Rocky Coast and Misty Moors
May 12, 2014
|Rocky Coast and Misty Moors
Once I had my chickies gathered, we drove toward the West Coast of England, with a stop at Stonehenge along the way, and an overnight in Dartmoor National Park. I wanted Mary and Emily to meet my AirBnB hosts, Jane and David, the couple I’d stayed with in September. Their beautiful home was the perfect halfway point for our drive to southern Cornwall, and the five of us had a wonderful dinner courtesy of Jane, and a bit of a chat.
We arrived at our house in St. Just the following day, with the usual difficulty of finding about 99% of the places I’ve stayed. Ours was the middle house of the rowhouses, with just a walkway in front of it, no street access. These were the homes of miners, this area of the coast was filled with tin mines, the remains of which could be seen crumbling into ruin but making lovely subjects for photographers and other artists. It was chilly, windy and rainy for most of the four days we spent exploring Cornwall. We didn’t care, well, Mary and I didn’t care; Emily is a sun lover and used to the tropical weather in the Congo, but she didn’t complain. Our house was cozy and warm, very quaint, and St. Just was a great base from which to see the Cornwall Peninsula.
We walked along the cliffs, on well-marked trails, visiting Penzance, Mousehole, which rhymes with “ow-zel”, St. Ives, and The Lizard. In the evenings we walked up to St. Just’s small town square, had dinner and went to the grocery to rent movies. The first time we went, we spent five to ten minutes discussing the best movie choice, carefully picking out two. We approached the register, but the young clerk didn’t want to rent the movies to us, we weren’t locals.
Em was standing next to me as I said, “Look at us, do we look like the type of women that would steal videos?”
“Well, no m’aam, but it’s store policy.”
“For God’s sake, she’s a Nun. Would a Nun steal a movie? Em, show her your cross.”
Emily looked at me in a very un-Nun like way, but the girl caved after that, especially when I gave her a ten pound deposit, we got our movies and had no further trouble.
As we walked back to the house, Em punched my arm, “I can’t believe you pulled the Nun card!”
“Desperate times Em…”
Mary really wanted to take one of our walks on the moors, so I found an awesome app for my IPhone, “I Walk Cornwall” that had dozens of circular walks all over the peninsula, the interactive map downloaded right onto my phone, no wifi necessary once it was downloaded. We picked one that had several ancient stone circles and ruins, about a five mile round trip, difficulty level easy-medium. It was a very misty, windy cold day and before we left town, we picked up three pasties for a picnic. We drove on tiny dirt tracks, following the map on the phone, until we reached the starting point at the gate of a large farm. We set off across the damp grassy hills, following the blinking dot on the phone map, there being no track whatsoever on the ground beneath us. We were heading straight up a gentle slope, and found our first stone circle within ten minutes. There was nothing around us but distant cows, no houses, people or even roads visible. It was spectacular, the light drizzle and low clouds making it far more romantic and interesting than a bright sunny day would have done. We continued up the hills until finally Mary said, “How much further up is it?”
“The map shows us going up another half mile or so, then down a little, then fairly level. Are you OK?”
“I don’t like this, I’m going back to the car before we get too far away.”
“What?! I thought you wanted to walk the moors, I would have picked something else.”
“I didn’t think it would be so hilly.”
“Mary, moors are very hilly, it’s why stuff doesn’t grow on them, just scrub grass and heather. Didn’t you see Wuthering Heights?”
We convinced her to stay with us and stopped to eat our pasties on a large rock formation at the top of the last hill we climbed. As we sat and munched our cold, English version of a Hot Pocket, Mary asked, “Are those fluffy boulders or sheep on that hill over there?”
“Those are sheep Mary…I think I’m glad you’re not driving.”
For the rest of the trip, anything we saw in the distance that we weren’t sure about became a fluffy boulder.
At the bottom of the hill was a bog, an area of drainage for the valley, which I could tell because the grass was taller, in tussocks and looked different than what we’d been walking on, although you couldn’t see any standing water.
“We’re heading over to that stone circle just on the other side of that little swampy area. I think we should go around that weird looking grass, it might be pretty wet.”
We walked down the hill, but Em decided to take the more direct route through the bog.
“Em, if we’re going this way, you should try to step on the little piles of grass, it’s gonna be pretty wet otherwise.”
“OK”, she says as she steps on one of the piles, teeter totters on it, see sawing her arms back and forth, then falls right in, ankle deep in the cold water.
Of course, Mary and I are doubled over, laughing hysterically, which makes Em laugh in spite of herself, and we all three re-trace our steps out of the bog onto what now seems like dry grass.
“I tried to tell you it was swampy Em…”
We kept walking through a herd of horses and some sheep, toward the next stone circle. We had to ford a very tiny stream between us and the stones.
I went first and there was one wobbly rock, so I said, “Watch this rock, don’t step on that one.”
Em stepped right on it and went ankle deep into the water-again.
“Why do I bother? Are you going to listen to me ever?”
Poor Em. She gets no mercy from Mary and I, we tease her like we do each other and since she’s practically the Mother Superior in her convent, no one there teases her, so she hasn’t built up the immunity.
We finally made it back to the car without further incident and decided it was one of the best days we’d had so far. It did take a whole day for Em’s shoes to dry.