Musings on the Moor

Walking around The Hurlers and other ancient stone circles one can always feel a connection with the past but in Minions and around Stows Hill the very ground is buzzing with history and magic. I recall Paul Broadhurst telling me how important he thought Stows Hill was; well I agree with him. The Hurlers, and other standings stones, are placed where they are because of Stows Hill; ancient man revered this place and so do I.

standing stones on the moor
The Hurlers

When I got up this morning I wondered if it was sensible to climb up to see the Cheesewring and walk across the moors to Sharp Tor, the forecast was bad and I anticipated a lot of mud. Well I decided to go for it and had one of the most wonderful mornings of my walk. It was a slog scrambling up Stows Hill with a large rucksack on my back but it was amazing to be alone with the fantastic natural stone structures and the atmosphere they exude. Sometimes it’s a blessing to be with friends but other times it can be a blessing to be on your own in special places like this.

Walking across to Sharp Tor I got caught in an intense downpour of hail but it didn’t cause a problem other than creating more mud for the rest of today’s walk. This part of the moor is modified by man, he has lived and worked here for thousands of years. It’s only recently that nature has reclaimed  it. I wonder if man chose to live here because of the atmosphere and natural beauty or if man has tweaked and enhanced the atmosphere?

Climbing over a style I managed to catch my waterproof leggings on some barbed wire and they now have a large tear. What was the barbed wire doing on the style? Ask the inconsiderate farmer who put it there!

Am bedded down early in my tent as the forecast says that its going to be cold tonight – better be in my sleeping bag early to keep warm.

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Meeting Fluffy in Dickie

Just as a huge downpour of hailstones burst forth Mr Fluffy appeared wearing his cheerful red jacket and a massive smile. He was also wearing trousers in case you were wondering. I’d just pulled into the Eden Valley Holiday Park after my first harrowing solo drive of Dickie. I worked out a way to strap Hugo the dog in so he couldn’t burst forth onto my lap while I was mid gear-change and after the initial shaking and grumpiness he settled down on his seat while my blood pressure resumed its trip skyward.

close up of Graham's face
A relaxed and happy Mr Fluffy

I had managed the drive at a reasonable average speed of 25 miles per hour, much to the enjoyment of the dozens of cars following behind, and had arrived at the Holiday Park minutes before Mr Fluffy appeared. Great timing.

He’s looking remarkably fit and healthy for a man who will not see the more youthful side of 60 again. Perhaps it’s due to the lack of nagging from me the lack of ‘rolling in poo’ of Hugo that’s contributing to his annoyingly relaxed demeanour.

Two nights in Dickie and it was time to drive home. Of course it was pouring so my speed meant that I was virtually driving backwards at times. A 20-point-turn later and a nervous reverse and I was parked up outside our house. The stress of driving alone with a small dog meant the exhaustion took over and I was in bed by 7:30 PM – unheard of. Not even a drink! I’m sure I’ll get used to it….eventually.

I am yet to tackle the emptying of the toilet. Can’t wait.

silver Hymer 508
Dickie – a big beast

A Cheesey Finale to a Soggy Day

It was great to have Kerriann and Hugo walk with me for a mile or so this morning. The sun came out for a while – then the wind, hale and rain. But my kit worked well and kept me dry. Leaving my Tilley hat on under the hood of my Rab jacket was a particularly successful experiment. My head stayed warm and dry and the rim of the Tilley kept the rain off my glasses.

I had planned to walk to St Neots today but found that I was there by lunchtime so had a lovely meal in the London Inn and then pressed on to Minions. I tried the footpaths on several occasions today but  they were so muddy they were pretty much impossible to walk down, so I ended up walking on the minor roads. This is a pleasure in this part if Cornwall as there are so few cars. I was walking one of these lanes this morning and got the distinct feeling that I was walking with someone; a man, I think, who was in step with me and  was between me and the right hand hedge. I guess, that the hypnotic effect of road walking had entranced me….

muddy path over the moor
Moor Path

When I got to Minions  I had a quick wander around the wonderful Hurlers stone circles then went and sat in the old engine house that is now an information centre. It was warm and rather pleasant inside so I had a bite to eat and phoned around to see if I could find local lodgings as the forecast was for more rain. No joy – all the B&Bs were fully booked.

OK I thought I will bed down in the engine room – and be gone before anyone arrives in the morning. That plan didn’t work either, a local woman came to lock up and asked me to leave. We got talking  and I discovered she used to be a health worker in Boscastle. She told me about The Cheesewring Farm which I called and hooray! They had a room. The lady from the engine house walked with me until she was sure that I was on the correct path and instructed me to follow it past the Cheesewring quarry and continue until I came to a farm with a wind turbine.

I am now installed in this wonderful B&B enjoying my own little cottage and what’s more the landlady has thrown in a free evening meal – maybe I looked famished! This is a great location – if you want first class accommodation at an affordable price near the stone circles, the Cheesewring, and all the other wonders of Bodmin moor this is the place.

I just checked on the GPS and it tells me that I have walked a total of 101.5 miles.

So around 14.5 miles a day – almost exactly what I had anticipated.

selfie in front of a raging river
Is that the water rising? – Golitha Falls

A Night in Dickie

The weather forecast for today was as bad as it could get but it didn’t bother me as I had arranged to meet Kerriann, Hugo (the small dog), in Dickie the motorhome at the Eden Valley camp site near St Austell. Very friendly site I must say.

 

wild daffodils in a field
wild daffodils

As it turned out the weather wasn’t too bad, with some lovely sunshine between one or two downpours. I only walked about 8 miles today but that’s fine, I am not in a rush and will have days when I walk 20 miles or more. Currently I think I am averaging around 14 miles a day; bang on my ( loose) target. 

Kerriann has brought me some clean clothes and more maps – I must say how satisfying it is to see the pile of ‘walked maps’ but it is a little alarming to see the huge ‘to be walked’ pile. 

Today my walking route, The Mary/Michael Pilgrim way coincided in part with the coast to coast Saints Way which I walked some years ago.   

What I do to tomorrow rather depends on the weather – I don’t want to be wild camping in the pouring rain……… 

The Mary/Michael Pilgrim Way is a relatively new long distance route from West Cornwall to Norfolk. The walk roughly follows the earth energy lines identified by Paul Broadhurst and Hamish Miller. The discovery of the currents is described in their excellent and enlightening book The Sun and the Serpent. I read this book many years ago and am delighted to be following the currents on the first part of my long walk. I must also acknowledge the huge amount of work put in to establishing this non-religious pilgrim trail. Well done everyone involved! 

Those that haven’t read the book should do so its a classic.

A Stopoff Near Lovely Lanhydrock

Near Lanhydrock heading towards St Neots tomorrow

tree downed by wind
glad I wasn’t out in this last night

 

track between trees
ancient walkway

Last night I was snug and warm in Dickie our motorhome and I missed the wild weather overnight. Today I’ve walked a mere 6 miles to a secret location where the local National Trust warden has given Kerriann permission to park Dickie. Many thanks Matt, Ian, Rachel and all the NT team that have seen their way through the trust bureaucracy to help me on my walk, your help is much appreciated. Staying here gives me another chance to miss the tail end of storm Katie which is currently buffeting the van. It also gives me a chance to recover a little and rest my limbs.

Walking today with a small pack rather than my usual 14kg load was a breeze. I felt very tall and light without the gravitational pull on my shoulders that my body has adjusted to. It also makes me realise that walking from Lands End to John O’Groats with a back up team is a very different matter from hiking if carrying your home on your back.

But whilst traveling between pre-arranged hotels, hostels etc has some appeal some of the best experiences of my walk so far have been the wonderful places that I have spent a night under canvas.

 

carved stone  at Lostwithiel church
carved stone at Lostwithiel church

I am beginning to realise that I am very dependant on the weather. Yes, I can survive a few nights in the tent in wet conditions but it is no fun. Erecting a wet tent in the rain and having nowhere to dry the day’s wet clothing is about as far from fun as you can get. Also hunting for a b & b in the pouring rain is not the best way to end a long day’s walk.

A must read book is No Destination by Satish Kumar. He is the Jain monk who walked around the world delivering peace tea to world leaders. He set out without any money and relied on humanity to provide for him yet he survived, prospered, and continued to encourage peace pilgrimage. When I am feeling gloomy I must remember to simply have faith and trust that all will be well and that I will be looked after.

Wet and Wild

 

tent in a green field
sleeping wild and later woolly

The night before last I fell asleep to the sound of the wild animals and the river but I was awakened by the howling gail and the lashing rain. The tent held up well but one of the pegs sprang out as the ground got soggy. I searched everywhere for it but it had vanished which was a shame as it was an expensive light weight titanium peg. I had no choice but to pack the tent away wet – I hate doing this but there was no alternative.

path across an ancient bridge
The path ahead

I carried on to the Creed church which was the first dry space I could find to sort out my maps and kit. This lovely, peaceful church was once looked after by the Reverand William Greggor who, in 1779, discovered titanium in the local stream and recognised it as a new element. I wonder if his ghost stole my tent peg? What ever happened to it I don’t feel that it is polluting the ground as there is already titanium present. What a strange coincidence.
The rain continued so I decided to try and find a B&B in St. Austell but to no avail. This being easter weekend the area is busy and many families have been camping, got washed out, and booked into the nearest hotel/B&B. In the spirit of a true pilgrim I pushed on and trusted that a solution would present itself. I picked a track that looked interesting on the map. It looked like there were several old mine buildings and barns so I was hoping for a lovely hay loft or any other sheltered place to spend the night: none showed up.

 

row of shipping containers numbered with room number 42
YHA shipping container based hotel

 

row of shipping container
YHA shipping containers

 

interior of shipping container with bed and shower
Inside my shipping container

Just as I was giving up hope an old farm house appeared in front of me with a big YHA sign. Eden Project Youth Hostel. Hooray! I followed the sign to reception, opened the door and waited. I called out but no body was around – very strange…..

I phoned the Eden YHA and had an even stranger conversation: ‘You cant be in the reception or I would be looking at you!’ I walked outside and read the sign again whilst still on the phone. After a few moments we worked out the problem – I was in the old youth hostel but the signs were still in place. I was told that there were no rooms available at the new hostel but there was space for my tent. Well that would do I thought, but by the time I had walked down the road to the new hostel a room had become available. So all was well.

Youth Hostels have changed somewhat since I last used them. This one comprises several banks of shipping containers which have been covert erected to tiny cabins rather like those on a ferry. There is even a toilet that makes that loud sucking woosh when you flush it just like being on a boat! The prices have changed a bit too – £49 per night.
I could hear the storm lashing against my shipping container and felt glad that I was not in the tent.

close up of Graham's face with wild beard
Shaggy selfie

 

Graham Gets Poetic

I am lying in my tiny tent on the banks of the river Fal. The main flap is propped open so that I can feel the chill in the air and see the misty stillness that surrounds me. The owls are hooting and the river burbles and sometimes speaks in human-like voices. A fox barks and a pheasant cackles – I cannot explain how wonderful and special this is. It is such a shame that this experience can’t be shared .


I will soon fall asleep to the sounds of the flowing Fal, the woodland animals and birds and I thank them for letting me share their space.
Bad weather is forecast for tomorrow- let’s see what the morning brings.
Nite nite.

Barbed Wire and Soggy Skies

Last night I set up my wild camped rather late as it was beside a farmers field and there was no farmer to ask. I followed the golden rule: set up late and leave early. I don’t think I was noticed by anyone other than the rabbits. It was lovely watching the full moon rise behind my tent silhouetting the blackthorn hedge. The tent is getting a little damp with condensation – I think this is mainly due to the cold still nights. We will soon find out as the forecast is for some rough weather.

full moon rising through trees
Full Moon Rising

Today had few highs and lots of lows. The wet drizzle was a pain.It’s the sort of rain that gets everywhere and saps your spirit. This wasn’t helped by the farmers that have plowed up the rights of way, removed the signs, and even put barbed wire across some of the paths. So I got muddy and wet finding my way around the blatant removal of footpaths. Thank heavens for the GPS. One farm (Ro… Farm) was particularly bad and added an hour to my traveling time.

Another bad habit some of the local farmers indulge in is to increase the height of their stiles presumably to make them more stock-proof. This would be fine if done properly but fixing thin wood battens or bits of old rusty iron that can’t take the weight of a person make them very hard to manoeuvre over especially with a large pack on your back. So, again, I got wet, muddy and cross.

However I did have some nice experiences too – I sat in Crowan church and brewed a cup of tea – a local kindly showed me where the fresh water tap was hidden in the wall. I also recharged my phone in the church – I was sure they wouldn’t mind. Having recharged myself and my phone I lit a candle for Hugo and Kerriann who I am missing terribly.

Throughout the afternoon the rain was persistent as was the mud. But I did visit St Piran’s Holy well. The last time I was here I was with Paul Broadhurst whose book The Sun and the Serpent revealed the Michael alignment across the country with its associated Mary and Michael currents that I am loosely following during this part of my walk. I put my head down and kept walking and decided to try and find a B & B for the night as putting a tent up in the rain is no fun.

map of Michael Line highlighted in orange
A somewhat circuitous route

Cutting a long story short I have ended up in a Premier Inn as all the pubs and B & Bs are full. It is Easter weekend after all. At least I can have a long soak in the bath and wash some clothes. I have had a look at the very indirect path that the Mary Michael Pilgrim’s Way takes tomorrow and think that I will take a slightly more direct route. I am sure to miss some lovely sites but it is also important that I make reasonable progress towards Scotland!

Tilley Talk from Top to Toosh

I just met a couple of people on the coast path today. One woman said, ‘is that a Tilley hat you’re wearing? You should tell them about your adventure- I shouldn’t tell you this but I’m wearing Tilley knickers!’

Thankfully we don’t have a photo of the lady in her knickers but here’s one of me in my hat.

close up of Graham's face with St Michael's Mount in the background
Loving my Tilley hat as I walk past St Michael’s Mount in Cornwall