Hazards Of Being A Curious Explorer

Bodmin Moor, Garrow Tor, John Winchurch

It would be a mistake to imagine you might be able to veiw Cornwall properly from the window of a passing car. If traveling near our home, you’d see the wide open spaces of course and the immediate beauty of Bodmin Moor, but the tucked away places require a bit more effort to reach … and maybe a pair wellies if you want to keep your feet dry.

Last Saturday, John and I set out on a path we’d been on a few times before. We parked on a patch of moorland grass, slipped on our wellies and started walking towards King Arthur’s Hall.

Bodmin Moor, King Arthur's Hall, Brown Willy, Rough Tor

King Arthur’s Hall with Brown Willy and Rough Tor in the distance.

It had been a while since we had walked to the unusual rectangular shaped area on the moor  that is surrounded by 56 stones like the one in the photo above. There are a lot of suggestions as to its age and original use, but like the Arthurian legend, no one can say for sure. You can read more about the monument here. (Do have a look at the links as the details are interesting)

Bodmin Moor, Garrow Tor, John Winchurch

You never know what kind of livestock you may come upon or how they will behave. Cows are always interested in you until you get close enough for them to see that you are not bringing anything for them to eat. These were part of a larger group that alternated between following us and running away. What looks like a pile of rocks behind them is Rough Tor. You can see me standing on top of it in my header at the top of this post.

Bodmin Moor, Garrow Tor, John Winchurch

Remember when I mentioned that you would miss a great deal if you only saw Cornwall by car … this stream of water is the first sign of the unexpected for those thinking moorland is just an open grassy space. Crossing over this footbridge takes you into what I think of as, ‘The Dark Wood.’ There are gorgeous bits of light that break through the tightly planted rows of trees at times, but not on this day.Bodmin Moor, Winter Trees

I shot this after walking through the narrow swath of trees. It was so green that I modified the color a bit making it look a bit more wintry than it actually did on Saturday.

Bodmin Moor, Garrow Tor, John Winchurch

There are loads of circular stones once you are through the woods and they line the hillside reminding you that neolithic communities and medieval villages once stood here. The wind is always blowing when we’ve walked through here and I can’t imagine how the people who lived in these stone and likely wooden structures (I think) ever felt truly warm.

Bodmin Moor, Garrow Tor, John Winchurch

Rounding the hill and in the distance sits an old stone cottage that appears as if it has changed little over the years. The windows are not original, but with no electricity, or running water, it is still very primitive. I think the single pane of glass in the windows looks as if there is no glass there at all adding to the abandoned feeling that makes one want to hurry past … unless your name is John Winchurch.

Bodmin Moor, Garrow Tor, John Winchurch

You wouldn’t think it to look at him, but John likes to make his own set of rules sometimes and while he gives off this easy-going vibe and is certainly a gentle soul, he is not often deterred when I say, ‘ I’m not sure we’re allowed to do that ‘ as was the case on this day. While much of the moor is accessible to walkers, this cottage is not abandoned nor have I ever been as close to it as I have now. I generally like to keep a respectful distance, but when John walked up to have a quick look I couldn’t help following behind.

Bodmin Moor, Garrow Tor, John Winchurch

Even though I felt a bit guilty for peeking in the window, I was so intrigued by what looked like a place forgotten by time that I couldn’t help taking this image of a smaller window on one side of a primitive kitchen setup through a larger window on the front of the house. As much I wanted to photograph more of what I saw, I wanted to be a bit respectful so I took two quick photos of the window before following John up the hill behind the house as we took a different path back to the woods and on to the car.

I wondered aloud to John as we walked, talking about the history of the house and what it might be used for now. It was clear from our hasty look that someone was using the house from time to time and John suggested it might be used as temporary shelter for farm workers or a primitive holiday cottage for someone with a city life.

Fast forward a few hours to evening when we meet up with friends for dinner. We had no idea when we accepted the invitation to their home that there would be more than the four of us and were pleasantly surprised to see we were part of a party about twelve, many of whom we’d not met before.

Conversation was lively and the food excellent and just to keep us on our toes, the Universe sent us an answer to our  earlier questions about the house when we realized that the man we were seated next to at dinner … owned it.

That’s right, the one time I go past the gate for a sneaky look and a photo, I end up face to face with one of the owners.

He was very pleasant and shared the most interesting details about the land and area around the house. That said, I don’t think I ever actually mentioned that I took a photo of kitchen window, but given that we discussed my blog, photography, and how to find me, there’s a good chance he’ll know now.

I wonder if some artistic interior shots might make amends, not that I have them yet … because I’m not that nosy!

But with a proper invitation, I could do some lovely things.

Clearly Clovelly … Minus Most Of The Fog

When I left you yesterday, we were in stand of tall trees that I tend to think as Live Oak trees. John said this expression meant nothing to him except the obvious one of an oak tree that was living and not dead. After a little online research, I found that there is a tree in the American south that is called a Live Oak,’ but they tend to be shorter and the limbs grow out more to the sides instead of up like in the last photo you can see here in yesterday’s post.

Since we ended the post with a foggy shot of a sheltering tree, I thought we also should begin with one today. When I saw the tree in the photo above, I wondered out loud about the way it reminded me of weeping willow type of tree that looked as if someone had given it a haircut. John promptly said that he suspected cows were the culprit and they’d likely chewed up as high as their necks could stretch. If you have a different theory I’d love to hear it.

Walking on we reached our destination, the village of Clovelly. This privately owned fishing village has the steepest streets I think I’ve climbed since moving to the UK. There are no cars in Clovelly, you have to walk. People use sleds or sledges as they say here to drag their belongings up and down the 400′ foot cliff that provides a home for a small community of people.

You can see a red sled in this photo … it’s kind of small compared to most of the others we saw.

I thought it was pretty interesting that the Methodist Chapel was next door to the pub.

The chapel popped with color especially after seeing the mostly white walls of the buildings that led to the doorway.

A forgotten communion glass.

Remember what I said about 400′ down … this was taken only part way.

Wear sensible shoes when you visit Clovelly and watch your step.

I’m not sure how they get the sledges or sleds over these speed bumps, but they do.

After hiking out of Clovelly and pausing to catch our breath, we did something we rarely do on our coast path walks, we went back the same way we came.

These boys were were super friendly almost to the point of allowing a head rub before they turned skitish.

This shot was hidden in the fog on yesterday’s post and when we began our late afternoon walk back to the car, we discovered we could see Clovelly Court.

Remember the shelter where we had lunch … it was so foggy we could only hear the sea, but on the way back we could also see it as the fog was completely gone.

Angel Wings, our sandwich stop.

This one’s for perspective. This is more of what we couldn’t see on our walk to Clovelly earlier in the day.

The gorse was everywhere giving off a scent that made the air smell faintly of coconut and we had view so gorgeous it was difficult to move on.

This is one of my favorites and even though it’s still a bit foggy in the distance, I like the look of the rocky coast.

Off Kilter

There is about a six week period each year that is usually a hurdle for me. It always falls during the time period between Lent and Easter. It is when I am generally the hardest on myself and whatever I perceive to be areas needing improvement in my life and behavior. Instead of thinking about the goals I am accomplishing, I tend to get stuck in my head with a litany of my imperfections on repeat mode like a song you can’t silence when you wish it would end.

My way to pull out of that vortex of self criticism is founded in physical movement which is generally a combination of exercise and cleaning. For me, a good deep scrubbing of the places that get tend to be overlooked in everyday cleanups is the secret to reestablishing a bit of balance in my energy. I am intrigued by the timing and wonder why the need to do a deep cleaning strikes when does each year. I would call it spring cleaning although it falls in the same time frame every year no matter what my geographic location or if spring is actually at the door. Spring still feels a long way off here with today being the same as it has been for the last week, a wet and windy grey day with the only hint of the changing season seen in the daffodils that are just beginning to bloom.

I googled the words,Spring Cleaning to find a few things I did not know about the correlation between different religious faiths and the seasonal ritual. Also interesting was how spring cleaning led me to spring fever, a term made popular in a poem by Samuel Clemens better known as Mark Twain and how it appears many people feel as I do at this time of year.

I am not one to suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD. In fact, I actually love winter and grey days so I never really considered the weather connection as a reason for my desire to clean my way back into a more settled and balanced feeling. After reading some of the links above, it appears I may not be alone in this.

How about you … if you have experienced a similar feeling of being off kilter, could you share your tips on working through it. I’ll  be back to check in with you in a little while, but right now I have a backsplash and a bunch of kitchen shelves that need my attention.

The Morning After A Visit … From A Few Of Pioneer Woman’s Friends

Does anyone remember when I wrote about meeting the woman pictured below? It was my last night in Atlanta before flying back the next day to England. Well, if you missed it and would like to know what the Pioneer Woman and I talked about, you can read all about it here.

This post is just a little thank you note to Ree Drummond for sending 2300 of her blogging buddies by yesterday to have a look around Gifts Of The Journey. They were such a quiet crowd that I might not have noticed they were here if I had not seen my sitemeter numbers spiking so quickly. I’ve never had a party where so many folks stopped by and a party is exactly what it felt like here as I watched my numbers rise. This morning was just a memory though with nary a scrap of anything left behind except a nice comment from Rebekah who was at the Atlanta gathering with the other 800 or so of us.

If I had know they were coming, I might have made a batch of Ree’s famous cinnamon rolls for everyone like I did for some of the folks in my village on Christmas Eve or maybe shared stories about how well my her stuffing tasted with our Christmas dinner or I might even have shown pictures of all of the blackberry cobblers I made and gave away to people here who had no idea what a cobbler was. As it was, I felt slightly unprepared and could only shout throughout the day to my husband John saying, ” I’m at 902, 1106, 2001…,” and so on while whispering a little thanks for stopping by as I saw folks departing.

Seriously, thanks to everyone who took the time to visit and I hope you come back again when you can stay a bit longer. Oh, and if you’re looking for some horses and cows like PW has hanging around her place, I’ve got some of those you might like roaming free on the moors and other places around here.

Moorland Adventures

The moor was a wild place to be the other day. Ray and MIJ who you may remember from here came by for an overnight visit and a walk around Bodmin Moor. Most of our summer weather has been unpredictable and their visit here required a bit of wardrobe adjustments. It wasn’t cold once we began our walk, but it certainly felt chilly when we were heading for the door. This should explain the mix of clothing choices you see in a few of the photographs. We dressed for rain and nature didn’t make our efforts in vain. We did have a bit of excitement that Sarah and Suzanne might have enjoyed. I certainly thought of them when we walked up on what looked like a possible problem similar to what has been occurring with other walkers lately.


We begin our walk and it’s pretty, although a bit wet.


We stroll along pausing to look at changes to property…


I take pictures of this….


and that…


And when the rain comes as it does here…


….the cows seem to line up to watch us as we scramble looking for some…


…of these to shelter us from the rain.


Here’s where it begins to get interesting, we walk out onto the moor with Rough Tor in the background and we see these cute cows…a mother and baby passing by….awww sweet…right.


Oh…look, they’re coming over to say hello.


Hmm…something feels different here and about the same time I’m thinking this may not be just another social call by a curious cow…


…I look beyond the big mother to her right and I see this…see the bright red in the center of the photo…


…except to my eyes, it looks more like this….which reminds me of this….


…making this ….the next thing my camera snaps as I move out of what appears to be the path of a protective mama cow moving her family away from the dogs that are rooming free with the human mother (who clearly hasn’t been following the news) and her children.


This is the look on her face as I quickly explain that we are passing though and are in no way affiliated with those rowdies with the dogs crashing up behind her.  After a few heated exchanges…okay, so I was really the only one talking…


…a peaceful solution is reached and they move on without incident all except for this little guy below…


…who seemed to be watching without comment until I noticed this…


…he’s decided to have a poo just as I go for a photograph…so I try again and…


What’s this…now he needs a wee too. Hmm…do you think he’s trying to tell me something?

Walking The Coast Path With Cows And Caution-No Bullies Allowed

The title for this post takes its name in part from an email I received from a coast path walker who found my blog through some of my previous posts about walking the Cornish coast path. I hope she won’t mind my ” borrowing” a part of her email subject heading for my post today.

Yesterday John and I headed out to find a bit of adventure along with some fresh air and exercise. I’ve been doing a lot of computer work lately (editing wedding pictures) and the weather was too nice to stay inside. Additionally, even though I’ve been back since May 25, it was our first walk along the coast since I’d gone back to America in late April. John suggested a short walk from Port Quin to Port Isaac both of which are about ten miles from where we live. After packing up a P B & J for me and some fruit for him…we were off. 

It was beautiful as it always is and I promise I’ll include a few pictures near the water, but my main reason for this post is to have a little talk about the cows and bullocks we encountered so walk with me now….


Sometimes on our walks we have to walk through fields that are already occupied.




Me saying hello…this one was quite happy to let me touch him on the nose before moving along with his buddies.

The question came up from one of my readers as to the safety in crossing though these places where the public footpath herds (sorry, I couldn’t help myself) you right in with the big animals.  I told her I’d never encountered any problems and then she recounted how she and her family had a bunch of cows come charging across the field startling her, her husband, and their children. In the past I naively thought cows and bullocks were just happy to see me whenever I saw a herd of them shift direction and move in mass at a clip towards me.


John said if they ever look scary to just say boo and throw your arms out at them.  He demonstrated this technique below without warning me so you can’t see the hand motions. ( I missed it)


A couple of guys trying to look tough…”Whadaya mean you want to pass through us?”


John approaching the bad boy brothers just moments before saying BOO!


After they’d scattered …giving him some sulky looks.


This one did not look amused either.


This brown one was pretty interested in me however… deciding that I might be worth investigating further.


Right!  Now I’m usually okay with a nudge but I think I really must draw the line when it comes to taste testing.  John was getting his camera out here while I was trying to capture this beastie licking my arm.



For the record…cow tongues are rough, slimy and strong.  


All joking aside, when I mentioned to John what my reader Sarah had said in an email to me about cows and safety on the path he said…people are usually quite safe and that cows are more curious as you can see above than dangerous. He did go on to say that they will get angry when dogs are around especially if they have calves with them.  An incident was in the news here recently that illustrated this when David Blunkett, a prominent politician in the UK who is blind was out walking with his guide dog and was trampled by a cow who was trying to get to the dog. So I’d say caution is key when passing by these gentle seeming two ton Toms and Tessies. ( Okay maybe one ton not two, but it worked better).

Wrapping up the walk from yesterday…as I was taking this picture.


John was climbing up and over here.


Then while I was trying to get a decent closeup of these drying flower heads below….


John slipped back and stuck his head through a gap in the wall and began to make woo woo scary moaning sounds as I approached the fence and started to climb over.  Going back I saw this….



On  the other side…you can actually walk down to the water…no one’s stopping you.


Back on the path

Port Isaac

Port Isaac from above.   We had a little pub stop for a pint and a coffee and walked back to Port Quin totally ignored by the cows who’d lost all interest in us by late afternoon.  

NEXT TIME: Celebrity spotting in Cornwall.

I’ll be back with my experience with celebrity spotting yesterday in the supermarket. We were actually side by side scanning the parking lot for our cars after stepping out of the store at the same time. 

Here’s a hint…there’s a TV show that uses Port Isaac as its location, but with a name change. The man I almost  bumped  into is a regular character on the show although not the male lead. He’s associated with a trade profession in the show…anybody want to venture a guess?