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An Off Ranch Ramble – I Can See the Sea

For this off ranch ramble I turn to the north and head for the sea. I hope you enjoy.

Walking Boots

The days are short now and when we arrive at this river valley which runs into sea on the north coast we don’t have much time before the sun sets. As we drive down the steep lane the sea and an old mill house come into view. I don’t know how long it’s been since this was a working mill but you probably couldn’t ask for a better spot for a peaceful holiday. Nestling in the hill it has a terrace which overlooks the valley and river.

House by the Sea

It’s cold and we wrap up in hats, scarves and gloves and set off inland into the woodland in search of the famous wriggly oak tree. We had a Cornish Pasty on our journey here so we’re well set up for the tramp. The Wildlife Trusts manage these woods and pastures and you can find out about lots more places to see ancient trees on the Ancient Tree Forum here.

On the way we go through the mill house garden – our friends who are staying here are not yet back from their outing along the Camel Trail. I like the spiral of wild flowers the owners have created on the grass, in fact I think they have done a good job with helping this place blend in with the wider landscape while still having a few flat areas for lolling on. They have made some interesting surfaces with the local materials too. All helped along by the Avant Gardener I think.

Wildflower Spiral

Coastal Garden Cornwall

Oak Plank Bridge

Pebble Spiral

We go down a wide grassy ride and pass some little black sheep on the hillside, probably part of the management programme for helping out the rare Pearl Bordered Fritillary butterfly. Opposite, the valley side is cloaked with scrubby wind blown oaks, their leafless limbs making a soft tangle of greys and browns in the low winter sun. We enter the woods on a small winding path which sticks close to the riverside.

Black Hill Sheep

Scrubby Oaks Cornwall

Woodland Path

I glimpse the wriggly oak.

Wriggly Oak

We hang out for a while amongst its branches.

Wriggly Oak

Then we turn back and head down towards the beach, joining up with the South West Coast Path.

Towards the Sea

On the way we pass the house and a bit further on there is an area of low grass, swept into ripples by the wind.

House in Valley

Ripply Grass

We step down onto the beach, crunching onto the dark grey pebbles, hearing the tumbling water of the river meeting the sea. The light is fading and there is a bitter coolness in the air, bouncing off  the slick black rocks near to shore and buffeting the crests of the waves.

Winter Beach Cornwall

Winter Beach Cornwall

Winter Beach Cornwall

Winter Beach Cornwall

We talk about people we know and do beachy things…

Winter Beach Cornwall www.thinkingcowgirl.wordpress.comWinter Beach Cornwall

Winter Beach Cornwall

Winter Beach Cornwall

Winter Beach Cornwall

Later, we go inside with the others and sit by the fire, drink tea and eat chocolate biscuits.


27 Comments Post a comment
  1. I love going on your walks with you! Great photos 🙂

    December 2, 2012
  2. Julia Wylie #

    ooh very lovely. Feel like I have been there now!

    Just as well that you didn’t see or photograph any surfers because I would have been overcome with jealousy.

    Tea and biscuits next to the fire sounds sensible, because it did look rather chilly!

    December 2, 2012
    • No surfers there, so no need for the green eyed monster…in fact we had quite a long conversation about how we would NEVER get in that water and the madness of those that would…that would be you!

      December 3, 2012
  3. Sarah, I love the way you SEE things!

    December 2, 2012
  4. supernova #

    A great set of photograph’s, they give a complete story of your walk. Stunning scenery, great taste. My best, SN

    December 2, 2012
    • Glad you enjoyed it supernova, I don’t go to the coast as often as one would think living so close!

      December 3, 2012
  5. Great walk! I just miss your cows.

    December 3, 2012
  6. Wow. Breathtaking. Such beautiful photographs. I can’t get over that oak tree. Incredible!

    December 3, 2012
    • Isn’t it just stunning? I’d like to go back in spring and see it with all the new green growth too.

      December 3, 2012
    • Pamela McMullan #

      I agree that tree is incredible.

      January 1, 2013
      • I’m looking forward to going back in spring, I’ll report back!

        January 2, 2013
  7. Ah Sarah, this is lovely. It reminds me of holidays at Welcombe in north Devon and that beautiful oak tree makes me think of James Ravilious – A nice coincidence because he’s on our blog today! Where is this magical place? Is the cottage to let? Thank you for sharing the walk with us.

    December 3, 2012
    • Spot on Hamer! It is actually at Welcombe – the valley straddles Cornwall and Devon. The cottage is sometimes available…a bit pricey!!

      Glad you enjoyed this one, I’ll be checking out your Ravilious post too.

      December 3, 2012
      • Wow! A double coincidence. I remember holidays as a kid and bodyboarding at Welcombe Mouth. I think we stayed in a cottage at the head of this track where it joins the road. We bought milk and eggs from a farm nearby where a poet lived. If you look at The James Ravilious website you’ll see a photo of a wriggly oak tree, I’m sure it’s the same one. There he calls it – Oak Tree (after Mondrian), Marsland, Devon 1997 – but I have a greetings card in my hand (I’ve had it on my desk for years) with the same image titled – Oak Tree (after Mondrian), Welcombe, Devon 1997. I feel an expedition coming on!

        December 3, 2012
      • I’ve had a look and I think it is possibly the same tree! I love his photos they are such an amazing document. I actually started a photo project with my old SLR and some B & W film, photograhing some of our local farmers….but I’m afraid I got seduced by the ease of digital. Maybe I should restart it….

        It would be great to relive your childhood holidays, it probably hasn’t changed that much – apart from you might be able to get a bit more than a ploughmans in the local 🙂

        December 3, 2012
  8. Lovely ramble, beautiful photos! It really is most very different to the landscape that currently surrounds me – a little taste of home. Thank you, and a visit to the wriggly oak is a must for when I return!

    December 4, 2012
    • Oh do post some pictures of your locale, the only thing I know about Utah is when I watched that programme about delinquent teens being given the American ‘tough love’ treatment.:)

      December 5, 2012
      • Utah’s a beautiful state. I lived in Salt Lake City for a year, in the valley surrounded by the Wasatch mountains. Alpine lakes, hiking, skiiing. South and west it’s very different, of course, but equally beautiful. Can you believe I haven’t a single photo of any of it? Part of the reason is $$$ – in those days there was no digital photography, and, a graduate student at the time, I couldn’t afford film and developing.

        December 5, 2012
      • Why indeed! *And, just like that, a post ‘miraculously’ appeared on the GFN blog…!* Ta da! 🙂

        December 6, 2012
  9. You lucky LUCKY girl! What a beautiful walk…what gorgeous countryside! I think I would have to just stand there for hours (freezing my derierre off in the process…) looking at that amazing view. MORE rss feed fodder…sigh…I just managed to get my posts down and now I go and shove more in there…oh well… who needs to see the sun! ;). I think Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall has skewed my mind…I want to see beauty in your photos but there is an undertow of foraging going on…What a gorgeous piece of seaweed? (I bet you could eat that!…must check out online and find out…)… I love how you write and despite being complete horticultural plebians when we went to the U.K. in 2006, we did appreciate the beauty of the parks and gardens (as they whizzed past us while we were driving by at breakneck speed on the motorways 😉 ). One day we will go back on our own and will spend weeks wandering around touching old trees and doing what hippies do best and getting permanent cricks in our necks with the beauty and ancient history of it all. Until then, we rely on people like you getting out there with their cameras and snapping for all they are worth. Cheers for the wriggly oak…I have a wriggly willow on the property…not quite so rare and definately nowhere near as beautiful but aside from being predominately dead and possibly beyond redemption I can’t find it in my heart to cull it. It managed to stay alive here on this water free zone of a property when its natural inclinations run to soaking its tootsies in delicious moist soil and for that reason, this poor long suffering specimen can join the ranks of “Serendipity Farm Survivors Anon.” and has been given a “Get out of cull free” card along with a spindly sorbus and some oak trees that grew from mulch. I am an horticultural softy 😉

    December 4, 2012
  10. Aw thanks I’m glad you enjoyed them. Keep your foraging hands off that seaweed! Put that willow out of its misery! 😉 Actually I used to be a bit of a horticultural softy a long time ago…but not any more. Only the other day my brother said ‘you need to get those geraniums inside’ and I said ‘nah, I’m ditching them, compost bound they are…’ This is the kind of wanton cruelty which comes from being a professional gardener…one minute they’re your babies, the next they’re surplus to requirements!

    Can you enlighten me about RSS – I’ve noticed this on the sidebar but haven’t a clue what it is?

    December 5, 2012
  11. Such a gorgeous post. I noted the pebbles with the white striations – some of my potted flowers have the same sort atop their dirt. Mine came from the beach where the Russian River meets the Pacific ocean in California. And I smiled at the gloves. I use rock-climbing gloves at work, because I have to have my fingers available to – well, to work!

    The tree is splendid. I’d love to hear the stories it could tell!

    December 5, 2012
    • Same pebbles, different ocean…a bit like us human beings really! I always remember the saying ‘there are plenty of pebbles on the beach’ – said to the disappointed in love.

      Rock-climbing gloves sound good. I have spent many years in search of the perfect glove with limited success – waterproof, warm while maintaining full dexterity! I guess it’s pretty warm where you are?

      Splendid indeed is the wriggly oak.

      December 5, 2012

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