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Getting the Band back together…….Falmouth to Helford River by Richard Wotton

Updated: Sep 10, 2018

Ian and Richard don't believe that the pub with lunch is just 20 minutes away, round the next bend...

So what band is this of which I speak? There have been a few very special bands that have found success and survived since Bill Haley started rocking around the clock. The Rolling Stones and The Who are good examples. Over time some of the faces have changed, but their cores have continued. The band of which I speak is a band with no name (like the Horse that America made famous), and is still together after more than 30 years. It was originally formed in St Helena in the 1980s. Its members met while working together, playing cricket with Jamestown T, playing football with the Rovers, playing tennis, plus quiz nights, Godparenting and walking. Ah yes – walking! Laurence and Melitta were original band members, as was Ian Mathieson. So when another original band member (me) heard of Ian’s plan to join Laurence for a day or two in Cornwall, I couldn’t resist joining them.

It so happens that these two original band members, Messrs Carter and Mathieson, are also internationally renowned authors of “Exploring St Helena: A Walker’s Guide” (for those who are interested it’s available from Miles Apart, specialising in books on the South Atlantic islands). So what better company could there be for spending a day walking in Cornwall to support the cause of 3500milestoendit!

"I got a ticket on a ferry ride..." The morning after the night before...

It was a beautiful, bright but fresh Kernow morning – a perfect day for walking. Just as well, because our relatively early start entailed a 25 minute ferry ride from St Mawes to the start of our walk in Falmouth. By the time we arrived at Falmouth Quay our heads were clear (the perfect antidote to the red wine consumed the previous evening, but don't tell our nutrition and hydration adviser) and we were ready to go. Setting out initially through the streets of Falmouth we were looking for acorns – lots of acorns. Connoisseurs of Laurence’s Blogs will know that the great and plentiful symbols that mark the South West Coast Path are acorns that appear everywhere; on signposts, gates, stiles etc.

Found the acorn sign, and learnt some Cornish as well...

They are important adjuncts to the trusty Ordnance Survey maps (you will see them clamped in Laurence’s hand in every walking photograph), as the acorns help to avoid too many “detours” when following the coastal path. Unfortunately the sage advice of “just keep the sea on the left” doesn’t guarantee staying on the straight and narrow! From Falmouth we climbed up and out along the top of the cliffs heading south. One of the many beauties of Kernow is that generally it’s never too long before the coast path drops into the next bay with its lovely beach including, more often than not, a little café that serves a nice cup of rosy lee (aka tea) to refresh the parts that weary walkers need refreshing.

Our view as we were..."sittin' on the dock of the bay..."

Keen observers of Laurence’s Strava will notice that we walked in a perfectly straight line for a mile or so, which occurred straight after our tea break. Remarkable you might think for us to find a Roman road in Cornwall south of Maenporth, and I can almost hear the historians starting to rifle through their encyclopaedias. Let me save you the time by observing that rather than us making an amazing discovery, a straight line is what Strava draws when it detects a break in activity, which I suggest might just have occurred by someone (no names mentioned as what goes on tour stays on tour) forgetting to switch Strava back on before we had walked for a mile following our tea break. So where was the checklist I hear you ask??

We finally strode into Helford River, and for a late lunch we munched on some rather nice sandwiches prepared by Ian earlier (a man of many talents!) whilst waiting for a taxi to take us back to Falmouth. From the ferry in the morning we had seen a couple of Royal Fleet Auxiliary ships in Falmouth harbour, and it was another one of those interesting coincidences to find that the taxi driver who drove us back to Falmouth was ex Royal Navy, and had served in the Falklands – another South Atlantic connection.

"I am sailing, home again, 'cross the sea..." An old schooner sails past a docked Royal Fleet Auxiliary ship in Falmouth harbour.

When the ferry from Falmouth finally deposited us safely back to where we had started, Ian’s wife Karen joined us at The (House of the) Rising Sun in St Mawes (which must surely be an anagram of New Orleans?), and fortunately she ensured that it wasn’t the ruin of these poor boys – not this time anyway. However, the delicious cream teas consumed by all must have contributed a little to all of our ruins’, but they were definitely worth it! So the band, although a little greyer than in years gone by, has still got it. It was a great gig – it always is with these guys! To be continued…….

Back to St Mawes for cream tea after a hard day's walking...

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