Before I start rambling incoherently about the last few days of my little quest, I thought it was about time that I mentioned that there are two other stories going on in parallel to mine.
First is what is happening at home. I write this because the man who is repairing my lawnmower called me today to say it will be ready this weekend. A smidge late for me to pick up and yet another thing I have left my suffering better half, Kate, and the family to sort out in my absence.
I like to feel that Kate and the family are thankfully very much playing their part in this adventure and that in truth (though I’m not very good at admitting it publicly) I do rather miss them too. With modern communications it’s much easier to talk, text, email or skype – so I have no excuses for failing to keep in touch with everyone even if I do hit areas on the dark side with an iffy phone signal.
To that end I have Kate giving me my morning weather forecast which helps me to don the right clothing. She also continues to research possible stopovers. Indeed it may well be that ‘Kate’s List’ becomes worthy of publication in its own right at some point. On top of that, I think she has already redecorated half of the house and probably tidied up huge heaps of my mess.
As for anything else at home – sorry, but I rather like to keep things to myself. Hence my family conversations are not going to get repeated here, on facebook, twitter or anywhere else. Home is home and here is ….well ….errr….somewhere else for a few months.
Secondly is the support drivers tale. I have set up a little ‘captains log’ on board Snickers for the drivers to put down their thoughts. I have vowed not to read it till I finish, so they are free to put down anything they want and I have a sneaky suspicion that their stories could well be much more interesting than mine. Maybe I can pull my story together with theirs, Kate’s and the family to make one juicy little tome one day.
So where were we??????
Stage 16 9th March: Freathy to Polperro 16.2m
After a good night of food, bed and bath at Rob and Kate’s in Plympton – thanks guys, I was rewarded further with a neat pile of clean laundry and a cooked breakfast. With Mike on his way home with Jane and Gillie, Rob finished cleaning the van whilst I topped up on provisions. Driver No.4 and pal from Quorn Cricket Club, Sharpie, turned up early afternoon and we headed off to Whitsands Bay to find a stopover in what looked like an old fort at the top of the cliff. There was a motorhome rally on and the organiser, Brian, was one of those good ole’ boys who was incredibly helpful. Through his quiet recommendation we found ourselves with a free pitch for the night.
The following morning was sunny and felt very much like summer had skipped in ahead of spring. I suspected that I may just need my newly acquired legionnaires hat on today – or crap hat as I call it. I left Freathy having forgotten to turn my tracking on….grrrr and headed on to Portwrinkle where I found another cousin – Mike and his wife Caroline waiting for me on the seafront. We chatted about this, that and family for a good half an hour as I got a tour of their allotment before heading off over the cliff for an easy walk (or am I just getting better) to Downderry, Seaton and Looe.
Looe (photo) was heaving with visitors queueing for fish and chips and paddling in the sea. I treated myself to a Strawberry and Clotted Cream flavoured ice cream which I was savouring sweetly as I strolled along the harbour before a sodding sea-gull swooped over my shoulder and plucked it from my hand with barely a feather brushing my face. It neatly left a tiny bit of cone in my hand which I threw after the fluttering thief with an added expletive questioning the parenthood of the sky-rat.
I met up with Sharpie on the cliffs above Polperro in good time for a pint or two whilst enjoying the second half of England v Wales in the six nations.
Stage 17 10th March: Polperro to Charlestown 18.7m
More shirt sleeve weather and a day of unexpected ascent.
Around Pencarrow Head to Polruan (with a rolled r) was lovely. Spring had found its rightful place again and primroses lined the path which had dried to such a degree that I ventured to remove my gaiters for the first time.
I stepped straight on to the little ferry across to Fowey and tried my luck with a second ice cream in the form of a Magnum which I kept under close guard and out of the eye-line of any marauding sky rat. I tucked into my lunch at St Catherine’s Point above Fowey where a passing conversation with Duncan and Jan was unexpectedly and generously rewarded with a very kind donation to the charities.
Unfortunately my afternoon walk round to Par felt a little suburban in comparison to the morning session as the path seemed to be very busy, though a dozen people has already become busy by my standards. Par itself was depressing even in the sunshine. The china clay works dominate the sea front and the nature reserve / lagoon behind the beach served as a park for kids and grannies to feed to birds (photo). To top it all a rather tacky holiday park sandwiched itself between the reserve and the clay works and to top it off I was forced to walk around it all by hitting the main road.
Fortunately things improved and my destination of Charlestown – though hardly as quaint as your archetypal rambling Cornish village – seemed unspoilt by the burden of Londoners second homes (I shall rant on this issue later I suspect)
Stage 18 11th March: Charlestown to Portloe 19.6m
Overnight, yet another Kate kindly handed us a collection she had gathered from the staff at the Britannia Inn near St Austell and I headed out at an easy pace on a cool, overcast and perfect day for walking. My pace was probably a little too easy as my viewranger route planner had stopped displaying height correctly (since fixed) so I really wasn’t expecting a new daily ascent world record for Pete Hill of 6,062ft – or a PB in less grandiose terms.
The coast path was rugged and had a proper Cornish feel to it, but the ups and downs were relentless. Nothing huge but far too many of them to count.
At Mevagissey I met Mel the meter man who enthusiastically told me about his upcoming american road trip. He continued chatting as he knocked on another door, commenting that it doesn’t really matter as nobody is ever in as “they all live in London” we said in unison. It seemed a repetitively sad tale as Mel told me how the community spirit had died and that locals just couldn’t afford to pay £400,000 for a small cottage. Surely these greedy sods could lay off and just rent the occasional holiday home like normal folk and not buy everything up and then leave it empty for 95% of the year. If I had my way, I’d issue a cut-price compulsory purchase order on all of them and offer them back to the locals for the same knock-down price. It stinks that wealth can push people out of their own community, but hey, they won’t be reading this blog to care as they will more likely have their noses buried in the Financial Times checking their portfolio performance or examining The Times top 50 public schools for Tarquin and chums.
Rant aside, I lingered a little too long in Mevagissey (photo) and enjoyed a caramel and honey crunch ice cream before topping the calories up even more with sandwiches and a pork pie.
With many miles to cover I pressed on apace with ascents and descents coming in rapid succession. I peculiarly came across a woman bent on all fours in front of me rising with arms outstretched as she welcomed the sun with a salutation dance. I wasn’t complaining about her pose but the salute she made to me had more to do with the moon than the sun.