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Coastlining 29: Crackington Haven – Bude

Date: Wednesday 24th September 2014   Distance walked: 10 miles  Total distance: 286 miles

2014.09.24 (2) Crackington Haven

Crackington Haven

Woke to showers which cleared to a brisk wind from the north-west, bright colours, cloud-shades indigo on the sea and crisp white waves. There were sharp shadows on the double peak of Cambeak to the west of Crackington Haven. I climbed the first hill, 100m or so above the dusky pink beach and handful of dwellings in the crease of the valley mouth, and could see Lundy for the first time since Pentire Point on the Camel Estuary. Continue reading


Coastlining 19: Pendeen – St Ives

Date: Thursday 5th June 2014     Distance walked: 14 miles     Total distance: 178.5 miles


Down into a stream-cut cleft and over the first footbridge of many, crossing a cascading rock-and-plant-filled rill cutting down from the fields and Penwith moors above me and dropping away to my left and down into Portheras Cove. Once up and out there was a view of what was to be the lay of the land for the day: Gurnard’s Head the furthest visible point of land sticking out into the sea in the distance beyond the nearer bulkhead of Chypraze Cliff. I was heading east, and will be from here on in for the best part of the north coast. Fourteen miles of what was promised to be part of the most severe and least populated stretch of the Cornish coastline lay between me and my destination of St Ives. Continue reading


Mind the Gaps: Notes from an Irish Island

2011.05.07 Aran (7)

It’s St Patrick’s Day today – not something I celebrate having absolutely no Irish connection whatsoever, but it made me think about Ireland and the only time I’ve ever been there, which in turn made me dig out the notebook I made during that visit. I spent a windswept and hilarious ten days with my MA team wandering around Dublin and Galway and the largest of the Aran Islands off Galway Bay, eating cheese and biscuits, free-wheeling our bikes down empty Aran roads, making a campfire made from a pallet we had to stamp on and throw rocks at to get it into small enough pieces, and scribbling who-knows-what in our fieldbooks in the guise of practising writing nature and place. Here’s a little snippet from mine. It’s a bit random but that’s the whole point of a notebook…

My overwhelming first impression of Araínn, Inishmore, Inis Mór, this largest of the Aran Islands off the west coast of Galway is the colour grey. I used to associated grey with all the negative things in life: Bracknell Town Centre and School, our head-to-toe concrete colour uniforms, the 1970s concrete architecture of the town, dank concrete underpasses, tower blocks, roundabouts and kerbs… Cornwall taught me a different sort of grey: granite, slate and raincloud, the sea under a lowering sky. Inis Mór is grey in both the Cornish sense and totally differently grey. Continue reading

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Coastlining 13: Lizard Point – Mullion Cove

Date: 26th May 2014        Distance walked: 6 miles (116 miles total)       Height climbed: 1329ft

2014.05.26  (7)

Five lambs in the hedge – one all black – beside the road as I make my way with Annie and her dog towards the most southerly point in mainland Britain. The Lizard lighthouse nestles in its cluster of buildings on the tip of the land, white against a pale-clouded sky. One chough flies overhead: fingered wings, sickle bill. Late May millefleur in the hedge banks. The road leads right off the edge, down the slipway to Polpeor Cove’s redundant lifeboat house. Even at half tide it’s easy to see what a treacherous place this is for a lifeboat to be stationed – both as to why it would be so needed and why its relocation was deemed necessary. A crust of rocks pocking the still surface of the sea, immersed and emersed, barely a navigable stretch between their dark shapes. Underfoot the mud of the path is a bricky pink-brown, a hint of the red and green marbled serpentine rock underneath it all. I used to think the Lizard peninsula got its name from its unique bedrock and was slightly disappointed to discover its corruption from the Cornish lys-ardh, ‘high court’ rather than its serpent-skin geology. Continue reading