A One Mile Walk

Walking takes one from A to B; but the pace, the pacing determines the nature of the walk. You can rush past and through the landscape, gaining good exercise and serotonin-fuelled delight in a speedy therapeutic sort of way but may be not much of the detail, or the minutia of the country gets absorbed. Or you can linger, dawdle, watch and bathe within those surroundings, allowing time for the grain of the contours to be felt by hand and foot. You can sit with your back against a hedge, sit upon a huge carn stone, or sit upon a cliff and watch a seal below. Walk or perhaps amble. Maybe the ideal is to combine the quick and the slow. Charge across the land with a speedy stride or a near jog, with the wind and rain or sun on your face, feel the rise and fall of the land, see a brief skyline, know the distance and then return; but this time bit by bit and slowly.

Start (or finish) high on the Cornish uplands – the Cornish mountains (all of 229metres] that Wynter and Lanyon strode upon and claimed for their own. Carn Galver and Hannibal’s Carn, those wind–blasted outcrops of Penwith’s bony spine with their proud toothy tor stones. From here you can look down on the bronze-age field systems that emerge from the peaty brown and oxide red slopes below, dividing and enclosing the grass and bracken reaching to the cliffs. A lattice of granite hedging separating the tiny fields and quillets. Squares and oblongs and squashed or dented rectangles patterning down to the Atlantic; an almost primeval feeling landscape – or at least a prehistoric topography with settlement and field linked by long used and well used track ways and byways – footpaths and coffin paths.

Pushing down and through the scrub of bracken and gorse (furze), scrubbed and brushed on calf and ankle, following the torrent–eroded gullies and firebreak channels as you descend from the moor, the downs, and stumbling upon and into the stream. The water spills off these rain-lashed lands; stained waters rushing and gushing to carry the moor to the sea, between granite boulders and below contorted sallows. Following this watercourse – the dippers’ and wagtails’ path you enter the world of the tinner :the miner, the miller and the farmer. Where once water powered stamps and wheels, alongside the chimneys and engine houses, all is now just carefully preserved ruins; their tumbling prevented by the National Trust’s aspic on the river’s banks; their toil long since departed. But generations of farmers have and continue to raise their families and their livestock here on these coastal plains squeezed between the moor and ocean. And those farms – the granite farmhouses and outhouses sit here and the cattle graze here. Dun, tan, umber and ochre shorthorns watch your every step as you enter the maritime zone: the cove; climbing down from the man made to the ocean made. Here the seal’s gaze and the pipit’s tweet provide company for the final chapter -the final section of the walk to the edge and the mussel-clad and limpet–studded foreshore to face the Atlantic in all it’s splendour.

So this is where and how I walked and of course painted and drew at the same time, and hopefully became intimate with Porthmeor, this small piece of the world as a result.

Porthmeor [= the big cove in the Kernowek language] is about 10 miles away from my home.

Kurt Jackson, Cornwall 2013.


A One Mile Walk ran 13th April - 6th May 2013 at Campden Gallery, Chipping Campden,Gloucestershire, GL55 6AG.

Kurt Jackson Campden Catalogue download