The path of less resistance can lead to Elvis Legs. This is how. My husband was never much of a one for walking-hiking holidays (even though he used to love climbing mountains as a teenager). His idea of holidays were more in the realm of lazing and packing in the good grub. But then I happened to him. The day that took place he had signed himself up for legs that would shake like The King’s. A shout-out to Bruce who introduced me to the term.
Getting back to Adi, he is a hiking convert, and boy he gets attached to things in a pretty solid way. For instance, when he had change to classes as a wee boy, he turned down the prospect flat on its face. He would have nothing to do with leaving Claudette behind. She was the teacher and why I believe wee Adi had a crush on pretty Claudette. They had to wait three months before he agreed to leave her behind.
From Claudette to Cornwall is a leap alright, but may I ask you to do that? Last time, we had exchanged a few words over Boscastle and swooned over Hardy. Now I am going to swoon over Red Devon and Friesian cows, gorse bushes, meadows of blue bells, saw-wort (those pretty purple thistle-like flowers) and daisies. Stop sniggering. I see you.
Now we had chosen the hottest day of the week to go for our hike, which meant four hours under a sun that threatened to (and did eventually) peel the skin off our nape. There are a few warnings you have to keep in mind when you are passing through the pastures of our bovine friends:
- Do not show threatening behaviour towards calves (approaching them in close quarters, making loud noises or walking between a calf and its mother) as you may provoke the mother to defend her young. The best plan is to walk along the hedges.
- If cows approach you, do not run away as this will encourage them to chase you. Stand your ground and stretch out your arms to increase your size.
- Avoid taking dogs into fields with cows particularly with calves. If you must and cows charge, release the dog from its lead as the dog will outrun the cows and the cows will generally chase the dog rather than you.
With no dog friend to distract the cow, you can imagine how tough it was on the animal talker in me. I did wave at the Red Devon cows lazing on the ridges, who you shall see in a bit, but there were young, cute Friesian calves in a field without their mothers, and That I could not resist. Adi, on the other hand, is a bit wary of the gentle girls and boys — ever since a whole herd gunned for us with alacrity during a stop at a random field on the way to the Lake District. The menace writ large on their faces made them look like anything else but creatures of bovine gentility. Five years have passed but Adi has not been able to shake off the trauma of it.
If you choose to do this hike, the good news is that for the most part, it is of moderate intensity. Expect to climb up and down meadows filled with wild flowers and gorse bushes in bright yellow clumps to contrast startlingly with the waters of the Celtic Sea. The changing hues — from gentian to aquamarine, sapphire to turquoise blues — are mesmerising. Each stitched-up pasture is crossed via stone steps and then a leap across dry stone walls that network the length and breadth of the trail and throw in some serious climbing in bits and pieces. But it is the length of the walk and the hot sun that conspire to make you fantasise about chilled beer aplenty.
When we espied the silhouette of Hotel Camelot a few cliffs away, we whooped. The thought of draining vats of beer was a wonderful reprieve. We could have also had vats of mead instead but then we would have to go down to that fantastic Tintagel Castle, birthplace of the mythical King Arthur. And our legs, I fear, would not have made the steep climb back to the village from the castle. Instead we tucked into pasties from the pasty shop in town that was selling them at half price since it was closing time. Amusingly enough, they do things the old way. The woman from the shop hollers out in a hefty voice about a half-price offer a few times till old men come streaming in.
At the end of our pub stop for ales to wash down the pasties with lay another 3 hours of walking because we had not taken into account that the bus from Tintagel to Boscastle is not that frequent. So there we were with 10 miles of hiking and walking at hand to reduce our legs to columns of jelly and flop down at The Wellington Arms in Boscastle for another round of ale. Come to think of it, what would we do without ale? As our good man Franklin put it so sensibly. Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.