Wednesday, 20 February 2013
Where are we going?
The weather has been so dire recently that it’s been nigh impossible to do any walks for Cornwall Today or my forthcoming walks book. At the end of January we had a weekend in South East Cornwall and managed a couple of walks but that was for the first time in over two months. My poor camera has also gone into a sulk.
And as if to coincide with this mud induced hibernation, my dear friend Viv, well known by CT readers, has been stuck in London since early October. My other dear walking buddy is Oop North for a short while, so it was sheer chance that I bumped into an ex-neighbour: a nurse who works in the High Dependency Unit at Treliske and was there when Pip died. (She also gave me the best possible advice about dealing with death, having lost her son not long ago. “The sooner you can accept it, the easier it will be to get over it,” she said. That helped me more than I can say.)
I hadn’t seen her for a year or more and bumped into her in Sainsbury’s a few weeks ago. We went for a drink and discovered a mutual love of walking, so I invited her along one day. She wasn’t working yesterday, and as the weather’s been dry and sunny (gasp), I thought great, we can do a walk for CT and/or the book.
Next was where to go – I have 6 destinations that need to be explored, but there’s a south east wind blowing that’s bitter, so it’s better to walk on the North Coast, away from the icy blast. I then thought of Padstow, but it’s half term so it would be crowded. So I decided on Bodmin Moor, and off we set for St Clether, and a walk near a Holy Well that I thought would be interesting.
“Great,” said Fiona. “It’s near Altarnun. I know that well.” So off we set.
Heading into the depths of Bodmin Moor, her car started bleeping – no petrol. As any Cornish dwellers know, petrol stations are few and far between on Bodmin Moor. After about ten miles of rather nervous driving we spotted a garage – but no petrol (only diesel).
After an even more nervous journey, we found another garage that did have petrol. Phew. We turned off at the Jamaica Inn turning, and drove along a beautiful valley with a stream on our left. “Perfect for cycling,” said Fiona as we drove along, lapping up the graceful sunshine.
Finally we came to our destination and parked outside the church, followed instructions about walking through the churchyard – but couldn’t find the granite posts that should have been there. We tried the other way but that led to the pub (hah!). Heading back to the smaller gate, I spotted the vicarage, so we knocked on the door, which was opened by a charming lady with grey hair and a blustering retriever, hell bent on escape. We proferred our map, explained where we wanted to go.
“Ah,” she said with a smile. “This is St Cleer, not St Clether. But there’s a holy well here, and we were walking on the downs this morning which is lovely.”
As we walked back through the churchyard, I got the giggles, thinking of a particular friend of mine who will be hooting with laughter when he reads this. I always tend to get lost on my walks, but getting lost before we start has to be a first.
So we ended up having a completely different, but one of the loveliest walks I’ve ever had on Bodmin Moor. It was truly magical; eerily quiet, with a hazy spring sunshine dappling through the trees, and the moorland so rugged and ancient: a world away from south Cornwall where I live. It really did feel like we’d travelled to another part of the world.
I came back home filled with the sense of spring: in my living room is a bunch of sweet narcissi that delight me with their cheery deep yellow and orange faces. A pink hyacinth’s scent is richer, more mature, like dark chocolate cake, or a cleverly seasoned curry.
I sat on my sofa, and reflected on the ironies of life. So that, my dear friends, is why I always take someone on my walks. With a sense of direction like mine, I wouldn’t even get there, let alone come back otherwise.