Thursday, 3 December 2009

Lonely vigil

I hesitate before stepping out from the shelter of the car, and, when I do, have to turn my back to the sea in order to fasten my coat which is almost torn off me. A raw, buffeting, wind shrieks in over the cliff edge and scours everything in its path as it heads inland. Sea and sky are a uniform grey. There is no horizon. Tumultuous waves roar in and shatter into white shards upon the rocks a long way below. The gale is so fierce that I have to struggle to get near and peer over the edge and am then held there, fighting to breathe.
Again the silver car is in the car park. Its occupant is motionless, looking straight out to sea. I can see rain approaching; a grey ghost moving silently over the waves. I hurry on.

Thursday, 19 November 2009

All alone

16 November

The sky is overcast and the sea whipped into white curls by the keen on-shore breeze. I see noone apart from, in the car park on the edge of the cliff, a figure sitting in a small silver car that faces the sea. Small birds scurry through the gorse, staying close to the ground. Gulls congregate in the fields. Their cries penetrate the roar of the sea and wind. I spot a kestrel on the cliff face. He does not move from the shelter he has found even when the curve of the path takes me closer and I watch him through binoculars for some minutes. The grass shivers around my feet and individual blades shine as they move. As I walk, Godrevy lighthouse, stark white against the black of encroaching rain, disappears from view. I disturb a flock of tiny birds that fling themselves into the air like a handful of ash. There is a pair of stonechats on the wire fence. The one nearest to me sits tight for as long as it dares, then lifts off to a safer distance further down. As I approach the second, it too takes flight to a position beyond the first and so the game continues as I make my way. Black faced sheep watch as I turn my back on the smoky filaments of rain now descending from the clouds to the sea, and enter the woods. Here the colours are yellow, brown, orange and green: too much green from leaves torn off by the wind before their time. I stand under an ancient oak, its branches reaching far out from its trunk and ending in thin skeletal fingers that almost touch the ground. Nearby is a beech so alight with yellow leaves that for a moment I think the sun has come out.

Monday, 9 November 2009

Magical day

9 November

The seasons shifted. Winter doffed its hat briefly to spring. The thin gruel of cold, grey, wet days was replaced by a world as rich as a large box of assorted chocolates.

Blue sky with a few wisps of cloud. Sunshine. An absence of wind. The gentle hissing of the surf. Starlings clustered on the telegraph wires. Again the continuous burbling of a lark, heard but not seen. A red and black butterfly dancing into, and then out of the boot of the car. A greenfinch - bright orange cap, wings splashed with yellow - pulling powder puffs of seed heads from thistles. The drone of a small plane and a motorbike suddenly exploding the silence, sharing time but in different universes than this one of mine. A cloud of linnets undulating through the air. A stone chat high on a gorse bush. A wren clinging, tail cocked, to a brown stem of cow parsley.
Fiona (grey hair cut in a bob), Barry (bearded) and Katie the black cocker spaniel who told me they walk the path regularly. We had never met before, but today our lives touched before continuing their separate trajectories.
The roofs of cottages appear over stone hedges lying between me and The Beacon. I listen to a conversation between gulls. Single filaments of spiders' webs: stretched across the path, hanging between the rods of a cattle grid, and, when viewed from the critical angle, seen in their thousands, shimmering like frost, a silken blanket, suspended over the tussocks of a field.
Again I go only as far as the first gate and turn back into the woods. On the bottom of a puddle there are mud and dead leaves, but, only adjust your vision, and the still surfaces reflect the sky and the trees.

Thursday, 29 October 2009

Gracie May

27 October 2009

First things first. I know you will want a map to show you where I am walking and I am working on it.

Meanwhile, let me tell you what happened when I went walking today. I was short of time so only got as far as the second kissing gate, before leaving the cliff path and circling back to the car.

I set out at about 10am on a bright and breezy day. A lark rose and sang. Gorse, like scattered sunshine, still flowered amongst the dried seed heads, beige grasses, and faded heather at the cliff edge.

A group of people appeared.Two young women, two older women, and a young man carrying a child. They were three generations of a family from Northhampton on a week's self-catering holiday, and staying at Tehidy Park. "Four generations" quipped the man,"if you count Dad." They had walked from their holiday home through the woods, and finding themselves on the coast road could not resist (and I understand this, being someone who always wants to see what is at the end of a path) the green sign saying "Public Byeway. Coast path 300 yards".

The highlight of their walk, I was told by the delightful Gracie May ( aged 2, blonde curls, unabashedly pink coat, and surveying me from her father's arms), was the muddy puddles.

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

The beginning

I have decided to start a blog to tell you about a favourite walk of mine, and the sights and people I encounter on it. I have been walking along this part of the South West coast path for many years, and have discovered no visit is ever identical to another. I have met interesting people, and surprising things have happened. Let's see what I encounter with you as my companions.