There have been some truly incredible and exhilarating moments on this journey so far where i have felt my eyes deceive me. I have begun to wonder if have been swept up by the majesty of these monumental cliffs and the legends that wrap themselves round them.
Yesterday, leaving Tintagel on the North Cornish coast, following a winding path that left Merlin and Arthur Pendragon’s castle behind, I came across what I can only describe as an upwards-backwards waterfall: a water-rise. The wind had given brief respite so that I might adjust my layers of clothes without taking a chill. Halfway through, and in only a t-shirt, I was sprayed head-to-toe with water that did not fall from the clouds but rose up and emerged in a burst over the high cliff face and into mine. I stood stunned as the wind picked up further and more gusts of water continued to rise upwards. It’s source was a small stream, emerging a few feet below the cliff edge, which ought to have flown downwards in torrent or trickle. Instead the wind, funnelled sharply by the curve of horizontal rock pushed the water up until it defied gravity and headed towards the sky and into faces of surprised lone walkers.
There have been several occasions where I have had to look twice to believe what my eyes are showing me. Clouds have hung low and compact, gliding silently at eye level along valley inlets, blinding the way and shrouding paths with slick wet fog, momentarily dislocating you from you’re your surroundings in a thick haze, confusing your sense of space and distance. Similarly, soft white foam has flown up from crashing waves in tiny glittering white forms that I at first thought to be butterflies or even doves, floating the wind and wandering lazily along until caught in some tuft of grass or my hair.
Today I waded through a field of grass that shimmered like water flowing over smooth stones. Caught by the sun in bright rippling waves, the light picked out individual blades until they shone sharp as knives and forced a squint. I can’t put these sights fully into words but they come often, unexpectedly and are gone just as fast.
The days shorten and, if I were racing, time would force me awake in the dark, though this has been rare and I have been content so far to rise with the sun and meander along. I wander and run. I crawl when my calves scream at unrelenting slopes, grin like a puppy that has first seen sand when I summit those same hills, and call back to the gulls that circle so effortlessly above, unaware of the trials of those consigned to land on two legs. Perhaps the isolation of this coast is a good thing in these moments, for it is only the sheep that laugh, at me I suspect, and they do not frown.