From: Port Isaac to Boscastle
Distance: 13m / 20.8km
Cumulated distance: 113.2m / 182km
Percentage completed: 11
Walking through Port Isaac was indeed like being on location in an episode of Doc Martin. The village has over 90 listed buildings and I walked up the hill with Liz to Fern Cottage, the house used as the Doc’s home in the series. It’s one of the prettiest villages I’ve ever been to, I think and we were seeing it in the dampest of conditions. The morning was very grey.
It was a steep climb out of the village. In the super protected harbour I spotted a couple of seals .. as well as Nathan Outlaw’s very quaint restaurant ,which is so bijoux it only has eight tables. He has two sittings in the evening to compensate. Apparently the food is to die for.
The morning continued wet, making a lot of the ascents and descents very muddy and slippery. The stretch of the walk today was short on sandy beaches .. many more stoney ones. I kept my eyes peeled for Peregrine falcons as I knew there are more than 20 breeding pairs along this stretch of the coast. I was astonished to find out that a Peregrine can reach 200mph during a hunting stoop .. almost half the cruising speed of a jumbo jet, making it the fastest member of the animal kingdom. V cool. Or in Cornish speak as ‘shrammed as a winnard’ .. shrammed meaning chilled, winnard the word for Peregrine falcons in these parts. I guess I shouldn’t be too disappointed that none was out today. Most likely tucked up safe and warm in their nests, avoiding the rain.
On the subject of birds I also need to come clean on choughs. You may remember me commenting a couple of days ago that they looked a lot like plump jackdaws. Well, as it turns out that’s exactly what I’d been seeing. Cornish choughs, with their red beaks and red legs are virtually extinct. Sorry for the fake news.
A memory which came to the surface today as we were walking across the rocky outcrops, was of my father taking cine film of my sister and I crawling across the rocks, while he held the camera sideways. It was a new toy for him. We thought it such a jolly wheeze that we looked as if we were climbing up a perilous rock face! Funny how memories get locked up in our brains, only to be released decades later when there’s a sensorial trigger.
The ups and downs today were challenging. Our calves this evening attest to the steep climbs! I can’t tell you how in love I remain with my poles.
It was wonderful having Mena and Pollo running back and forth between us today, making sure we were all ok. I love this silhouette shot of Mena.
To avoid Pollo’s nose being put out of joint we had him model for a cover of ‘The Field’. He looks pretty splendid, don’t you think!
The sheepdog genes came out in Pollo today as he herded us together, making sure we were all ok. If my steps today measure 35,585 I reckon his must be at least 100,000!
The descent in Trebarwith had us floundering through bracken and briars when we lost the path. Made me realise what a stupendous job those chaps working for National Trails do. Not sure my waterproof trousers will hold up to any more rain, given their new perforations!
We stopped for a bite to eat at the Port William pub overlooking the beach at Trebarwith Strand. Good grub with a sun terrace which must teem with people in the summer. The mussels were utterly delicious. After a caffeine injection we headed back up the cliff path. We then made an executive decision, in the face of another 8 miles to walk, that we’d revert to the country lanes to get to Boscastle. Sadly, it meant we by-passed the ruins at Tintagel but thankfully didn’t miss out on the souvenirs to be had in the village.
On to Boscastle, which lies nestled at the end of a rocky inlet. It is very pretty and encapsulates all that I think of when I hear the phrase, ‘a safe haven’. However, in August 2004 this peaceful refuge was invaded when the village suffered a flash flood of biblical proportions. It was the worst the UK had ever seen. Cars were tossed around in the raging torrent as the normally tranquil River Valancy burst its banks during 8 hours of torrential rain. 440 million gallons of water cascaded through the village at 40mph, wreaking devastation in its wake, with the water gushing through second storey windows. Watch the You Tube clip .. you’ll feel as if you’ve tuned into a Hollywood disaster movie. 120 people were air air-lifted from the rooftops, the biggest rescue since the Second World War. 115 cars were swept into the sea. It’s estimated as a one in 400 year event in UK, although with Global Warming the chances of increase are predictable. Astoundingly, only 6 casualties were taken to hospital and they were all shock patients .. not a bone broken. The flood defences built after the event are extraordinary for their discretion .. there’s a bypass culvert, and the River Valency has been significantly widened. You’d never know that it had happened nor that £10m had been spent putting the defences in place.
It wasn’t an especially long day .. around 14 miles .. but the number and the gradient of the steps made for a tiring day. We will sleep the sleep of good children tonight.