So there’s rain, then there’s English rain AND then there’s Cornish rain. Rain here in Cornwall is in a class of its own. Imagine Forrest Gump rain on steroids – well, Cornish rain is 10 times harder than that!
I woke up to the news that Cornish rain and winds were to return, and made the executive decision that I was not going to walk this portion of the South West Coast Path.
This trail follows the high cliffs that define the rugged coastline. These storied, perilous shores have witnessed hundreds if not thousands of shipwrecks through the ages. The cliffs have no barriers or protection for those of us who tend to fall over our own feet. Help wanted – alert OSHA ASAP.
I was left bitterly disappointed yesterday when I was unable to visit the ruins of a 13th century castle believed to be “Camelot,” because of recent storms that have caused havoc here in England.
It was eight in the morning and the forecast called for storms to return around noonish.
So knowing I had a brief window, I ordered a cab and high tailed it back to Tintagel, the site of “King Arthur’s Castle.”
I got to the ticket office only to see that the site was closed again. Damn!
But, ever the optimist, I decided to go inside and ask if they were “really” closed or just “almost” closed.
“What? The sign says closed? No wonder no one’s been in here today…We forget to change it from yesterday….” The ticket seller said and then ran out to flip the sign to “Open!”
The staff was a little embarrassed by their oversight, but hey, I joked, I won’t tell anyone.
I told them how excited I was to visit because I was dying – DYING – to see the famed sculpture of “King Arthur.”
The 8-foot-tall bronze sculpture is the work of Welsh sculptor Rubin Eynon and was given the name “Gallos,” which is Cornish for “power.”
It took over six months to design, sculpt and cast. I think its “power” is how it captures the legend of King Arthur.
It’s not completely solid, in fact it appears somewhat ghostly, but hauling the mammoth sculpture up to the cliff was no easy feat.
Its sheer size and weight meant that when it was installed in April of 2016 it had to be delivered by helicopter rather than lugged up and down the hundreds of steps over to the island. In the rain, with those legendary winds!!!
I told the staff I was so excited to finally – FINALLY – be able to look face to face with King Arthur.
But you already have, said one of the ladies
David, there, he was the model for the statue
Him? The guy who forgot to turn the sign over? C’mon?!!! I come from a family of storytellers, I know when my legs being pulled
Then David looked at me
It’s true, he said
I went over to Wales and posed for the artist. It took two days.
Hold the fukkin door!!!!
You? Whaaaaaaaat- tell me everything.
I just did.
So of course I asked for a photo – I mean – how often do you get to pose with King Arthur?!
I felt like Guenivere!!!!
Fully flushed, I set off to explore Camelot.
Getting there means crossing a bridge that spans a 190-foot gorge with raging seas below.
It was windy – really windy, but not windy enough to close down the site.
But fearing the upcoming storm, I didn’t dawdle. I headed straight up and out to the highest point on the peninsula where I came face to face with King Arthur for the second time that morning.
The sculpture is as fantastic in real life as I hadhoped. Holding the legendary sword, “Excalibur,” and crown on its head, the statue appears so regal – so real.
I was suddenly brought back to reality when a powerful wind gust tossed me on my ass. THERE ON TOP OF A CLIFF! Remember when I said there were no guardrails or protective barriers!!!!! I was being tossed around like a ping pong ball. ON TOP OF A CLIFF!
The winds had caught hold of my rain sack/protector that wraps around my backpack. It was acting like a sail and I was heading full sail overboard.
Luckily, a German tourist came to my rescue and helped me to my feet and freed me from my backpack. He lost his glasses in the effort, and I had lost my interest in staying out there on top of a cliff.
Danke, I said to my knight. This damsel had had enough! I had seen the legend and had a legendary visit. Two King Arthurs and one Lancelot, even Gueivere couldn’t top that!