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Sunday 2 September 2012

Eerie but Interesting

I’d had a week off of running due to a stinking cold, bogies and all the associated unpleasantness of a head cold but I’d decided enough was enough so I got myself organised and got out of the door. Besides, I’m on holiday in Cornwall and I’d had a look at google maps and there were miles and miles of lanes that needed exploring … it seemed rude not to!

After such a long break from running, my legs went mad for the first mile. If legs could talk, mine would have been saying “Wheeeeee! We’re RUNNING again! Thank God – all that walking was getting REALLY boring!” I had to keep slowing myself down consciously as I could still feel the cold lingering and I didn’t want to have to make the embarrassing phone call that would have been a request for a pick up as I’d run out of steam. Besides, I probably would have been unable to describe exactly where I was in the lanes (my geography of the area is best described as ‘sketchy’) which would have cause additional embarrassment so I thought I’d best take it slow and steady.

Didn’t see many cars at all, although I flattened myself in the hedge whenever I did see one as the lanes were far too narrow for two cars to pass and often too narrow for a car to comfortably pass a runner. One difference I noticed, was that in Warwickshire and in Dorset was that if you get out of the way of the cars they will always thank you with a wave or smile, whereas in Cornwall the car drivers just took it as their right to zoom past you taking up the whole road. I got one acknowledgment the whole run – from a police car – not even from the tractor driver who crashed on past banging a trailer on behind him.

I stopped and took a photo at a bridge as it was so pretty and the water in the river was pink! The soil in parts of Devon is often reddish, so I assumed that it must be around here too. It looked very odd but very pretty. 

Unfortunately, I didn’t get to see many views as after about four miles, the fog descended and my visibility was limited to about two hundred metres or so. It felt very odd as the mist deadened the sounds and it made me feel like I was the only person for miles and miles. Quite unsettling really, especially as the lanes were so lonely and I’d often go for quite some time before passing a house or a farm. I didn’t pass another pedestrian at all!

Also, in the distance I would occasionally hear a horn blowing. It was quite odd as it sounded like an ancient factory horn and it was bizarre to hear it coming out of nowhere in such a rural setting. It added to the spookiness. I later found out that Lappa Valley railway was in this area.

I looked over a fence and saw some really fluffy black and white cows. They saw me looking and came over to the gate to see me so I stopped. Now … I know I’m not local to this area but cows shouldn’t growl should they? Every pre-schooler knows that cows say “Moooo”. Well one of these cows was growling at me. 

It really was. I KNOW cows don’t growl, but this cow definitely was. I thought it was a bit funny and popped it on twitter for my friends to have a laugh at and carried on running.

The fog had really come down quite thickly now and everything was wet. Every time I went under trees, the drops would patter down on me and on the road and everything was still and damp.

I got to a crossroads and stopped. Each lane led off in a different direction and each was shrouded in fog after a few metres. I deliberated for a while. There was a signpost, but the directions on it didn’t make much sense and it looked as though something had knocked into it and maybe knocked it out of true so that the arms were pointing the wrong way. I took my phone out to have a look at the map and at that moment a tweet popped up as a reply to my cow tweet. It was from @runrabbit and simply said “Growling? Hmm bit of a worry. Is something else hidden in the fog …”

I chose a direction quickly and repacked running rucksack and set off at a somewhat quicker pace than before. Checking back over my shoulder every few metres. I run for miles in country lanes, but the fog and not quite knowing where I was made it a bit eerie …

I got to Trerice Manor and had a look through the gates at the beautiful house. There was a rather disturbing-looking stone lion guarding the path to the house. I’m sure in sunshine it probably looked quite lovely but in the fog and damp it wasn’t the most welcoming statue.

I turned right, following the main road at the top of the hill past the manor and up the hill past some cottages. A collie barked at me from behind a gate and I picked up the pace not wanting to be chased to my destination. A nice downhill slope, past a beautiful, welcoming-looking cottage with a glowing golden light coming from its window and … to a main road! Cars whooshed past in both directions and it was strange to suddenly see these signs of modern life. Unfortunately, it meant I’d taken a wrong turn as I hadn’t planned to cross any main roads. A quick look at the map and it looked as though I’d have to retrace my steps to Trerice Manor and take a left at the top of the hill. Sod.

Running back up the hill, I saw something in the bank where the dirt had fallen away and I picked up an old heavy green glass bottle with Goodall Backhouse & Co stencilled into the thick green glass. I emptied it of dirt and wiped it on the ivy of the bank before popping it into my running rucksack.

I made it back to the Manor quickly and found the right path. I ran past some beautiful cottages and the lanes became more picturesque than before. I ran down a long downhill and past an elderly lady sweeping the road outside her cottage with a broom and down at the bottom of the hill I came across a ford!

The ford was deep and swift and I was glad for the footbridge which crossed to the right of it.

At the top of the hill I came to a crossroads that I recognised and I took the right fork, through some of the smallest lanes yet and came out at the top of a very steep hill, next to the campsite and home. An eerie, but interesting route today.

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