For the past umpteen years (I'm sorry, I've lost count) we've been visiting Crantock in the month of June when sea pinks light up the coastal fringes, when Cubert Common is adorned with yellow rattle and wonderful purple orchids, and a myriad skylarks serenade our morning runs. Alas, there are no such treats in the month of September. Neither is there much daylight, especially on cold, overcast evenings such as one when I recall sliding into my sleeping bag at 7.38pm!
|The beach at Polly Joke (Click pictures to enlarge)
Not that I'm complaing for in my dotage I need all the sleep I can get. There were two stormy nights but there is something wonderfully satisfying about being cosy, snug and warm when the wind is thundering in from the sea and rain is hammering the canvas. Indeed, those sounds are far more preferable than various other campsite noises that often go on well into the night.
|Running on the Cornish Coast Path
People could be forgiven for thinking that all we do while on holiday is run, and in fact our various destinations are facetiously referred to by friends as 'warm weather training camps'. Wherever we go, home or abroad, on coasts or in the mountains, we invariably run between four and seven miles each morning - which can't be bad for a couple currently boasting 152 years between us. Over nine mornings on this occasion we ran a total of 48 miles with 3,560ft of ascent - but I wont divulge how long it took us.
So far as running goes, Crantock is one of our favourite places. The Cornish Coast Path undulates along its fringes providing turquoise seascapes, crashing waves, gulls crying, seals basking on the rocks and kestrels hunting over the lush grassland.
|Wandering by Vugga Cove on a braw afternoon
|'The Chick' - an island beloved by basking seals, six near centre of picture
"Just look at that" I said to an otherwise engaged girl walking blindly behind her friends past Holywell Bay as windblown waves curled in one after the other, "It's a scene to feast your eyes on - and all you can do is gaze into that bloomin' phone".
|Waves rolling into Holywell Bay
|Butterfly - of some sort. (A Gatekeeper, I'm told)
Back home in Yorkshire we can put names to the majority of butterflies we encounter but there appears to be an entirely different set of colourful species in Cornwall. I recognized the Red Admiral that kissed my cheek as I ran by the golf course, but most of the others were unfamiliar to me. A lady we met had seen a bright yellow one which she identified by seeing a picture of it on a bottle of beer that went by the name of 'Clouded Yellow'.
|Sarah, the Canicross lady, setting out for a run with Bess.
That same lady, a seasoned camper with a tent pitched adjacent to ours at Higher Moor, had two trail hounds, Archie and Bess, the latter of which she harnessed and used for Canicross activities around the Common. Being considerably younger than me I couldn't help thinking it was she who should be free running whilst I had that powerful looking dog to help me along. Or maybe not....
|Male Sparrowhawk devouring pigeon on campsite
Another couple alongside our tent were relaxing quietly under their gazebo when a terrified wood pigeon flew past their very noses towards the open field hotly pursued by a hungry sparrowhawk that snapped up its prey amid a cloud of feathers and tore it to pieces only yards away from surrounding tents and gobstruck campers.
|Damselfly - a male Banded Demoiselle
All in all we'd a very pleasant holiday. In spite of the lack of June flowers and Spring songbirds there were other colourful compensations. Not just butterflies but purple loosestrife, lingering water lilies, fleabane, some luscious blackberries that frequently stopped my gallop for a free feast, and startling green/black damselflies we think were male Banded Demoiselles.
But most of all we missed the birds. Blackbirds, robins, thrushes, pheasant and patrolling mallard were all missing from the campsite, ousted, we suspect, by growing numbers of carrion crows, thieving magpies and noisy wood pigeons that called and called and made sure we never overslept in the morning. I don't know where larks disappear to after the nesting season but we never heard one. Next year, we've decided, we'll revert to our June dates...
48 miles run with 3,560ft ascent
|Crow on his treetop perch -- our alarm clock each morning
48 miles run with 3,560ft ascent