Day 58, St Dennis to Truro, 22 miles. 'The Great Storm'.
Today was a lot like that TV show Lost, it started out brilliantly, went completely off the rails in the middle, and sort of clawed it back at the end but not quite enough to make the whole thing worth while, oh and I also became quite literally lost so I suppose that counts as well.
What a shame too because the morning was lovely, I left St Dennis after an excellent continental breakfast courtesy of my Airbnb host (the accommodation did not advertise that breakfast was included so this was a lovely surprise), and made my way to the north so I could avoid the lanes for a little while, and took in the small but very pleasant Goss Moor. Everyone has been to Goss Moor before, not literally, but in spirit - it was one of those quiet, peaceful green areas that seem to crop up everywhere outside of major cities, full of dog walkers, tree lined paths and small ponds filled with quarrelsome ducks and elegant swans - I only had around two or three miles on the Moor (for the record it's not really a moor but the name seems to have stuck) before I found my way back onto the dull but efficient country lanes and I ambled through slowly, taking in the scenery in the warm morning sunshine.
Upon leaving Goss Moor and heading over some train tracks towards my first Cornish town of the day, the oddly named Indian Queens, it began to rain. At first it was only spitting, but this soon turned to that light, incessant drizzle that soaks you to the bone in a matter of minutes, and then finally into full blown rain. I stopped by to check out Indian Queens' claim to fame, I'm talking (of course) about Gnome World. Now I'm not really sure what the exact function of Gnome World was, it certainly had a lot of gnomes and bizarrely advertised that you could camp on site (why you would want to is another question altogether), but aside from that there was no indication of the purpose of this strange and slightly creepy building - I presume you could buy the gnomes of you really wanted to. To me the strangest thing was that Gnome World had been mentioned by a previous blogger way back in 2003 so we can safely say that Gnome World has remained open and firmly in existence for at least 16 years - a sobering thought indeed.
I swiftly made my way through the uniquely-named villages; Indian Queens, Blue Anchor - where I was forced to take shelter for a solid 15 minutes under the awning of a petrol station as the rain became unmanageable - and then into St Enoder, a much smaller, sleepier village where the rain briefly abated. As the sun came out I found myself by an ancient church and so stooped around the graveyard, noting a genuine 7th century Celtic cross in the grounds, and was about to go inside when I saw another hiker on the road behind me, walking in the opposite direction I had been. We were too far away to talk and so waved instead, but I would have put a lot of money on him being another end-to-ender (why else would someone in full hiking gear be making their way through these Cornish villages in the rain), and was annoyed that I had missed the chance to converse with someone else just at the very start of their journey, especially as I was closing in on the end of mine. Dismayed, I left the church and jumped back on the road heading down to Summercourt.
Summercourt was the final village on this little run and, unfortunately for me (as I had decided to find my lunch here) it was comfortably the bleakest of the lot - whoever named this drab, concrete infested little village 'Summercourt' must have one twisted sense of humour. I stopped into the only pub in town, The London Inn, and found it full to the rafters with families tucking into their Sunday carveries (I had no idea what day of the week it was and so had not planned for this). I drank a sub-par pint in the corner and decided to skip lunch today, I didn't fancy the questionable looking carvery in the Inn besides, with all the people and roasting meat inside it felt like a sauna. As you will no doubt have guessed already, as soon as I left the pub - knowing full well I had no real shelter from now until Truro - it began to rain again, hard.
Yes there was a storm coming. I had checked every weather app under the sun (sorry) during my brief stop at Summercourt and they all had issued weather warnings for rain, wind and general awfulness. The BBC went in hard with the all-too-familiar 'black cloud and two rain drops' symbol for the next five hours, whereas the Met had simply gone with a red, all-caps, size 48 warning (written in 'impact' of course) saying 'just stay inside you fools' and a useful link that took you to a scuba supply store. Well I was outside, with at least four hours solid walking until I reached Truro with no shelter, no lunch and no obvious route to get there. Strangely enough my spirits were quite high - I had been miserable in the rain numerous times on this trip and it never helps, sometimes you just have to embrace it.
This carefree attitude to my rather perilous condition was very soon washed away by sheet after sheet of cold water, which continued to fall angrily from the skies all afternoon. To make matters worse, just after passing through the 'village' of St Erme (it was just one house) I took a wrong turn on the lanes and, due to the torrential storm, didn't check my phone for a route for half an hour until the rain lessened a little bit. I had gone completely the wrong way and now had to retrace my steps, back through the rain, adding a full hour onto today's walk. Normally this would have been a minor annoyance but it really cut to the bone today, I mutely (some might even say heroically) plodded back the way I had come and wondered if I would ever be dry again.
Finally, as I approached Truro, the rain began to ease up. I took a slight detour and approached the city directly from the north so I could stroll through Idless Woods, another 'highlight' I had looked forward to for many months. The woods were actually lovely, but the path was a mucky quagmire and my spirits were low, so I couldn't really enjoy Idless as much as I would have liked.
Fortunately, the final leg today was devoid of any rain, so the final few miles into Truro were quite pleasant, or at least they would have been if my boots weren't filled with water, but all the same it was an improvement. Truro itself was lovely, as the UK's southernmost city it boasts a truly impressive cathedral and a plethora of upmarket shops with a lovely square in the centre. I briefly pottered around, then headed to by bunkhouse for a shower and to try, in vain, to dry as many of my possessions as I could on the feeble radiator in the corner of my room.
My lodgings were directly opposite the (former) home of Truro FC, a non-league football team who have fallen on hard times in recent years, and the ground stood unused and overgrown. I've always held a vague fascination with non league football grounds and so I wandered the decayed ruins of Truro FC's home, ordered myself a rather guilty Domino's and sank into a long, and thankfully dry, sleep.