The West Coast of England is a mysterious and mystical place and the further west you travel the more magical the country becomes. This is the land of Arthur, Guinevere and Lancelot. Walk the old drove roads of the Scottish highlands and you are conscious that you are walking amongst the spirits of men who drove their cattle along the same route hundreds of years before. Walk the paths of Cornwall and you are walking with the saints and sinners who have trod these routes for millennia.
Years ago I walked a lovely long journey alongside creeks, over lush country fields and down little lanes adorned with spring flowers and the lovely scent of wild garlic. At a tiny hamlet called Malpas — no more than a little row of cottages — I came to a ferry man’s house. According to local history Tristan and Isolde had passed this way en route to Glastonbury Tor.
Tristan and Isolde were not the most auspicious travellers to have come this way. Local tradition on the Roseland Peninsula has it that Jesus and his father Joseph travelled this way during Jesus’ ‘lost years’. They too were headed for Glastonbury Tor. The legend is commemorated in William Blake’s Jerusalem. The words “And did those feet in ancient time …” recalled this Roseland Trip.
Today’s traveller will find Cornwall’s paths and by ways just as beguiling as not doubt these ancient journeymen did. Here we have walks as dramatic as any other celtic coastline, paths that hug the sides of fabulous creeks and which cross gorgeous open country. A walking holiday here has something for everyone and while a few days on the coastal path can be truly exhilarating there is much else to see across the fields and along the ancient narrow ways, sunk below the lines of fields over thousands of years as a result of traipsing man and beast.
My trip was only a short one. A strong and arctic bitter wind battered coastal walkers all weekend so much so that our later days hugged the protective lines of inland creeks. The cruel wind cut through everything and gave me my most unpleasant walk in years — even two dreadful May treks over the last two years in the Highlands were preferable.
It is a long time since I was here but, I suspect, not that long before I return. But my return will be timed to hit spring or early summer.