January 28, 2019
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In the ‘mizzle’ (a Cornish word for drizzly rain and mist) of Cornwall, Jacob Little finds a peaceful, community-focused world away from the summer crowds.
It’s winter. The Cornish wind whips around the crooks and crevices of the county’s boundaries, infiltrating all the empty spaces, where there are no people. From the tops of the desolate moors in Bodmin to the far reaches of Sennen beach in the very west, the whistling replaces the laughter of the millions of excitable holidaymakers that travel here each summer.
Many months ago, every square inch of these spaces were being taken in, admired and photographed by people from around the world—police even had to turn people away from some spots to stop the congestion turning into an issue of safety. Now, in the depths of January, the seasons return these areas to the land and sea.
I’m walking down old paths that have seen generations of different footsteps in the far west of Cornwall. Out to sea, beyond the indistinct, foggy, gray horizon, a rain shower silently tracks towards the coast. It moves over me and I redo the zips on my waterproof and secure my wooly hat. Below, I can see an ancient landscape of brick-lined fields—small square patches of farmland unchanged since the Iron Age, and still home to small-scale family farms.
This proxmity to nature is the lure for many. For Steve Crummay, owner of adventure company Explore in Cornwall, it’s about getting as close as possible to the elements. “There’s a glorious emptiness that is just waiting to be explored,’ he says.
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Between these fields and the looming granite cliffs, the winding Southwest Coast Path meanders around the edge of the county. Aside from the odd outcrop, there’s little shelter here, and the winter winds feel all-encompassing. “There’s nothing better than miles upon miles of empty clifftop path,” adds Steve. “I love listening to the wind and rain thrashing the windows whilst planning tomorrow’s adventures.” And as I walk from Zennor south towards the town of St. Just, a town and civil parish which can comfortably lay claim to being the furthest westerly settlement in England, I couldn’t agree more.