Let’s go for a walk – in Cornwall

Featured

I have been lucky enough to spend the last few days in Cornwall, and I have done a bit of walking. As today is St Pirin’s day (the patron saint of Cornwall) I though it would be nice to share some photos of the beautiful countryside and coastline around Port Isaac and nearby places.

Herringbone slate walls with liverwort growing from them. Liverworts are very ancient simple plants that have their origins 400 million years ago.

On Wednesday I walked from Wadebridge along the Camel estuary before turning inland to the church of St Breock which dates from the 13th century. The weather in the days before had been very rainy and the ground was muddy. But luckily for me the rain mainly held off.

The Camel estuary. You can cycle along the old railway path all the way to Padstow.
The lichens on the trees were beautiful. Because the leaves aren’t out yet the eye is drawn to these ancient plants.
St Breock’s nestled in the valley. A stream ran past the church at the bottom of the steps.
Mud!

On Thursday I walked from Polzeath to St Enodoc church. This church dates from the 12th century and is now located in the middle of a golf course. It is close to the sea, and over the centuries became almost buried in sand. In order to collect tithes, and remain effectively ‘open for business’ it had to hold at least one service a year. The vicar and congregation entered through a hole in the roof until in the 19th century the church was restored. The church spire is not quite straight. Sir John Betjeman is buried in the churchyard.

It was a bit grey, but again – no rain!
Look at these amazing stripy rocks! For more information about slate you can follow this link. Slate was produced in great quantities in Cornwall, especially nearby Delabole.
Betjeman’s slate headstone in the churchyard at St Enodoc.
The crooked spire of St Enodoc’s; buried in sand for 300 years!

On Friday I walked from Port Isaac to Polzeath (and then got the bus back). I have done the first bit of this walk before – to Port Quin – so I was aware of the reason behind the nickname the ‘rollercoaster’. However I had forgotten just how tough this part of the coast path is. My goodness me the ascents and descents are tough on your legs! There was a quite a wind blowing but no rain.

Looking over Port Isaac
Pasty for lunch at Port Quin
The Rumps

On Saturday I walked from Boscastle to Minster (St Merthiana’s) Church. This church dates back to 1150, although it is on a site which has been there since Celtic times, and there is a Holy Well in the churchyard which was likely a sacred Celtic spring.

Daffodils in ancient woodland along the river Valency
The river Valency. In 2004 terrible flash floods swept through Boscastle causing huge amounts of damage.
The pretty church of St Merthiana, also called St Materiana, Madryn or Madrun. She was from Wales originally, as many Cornish saints were.
Spot the scissors! Nobody seems to know why they are there…
The little harbour at Boscastle (photo by Simon Bishop)
Another Cornish speciality – saffron cake.

Apart from the walk to Polzeath from Port Isaac all the walks were circular. I downloaded a brilliant app called I-walk Cornwall which I can thoroughly recommend. It meant that I felt quite secure walking without a map, which I wouldn’t necessarily recommend for all terrain, but here felt perfectly ok. Most of these walks I just wouldn’t have done without this app. If you are thinking of a holiday in Cornwall definitely consider getting it!

So – happy St Piran’s Day to all Cornish people! Maybe my next baking post will be about making pasties – or saffron buns!

Featured

Let’s go for a walk – Isle of Arran Coastal Way

Arriving in Brodick from Ardrossan to start our walk

Two weeks ago I was on holiday! A holiday that was booked way back in 2019 and should have happened in 2020 except we all know what happened then.

It was organised by the brilliant people at Mickledore who I can highly recommend having been on four of their walks now. My friend Michelle and I walked 65 miles (102km) around the Arran Coastal Way.

Ready to go!
Walking through shoulder high grass and bracken. We had to be on the lookout for deer ticks.

The weather was good, the scenery was amazing. The people were lovely and we stayed in some very comfortable hotels and B and B’s.

The walking was quite tough on some days, clambering over the rocks, and climbing up steep hills. One day we walked 18 miles, which is a lot for us, and the final kilometre was on soft sand. Wow, that was a killer.

Harebells in the rain.

Another day I slightly misunderstood the tide times, and we almost didn’t make it round the southernmost headland Bennan Head. That made for a scary scramble clinging to the rocks above the incoming tide. To be honest if I’d slipped and gone in I would have got very wet, but I wouldn’t have drowned!

One of the highlights of the holiday was learning about the geology of the island. The Isle of Arran is known throughout Europe for its geological diversity. We happened upon a QR code on a post on the second evening of our holiday and were introduced to the brilliant Arran Geopark website. It was a fascinating introduction to the geology of this small island. We saw fossil footprints of a giant millipede which we would never have seen otherwise. And I began to get my head around just how the earth has changed over millions of years. It’s a bit mind boggling to think that at one time the Isle of Arran was 30’ south of the equator…. And that we can see the sand dunes from that time… 😳

Red sandstone ‘dunes’
Hutton’s Unconformity – the different angles of the rocks led Hutton in the 18th century to understand that the world was a lot older than 6000 years, which is what people believed.
Can you see the footprints of the giant millipede?

Another highlight was the wildlife and we were lucky enough to see plenty of birds, deer and a few seals. Michelle’s camera is far better than my phone so the wildlife shots are thanks to her!

I love oystercatchers- they’re very funny birds. We also saw (and heard) curlews, another fabulous bird. Sadly we didn’t see a golden eagle although they are on the island.
The deer were just outside our hotel up in Lochranza.
Seals basking in the sun

We walked for 6 days, and then sadly had to come home, so we didn’t really get to see the interior of the island except from a distance. There are so many more walks to do, and more to see, so I think we may very well be back!

The weather was sunny and hot – yes actually hot! For a couple of days anyway!
Final view from the ferry of Goat Fell

Featured

Not running – walking!

Long before I started running I walked; I think that’s what you’re supposed to do isn’t it?!

So many berries!
And some mushrooms..

On Sunday I met a friend for a walk, since we now can’t meet inside anymore, and she lives two hours drive away. So we met half way between our homes which happens to be in Bedfordshire. We started in a town called Sandy – which is sandy! Millions of years ago it was under water, an ocean full of prehistoric sea creatures. The surrounding plains were carved and flattened by slow moving glaciers, leaving the river Ivel to wind its way north to join the Great River Ouse.

Wide landscapes of Bedfordshire

As this area is not one that either of us know we followed a walk in a book. We have often done this, and almost always we go wrong somewhere and end up walking further than planned. We’ve been lost on Exmoor (thank goodness it was a sunny day), lost in the Quantocks ( it was raining and we got quite wet), and Sunday in Sandy was no exception. I wouldn’t say we were exactly lost, just that we missed a path somewhere and ended up doing 10 miles rather than 8 in the book-walk!

This area was an airfield (Tempsfield) in WW2, used by the Special Operations Executive

However it didn’t matter at all because it was such a beautiful day. It was a joyous walk really, with blue skies, fluffy clouds, sunshine, green fields, autumn colours in the hedgerows, muddy puddles, grand houses, horses and of course a great friend to share it all with.

It rained a lot on Saturday, but such fabulous weather on Sunday!
Tetworth Hall, built in 1710. If we had followed the route properly we would never have seen this lovely Queen Anne style house.
Looking down from Greensand Ridge
At the top of the Pinnacle, an Iron Age fort, also used by the Romans. It was so sandy it was like being at the seaside!

I would never have really thought about walking in this area if it wasn’t for the situation we find ourselves in this year. So out of every cloud there are some silver linings – we must just remember to look for them.

Some very sour wild crab apples. Cooked and puréed with a little sugar they were delicious.