Saturday, September 18, 2010

Within the Tides

(with apologies to Joseph Conrad, and his 1916 short story collection of the same name)  The tidal range along the Cornwall coast seems a lot bigger than for our Midatlantic Coast.   I haven't stayed in any one place long enough to see just how much the tide rises and falls, but it does affect your options here and there.  For example, walking out of Newquay this morning I potentially had four different ways I might need to cross the Gannel River estuary, affecting the lengh of my day's trek by as much as six miles.  By good fortune, I was leaving near low tide, so I could not only use the Fern Pit Cafe alternative -- the shortest -- but I could also use the Cafe's low-tide footbridge, rather than paying one pound to use their ferry (in the foreground), and not have to walk inland to use the official Coast Path footbridge, or even further (if the tide were full and the Cafe were closed) to use the highway bridge.

At the end of my day, approaching Perrenporth, I could walk all the way down Perren Beach to town if I could reach Cottys Point before the tide put the beach under water there.  Otherwise, I'd have to climb still another high headland, and back down the other side, to reach town.  I barely made it.

The teenagers behind me didn't quite make it, and found the need to wade through the incoming tide hilarious.  One lad portaged his and his girlfriend's shoes on a boogie board on a tether, while the other guy told the girls that just to be on the safe side they should probably take their pants off.

In between the River Gannel and Cottys Point, I found the youngest surfing class yet on Holywell Beach.  There are surfing classes on every beach, but they're generally filled with teenage girls.  I guess guys think it's beneath their dignity to take formal classes, and girls think surfing is where the boys are. 

But this co-educational class was getting an enthusiastic early start on the favorite local sport, under the watchful supervision of a number of instructors and, off camera, a gaggle of mother hens.