Tintagel – Port Isaac (9.1 miles)
Distance from Minehead – 155.1 miles / Distance toPoole– 478.1 miles
Today I left Tintagel surrounded by 3 coach loads of German tourists. They had come to see the famous Tintagel Castle, which was, as legend has it, the birth place of King Arthur, and the nearby Merlin’s Cave. Had they gone down the road a bit they would have seen another thing that this part of North Cornwall is famous for. Slate. The world famous Delabole Slate has been mined since medieval days and can quarry an average 120 tonnes of slate block every day.
And slate is visible everywhere you look at the moment – the cliffs are made up of it and the paths are made up of it (if I was stronger and had a bigger rucksack I could pick up and collect enough slate from the side of the path to do a large garden feature) and it is used in all sorts of other ways too.
I have become very familiar with a number of things along the coast path – steps (which going uphill are evil and are made to torment the thighs, but coming down are lifesavers), stiles (evil things, although often good for an excuse to stop for a breather), seats (truly these are things sent from God, when not placed directly in front of bushes!!) and farming walls and fences (generally good to keep livestock and Toby separate). These items are generally made from wood. But in these parts the wood has all been replaced by slate. Slate steps, slate stiles (even more evil if possible – how long do they think our legs are???), slate seats and slate walls.
I absolutely love the fact that the people who maintain the path and the local landowners have realised what is on their doorstep – or in fact what their doorstep is made from! So often things are shipped in from far away to make everything uniform and conforming. People lose sight of what is directly around them in abundance and despite the great quality and vast quantity of slate, they end up making wooden stiles and wooden benches, forgetting that what works in one place doesn’t always work elsewhere.
Perhaps, as I trudge up the endless slate steps I will try to not look at what everyone else has, at their skills and abilities, their possessions and attributes, but I will instead look at what is around me and within me and truly make use of what I have been given.