Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Cornish trip

Great trip to Cornwall, walking the Saints Way with a friend (the Cornish artist Haddow, www.haddow-art.com) and publicising my own Saints Shore Way book, which details a long-distance walking trail on the north coast of Brittany conceived as an extension of the Cornish route.
The Saints Way (Padstow - see Camel estuary above - to Fowey) took form in the 1980s from the discovery of ancient granite stiles in a valley near Luxulyan. These were probably part of an old drovers route but they gave the idea of a north to south coast path that earlier migrants may have followed to avoid dangerous seas around Lands End. The path today connects many Celtic crosses and churches to give character to the saints' theme. From the harbour at Fowey, these Dark Age pilgrims set sail for Brittany, or ultimately for Jerusalem or Compostela.

Our two day walk was slightly marred by driving winds which made lingering on the heights of Saint Breock Downs an unattractive prospect, but we had a restorative night at the excellent St Benets Abbey hotel/B&B. I had quite forgotten the old problems of walking in England with dubious directional arrows across fields, farmyards to avoid and bulls in waiting. We don't have any of that in Brittany, which certainly simplifies matters. Give me track walking any day for ease of nagivation and that welcome give underfoot - there was too much road slogging in the Saints Way for a fairly short route (42 kms).
Also managed quick visits to Penzance and St Ives in the rain before a very welcome meeting with John Fleet of CERES (Centre for European Research within Cornwall) in Truro. Overall it was a fine experience and I added a couple of days in London with my nearest and dearest thanks to the overnight sleeper train from Truro to Paddington. Have to say though, it's good to be home in France.

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