Monday, 3 July 2017

Higher Moor - 2017

From Menorca's tortoises and nightingales, Crantock enriched our morning runs with outpourings of larksong along paths lined with with bright orchids, wild thyme and trefoil.
We've arrived    (Click pictures to enlarge)
We were camped for a couple of weeks at Higher Moor, a superb site that gives easy access to flower decked Cubert Common, a grassy undulating coast path and the fine, lesser known beach of Polly Joke.
Running the coast path round Polly Joke
As over most of the UK the first week was a scorcher and it seemed strange to have driven 364 miles from our homes in Yorkshire to sit in the shade!
Path across the Common
As has become the norm nowadays our morning runs were all pre-breakfast, most of them along a 4 mile route past Polly Joke, round the coast path with its crashing seascapes, past The Chick (an island where seals congregate on the rocks), past Holywell Bay then back over the Common, by the side of a golf course and up to a tumulus ready for a fast downhill sweep to the finish.
Running happy - past Holywell Bay
We ran a total of 33 miles, considerably less than the 49 we ran on our last visit. I blamed the weather, either too hot or too wet.  Nothing to do with Anno Domini.
Seals at The Chick
Seals were only on the rocks at low tide which had to co-incide with our running times in order to see them.  This only happened on three occasions though they could be seen swimming in the water at other times.  One morning they actually sang to me as I ran past.
Cooling off at Polly Joke
On hot days we'd potter down to Polly Joke to brave the swell and breaking waves as the tide swept in over the warm sand.  Most refreshing. In the searing heat we were dry almost before we'd walked back to the spot on the beach where we'd left our belongings.
Drying off....
At the sun's zenith it was difficult to find any shade back at camp but we found a partially sheltered corner where a tiny stream tinkled past under overhanging trees.  Thrushes sang, pigeons croo-crooed while chaffinches and robins added their own minor accompaniments to the wild music.
Our cheeky blackbird
A friendly blackbird flitted around too, particularly when it sensed there might be something to eat!
Tawny owl chicks saying Hello
One day our lunch was interrupted as we became aware of two fluffy tawny owl chicks observing us from a branch only yards away.  They seemed glad of our company and we spent much of the afternoon gazing at each other.
Ubiquitous pyramid orchids all over the Common
Pyramid orchids were flowering in numerous places on the common and became more and more abundant as time went by.
Rarer marsh orchids
 Larger marsh orchids, common enough on previous occasions, were more difficult to find this year but we managed to locate one or two hiding in the longer grasses.
Wild day at Park Head
On a wet and windy day we drove to Park Head, a mile or so beyond Bedruthan Steps, to walk the cliff top path above the rocky shore.  A sea of white horses flung spray and spume high into the air, creating a thick mist as it smashed against the shore. Atmospheric indeed. 
Strangely built wall and wild thyme
Inland, thick cushions of wild thyme collectively must have covered several acres of ground, much of it spilling against the unusual zig-zag walls we've only ever seen in Cornwall.
Getting high
Three quarters of the the way round, the rain ceased.  We turned around and mostly retraced our steps, hugging the cliff top path to an exposed rocky nose with a vertical drop straight down into the noisy sea.
On another day we visited the poppy fields at West Pentire, only a short walk from Higher Moor.
Poppy field by Polly Joke
Flowering in their thousands and blowing in the wind with a vast array of corn marigolds it really is a sight to lift the spirits on a dull day.
Poppies and corn marigolds
On the way back we passed a curious shop that deals in old phonographs and vinyl records - if anyone should be interested in such things.
For the record....
Newquay is not our scene but one day, it was Tuesday, we took a ferry across the Gannel and walked through to the fleshpots.
Ferry across the Gannel
After the big tent has been taken down and the tiny backpacking tent put up for our last night in camp, it's been our custom to have a slap-up meal before returning home early the following morning.
View down the Gannel
 A restaurant called The Fish House by the Fistral Beach had been recommended to us, so we went in search of it.
A dreich day at Fistral Beach

We found it - next door to Rick Stein's - and soon sussed out the best way to drive to it the following Saturday evening.
Bridge over the Gannel
Returning to Crantock, the tide was out and the ferry had run out of water.  It took us a long time to locate a bridge across the remaining deep channel and by the time we reached camp it had begun to rain.  It was 3pm and it rained all day and every night until 3pm Friday, three days later!
Hurray, it's stopped raining for a final run
Saturday dawned sunny and cloudless, perfect for a last run and hearty breakfast before taking down the big tent.  Torrential rain had dissipated quickly into the sandy soil enabling our tent to be packed away perfectly dry.
The 'five minute' tent - ready for a quick getaway Sunday morning
The  small and intimate Fish House with its friendly staff was indeed an excellent choice for our final evening meal.  We returned to camp happy and replete to settle down for an early night before Sunday morning's crack-o-dawn departure.
We were home by noon.  
Just in time for lunch!


  1. you had a fabulous trip, love the owls! caught the weather just right, well! most of the time anyway!

  2. I reckon the owlets must have sweltered in their fluffy jerseys on that scorching day!
    Weather was mainly kind. Even wild, atmospheric days can be memorable. And at my time of life Ian, I really don't mind a few extra hours lying in the tent....

  3. Such beautiful countryside. So many beautiful photos!!
    Love those owls.

    1. Thanks Karen, and yes, the owls were rather cute. Couldn't take our eyes off them. Wish I knew what they were thinking as they stared back at us?

  4. I love it that you always get such good pictures of your birds... I always have the wrong lighting or they won't sit still...One Day!

    1. Those owlets were there for quite some time, as curious about us as we were of them, and only 3 or 4 yards away. We were lucky!

  5. Some great pictures there, Gordon. Well done. You got some good exercise as well...

    1. Thanks Martin. Gotta admit the running doesn't get any easier at my time of life. I'm in danger of becoming a walker - again.

  6. Oh what a wonderful trip, lovely to see all of your photographs, especially those owls.

    All the best Jan