Cornwall is a land of cliffs, so one day that holiday we walked along the cliff top path from Fowey to Polperro. The walk contrasts the white flecked wilderness of the sea below with the wide, fertile expanses of Cornish farmland rolling away into the distance on the other side.The path went eastwards, a narrow strip between the fields and the wildly vegetated cliff edge, with its rich abundance of flora: heather, gorse, bracken and at places the intrusive Hottentot fig, Carpobrutus edulis, a South African plant introduced to Britain that went wild and thrived on our south west coastal cliffs. It has redeeming virtues, being both pretty and having edible fruit. However, those who dislike non-native species are now trying to control this pretty immigrant. I doubt that they will eradicate it entirely, as it has a place on our shores, and to be truthful, I want it to stay.
The path undulated up the cliffs, sometimes steeply ascending, all the time on firm turf that was springy to the feet, and marked off from the cliff edge by a fence to protect the unwary from a nasty fate. Once we negotiated our way gingerly through a herd of cattle. We were a bit nervous, but we were later to find out from a farmer that the bulls to be afraid of are dairy bulls, and these were mainly bullocks kept for beef, and we suffered no problems.
At one time we descended along a rocky path to one of the small coves that characterize the Cornish coast. This was safe, but not very easy descent , but it gave access to the beach where we could walk around for a while, before ascending again and continuing our perambulations.
The great joy of this walk was the peace and quiet. We could sit on a patch of turf and eat our lunch, all the time conscious of the deep quietness of nature, with only rare sounds emanating from the farm animals on one side, and the rumbling roar of the sea, loud when it is near you, but on this day high on the cliffs diminished to a low, but incessant susurration. to which the cries of the gulls made the occasional accompaniment. I was reminded of the Celtic saints who considered the sounds of animals, the singing of birds, the croaking of frogs and the lowing of cattle, as worthy equals of the psalms sung by monks, however discordant they may seem to our human ears.These Celtic saints belong in the history of this Celtic county, and they remind us that human standards of beauty are not the ultimate yardsticks against which beauty is to be measured.
To appreciate the town you must be for some time out of it, and while I enjoyed the cliff top walk arrival in the village of Polperro was welcome. It is a town that was once a fishing village, but is now focused on tourism, and it is a very pleasant site to stay or conclude a walk. We both felt like a spell in a tea shop, so we indulged our appetites with tea and cake, fruit cake for me, carrot cake for Maureen, and being British, tea for both. Tired now, we took the bus back to Fowey, where we retrieved the car and returned to our cottage.