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.

Riding Towards Rough Tor In My Dreams

King Arthur's Hall & Rough Tor

I tend to see tough times as a challenge rather than a roadblock and I have a hard time giving up when I sometimes should, but my “Who says I can’t do that … ” attitude has been key to some of my achievements other people said would never happen.

There’s a kind of magic for me involved in making the difficult easy and it requires a mix of visualization and a dogged belief that if I want to do something bad enough, I can.

I tend to think of it as the three I’s and it’s a bit like having a portable Merlin in my head with Imagination, Inspiration and Imagery only waiting to be called upon to take me where I need to go when things get tough.

Being temporarily stuck here in America and so far from my husband John has required more than a few dips into my mental bag of tricks and while I feel fortunate to have friends and family helping me, I sometimes need something more to keep my spirits up. The spinning classes I’ve been taking over the last three weeks have been exactly what I’ve needed to balance the waiting game I’ve been forced to play.

Spinning regularly after a break of many years has been both exhilarating and tough. Like many women my age, I slipped away from a regular fitness routine mostly due to aging joints and injuries and with my love of sugar and carbs, the weight came faster than I could fight it.

I’ve been going to 4 to 6 classes a week over the last three weeks and the rewards are becoming obvious. It is not happening without effort and I have to frequently take myself to other places in my head when the instructor has us increasing the bike tension and climbing hills that require imagination to see and inspiration to reach.

I wanted to show you what I see when the going gets tough in class and I feel like I don’t have anymore to give. When that happens, I use imagery to take myself to a place that is so familiar I can see it just as it is in the photo above. It’s one I took in 2008 of  King Arthur’s Hall  with Rough Tor and Brown Willy in the background looking across Bodmin Moor.

Sometimes when I’m spinning, I even toss in a wild moorland pony or two and lean briefly to one side as I to swerve to avoid them on my climb to the finish.

What about you  … any secrets you want to share with the rest of us on what works for you when things get tough?

* Rough Tor is where I’m standing in my header at the top of my blog.

Cornish Ghost Tales From New Zealand

 

While in New Zealand last year, I went into a bookstore based on the name and the look of it. Wanderlust Books, in Alexandra was just the kind of shop where any book lover would be happy to spend an afternoon searching the shelves with the help of Tim Julien, the proprietor of the quality second-hand book store.

 

Wanderlust Books - Alexandra, New Zealand

Supernatural In Cornwall

I was not inside the store very long before this book caught my eye and when I picked it up for a closer look I saw the image below.

 

According to the publication date, this photo was taken before 1974 and it has someone standing on Rough Tor in the same spot that I am in my header photo at the top of this page.

All of the places mentioned in the chapters are familiar now to me especially the one below.

When I found this book in New Zealand, I couldn’t help think about how it came to be so far from home. John thought fifteen New Zealand dollars was too much to spend, but how could I not buy it and take it back home to Cornwall, especially since I love a good ghost story.

 

When Friends Come To Visit Part II- Climbing Rough Tor

As I continue sharing our three-day visit with friends David and Steven, I want to show you our trip to Rough Tor. David took the photo above as we struck out for Rough Tor.

John went on with ahead with Steven while I lagged behind a bit with David as he and I took time to snap a few photos along the way. The three images below were taken by John. In the one just below you can see two tiny dots in the center. ( click to enlarge )

In the image underneath you can see the tiny dots a bit better. I am the dot on the left and David is the one on the right.

Do you recognize the pile of stones below? Oh wait, there’s someone missing … look at my border at the top and you’ll see me standing on the same pile of rocks. Steven has long appreciated that photograph and wanted his photograph taken there above all else during his visit to Cornwall. Due to the fierce wind and the slipperiness of the wet rocks he had to use another stone as a stand-in.

See the rock above David’s head (he’s in the blue jacket ) … that’s the one Steven wanted to stand on.

Even I didn’t want to risk it this time, but I did slip my shoes off to climb up on the one next to it on the back side. (two photos below) Can you see the moorland pony down left of Steven … it’s a long way down from the top of the rock. (click to enlarge)

After I slipped off my shoes, I felt much more secure climbing up the back side of the rocks below. My neglected rock climbing skills came in handy and I’m glad I was still in shape ( hah!) well, at least well enough to get as high I did below.

Yep … that’s me. The wind was wicked.

From my lofty advantage I managed to get a photo of John ( ant-sized figure in the center)  as he was taking pictures of me.

Did you find John? He’s down there with his arms outstretched. I had to step back to show you the cool impression carved out by weather on the rock .

Here’s a photo of me with Steven after I came down off the rock. I’m wet and bedraggled from wind and rain along with still being barefoot.

Steven & David

John did a bit of climbing himself.

I think by the time this one was taken John was ready to go.

I couldn’t resist finishing with David and his runaway brolly. It’s a long way down although easier than the climb up and about halfway back to the car David decided he’d had enough of the rain and decided to find his own cover. His umbrella clearly had other plans.

I’ll be back with more later if you’re interested. Sunday took us to St. Michael’s Mount for a service in a church built in the 14th century and I have some good pictures from our last day to share with you.