elihu Burritt
For the first part of the day, until Treyarnon Bay, the Trail continues northwards along the South West Coast Path. Between Treyarnon Bay and Padstow you can shortcut two headlands if you want (see below) to save some distance (the SWCP takes the long way round). At Padstow the coast path meets its first major obstacle since Land’s End – the estuary of the River Camel. The SWCP takes a ferry across the estuary to Rock, so the End to End Trail follows an alternative route via Wadebridge, rejoining the coast path at Port Isaac on Day 6.The cliffs from Mawgan Porth north to Porthcothan and beyond to Treyarnon Bay are particularly spectacular, and worth taking your time over. There are narrow headlands and inlets, and offshore stacks and islands, and it’s surprising the walking itself isn’t more strenuous.
There’s a youth hostel at Treyarnon Bay, and shortly after this you pass the end of the road up to the village of Constantine Bay. Don’t go up the road, but follow either the coastal path in the dunes, or go along the beach, and turn right two or three minutes later, immediately behind a white coastguard hut on the beach. This is the start of a short cut along the golf course to Harlyn Bridge – strip map Day 5 Map 1 shows the way. (If you want to stay with the SWCP instead, and go the long way round via Trevose Head, this will add another 4km (21⁄2 miles) to the day.)
About 1km after Harlyn Bridge, on the SWCP again, you reach the village of Trevone (if you are staying here overnight there are bed and breakfasts, a shop and a pub). Leave the Coast Path here and head up the road through the village, where another End to End Trail short cut takes you eastward directly to Padstow – see strip map Day 5 Map 2. (Again, you can stick to the Coast Path via Kellan Head if you wish – it is about 5km (3 miles) further.)
The short cut makes a beeline for Padstow across the fields, and is pleasant enough, descending to Padstow Harbour along Church Street and its continuation, Duke Street.
Padstow has all services, including a tourist information centre, and Rick Stein’s fish restaurant (for which you will need to book well in advance).
Turn right at Padstow Harbour, and across a car park pick up the start of the Camel Trail, which the End to End Trail follows all the way to Wadebridge (Day 5 Map 3).
The Camel Trail is a popular waymarked Cornwall County Council route for cyclists and walkers. It follows a disused railway line along the River Camel from Padstow to Wadebridge, and then goes on to Bodmin. The cycle track can be unpleasantly busy during peak holiday times (another good reason for doing this walk in the spring), and the walking to Wadebridge is monotonous underfoot, but fast, with the estuary full of birdlife.
Wadebridge is the first proper town on the route since Newquay. It has a TIC, plenty of accommodation, and there is a campsite at Little Bodieve Holiday Park (GR990735 – see Day 6 Map 1), although there have been mixed reports of how well it provides for backpackers.