• Jonathan Slade

Coast to Coast

Clifftop adventures in Cornwall

Tintagel (X100V, f8)

As a kid, I didn't consider anything a holiday unless it involved air travel, a blisteringly hot climate and lazy days by the pool. My trips this year could hardly have been further removed from that image, but they've felt more like holidays than anything I can remember from my childhood. As all our horizons have narrowed, a few days in which we see things beyond the walls of our homes and workplaces feels like coming up for air, a vital and glorious escape from the slow oppression that the Covid crisis has exerted across the globe.

A break in the cloud casts a dazzling light on some ships in the Channel near Falmouth (X100V, f8)

For me, it's also been an opportunity to take in and marvel at the natural beauty in my own country, and to adapt to the somewhat unpredictable nature of British weather!

A dramatic downpour over the rooftops of Looe (X100V, f8)

I've had to adapt as a photographer too. I thrive on the life and energy of the city and its people, but have found myself taking real pleasure in (very inexpert) landscape photography. This trips have held a special significance for me, and it's been a joy to have been able to document them and come away with reminders of our adventures.

Our first day was the only washout. We thought that the high winds that accompanied the driving rain would add drama to the craggy clifftop path at Tintagel, on Cornwall's northern coast. We had our fill of drama after an hour or so of the beautiful but bracing walk and returned to the car with some relief.

The coast at Tintagel, with remains of the castle on the right (X100V, f5.6)

Returning via Newquay, we took advantage of a rare break in the rain to see one of its famous beaches. Newquay is well-known as the surf capital of the UK, but it was still a surprise to see hundreds of surfers in the cold October sea, marshalled sternly over loudspeaker by the RNLI.

Newquay (X100V, f8)

Day 2 promised some sunshine, so we headed southwards to the Roseland Heritage Coast and the South West Coast Path. It's an easy and gorgeous walk. Not long after setting off from Towan beach, we looked down the cliff's face into a rocky bay to see scores of seals playing in the surf. It was a magnificent sight. For once, my camera swung, forgotten, from its strap.

Each gentle hill gave way to another stunning view, the sun dancing against the sea-drenched cliffs, every beach gloriously golden and perfectly inaccessible. Stirred by the sea air and a sudden sense of liberation, I practically ran from one to the next, wondering how easily and quickly I might be able to retire to a nearby village.

All X100V (f8)

The sun retreated and so did we, already making plans for trips to nearby Looe and Polperro the following day.

Looe throbbed with tourists, struggling to maintain the necessary social distancing. Queues spilled out into the street. I was among many who were violently rained on whilst awaiting a pasty. I will not be deterred in my quest for authentic local snacks.

Looe. I'll file this one under 'Awkward family photos' (X100V, f5.6)

I began to view the unpredictable weather conditions as a blessing. Each time the showers came, some crafty beam of sunlight would creep out from under a cloud and project a brilliant light through the falling raindrops.

Looe (all X100V, f5.6-f8)

We loved Polperro. Smaller and quieter than its neighbour, but with many charming places to find shelter and snacks, it also serves as an ideal gateway to another, equally impressive stretch of the SW Coast Path. We caught a final rainbow, and a couple taking in the beautiful view of the harbour.

I feel lucky to have had even a short window to escape before the introduction of Lockdown 2 in the UK. In an environment where escapism is in short supply, it was an utter joy to find somewhere to feel truly unburdened. We only saw a couple of short stretches of the stunning Cornish Coast but can't wait to discover more.


For more in-depth geekery, my previous post, "Travel Within Limits," has details and a film simulation from which all these images were developed. All above images are from my Fujifilm X100V, though my X-E3 and 18mm f2 lens also came along for the ride (see below). The 35mm equivalent focal length is (evidently) my favourite, but it's nice to have a bit of extra width when needed.

The X100V is the first in the family to feature weather resistance (when used with a filter). I've been using the camera in the rain with increasing confidence, and am thrilled to have been able to capture images I'd have otherwise missed.

Ominous clouds forming in the distance at Towan beach (X-E3, 18mm f2 @ f8)

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