A Sunday Stroll

Monday, 17 August 2015

"Mary went out onto the road and looked about her, and as far as her eyes could see there was nothing but the black hills and the moors. The grey slate inn, with its tall chimneys, forbidding and uninhabited though it seemed, was the only dwelling-place on the landscape." 

 Jamaica Inn by Daphne du Maurier

Yesterday, my parents and I took my grandma to visit Jamaica Inn- a traditional coaching inn on Bodmin Moor dating back to the 18th Century. Famous for its association with smugglers, it was also the setting for Daphne du Maurier's 1936 novel Jamaica Inn (recently adapted into a BBC series starring the rather yummy Matthew McNulty) and, fortunately or unfortunately, these days this once-isolated place is quite the tourist attraction.

"Now and again the sun was obscured by cloud, and long shadows fled over the moors like fingers. Colour came in patches; sometimes the hills were purple, ink-stained, and mottled, and then a feeble ray of sun would come from a wisp of cloud, and one hill would be golden-brown while his neighbour still languished in the dark."

For me, any remnants of the gloriously murky and wildly romantic world of du Mauriers' novel were somewhat diminished by the enormous gift shop and adjoining buffet area (I refuse to call it a restaurant) that now appear to be the main focus of the inn. Nevertheless, I must admit I still got a certain thrill from walking around that rather menacing "grey slate inn" and looking out over those very hills that du Maurier describes so beautifully in her novel. 

"There was a haven of rest for her in Altarnun- the very name spelt like a whisper."

Deciding to move away from such a tourist hotspot, we ventured back down the road and stopped off in a quiet little village called Altarnun.    

For Mary, Jamaica Inn's heroine, this rather sleepy and peaceful village offers a place of refuge away from the dreary reality of the inn. 

"She turned left, down the steep hill of Altarnun. Excitement rose high within her now as she passed the twinkling cottage lights, and smelt the friendly smoke of chimneys. Here were neighbourly sounds that had long been lost to her...Here was a drowsy movement, a placidity and a peace; here were all the old village smells she knew and understood." 

I have to say I agree with Mary- even today, taking a slow stroll down the hill and past the rows of little cottages is infinitely more enjoyable than enduring the chaos that is Jamaica Inn.    

It was a really lovely way to spend our afternoon- just pottering about this old village and imagining all the people who had lived here in the past.  

There's even a river valley walk you can do from the church here- definitely one to put on the list for when we get our dog!

So hopefully we'll be returning soon, and I'll be sure to take lots more pictures of the glorious (and less touristy) sites around Bodmin Moor when we do :)

Sian x

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