The fog this morning was almost as thick as yesterday, and the forecast even worse. But since I had already established, like so many others before me, that the weather forecast and what actually happens bear little relation to each other in Cornwall I started walking and waited to see what happened. Walking in the fog was a strange and unsettling experience. I don’t normally feel afraid, even when walking alone in remote areas, but with the fog concealing who or what was out there I felt surprisingly nervous. Continually peering round me into the gloom I was still startled by the unexpected appearance of another person on the path, or in one case by the emergence from the murk of an entire headland!
The other thing I quickly grew to dislike about the fog is how it clings to the vegetation. Every blade of grass drooped under the silvery weight of water droplets – droplets that were readily transferred from the grass to the tops of my socks, and from there down into my boots. Five minutes after leaving the campsite I could feel the water creeping down round the sides of my feet; after an hour of pushing through the wildly overgrown paths I had to stop and pour the water out of my boots, so unendurable was the squelching – and the extra weight. And that was before it started to rain.
It was only a couple of hours to get from my campsite back to Gorran Haven and on to Mevagissey, but that was two too many. By the time I arrived in the town I must have looked downhearted as well as very wet; I walked into a shop to be greeted with “Oh, you poor thing!”. But in Mevagissey I found two things to lift my spirits: a travel size tube of toothpaste (just as mine was running out and I feared I might have to carry a full size one around) and some wonderful handmade fudge. Best of all, as I left the fudge shop chomping on a particularly tasty piece of their ginger variety, I found it had stopped raining.
And I needed all the encouragement I could as I fought my way through the paths after Pentewan. Tripping on branches and tangled tussocks of long grass, slipping on the slick sticky mud, a couple if times I came within a whisker of falling over. But I wasn’t the only one struggling with the conditions. As I passed one field of cows a particularly friendly one came running across the field towards me, only to find her attempt to brake on the slope down to the fence turned into a high-speed skid. For a split second our eyes met in a shared moment of mutual terror. I didn’t figure that a few strands of barbed wire would save me from half a ton of cow moving at speed. Happily, at the last second she regained traction and we never had to put it to the test, but it was a close call!
Shortly afterwards there was more good luck: in the woods round Hallane, I finally found some paths that had been strimmed back. I was almost more relieved by that than the near miss with the cow! Free at last to look around, there still wasn’t much to see through the heavy fog. A glimpse of what was probably a very attractive rock arch, if I’d been able to see it clearly, was as good as it got.
After all the challenges of the terrain on such a damp, gloomy day, I was uncharacteristically happy to finish the day on Tarmac. The historic harbour at Charlestown, little changed from the 18th century with its rows of old cottages and tall ships, was easy to like.
But as I skirted St Austell, I found that even the A3082 into Par had a certain qualities I was for once fully able to appreciate!