This morning I woke up in a panic, unable to escape the shreds of a nightmare which had terrified me, leaving me palpitating and afraid, still visualising an unspeakable scene.
I had been invited to take a trip to Saint Nectan’s Glen in Cornwall, to celebrate a friend’s birthday with several others. As I ate my breakfast I could feel my anxiety level rising, and I was tempted to ring and say I couldn’t make it, for fear that I may ruin the day, but I chose to be brave and go.
I was still nervous when I got into the car, but the instant we left the town I relaxed, enjoying lazy conversation, gazing out of the window at the familiar patchwork fields of the South West of England. We left my beloved Devon, passing the county border into Cornwall, and registered the subtle change somewhere; we couldn’t decide whether it was in the air or the surrounding countryside, but we didn’t care. We were there together, and that was what mattered.
Several miles past Boscastle we parked the car and started our walk. A country road led us to a woodland track by a stream where water gushed over stones, making a loud rushing sound. Dead trees lay where they fell, making bridges or rotting into the ground, birthing and feeding ferns, flowers and saplings. The path inclined and declined; we crossed a platform over the water, and crossed a second one to return to the original side. We climbed several sets of winding stone steps until we reached a pay station, shop and cafe at the top of a hill, then we stopped for cream tea.
When we all felt ready, we paid our entry fee, donned Wellingtons borrowed from the establishment, and began the final foray. An employee detailed the views we should see, explaining that our journey took us from the top of the waterfall to the base, by a pictureque route.
Our descent was beautiful, and I would describe it, but what I found at the bottom exceeded my expectations to such an extent that I have almost forgotten the rest.
I stood close to the pelting gash in the rock, feeling the spray hit my face, soak my hair and my clothes; drench me from head to toe. Gasping for air I gave silent thanks for the beauty of this planet, for its ability to stand fast against the ravages of man, and for the energy this pure water was driving into me.
All around were ribbons tied to trees, stones with names written upon them, all left as if out of respect, but it looked to me more like examples of human ego, and the need to for people to place a piece of themselves where only nature should be; to claim some small part of this valley, for all the world to see. That’s how it looked to me, like desecration of a natural place. Like so much litter.
Some speak of seeing fairies in the glen, of how some have seen them in their photographs. Myself, I neither believe or disbelieve, but this I will say; the real value of the place is in its beauty, and it’s reminder of the power of earth and air and water; to try to add supernatural activity shows disrespect for our natural world.
And so I stood, alone, dripping, cleansed, looking perhaps like a madwoman, while I felt like the sanest person there, although they would all agree that my troubles are greater.
When we left I ran up the steps, leaving the others behind. I was the oldest of our group; there were three who were half may age or less. I waited at the top, feeling my heartbeat and breathing slowing to a regular pace. I waited until they came. It took a while.
At the end of our journey home I was the least tired of the group. It is now well past midnight and I’m still alert. I feel like going for a walk; so those who search for something more interesting than the wonders of a crashing waterfall can keep their fairies and their ribbons, their tiny monuments to modern paganism, their rituals and their search for of spirituality in this sacred place. Nature is all I need, and it seems their religion does less for them than mine does for me.
The Daily Post #Value
To see images of Saint Nectan’s Glen, Click HERE.
©Jane Paterson Basil