What better way to start the new year than nearly naked on a sunny beach, climbing, paddling and sunbathing... Not the 1st, that we spent hungover and curled up in bed watching films, but near enough, January 3rd. This wasn't anywhere particularly tropical, but in Cornwall, England. Geddin. Who needs to follow the sun?!
We headed down to Pedn Vounder, a cove at very nearly the end of the country, with Wojciech, Izabella, George and Ben the dog. None of us, except possibly Ben, were prepared for how warm it would be down there after a frosty night, and ended up shedding most of our clothes as soon as we had negotiated the path down. Judging from the number of people swimming in their underwear it seemed that noone* had expected it. The water was clear and turquoise, and the vegetation pretty lush for January; it felt like being in Thailand or somewhere...until the water's cold bite reminded us sharply where we were.
*Other than, that is, the dedicated ensemble of experienced exhibitionists who (considering their flawless full body sun-tan) have most likely been frequenting the beach in birthday suits all year round
Climbing was a delight too, the low sand levels had exposed some tough bouldery starts to the trad routes, and we played on these and other bits and pieces; granite aretes, highball slabs, steep and technical crimp fests and some juggy walls too. It pretty much ticked all the climbing boxes we could ask for.
As we climbed, the sand bar slowly emerged from the dropping tide like a dopey kracken, waves tickling it's seaward side. During a break from rock bothering, and waiting for lunch to settle, we went off exploring down the beach at low tide, following Wojciech, Izabella, George and Ben through the icy rivers being cast around the sand island. Inevitably the cold began to take it's toll on our near-nakedness and we retreated back to clothing, more food and more bouldering.
Following explorations and lunch, we hit the steep walls in the 'canyon'. A huge slanted chasm slices into the cliffside running down to beach level, with a slab of black and red granite on one side providing easy descent for endless flowing water from above. It's counterpart is a similarly red and black patched wall with enough feature to keep your fingers busy for days on end. As mentioned previously, the fluctuation in sand levels also adds another layer of variety, it that you never know where your route will start. The order of things on this day meant lower starting points with slightly stingier features and ultimately crux points between the ground and the third or fourth move. Below is a video of a climb in this style that Wojciech and Sam .
Whilst the boys played on their wall route, Izabella soaked up the sun, Ben dug up the landings and George found creative new uses for our boulder pad, I soloed some of the short trad climbs on the next wall over, gentle routes with plenty of breaks and features. One route on the right of the wall is probably short enough to be a neat boulder problem, with a couple of big, spanny moves at the beginning to a relaxed finish. Happily, all were fully exposed to the sun's warmth - other than, sadly, for the photographer.
As the sun threatened to drop down behind the headland, we began the hike back up the little path before the growing shadows reminded us that we were in the middle of winter. By the time we reached the cars the air was cold and the sun was gone, we drove off with the heating on.