Walking the Southwest Coastal Path


Day 13
Padstow to Treyarnon Bay 11.5 miles

The walking has been good, and we’re 1/4 of the way done! The miles flow by as the terrain being covered is mostly undulating grassy headlands with views of stunning bays, inlets, and beaches. Unlike the more arduous walking that we experienced between Harland Quay and Boscastle, these rolling miles allow the mind to settle into a rhythm of thinking in sync with the rhythm of walking. It’s a more contemplative state that allows me the opportunity to ponder this question of walking and wildcrafting more deeply.
What does a walker wildcraft from the land while walking it? Basket makers gather their supplies and weave containers, while herbalists gather their simples and weave together concoctions that soothe and heal body and spirit. The main tool of this trade from my perspective is the attention one holds while engaging the land in each moment of walking; the skill is then taking those impressions and weaving them into something of substance. Substantive enough to then hold pictures of what I encounter, and hopefully, like the weavers basket that holds physical substance, or the herbalist concoction that holds the power to heal, the pictures registered by my encounter with the land weave together a story.
And the story here is ultimately about having an adventure. An adventure experienced through long walking, and why we believe youth need a few more of them. A lot more than what today is the standard fare of being sat down and talked to; the 50% or more of adolescent education that currently holds sway and “dumbs them down”, as John Taylor Gatto would state it. And after 30 years of teaching within the modern industrial model of education I would agree totally with Gatto, and then some! We do more than dumb students down these days; we actually train them to the point where they accept that as a viable goal.
The greatest impression this day though was of the multitudes recreating upon the beaches, and how necessary this connection is for the telling of stories. Many might shudder at such throngs of people filling such beauty spots, but as I gazed upon the beach scenes I was struck by, and felt, all the joy being experienced. Father’s building sand castles with their children, families spending time together, children in total engagement playing with water and sand, running wild and free while adults relaxed. Only through such connections I trust can we aspire to giving voice to the sacred relationship between ourselves and the land; it is, was, and can be a true communion.
It likewise gives greater meaning to the word recreation, where we truly re- create ourselves. Experiences that unfortunately are relegated to “time off”, week-ends, and vacation; time off from all the things we are told that constitute making a living, or a life, yet somehow falls short of forging the connections and relationships that renew our personal stories.
Youth need this and more though today; they are in need of experiences that relate them to the world in a more substantially profound way than spending their most creatively explosive years locked in an institutional box. They need wildness!


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