Respryn and the Cornish Country-side
It would be a normal day in the summer holidays when suddenly the phone would ring. My friends and I were off to Respryn.
We’d all grab our bags, put our swimming shorts in along with a towel, and jump onto our bikes and go. We’d all somehow meet up and then ride along the busy Cornish town roads, which was full with cars at this time like an ant’s nest in the summer, up and along many steep hills, past our school and then out of Bodmin into the countryside of Lanhydrock.
We’d go down a fairly steep hill which as we go down we see fields ahead of us that are laid out like the squares on a patch work quilt. Lots of different shapes and not all connected properly together like they should. At the bottom of the hill we turned right into a dimly lit small forest where the ground in autumn is filled with the vibrant colours of dead leaves. Every time our wheel rotated we herd the crackling of a bonfire as despatched twigs and branches crumbled beneath us. In the background we would hear the faint cry of an owl but the main sound was the rumbling and roaring of the cars passing by on the nearby main road. We left the forest and then mounted onto a newly built bridge that crossed the main road we herd from the forest.
Myself and my Friends, Craig and Jamie like to stop here and look down on the passing cars. We like to play a game we call Emmett spotting, which is where we’d try and spot as many tourist or foreigners we can that aren’t from Cornwall. I found it amazing how so many cars enter my hometown and how so little leave; they all can’t be here to stay! Occasionally a passing lorry or truck would honk its horn at my friends as they try and provoke other drivers to do the same. Once we had a driver make a gesture at us, which included him making the middle finger on his hand stand up, we all stared at each other and laughed as we were out to enjoy ourselves and not let any body spoil our day.
On we would go! We all rode along a crop filled fields where the power of the wind made an on going wave where the yield swept side to side. This effect was spoilt though by the sound and look of the nearby motorway, which was built straight through the middle of the farmland and beautiful scenery which makes me proud to call this tiny corner of England, I live in, home.
As we exited the field we had the first site of the task ahead of us, a giant hill which took us to Richard’s house. On would go our serious faces as we normally treat this hill as a competition to see who can get the furthest up, without putting a foot down and that day wasn’t going to be an exception. I rode and rode; firstly Jamie regrettably put his foot to ground as the size of the hill overcame him. I fell back a bit just to keep him company as Craig pushed ahead because he doesn’t like to lose.
The top was in our sight, one last right turning and we would be treated to the smell of cattle from the farm that was really close. Okay maybe treated isn’t the right word to use, but this would be the sent that would great the winner. Craig was the first to the top, but it ended in a draw, he wasn’t the only one who managed to get to the top without putting his foot down, I made it as well. I now couldn’t wait to get to Richards house to give my legs a rest.
At the top of the hill we were able to look across all across Bodmin. From the highest point, where The Beacon stood to the industrial estate where most of the main work in Bodmin took place. The sky didn’t look like the sky, but a sea of nothing. It was cloudless with not even a patch of white to be seen.
After I had stopped looking across Bodmin I was greeted by the undesirable smell of the farm animals which swept along the cobblestone roads that seemed to act like a funnel directing the scent directly towards us. Once we had overcome the smell we meandered along the mud layered roads. A farmer passed in his tractor as we turned our last corner and glided down the last hill. We did this is a childish manner trying to go as fast as we could and then suddenly turn into the driveway of Richards house.
His house is set in a lovely location, a generous garden with a pond in the middle, ducks and geese in his back garden along with sheds where the pony’s and horses were kept. We couldn’t see much from his house but if we walked out into the road in front of his house, there are hills in all directions with popcorn like bails of hay scattered around like houses on a Monopoly board.
Richard was waiting for us and as soon as he saw us came out into his front garden. We talked for a couple minutes, had a drink which was well earned after the hill we managed to climb earlier, and just before we left got showed the motorised three wheeled bike he and his twin brother had been working on for the past couple weeks.
This was it, we were on the last leg in till we would arrive at our final destination, Respryn. We’d rumble down a small hill and then took our bikes up a narrow stinging nettle filled hidden lane, which turns into a woodland area. The woodland area was packed full of trees, with man made paths for us to struggle ahead on. We had to be careful because there were brambles spurting out in all direction and Jamie would some times squirm after seeing a spider in it’s water droplet filled web.
I can remember coming through this woodland area before with Richard after a night full of rain. The paths weren’t any more than a stream of muddy water and swamps that would suck you into the ground at any chance possible. It was impossible for us to pass, without getting soaked to the skin.
We would exit the forest, cross a main road that was deserted with no cars to be seen and then pass a small cottage that had ivy crawling up all the walls in all directions. “Straight ahead then!” Richard would yell at the top of his voice, just to make sure every one knew where to go. We would then act in the same childish manner as before and soar down the unstable country lane road as fast as possibly, just that time taking more care because there was more chance of us falling off. Coming down the hill we were able see Respryn in the distance.
The river slowly running through the woods and One or two cars on the granite bridge, which had one meter slots in to let horses get out of the way of cars. At the bottom of the hill we’d slam our brakes to there full because of a red gate which stands in our way. I get off my bike and open it for the rest to pass and then struggle through myself. The excitement would start to generate as we got closer to Respryn and as we went through the field at the bottom of the hill, we passed a dog walker who smiled politely.
We were there, as I looked around I saw a canopy of leaves above, which protect the ground from the sun like an umbrella protects a small child on a beach on a very hot day. This canopy was only disturbed by small gusts of wind or the occasional sparrow or blackbird flying from branch to tree and tree to branch. Even when it’s raining the ground remained dry because of the thick shelter created by the tree canopy. In some of the very rare gaps there is in the roof, I couldn’t see anything apart from a large streak of light that missiles to the ground like a laser streaking from a gun. There was no noise to be herd apart from a distant barking dog in the background and the nearby stream that runs straight through the woods.
As we kept on riding I noticed some of the graffiti carved into the trees. One I saw had the date 1987 on, this was before I was born and made me realise that many children of our age have enjoyed these woods and the streams for many years before us.
We rode beside the cascading river for a bit, which on one side has a sea of blue bells, daffodils and many other plants. On the other is a never ending wood, full of lots of different types of trees and hundreds of passages that had different explorations in each direction.
Here we were, we all stood and stared at a huge island in front of surrounded by the river. Ankle deep on one side and on the over two and a half meters deep, but you have to jump one and a half meters first off the island to reach the water. “Last one in is a wimp,” I shout so we all ran into the forest in different directions and strip naked. We chucked on our swimming shorts and then ran back to the island leaving our belongings in a safe place apart from one person, Craig, who unsurprisingly, accidentally forgot his swimming shorts and towel.
We weren’t going to let him stop us having fun so we sprinted into the water and got on top of the island. We stopped for a bit and then leaped forward off the island into the crystal clear deep water. The stream has a higher than average current but we still jumped in. As soon as we hit the water, we’d all swear and shout because of the shock about how cold the fast flowing river is. Even though it was the middle of summer the water was still freezing because of the canopy stopping the sun heating it up.
We quickly swam out and catch our breath before doing it again. We went a bit higher up the island this time and then jump of again and again, in till we either get too cold or bored. Once we were this we grab our bags and hopped back onto our bikes. We then rode back through the forest we just came and crossed a small wooden bridge. As usual we stopped and played the classic game from the “Winnie the Poo” novel “Poo sticks” which I always win.
We rode past some walkers who sounded like there tourists and who make a few unwanted comments about what were doing, we also passed some empty fishing platforms that I sometimes jumped of but today we didn’t so we exited the woods.
I can remember a couple months before coming to these woods with another friend at night during the winter. It was totally silent and as black as the hot chocolate I was thinking of having when I got home. Every time there was a flutter in the trees we would look up immediately. We kept on trying to scare each other because at night the trees look like people and in pitch black in the middle of the woods, another person isn’t someone who you really wanted to see. The atmosphere could have been cut with something less than a knife a blunt pencil would have done the trick. I told my friends about this experience but they just laughed because they couldn’t imagine how something so beautiful during the day could become so scary at night.
After we left the wood we went to another area of Respryn, it was still part of the woods but you had to go in a different direction to get to it. So we picked up our bikes and took them over a fence, rode through a field of cows and went through a gate. Like earlier we were meet with the same woods but something was different about this one. There was less of a canopy but still as elegant and pleasing. After riding on for a bit we came to another area where we going to go swimming. Of came our bags, onto the floor went our bikes and into the river we went.
In the corner of my eye I saw a tree, which was drooping over the river so, I got out and climbed it. While I was doing this my friends had realised what I was about to do, I pushed off and plummeted into the water. My friends laughed and I tried to get them to have ago but they weren’t as mad as I was. Twenty minutes later we were starting to get cold and fed up of the small flies that came and landed on us, of which we wouldn’t notice until they starting biting. They starting arriving in ones and twos, giving us one byte every ten minutes or so but then they came to us like children go to their Grandma’s sweet bowl.
Once we were all out and dry we slowly started walking back through the woods, which had all the shades of brown and green in one place at once. We came across a few strange bugs and insects that we never new existed.
We left Respryn and then headed towards the ancient Lanhydrock house. Up the main driveway we went, which was some five hundred meters long. Its massive gardens where both sides of us, on the left was a giant field of which I crept into once to see a Jazz and Blues concert with Richard and On the right is another field but unlike the other has huge Oak trees and hedgerows in.
At the top of the driveway is the actually house, we didn’t want to go in but to go to the court yard around the back where we could get a delicious proper Cornish dairy ice-cream. Our bikes were locked up in the designated area for the bikes, we quickly used the toilets and then walked over to the cafï¿½ where the ice-cream shop was. We got our ice cream and then sat on a hill that looked over Respryn and into the surrounding countryside. Our minds were more focused on the French teenagers playing in the gardens and of course our ice creams. We played around with the French teenagers for a wile talking to them and trying to get them confused, at one point I think we told them “My dog gave birth to a herd of donkeys”.
We finished our ice creams and then decided it was time to leave so we peddled up to another exit of the house and back onto the main road. Richard headed in one direction and had to master the hill that we had, on the way to his house in the morning wile Jamie, Craig and I travelled straight across the road into the Crop fields that we visited earlier in the day. We then retraced our steps home and said good bye to each other. It was the end!
All I need to do now is wait for the phone to suddenly ring on a normal day in the summer holidays. My friends and I would then be off to Respryn.