Sunday, 23 September 2012

Hall Walk

The National Trust guidebook presents Hall Walk as a well-hidden secret, which apprently is well-known to devoted hikers. The little footbridge right in front of our cottage is a local attraction, going back to William the Conqueror. I am not a well-trained hiker, but I have walked a hundred kilometres in two months in our country park, and after all walking was exactly what I wanted. So in the morning I put on my gym trousers (I feel more confident wearing gym trousers because then people I meet know what I am at), packed a bottle of water, a pear, three maps, binoculars, a cap, a sweater and my phone. We looked at maps and decided that I would meet Staffan in the little harbour village of Polruan, which would be halfway through my circular walk. I figured out that it would take me forty-five minutes to an hour to do this bit, and I was close in my guess, except for unexpected circumstances, to which I will return. Since our cottage and the footbridge is the middle of the walk as it is described, I was a bit anxious about finding my way, but it was exemplarily marked, and I started with a detour to the Church of Lanteglos (love all these Celtic names!) returning to the main trail with stunning views over the creek as the estuary came closer. I had to cross a short stretch of farmland with a warning sign about respecting the grazing animals and avoiding coming between mothers and young, which I thought was fine. What I wasn't prepared for was three horses blocking the path. My mind went immediately to our adventures in the Kruger Park in South Africa where, if elephants or giraffes block your way you cannot do much about it. However, in the Kruger Park, we sat safely – at least it felt so – in a car, while here I was, three huge horses blocking my way, a rock wall on the left and a precipice on the right. I crouched by the wall hoping that the beasts would move, but instead they came closer, grazing three feet from me, with only brambles between us. I waited. They grazed. Since I had my Runkeeper on, I know that I stayed there for fifteen minutes. I tried to climb the wall up to the road, but it was too high. I waited. The beasts grazed. Then they finally moved, still blocking my way, and I considered walking all the way back and taking the main road when I saw a man with a dog coming my way. I acted damsel in distress, asking him in a very humble voice to get me past the monsters. He did. His dog didn't like them either.

 After that, I soon reached my destination and saw Staffan who wasn't a bit worried about me, since he knows that I am a champion in getting lost. You have no idea what a bliss a cup of horrible instant coffee is after being trapped on a path with dangerous beasts. Then we had more coffee and eventually lunch in a pub with internet. (The only reason I needed to have internet access was that I had a submit a bid to a reseach council that I could not have done before we left. There was nothing urgent otherwise).

From Polruan I had to take a ferry across the estuary to Fowey (pronouced “Foy”; don't ask me how Polruan is pronounced). The ferry was just a tiny motor boat that took twelve passengers. There has been a ferry at this place for a thousand years. Fowey is a lively little town full of shops and pubs. I didn't stay long because I had another ferry to catch and another walk. The other ferry is a car ferry that also takes foot passengers across the Fowey river to Bodinnick, another little village, from where I walked and climbed and walked back to Pont, which means, reasonably, bridge and where we live. I don't know whether this bit of the walk is more popular or whether I did the first half too early in the morning, but there were lots of people, mostly my age and older, all happily walking and climbing. It was low water when I came down, and I felt completely and absolutely happy.

I missed my father. He would have loved this walk.

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