Arrived here yesterday with my cousin, Karen, and her husband Tony. They had picked me up at the airport on Sunday, and we drove down to Cornwall that afternoon after dropping off an extra suitcase at my the-other-side of-the -amily cousin's home on the way down.
Giving me a lazy Monday morning to sleep in and adjust a little to the time change and jetlag, Karen and I then set off to begin our walk along the Saint's Way from Padstowt to Fowey. Truthfully, we actually didn't start to walk until nearly 4pm! A very lazy, wonderful day with some time in the old port town of Padstow before getting walking. I even got to drink my first cider of the visit - had to visit a pub to get wifi so that I could let my family know that I had arrived safely!
This path crossed from north to south in mid-Cornwall. They say that no historical evidence exists for this path, yet there are ancient stone stiles that actually sparked the revival of the path when they were discovered.
These stiles, when cleared of their covering of dense undergrowth, sparked the concept of the Saint's Way. What's interesting is that they are located just about half way along the path.
The first day Karen and I walked about 5 miles, enjoying the beauty and the views of the sea behind us, the Camel Estuary as well as smaller creeks, rolling farm land and also windmill farms. This afternoon's walk was the perfect "landing" for me that I was actually walking in Cornwall with my cousin! After all of our conversations (via email and Facebook) to plan and coordinate, the journey was actually happening!
During this pilgrimage, Karen's husband, Tony, would drop us off and pick us up at our beginning and ending points, and then take us home to our campsite in a field of buttercups at Medroc Farm to a glass of cider or wine and a delicious dinner. This was a fun way to do a pilgrimage!
Our second day was a 12-13 mile walk through more open countryside. We walked up onto the St. Breock Downs with its open fields, wind turbines and the longstone up at the top. This stone is an ancient stone, standing 16 feet tall as a beacon high on the hills. Ileaned against it facing the sun, and felt its ancient presence in this ancient land fill my being.
Our third day was our most eventful. All was going very smoothly, Karen and I got to walk and talk, and actually get to know each other in a way that we never have before. We shared stories, insights, beliefs, thoughts and feelings as we walked through the land of our great grandparents, grandparents and parents - her mother - Pat(ricia), and my father, Richard.
We got our earliest start and thought that we would meet Tony in Fowey, the seaside port town on the south side of Cornwall, by 5pm or so.
Somewhere just after Luxulyan, we started walking in circles, or I prefer, spirals, but we didn't even know it until we came to a familiar stile, a familiar puddle with a large stick lying in it vertically to assist us in walking through the mud, and an undeniably familiar step of steep stone steps!!
Even then, we couldn't figure it out because we had followed Saints' Way signs all the way, that had taken through woods and on top of beautiful fields with curious cows. Instead of taking the left turn we had previously taken, we even went back to the way we had come down across the fields to the stile which seemed to be the culprit. Crossing that, we ended up at a farm that actually was the source of the confusion. Even as we attempted to get back on the path, we were thwarted and turned around, only to end up at a car mechanic's garage who revealed to us how far off the path we were! Very confused at this point, we decided to walk around, back by our campsite at Medros Farms and see if Tony was still there. He wasn't but we did get to walk around the farmer's beautiful personal garden and take in its beauty and color.
With two hours of wandering in spirals, then a left and another left, we were back on the path and able to head down toward St. Blazey's. We were so happy to see the signs of the Saints Way path!
Our theory is that a farmer was intentially disrupting the path through his fields and farm. Funny thing though - with his diversions we traipsed through his fields much more than if we had just walked straight through!
The rest of the walk was beautiful and in the soft golden light of the afternoon. We went from being on top with a 360 degree view down to the sea, from open fields through verdant woods with creeks and moss.
The walk into Fowey took longer than I expected, and it felt so good to arrive and to complete our journey.
This walk was the perfect opportunity for Karen and I to walk together. She walks a lot, even walking a 60-mile walk last year to raise money for her not-for-profit organization that built and supports a school in The Gambia in Africa. I will post its information on another blog. We walked, we talked, we laughed, we shared. We connected and actually developed a lasting relationship as cousins, and even more, as friends.
So, with my Cornish walking legs under me, today I set off to take the train up to Lenant on the north side of Cornwall to walk the 12 mile St. Michael's Way back down to Penzance. I have wanted to walk this path for several years now, and thought I would walk it last autumn. Today must be the day to walk it 'cause that's what I am going to do! This is my first day to walk by myself - and I am excited and ready to do this.
Decided to walk with a day pack rather than lug around my full pack. I'm off then!
*it is solved through walking!