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A walk in the woods

January 10, 2011

I’ve just come back from a few days in Fowey, Cornwall with family and friends. We spent some time exploring the river walks and woods near Lerryn. There’s something very inviting and playful about this spot. Even before you leave the car park, you see the stepping stones daring you out across the tidal river.

As we were putting on our boots we saw two walkers who were crossing the  stones suddenly stop and burst into a mock swordfight. It ended with one of them, fortunately the one wearing wellies, wading the rest of the way.

Further along the narrow path, we came across another group of adults and kids.  We smelt their woodsmoke before we spotted them having a winter campfire on a small beach that had appeared below the riverbank. A scene lifted from Swallows and Amazons. Almost.

Although this was a grey day in winter, the colours were varied and vivid as the blocks in a paint box. Bark covered with yolk-yellow lichen.  Beetroot red branches in the distant trees.  A carpet of copper oak leaves. Even the river mud exposed at low tide had the patina of old silver.

So much about this place suggested possibilities. The path itself that twists and turns, and opens out into spaces that surprise. We stumbled into the hidden Tivoli Park pleasure garden with its fountain, bandstand and plunge pool – once grand, a venue for picnics and regattas, now deliciously tangled and overgrown.

Later, across the water, we caught glimpses of an old, elegant boathouse. A boathouse! The very idea conjures up secret rendezvous and smuggled brandy. At the very least, isn’t it thrilling and ever so slightly surreal to think of entering a building by water?

We paused to watch a white ibis stalk puppet-like against a back-cloth of gunmetal grey. The youngest amongst us felt compelled to first swing on and then climb into the curling arms of a gnarled tree.

Looking through the walking guide as we linger, I see that this river bank, these very woods are believed to be the setting for  ‘The wind in the willows”, written by Kenneth Graham in 1908. We have been walking through ‘the wild woods’ where Ratty and Mole meet up with Badger. I’m intrigued but somehow not surprised. The magic of this place has not changed.


3 Comments leave one →
  1. January 11, 2011 8:33 am

    What a lovely post, Marion. Your descriptions of your walk and all the things you saw is wonderfully evocative – it made me feel that, even in winter, there are exciting possibilities – and the pictures are terrific. I’ve noticed that, even in London, the lime twigs have a red glow in the sunshine and small catkins are appearing on the silver birch in my neighbour’s garden. It’s all very heartening.

  2. Lorna permalink
    January 11, 2011 10:45 am

    I loved reading this, Marion. Your pictures and descriptions beautifully presented all kinds of wonderful winter imagery – and I agree with you about the romantic possibilities conjured up by a building where the only entrance is by water – in one of my new stories I’ve got a building which is exactly like that, although it has a more sinister aspect!

  3. January 11, 2011 12:04 pm

    Lovely Marion, cheered me up on a grumpy morning when things have been going haywire!

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