This August, I walked 66 miles (110 km) from St Ives to Padstow on the west coast of Cornwall, following the South West Coast Path. I started writing a summary post about my week in Cornwall and it got very long, so I’m doing a post a day… This is day 1 of the walk.
It was drizzling lightly as I set out from St Ives on my first day. The plan was to walk 6 miles (10 km) to Hayle, then catch a bus back to St Ives to spend a second night there before bussing to Hayle the next day with my full pack to set out in earnest. Even though my full pack wasn’t heavy — I wasn’t camping at all — I was glad to have a short day with a light bag after a long trip the day before, travelling from Turin to St Ives, with an 8 am flight followed by 4 hours in London followed by what was supposed to be a 6 hour train trip that turned into a 7 hour train trip followed by a shared taxi ride with fellow travellers after trains in Cornwall were disrupted by a tyre fire in St Erth.
(“Service disruptions in St Erth due to a track-side fire” they said in London, and I assumed they meant some kind of grass fire that would be dealt with by the time I got to Cornwall. No, it was a literal pile of tyres that had been burning for 24 hours with a plume of smoke that was said to have been visible 30 miles away. No wonder they weren’t so keen on running trains directly next to that.)
Despite — or perhaps because of — the inconvenience of the trip, I’d spent the day thinking about why I travel. On the train from Luton airport into London, I realized I felt at home. Not because I feel at home in England (I don’t), but because I feel at home on the move. Not that I’d want to always be on the move, I decided. After all, I’d had just as strong a rush of feeling of being at home a few weeks prior as I’d dished up poached eggs in tomatoes to a couple of friends at dinner around my kitchen table. But I hadn’t travelled much recently, and this trip felt like a good way back into that.
I also pondered the idea of paths not taken. Four hours in London wandering the canals next to Paddington Station made me wonder why I hadn’t planned a couple of days in the city. As the train sped past red sandstone cliffs near Exmouth I wanted to jump off at the next station and go take a closer look. Early on while thinking about summer I’d considered a trip to Spain, and going to Cornwall was instead of that. This week I’d be taking one path — literally. Well then. Continue reading