October seemed to begin with endings. Summer was over, the zebras had left town and even the boundary stone hunt had come to an end as far as I could tell. There were beginnings too of course, signs of Autumn to be seen in the slowly changing leaves and Commando back at parkrun and the CC6. Even the seemingly never ending task I’ve set myself to virtually walk around the coast of Great Britain seemed to be drawing to a close. So how did I do this month?
In week one I managed to fit in 33.5 miles, taking me past the Lizard and Goonhilly where the huge dish aerials watch the world. The week ended in Maenporth, or stones cove in English, on the estuary of the river Fal, about two miles from Falmouth. The beach, I’m told, is good for swimming, rockpooling, fishing, boating and sunbathing although I’d think it would be a touch cold about now. If the weather is kind there are lovely views across Falmouth Bay towards Pendennis Castle. There is also a beach cafe, which would be good news for me if I was really walking here.
When Ruth was there at the end of May 2013 the little beach was crowded with sunbathers and swimmers. She stopped in the cafe for a drink. If I’d been there for real in early October I’m pretty sure it would have been far quieter and the cafe may well have been closed.
The second week of October brought a trip the the City Archives, a wild goose chase in Basset Woods and a walk with the Itchen Spitfires. The week two miles totalled 36.58 and took me to Mevagissey, a place I would love to visit for real. There has been a settlement there since the Bronze Age and there has been a church there, dedicated to the saints Meva and Ida (or Issey), since around 500AD. The name of the village comes from the Cornish Meva hag Ysi, meaning Meva and Issey. There are also three holy wells.
Pilchard fishing and smuggling were the main sources of income in the village. These days tourism is the main industry although there are still fishing boats in the harbour, built on the site of a medieval quay. The inner harbour was built in 1774 and the outer in the late 1800’s. There was once a lifeboat station but this closed in 1930 when the neighbouring station at Fowey equipped itself with a motor lifeboat that could cover the whole area.
The pretty little village nestles in a valley with narrow streets and houses on the steep slopes. Andrew Pears, the founder of Pears’ Soap was born there in 1768 and owned a barber shop in the village. If I’d been visiting for real there is one thing I really could not have missed though. On the slopes above the village is the Heligan Estate, home of the Tremayne family. The Victorian gardens have been restored and are now open as the Lost Gardens of Heligan.
Ruth reached Mevagissey in early May 2013 on a walk that started out wet and miserable as so many of mine do. Luckiy, by the time she arrived the sun was out and she could enjoy the prettily coloured houses and an ice cream on a bench looking over the harbour. I wish I’d been there for real to do the same, although, in October, there might not have been any sun.
The miles in week three came from my park run wanderings, a walk to and from the stadium to see Francis Benali and a trip to say goodbye to the zebras in the main. The 34.19 miles I walked took me through Looe, where we spent our last Cornish holiday just before Philo left home, to Downderry, with its long shingle beach. The walk actually ended on the cliffs above the beach, which is probably just as well as the east beach is a nudist beach. Then again, at this time of the year I doubt there would be any naked sunbathers,
If I was really there I’d probably stop off to have a look at the remains of the Chain Home radar installation, dating from World War II. One of the bunkers is now a residential garage but I’m sure it would still be interesting to see. Behind the village there is an older relic, the only known example of a cursus earthwork in Cornwall. Knowing my luck with such things I’d never be able to find it though. Ruth was in Downderry at the end of March 2013, on a walk that included a bull on the trail and a sheep being born.
A walk around Exbury gardens and some local walks looking for Autumn colour helped make up the 50.16 miles in week four. So, October ended in Battisborough Cross, overlooking Butcher’s Cove. I’d left Cornwall behind at Cremyll, when I crossed the river Tamar to Plymouth and now I was back in Devon, in a tiny village just outside the town.
By all accounts this sleepy little hamlet on the banks of the River Erie estuary and the nearby coves are idyllic. Think traditional cottages, farms, leafy lanes and woodlands and nature walks. So beautiful in fact that Turner painted several of his works there.
Ruth ended her walk nearby in November 2013. She walked the last leg with her husband and had to deal with bulls, rain and a lost car. From her photos, the views from the cliff top look spectacular, despite the rain.
The 154.43 October miles took my 2016 total to 1591.82, a long way short of the two thousand I’d hoped for by the end of the year. Still, hone feels very close indeed, but, with just two months left in 2016, making it there before the December ends is by no means a certainty.
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