Three days in Cornwall and we’ve had all possible English summer weather conditions. Yesterday started out dull and overcast, but by early afternoon a warm Atlantic wind whipped across the Celtic Sea and began to blow the clouds inland, allowing shafts of sunlight to illuminate the rugged North Cornwall coastline.
Sean and I are housesitting in Treknow (tree-no), just south of Tintagel, one of the most popular tourist destinations in Britain. Every summer people flock to visit the medieval ruins of Tintagel Castle, legendary birthplace of King Arthur, perched dramatically on a small rocky island connected to the mainland by a short wooden footbridge. The town itself is overrun with tourists lining up to enjoy the delights of Cornish pasties and ice cream, buying buckets and spades for the beach or wetsuits and surfboards to ride the Atlantic waves as they break on the sands at Trebarwith.
The village of Treknow is separated from Tintagel by only 1.2 miles, but it’s an altogether quieter affair. Yes, 70% of the population in summer are visitors, but everyone comes by car, rents a cute cottage and uses the village as a base from which to explore the surrounding countryside and coastline. The former is typically English, the latter more reminiscent of Northern California.
As the clouds dispersed we traced the footpath down through the fields and across the stream to Trebarwith Strand. The tide was on its way out and people were gathering on the growing stretch of sand that’s completely submerged by water at high tide. Rather than join the throngs of bathers, surfers and day-trippers, we walked away from the main beach to the small cove populated by mussel-covered rocks and lined by caves of various sizes. We shared the beach with only a couple other folk, one of whom was picking and pocketing mussels in his sand-coloured cargo shorts.
After shooting some photographs (with a much less interesting sky than on previous days when we only had our iPhones with us), we started for home with the promise of tea and just-baked-that-morning blueberry muffins. The path from the cove to the main beach entry point runs along the edge of the cliff high above the beach and so, when we reached the car turning circle, we stopped to take in the busy scene below. Just as we were about to leave we spotted a group of young people and children making their way across the beach, surfboards under their arms and surfing instructors by their side. We decided our tea and muffins could wait and settled in to watch the lesson.
After ten minutes or so of instruction and exercises the group headed to the sea for simulated surfing, leaving their boards behind.
Once everyone was used to the feel of the waves they returned to their boards for more instruction and exercises to limber up. And then the reward — taking their boards into the sea for a first attempt at catching and riding a wave.
As for us? Our reward was at the top of the hill, so we began the ascent in earnest.
Mufidah Kassalias is a writer, photographer and slow traveller. A digital nomad, she’s also co-founder of Creative Thunder, helping creative individuals and small businesses to fire up their online presence and prowess. To get a free copy of the inspiring Creative Thunder Manifesto, click here.