Dispatch from the Razor's Edge, the Blog of Michael Stephen Fuchs
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2006.09.12 : Still Walking
But It's Really Lovely Today
The "All Photos All The Time" Issue

Morning breaks on the overpriced Perranporth hotel grey and misty with a moving sky. Tim and I score breakfast in the dining room (unlimited muesli! muahahaha!), then spend a few minutes chatting with "sweet old Doreen". She'd seen a lot of coast walkers come through.

While packing up, Tim and I discuss third careers; we can't do this computer shit forever, and we've got a lot of time, and there's still cancer to cure. Finished packing, we lounge around listening to the gulls and the surf while waiting for our compadres – and the start of the day's walk.

And I find I don't have a single scribbled note, not a single word, between you and the next dozen photos. Enjoy. (We did!)

Okay, well, actually I will interject here just very briefly to point out that: much of the point of these two photos ↔ is actually my tiny little ant friends crawling along the trail, in the left ↑, and upper-left →, respectively, which show the scale of this whole dramatic cliffs thing.

Me: "I should just swagger on over there and freeclimb that face."
Tim: "Do it with the pack on."

Tim: "Is this glass?"
Charles: "Yes, they make it here."
Tim: "That's amazing! It comes right out of the ground."
Charles: "Yes, different areas have different thicknesses. Cornwall's famous for its double-glazing."

We pass a sweet older couple on the path. I use my traditional greeting: "Nice day for it." "Su-perb," they respond. We pass, and poke around inside, a military bunker, which I evidently was not sufficiently moved to photograph.

Me: "This is another reason why London is the greatest place in the world: we can enjoy everything London has to offer, then come out here for our diving kestrels and our heather and our blackberries, and then go back to civilisation."

As we approach the town of St. Agnes, the pencil smokestacks of abandoned tin mines begin to appear here and there. Charles explains that the Greeks used to come here for tin. In fact, "Albion" (the name by which people here call their island "in exalted moments") is actually just the Greek name for this obscure island they used to come to for raw metals.

This (the etymology of Albion) is one of my earlier, though far from my last, indications that Charles is a rather smarter and more well-rounded cookie than I, lamentably, ever got any sense of in the loud, smokey pubs which were the locales of our first dozen or so conversations. I may heap further praise upon Charles in this space. But, for now, suffice it to say that probably 3/4 of the explaining that went on during this walk – whether of geography, history, botany, or anthropology – was done by Charles.

← This is one of a handful of genuinely C2C-grade climbs on this walk. → These are pretty flowers, with a dramatic background.

"Norfolk and Way, pal!" That one's for Ryan. Aside from this amusing image, St Agnes (which spills out from Trevaunance Cove, visible two groups of photos back) provided us with a pleasant tea in an atmospheric pub. Their tiny upstairs loo also served as the setting for a truly epic shit.

When I'd climbed down from the mountain I built under myself, I wandered outside and found Charles and Meeyoung having lunch perched on a tidal barrier – watching the surfers through binoculars.

Charles: "I've been looking for lighthouses, but haven't seen any – not even moving ones."
Tim emerges from the shop reading the label of a packaged sandwich he's bought.
Tim: "302 calories?! This isn't even worth carrying around for 302 calories . . ." He looks ruefully up at the mountains on either side of the cove. "To think – we walked all the way to the top of that, just to come down again. From now on we only travel at low tide."

And so we climbed out of Dodge. . . And then, not long after, came the rains. It was only a brief shower, with fat slanting drops, a shot across our bow. As this was our first brush with weather, and as the skies were moving quickly, we hesitated about how fully to kit up for rain. We ended up going with Gore-Tex tops, but not bottoms.

However, I'd had a very bad prior experience with putting my pack cover on "a bit later, if the rain keeps up" – one of those Never Again kind of memory cauterizations. I was so bitterly adamant in this that, as you can see, Tim followed my lead in pack-covering. Inevitably, of course, the weather cleared shortly after – my notes say "rain shower: just the right length" – leaving the ground and sky and sea wet and cool and clean.

The wind was still up a bit – a first hint of the wildness of which Cornwall was capable – so when we stopped for a break and bite, we sort of instinctively did it in the lee of this big rock. As I went clambering over and around, I discovered what was probably the best-ever in a long series of stunning spots to wee from. This is memorialized – uniquely – in the video below.

Get the Flash Player to see this movie.

    ↓ Over my left shoulder here, you can see the wild surf on the beach – to which we soon began the long, slick descent. ↓

The path took us right by an abandoned tin mine, which Charles explained why they were abandoned but I forget why. Between here and our destination? Another Infinite Beach!

Get the Flash Player to see this movie.

Get the Flash Player to see this movie.

And but so we finally stumbled into PortDamnSomething (every town on this coast is Porthcothan or or Mawgan Porth or Porthcurno or Porthleven &c. &c. &c.), a bit more tired, if anything, than at the end of yesterday's Infinite Beach Crossing. Charles and Meeyoung were pre-booked into what was supposed to be another lovely B&B (did I mention those two don't camp?); and Tim and I were for what was described as a comfy campsite, as campsites go. So when we staggered into town (okay, it was Porthtowan), we parted ways, agreeing to meet up shortly for the never-negotiable drinks and dinner. As seemingly always, the camp site lay 100,000,000,000 miles outside of the town proper, and so Tim and I began the slog – starkly uphill as it also always is.

It's always really good fun stumbling around in the dark looking for a cleverly hidden campsite – after a 10-plus-mile fully-loaded hike with lots of climbing – and so the two of us went at it with relish. Boggling at the map, ending up in somebody's back drive, despairing, we ran into a couple of German kids. They informed us the camp site is: "gone". Because we're suspicious, or stupid, or something, we carried on the direction they had come from, and saw for ourselves.

It was starting to look a lot like Tim and I were now going to go 1 night for 5 on actually camping. I was going to be known as the guy who carried a two-man tent all the way around the coast of Cornwall, for no apparent reason. It did briefly occur to us that there was actually nothing stopping us camping at a closed, abandoned camp site. Nothing except no showers, no water, no light, and no electricity. We gave it up and agreed to find C&M again and see if perhaps their B&B had another room available. We headed back down the hill. We very promptly ran into the other two – heading right back up the hill, where their B&B lay. It, too, was nearly unfindable – but actually, implausibly, very much further up the hill. It did, however, have the virtue of still being in business.

It also had the substantial advantages of a big comfy sitting room, and a sweet matron, who gave us tea and biscuits, and big pretty bedrooms. The whole house was huge. Tim asked if all houses in the U.S. were this big. "Yes." Tim asked if the refrigerator, which Americans would recognise as a refrigerator, but Brits would see more as a walk-in cooling closet, was the size of all the refrigerators in the U.S. "Yes."

After tea and showers and settling in, we lightly traipsed back down the hill all together and proceeded to – all together, now – drink beer and eat dinner and drink beer and play pool, and drink beer. Fun was had by all. And I for one do not remotely remember the walk back up the hill, which is much the best thing.

Route Follower Alongerer :

Tomorrow: 11 miles from Porthtowan to Gwithian, to include: Virginia Woolf's Lighthouse, Very Witty Dialogue – and Not to Forget Charles Pissing Off a Cliff

Hi, I'm Charles! And I have a very small penis! At least, that's what Michael's making me say until I get off my duff and come up with some better comments to add here.         (hide)
Hi, I'm Son. And, hate to say it, but it's true. If only I had some other comments to contribute, the world wouldn't have to know . . . But at least Michael gets to show off his cool Charles and Meeyoung avatars.         (hide)
If only I only new what my second is going to be… is this where you mention your belief that by the time we are old there is going to be a cure for ageing and we are actually all going to live for 200 years Michael?         (hide)
Is that the one that took around 25 mins of constant shooting to get Michael? Oh no I've gone and done it! I called it shooting! It's photographing!         (hide)

  cornwall coast path     hiking     london     photography     tim     video     walking  
close photo of Michael Stephen Fuchs

Fuchs is the author of the novels The Manuscript and Pandora's Sisters, both published worldwide by Macmillan in hardback, paperback and all e-book formats (and in translation); the D-Boys series of high-tech, high-concept, spec-ops military adventure novels – D-Boys, Counter-Assault, and Close Quarters Battle (coming in 2016); and is co-author, with Glynn James, of the bestselling Arisen series of special-operations military ZA novels. The second nicest thing anyone has ever said about his work was: "Fuchs seems to operate on the narrative principle of 'when in doubt put in a firefight'." (Kirkus Reviews, more here.)

Fuchs was born in New York; schooled in Virginia (UVa); and later emigrated to the San Francisco Bay Area, where he lived through the dot-com boom. Subsequently he decamped for an extended period of tramping before finally rocking up in London, where he now makes his home. He does a lot of travel blogging, most recently of some very  long  walks around the British Isles. He's been writing and developing for the web since 1994 and shows no particularly hopeful signs of stopping.

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ARISEN : Operators, Volume I - The Fall of the Third Temple by Michael Stephen Fuchs
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