Updated: Apr 20
The South-West Coast Path is a coastal path 630 miles long in Cornwall, England.
I had been walking for 12 days with two friends. We left from Bude town and our destination was Land's End, about 120km south. It was a journey full of hitches, starting from where we could camp considering the unfavorable conditions of the terrain and the fickle weather, the constant up-and-downs, but absorbed in stunning and powerful landscapes.
This was my very first travel in the right sense of the word.
This was also the first time I wrote a travel diary, and with its first words I want to start this story.
I want to begin with the first words of my diary dated back to August the 8th 2014, the second traveling day:
With the look beyond what I'm gonna leave. To live with awareness without yesterday nor tomorrow lets to live the life in a unique and genuine way. Sometimes, worries float on a sea of limits but, what can I say... live these ones by this awareness itself of the "here and now" is enough.
This way my journey began.
We got to Bristol late in the evening August the 7th. We didn't know where to pass the night. So, we decided to sit in a pub wondering where to stay. There we met an Italian girl with her brother. Both lived in Bristol and after some chat they suggested us to camp in the city park. Why not? That was really a good idea, and so we did. The girl rode us to the park and waved goodbye.
I remember she came from Brescia, northern Italy, close to Bergamo and drove a car with the drive on the left. Was funny to see her drive on the left hand side of the road!
At the park, found a place where to camp, we put the tent and fell asleep.
When we woke up the following morning the weather was beautiful and there were air balloons in the sky. A good omen?
We reached Bude by bus the 8th and we passed the night in a campsite just out of town. I remember that night I took something I believed to be a beer, instead it was cider. I don't like cider and I really wanted just a beer. Very disappointing.
First walking day: Boscastle
We woke up early the morning of the 9th, many kilometers were waiting us that day. The first stop was Boscastle, a little village sited to the outlet of Valency River. It develops around its little port and along the river.
Before leave we had breakfast in a café watching local people enjoying the icy water of the sea. In a few minutes we left, and here were our first steps.
The weather was not so good, but that's why traveling is so charming: the unforeseen.
We had been walking for the whole day under the rain and passed all the up-and-downs of the path when, finally, exhausted and totally wet, after about 26.5km we got to Boscastle in the late afternoon. We were looking for a campsite but in that situation the only choice was a b&b and, fortunately, we found one with a room just became free for us.
Along the path we met Marlene, an English, Geography and Math teacher from Dresda, Germany, who joined us.
In the evening, after a pasta with pesto sauce, we fell asleep in our room at YHA hostel.
The following day, the 10th, we left to Tintagel and we said goodbye to Marlene.
When we left the weather was one of the worst: cold, rain and wind. After all, typical of these areas. Anyway, it would have gotten better soon. I was still exhausted from the previous day.
During the last kilometers my backpack had become heavy, in particular when we met some houses not knowing whether we had arrived or not or how many kilometers we had had still to walk. Anyway, the beauty of those landscapes would have filled my heart soon.
In 7.5km we got to Tintagel, a little village famous for the ruins of its castle, dated back to Medieval Era (around 1200 A.D.). Not much remains of the castle, sited on a promontory in front of the coast, connected to the inland by a suspended bridge.
For the night we camped in a campsite to the back of a pub. Pretty curious location. Some barbed wire close to our tents let us to dry our wet clothes during the night.
That night we stayed for a while to the pub, talking about the plans for the next day. In the meanwhile, I was thinking about the people we met till that moment, to what happened to them and where they were, Marlene too.
In the end, we decided to move forward by bus just a bit. After a briefing we realized that all the road we planned was too much in ten days. An unforeseen of traveling without programs, 'on the road'.
Perranporth and Portreath
It was August the 11th, Monday. We left from Titangel around 10 o'clock. Our destination was Perranporth and we got there in about 3 hours.
There is a bay in Perranporth and is peculiar because it gets submerged by the tide in this period of the year after a certain hour.
We passed the night in a campsite nearby. For dinner we had some meat bought in a supermarket. It has been cool because it was sold with an aluminum bowl with which it could be grilled. One of the best dinner ever had in this journey.
The next morning, the 12th, we left without pay our stay. Next stop: Portreath! I didn't imagine it would have been one of the best walking of our trip.
We passed beautiful landscapes. The weather was neither windy nor too hot nor too cold, it was perfect. We even had happy hour sat on the cliff with some beers bought in Perranporth.
It had been about 20km when we got to Portreath and a surprise welcomed us: no campsites in town.
We had no phones and no internet connection, so we walked and walked asking to the few people we met for a campsite when, after many other kilometers, at about 21:30 we found one in an other town nearby Portreath: Illogan.
It has been very frustrating and tiring being forced to walk and walk looking for a place where to stay for the night, not meeting anyone for hours and having no idea of where we were exactly and how long we would have to walk before eat something or just to place our tent.
The atmosphere was at first creepy when we got to Illogan: dead trees, bad weather, none around, deserted streets, closed windows everywhere and silence. It looked like an abandoned town. We got lost in a little wood when, finally, hours later, we found the so long desired campsite and with the last energies we made our tent, cooked something easy and fell asleep at midnight. Never so tired.
The following day, the 13th, we were very exhausted, but still willing to keep going with the journey.
Toward St. Ives
We woke up early and we back to Portreath by bus to resume our coastal path, and in about 18km we were to St. Ives.
The path was amazing: stunning landscapes, each one different from the others, from endless sun-drenched grass plains to barren fields facing the cliffs to the longest beaches.
The following day, the 14th, we enjoyed a walk around the town, just the time for a coffee and to do some stuff like wash the dirty laundry and to take some rest.
We have been waken up the 15th in the morning by the light of a magnificent sunrise in our campsite, sited on a hill over the town. The seagulls were looking for food among the supplies of the camped people like us.
A fast breakfast with jam and peanut butter and we were already on the way. Direction: Pendeen, about 22km.
We passed a little village called Zennor. From there I began to feel tired. Our walking became very hard: it was hot and the fatigue was taking place.
We had some good time at the Pendeen camping. We watched a beautiful sunset with a beer in our hands and enjoyed some Cornish atmosphere in the pub of the town, before fall asleep in our beloved tent.
We left from Pendeen at about 8 o'clock in the morning. It was the 16th. The usual fast breakfast based on marmalade and peanut butter and here we were again on our way.
It was a gloomy day, grey. It was cold and seemed to become rainy.
In about 15km, around 17:00, we finally got to our destination: Land's End.
The last few meters had been very hard but the sensation and the feelings I felt on the bench where we sat at the arrival were beyond words.
When we got to that famous landmark sign I began to fell sad. Our journey had reached its end right there, in that grey and gloomy day, and all we lived, watched, felt, met, said, and thought was destined to become memory. It's like when you eat something very good in a restaurant: sooner or later you'll finish it.
Anyway, even if the plate is empty, you'll have that experience inside you forever.
So we left behind us the coast and our journey. After Land's End, we took a bus to Penzance. There, we had to walk a while to find a campsite. The next morning, the 17th, we took a train to Bristol where we got around 14:00, and then to Cardiff.
Many thoughts came to mind: people met, feelings felt, difficulties overtaken and amazing landscapes - all kind of stuff that make a trip, a journey.
I brought home many things after this trip.
Maybe, one of these has been photography, in a way that I didn't conceive yet.
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