For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel's sake. The great affair is to move. ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON

Saturday, 9 October 2010

The Cruel Sea

The 1808 Grylls Act - or Burial of Drowned Persons Act - enshrined in law that all dead bodies recovered from the sea or found on shore should be decently buried in consecrated ground. Prior to this it was the custom to bury drowned mariners without a shroud or coffin in the most convenient place along the coast. The simple cross in my photo is a memorial to all the sailors who had perished in these treacherous waters and had been casually buried hereabouts.

I finally reached Falmouth. It's a wonderful place - much bigger than I thought it would be - with an impressive harbour and some lovely old streets. When I woke the next morning the rain was bucketing down. I didn't need much persuading from my B&B host to stay another night in her immaculate, bijou terraced cottage. All day it rained. The drains overloaded. The roads were flooded. The locals tut-tutted, shook their heads, and talked enigmatically about ebbs and neaps and tidal surges. A few sandbags came out. But, the next day, the deluge was over, and I took a ferry across the estuary of the river Fal to a place called Place (I'm not joking) on the delectable Roseland Peninsula.

In Portscatho an air ambulance had landed on the beach, and an injured holidaymaker was being stretchered off. I wonder what had happened? The rocks don't seem that dangerous here for serious accidents. Perhaps a heart attack? Who knows...




I left the scene - with the sound of rotor blades ringing in my ears - and pressed on to Portloe, one of the prettiest villages in Cornwall according to Sir John Betjeman. There were over fifty fishing boats active here at the beginning of the twentieth century. Now there are only three. You must admit - it's in an enviably sheltered position. It has a lurid history of smuggling and ship-wrecking, like many of these Cornish coves, and has been used many times as a film location...

6 comments:

George said...

It sounds like the rainy day was a great opportunity to rest and read without feeling guilty about not making any headway. These are beautiful villages and coves. I hope I get there soon. Italy, however, is next — in May, to be exact. After that, I hope to get back to some walking in the U.K.

The Solitary Walker said...

That rainy day in Falmouth... I went to the library. It was closed. Tho' the tiny art gallery next door was open, and they offered me a cup of tea. Very friendly place. I tried the cinema - but the only things on offer were horror films about piranha fish and the latest Sly Stallone film.

ksam said...

That last village...is alternately so attractive and scary. It looks so snug that it almost makes me feel claustrophobic. Can't help but wonder what'd be like to actually live someplace so compact and close to others. Amazing picture.

The Solitary Walker said...

Too claustrophobic for me too, Karin. I couldn't possibly live in such a small place. The gossip must be rife! But a good place to visit, photograph, and past through...

Tramp said...

These posts remind me of visiting some of the islands in the South Atlantic on the way south (and on the way out again). Shackleton's grave on South Georgia, a large elephant seal basking on it on the day we visited. On Signy Island, further south, we found some very simple graves. I was really effected by the grave of a young cabin boy, an early teenager, who had died at sea.
...Tramp

The Solitary Walker said...

Tramp - I've always been interested in the story of the Arctic explorer Sir John Franklin (who finally discovered the Northwest Passage)and the Franklin graves... Franklin was born near here, in Spilsby, Lincolnshire.