Robert Stephen Hawker

Carrow’s Run

Looking south into Cornwall from the coast path above Marsland Mouth

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Article by Lee Robertson – pictures by Angela Williams

In 2004 as the landlord of the Old Smithy Inn and an aficionado of Hawker’s poetry, I decided to set up a running race between the two pubs on either side of the valley separating Devon and Cornwall, and name it after the pony that so resolutely made the journey for RSH between the parishes. Then as now the route is a fantastical journey, through deep woods and then up onto high paths with the ever changing sea far below. There is no route for motor cars, although it is just possible with a four wheel drive if you do not mind the tight turns and encroaching woodland.

It was the first summer we were at the pub, and we had much to do after it had been closed for a few years. Then, the Smithy, and the Bush were both small drinking pubs, and Beryl who had run the Bush for many, many years remembered bringing horses across the valley to be shod by Caleb Wakely, son of Caleb Wakely, both blacksmiths of Welcombe when The Smithy was a smithy.

The race was set for September 21st. It was a beautiful day, and the runners were given choice of any route they wished, The paths they could have taken I thought were all of similar length, being, the coast, Marsland or Gooseham. The prize was a bottle of Pol Roger Champagne. About twenty brave souls took part, including a good long distance runner from the area.

Marsland Mouth

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The competitors all decided to make for the coastal route, they thought that the cliff path would be more of a challenge, and the sea breezes on a beautiful late summer day would refresh.

The winner was writer and photographer, Tim Rainger, a New Zealander staying in Welcombe for the summer and helping out at the Old Smithy. He was a little tired from a late night the previous evening and after leading for most of the journey had a cooling dip in the sea where the tide was high at Marsland mouth. This put him toward the back of the field, but he managed to retake the lead up the hill in the last mile. Sand Lane is the very steep old donkey lane from the beach to Darracott and it was an exciting finish as the exhausted leaders raced up the final incline.

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West Mill and the lane leading to Darracott

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Mead Corner, Welcombe

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The view south towards Morwenstow. Hawker often returned this way on his pony after holding Sunday service at St. Nectan’s church in Welcombe

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Text © Lee Robertson 2012

Photos © Angela Williams 2010, 2011