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Posts Tagged ‘walking’

Beautiful #Cornwall

Cornwall has long been my bolt hole from the world, where I come to switch off. I find myself back here for the second time in a week, spending this glorious Easter weekend with family.

One of my favourite pastimes here is walking the coast. There is a particular stretch I must have walked a hundred times over the years, between Portreath and Godrevy. Since my family moved to Illogan, I have turned it into a round walk, from the top of Park Bottom, through Tehidy Woods to the coast, past Hell’s Mouth and on to Godrevy Point, then back to Portreath.

I’ve yet to to do the full round walk on this trip, and might not, but I have made the trip to Godrevy and Hell’s Mouth a couple of times. Here are some photos from my walks over the last couple of weeks, including the seals basking on the beach. I’ve also thrown in a few of Holywell Bay that I only discovered, shamefully, last week.

Cornwall has also inspired a lot of writing, too. This is a piece from a few years ago that was inspired by a walk very similar to those I have enjoyed these past weeks.

A Cornish Walk

They sold ale here long ago, 

To miners and travellers,

This ancient kiddleywink

Maintaining a vigil over

The crossroad hedges.

I take a winding lane past

A slope of straggle-eared

Wheat, through a dark

Cathedral tunnel of oak,

Beech and elm, past the

Mining way where weary

Cousin Jacks once walked,

Dreaming of New World

Lives an ocean’s sail away.

On, then, down Green Lane,

Where golden corn meets

Blue water meets bluer sky,

To the cliffs that loom

Above the sand and rocks

That story-boarded my

Childhood adventures of

Wreckers and pirates,

And above the tunnels from

Caves to twisty cottages

Cradled in the granite.

On to the moor, high

Above the beaches

Where revenue men

Fought smugglers for kegs

Of rum and gin, and crates

Of tea and tobacco from

Magical lands, where shaggy

Ponies chew the grass and

Watch those passing by

With lazy curiosity.

Further on, sheep, beyond

The dips and climbs that

Drain lungs and legs

And test the heart, 

Smile furtively, before

Shuffling slowly cross the 

Meadow, a late August’s

Morning sun beating down

On wool-laden backs.

And by the crumbling path’s

Edge, a scent of low tide,

Of salt-crusted grass and

Fresh sea breezes, lifts

Me out of my thoughts

And causes me to smile:

Pleasure in such simplicity.

By the roadside Café  I

Pause, tea and frozen

Orange to slake a thirst, and

I think back on the years

I have walked these paths,

The company kept from 

Time to time, though,

Ruefully, I acknowledge,

More often alone than not.

And as I strike out on the

Final miles, I pass the vicious

Maw where once a foundered

Trawler’s bell tolled its haunting

Requiem for those that

Drowned one stormy night,

But, where rust and waves

Have silenced even that

Lonely memorial, all that

Remains are the memories

Of those of us that knew.

Through fields of cattle and

Over stiles, and on and on,

I climb the final headland

Until a gleaming jewel, 

The island lighthouse, presents

My exhausted journey’s end. 

Satisfied, I make my rest and

Wonder: why this walk, year

After year? Why this stretch

Of coast above all others?

Why the peace from so much

Toil? Is it just the promise of

The sea’s refreshing churn?

No matter why, I smile, and

Close my eyes to dream a while.

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There is something quite bleakly beautiful about the countryside that lies against the Essex coast. The vast skies over flat scrub and grassland, the silhouettes of trees against the horizon as the sun sets, and the cold reaches of the Thames, snaking its way past Southend, Mucking and Tilbury, can conjure feelings of a romantic loneliness. It was the perfect surrounding for a New Year Day’s walk, a chance to walk and think and take in the beauty of the countryside I am lucky to live so close to.

At Mucking, the Mucking Marshes Landfill provided one of the largest landfill sites in Western Europe. Until very recently, the barges floating down the Thames, carrying London’s municipal waste in bright yellow containers, were a familiar sight. At the end of 2010, with the expiration of its extension on its waste license, Mucking Tip stopped taking waste. Now, the site has been capped and the amazing Essex Wildlife Trust has established its largest and most ambitious project yet, Thurrock Thameside Nature Park, creating a safe haven for dozens of birds and other wildlife, both common and rare. With a visitor centre providing stunning views over the Thames estuary and a café with welcome refreshments, EWT have  created something really quite special on this stretch of the Essex coastline.

Some photos from today’s excursion below.

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