Happy new year everyone, and what a strange start to 2016 it is; certainly a lot wetter, windier and milder than we’re used to. Who thought we’d still be in double figures degrees centigrade in January, with daffodils and irises already in flower?!
Today I travelled back from my Christmas break in North Cornwall on flooded but passable debris-strewn roads with overflowing gutters, alongside lakes that used to be fields. Not that I’m complaining. I know that some of you have had a lot worse to contend with up North, and my deepest sympathies to all of you who have water where it shouldn’t be!
Although we had a wet and windy time of it in the South West over the past week, with the right gear (new waterproof trousers for Christmas), we still managed to get out and explore.
Our highlights included:
Rocky Valley amble
Just East of Tintagel we strolled alongside the gushing Trevillet river, down through an ivy-clad valley …
… towards the bracken-strewn slopes of a rocky inlet …
… emerging above a stunningly stark black slate gorge where waves pounded the steep walls. At their highest point, the slate canyon walls tower over 70 feet above the river below.
From here, we climbed up onto a windswept headland …
… for views along the rugged Cornish coast, across gorse bushes heavy with blooms …
… before heading back along the swollen river, where we found Bronze Age labyrinth rock carvings.
Camel Trail bike ride
Starting roughly in the middle of the Camel Trail at Wadebridge, we cycled along the river and under the trees to Bodmin, then to Wenfordbridge and back to Wadebridge, then along the Camel estuary to Padstow.
31 miles along a disused railway, and the rediscovery of my quad muscles, were enough for me, but while I relaxed with a coffee in Padstow, watching the evening Christmas lights flicker on around the harbour, my husband went into battle against storm Frank, cycling back to Wadebridge to pick up the car (my hero!).
Portquin to Port Isaac
This stretch of clifftop path squeezes in all the best attributes of the Cornish coast. It is unpredictable, wild and rugged, and on this occasion extremely windy and very muddy.
We slipped up muddy paths to watch gannets soaring over frothy waves off the headland. Then slithered down muddy paths to watch a lone grey seal ‘seabathing’ just off the rocks …
… before sliding over more muddy terrain for traditional Cornish pasties and hot chocolate (with marshmallows and cream!) in Port Isaac.
Given the pretty atrocious weather, we did have a few indoor highlights on this trip as well, namely:
- Cornish real ales
- A 5-star 5-course New Year’s Eve dinner in the St Kew Inn
- Evenings at ‘The Beech Hut’ with a log burner and Netflix
- A packed-out matinee showing of Star Wars at The Regal cinema in Wadebridge.
Although it has been a grey start to the year, there are always ways to make it greener.