A Walk in Cornwall

by Phyllis Weston

On an early visit to Britain I made a discovery: I could start out from anywhere and know that before long I would arrive somewhere worth a visit. Hence, one year when I was waiting to board a freighter to take me home I decided to explore a corner of Cornwall on foot.

My cousin Jeanne and her husbnd Cyril drove me to Lost-withiel where we spent a few nights in a motel. Each day we went to see places I could not visit on my walk, such as Tintagel with its rocky ruins of a castle, said to be an abode of King Arthur. Down below was Merlin’s cave with a great swirl of sea and foam around it. The landscape was unusual with pyramids of the white slag of china clay and the stumpy brick chimneys of abandoned tin mines dating back to the Phoenicians who came to trade in ancient times.

Then, I was on my own and on foot. I set off at a good pace which slackened somewhat as I climbed a hill with a grade of one in six. I must now admit that I had not prepared myself for the walk: no preliminary foot slogging, no knapsack – just a great desire to do it.. My equipment consisted of a flight bag and a walking stick. The latter was much admired, as fastened to it by tiny nails were stocknagels, little tin shields bearing coats of arms or other insignia of a number of German towns I had visited earlier in the summer. I found nothing strange in my appearance, nor did passersbys, or perhaps they were just to polite to stop and stare.

The day was lovely with fine views of rolling hills and, later, of the sea. I came to a house named Castle Dore, where a mild looking dachshund barked at me vociferously. The lady of the house appeared and I asked her about the pre-Christian village of King Mark of Cornwall. Back I went to look more closely at the earthworks and plaque I had passed a few minutes before.

Then on I went to the crossroads, the Four Turnings, near the town of Fowey where I saw the Tristan Stone, a column seven feet high in memory of the son of King Mark.

The story of Tristan reads in part like a comic opera. Sent to Ireland to bring home a bride for his father, he fell in love with the beautiful Iseulde and became her lover. King Mark was suspicious and set traps for the young man. On one occasion he dusted flour on the floor beside Iseulde’s bed, hoping to catch Tristan red-footed. But Tristan leapt over the floor to land on the bed, leaving no tracks in the flour. Having had a glimpse of ancient Cornwall, I marched on. At the Four Turnings was a BP petrol station, where I found much-needed facilities and a cup of coffee.

Very soon I was in the charming seaside resort of Fowey, where I ate a pub lunch: French bread, butter, cheese, pickled onions, and fresh tomato with a glass of sparkling cider. Dogs are as welcome as people in an English pub so that I was not surprised to see two French poodles and a seeing-eye dog waiting patiently for their owners.

As it was too early to seek a night’s lodging, I pushed on for Par, three miles distant.



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(c)1997 -Phyllis Weston
21st Century Adventures - March/April 1997