Newquay – Perranporth (10.8 miles)
Distance from Minehead – 202.3 miles / Distance to Poole– 429.7 miles
Today has been one of danger and peril, which sounds exciting and like something out of a James Bond film! In fact you could say that each day so far has been one of danger and peril. Some of these dangers are really obvious and some come at you more unawares.
The first danger I had to deal with today was the tide. I had to cross The Gannel Estuary, which is only crossed (unless you cheat with a ferry) at low tide, or 3-4 hours either side of low tide. This meant I got a bit of a lie-in on a walking day as I had to wait for the waters to recede and the bridge to dry. If you misjudge a tide, especially on the turn, you can find yourself in very deep water….literally!
After a successful paddle (hooray for waterproof boots!) I then came across my next danger of the day. Toby. He had gone off for a little wander on the headland, deciding to go up the hill instead of following the walkers who took the sensible route and went around. Realising no one was following him he charged back to catch up with the group and had a little trouble stopping in time. Next thing I know and I am on the floor and the whole of my left side feels like it has been hit by a train! I definitely didn’t see that one coming!
Later on in the day I passed by some old Ministry of Defence land and was slightly worried by the signs I was seeing. They warned of radiation and explosions and then after a little while on the other side of the path I saw signs with the skull and crossbones, warning of collapsing mine shafts. It looked like if I took just one step off the set path I was going to die! I became more nervous of the potential dangers in that couple of miles than I had been in the entire walk so far, despite the almost constant signs telling me of dangerous and unstable cliffs.
Then all of a sudden a verse of a famous hymn popped into my head…. “Through many dangers, toils and snares I have already come, twas grace that brought me safe thus far, and grace will lead me home.” Life is absolutely choc-a-block full of dangers and perils, toils and snares, and some people reason that there is no God because of them. Surely a loving God would remove the dangers and make everything safe. Surely a caring God would not want to see his children in peril. But if he did so how would we know what he had done? We would live in ignorance of his love and grace that helps us to face the dangers and still continue. We would live in a perfect world but would have no understanding of it.
I could have chosen an easy, danger-free path to walk (if such a thing exists) but it wouldn’t have been a challenge, I wouldn’t have achieved as much, and I certainly wouldn’t have grown closer to God as I realise my continual reliance on him – my reliance because the dangers and perils have been so blatant and clear, my reliance because I am not an athlete and my body is not used to this relentless physical exercise, my reliance because I am weak and vulnerable to temptations and short-cuts, my reliance because I know that people are depending on me to be at certain places at certain times and my reliance because I simply cannot do this in my own strength.
The tides, my dog, cliff falls and unexploded military waste all bring there own dangers and perils. But perhaps the greatest danger is forgetting that I have come through them all safely thus far thanks only to a loving and gracious God and that it is through him that I will, no matter what happens, make it home.