Reworded: Journal Entry: Strolling Down the Familiar Roads of My Youth | Written by Virginia Spiers
Underneath the Cadson Bury hillfort, the River Lynher flows swiftly through a tangled mess of fallen trees, boggy pools, small streams, and debris scattered among the overhanging branches. Alongside blooming gorse bushes, steep grass grazed by rabbits leads up to even steeper ramparts that border the fort. From these ancient defenses, panoramic views encompass the woodland on the opposite side of the river – a mix of purple, brown, and grey from budding alder and oak twigs covered in lichen. The view extends downstream towards Newton Ferrers and the medieval clapper bridge at Pillaton. To the west, Caradon Hill and Sharp Tor can be seen on the horizon of Bodmin Moor, standing tall above the upper reaches of the Lynher.
Near the Stara bridge, there is a beloved spot from my childhood when my sister and I would stay with our paternal grandparents. In the hamlet of Darley, near Notter Tor with its overgrown quarries and mine shafts, and overlooked by the silhouette of Cheesewring quarry, my grandfather had a garden where he grew fruits and vegetables. He also milked two South Devon cows, raised chickens, and rotated a few bullocks in small stony pastures. Sometimes he would ride his chestnut mare, Gaiety, towards the moor. Before a borehole was discovered and installed, the house was supplied with rainwater collected from the roof. We helped carry pitchers and covered buckets of drinking water pumped from a nearby well.
The well-known small paths, bordered by stone walls covered in lush moss, pennywort, and ferns, slope downwards. Prior to the current drought, these routes functioned as streams, carrying excess water and debris from the expanded and flooded fields towards the river, which was surprisingly elevated and filled with water from the eastern part of the moor.
As we head towards Bearah, we come across a functional quarry that still cuts and prepares granite for various restoration projects. An unrefined path leads us past large, immovable boulders covered in vibrant green moss. Amongst these boulders, small oak trees grow while piles of worked stone provide protection from grazing sheep. The gnarled thorns are adorned with bearded lichen, thriving in the pure, damp air. As the day progresses, the clouds dissipate and the setting sun illuminates a cluster of rock formations situated above the quarry. A chilly north wind hints at the possibility of frost and the eventual hardening of soggy ground.