Saturday, 15th August, Mount to Lockengate, 18 miles.
Everyone in Cornwall knows that Saturday is ‘change-over’ day. At the height of Summer in August, that means the traffic on the A 30 around Bodmin grinds to a halt and the country lanes turn into a rat run for people wanting to avoid the queues. Louella and I witnessed some of this yesterday on our way into Bodmin with cars towing caravans having arguments with farmers in tractors and no one was getting anywhere very fast.
Not wanting to add to the snarl-up on these narrow back lanes, I decide to take the quieter, if longer, scenic route to avoid meeting frustrated holiday traffic.
Sad to be leaving Bodmin Moor and these lovely beasts,
but take a left turn off the road to Bodmin and head down into the steep valley that runs along the River Fowey, waiting for a gap to appear before crossing the very busy A 38 at the bottom.
Up the other side of this forested valley and taking a right at Grey Mare, we begin the descent back to the river again, this time crossing it over the pretty Rospryn Bridge
and around the eastern edge of Lanhydrock Estate, to meet the cycle track that runs parallel with the A30 for a little way. With the roar of the traffic still audible, at Fenton Pits we turn off to join the Saints Way where a Celtic cross marks the spot,
for a few miles down a pretty leafy lane to be met with an even louder roar which sends sparks flying from Tommy’s shoes when we suddenly come across a bikers convention at Trebell Green. They are all revving up their throaty engines in preparation for an outing together and it makes quite a din.
Tommy manages to survey the scene but it’s a good job we didn’t meet them in the narrow lane. We can hear them setting off when we get a little further down the lane, thankfully heading in the opposite direction. Here he takes a drink from the side of the road where the ground is oozing water from a spring.
And a little further still, and we leave the Saints Way
heading towards our next destination at Lockengate.
Its been a long walk today and I am grateful to get my feet up in the caravan where I am staying, parked next to the indoor school at Barguse Riding Centre. The whole area around here has a very different atmosphere which is pleasant enough but I sense we are already nearing Cornish mining territory. The owners are away at the moment and the Yard manager, Shirley Long, and her daughter, Donna, look after us very well. Tommy is happily installed in a field where there is tree shelter from sun and rain, water and muddy patches for rolling. He pokes his little head over the wall and calls a greeting to his field mates before having a doze in the evening light.
Shirley has thoughtfully left some sweet snacks and drinks for me in the caravan and has said I can use the Berger Van just inside the covered school to make myself some supper. She says I can use the fat fryer to fry up some chips from the freezer. I wouldn’t know where to begin with that one and it could be a recipe for disaster (and anyway I’ve forgotten where she said the freezer was) so make do with a bap and some bacon which she has kindly left for me in the fridge, somehow managing to fry up the bacon in a pan in the dark because I can’t find a light switch. I fill the already-cut bap with the floppy bacon and some grated cheese that doesn’t melt, and hey presto, supper is served, after wiping the pan clean with some kitchen roll. For pudding, I gratefully tuck into some of the chocolate bars Shirley has left for me.
Sunday morning and this place takes on the appearance of a ghost town except for the absence of tumble weed. I’m already dressed because I woke in the night shivering from the cold and put on all my clothes, including my jacket and woolly hat. A KitKat and a cup of instant coffee in the caravan makes do for breakfast while I compose a note of thanks to Shirley and to Mark who has kindly offered to deliver our kit to Catherine’s place, tearing the page off my note pad and leaving it where I hope it will be seen. My breath makes vapour in the cool morning air and Tommy whickers a greeting to me when I go to fetch him. After rinsing the mud off him as best I can, we head out into this glorious late Summer morning shutting the gates quietly behind us.