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Cornwall Coast Nature Writing: Godrevy Lighthouse

Godrevy Lighthouse is the kind of beach which makes you forget about anything that might have been troubling you before you got there. It's open and it's wide and it's dynamic - the waves roll in clean lines,and babbling streams guide you from the steps to the sand to the shore line, calling 'come on', 'hurry up', 'this way'.

The dog wades through his knee-high water, pleasantly surprised by the yet-to-be-salted taste. Moving at a rapid rate even in midsummer, the stream diffuses to wide, barely-there channels with centimetre cliffs carved from sand, but with the crispness of concrete.

8.30am and the space is almost empty , space to run as far and as fast as you like. We walk towards the lighthouse, vaguely aware of the tide sliding in: enough to check the exit routes but not so urgent as to change our course or quicken pace.

A set of surfers are perching out back and although the soft swell rolls gently today, I've been caught out here before. The expansive width of sand somehow shrinks the scale and it's not until the whitewash is crashing up to your chest that you realise that these waves are plenty to play with, if you're skilled enough. Quick and still and agile and strong; popping up fast enough to join the ride in.

Rocky outcrops stretch further out from the cliffs as we near the lighthouse, and I drop my flip flops to the sand and slip their protective soles under my feet. Rock clambering is a brain game, eyes and feet conversing, planning the route in a way that is less necessary on pure, flat sand.

'Can I reach there?'

'Will it move?'

'Is it slippery?'

Split second decisions inform every footfall, reading the rocks as I go.

Turning back once crevices are too high to risk, we take floral-lined steps up. Lined with pink and yellow, the ratio of sand to rock reverses as we climb until reaching the gravel track leading west towards car park and cafe and coffee. Grassy cliff tops and dunes seem heaven for rabbits, but for me they're tinted with apprehension: "don't go any closer to the edge" Mum says. Even if you know your own limits, you can never tell if the earth's about to crumble beneath you.

So I sit to write in a spot five metres back, and Ted the dog greets each group of walkers passing by. Five or six of them at five minute intervals, most with smiles, hiking poles and a dog. A young-ish man with a litter picker and bag receives a short bark before his friendly sniff, probably owing to his orange hi-vis.

At almost ten we approach the National Trust hut for takeaway coffee and a raspberry muffin hot from the oven. Retracing our steps to the start of the shingle-bank, I sip and remember that Monday morning has only just begun.

Godrevy Lighthouse, 1 June 2020, warm, sunny and windy from the South.


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