The Mole . . . absorbed in the new life he was entering upon, intoxicated with the sparkle, the ripple, the scents and the sounds and the sunlight, he trailed a paw in the water and dreamed a long waking dream.
The Wind in the Willows: Kenneth Grahame
Lerryn is a tiny, tucked away village sitting at the far reaches of a long and winding creek – the river Fowey. It is one of those little places that is a long way from anywhere and reached down miles of backroads. The banks on either side of the tidal creek are covered in untouched woodland and make for peaceful walking at anytime of the year. In some ways I prefer winter when the bare branches allow you a wider view of the river Fowey.
But Lerryn’s claim to fame is that the creek here was meant to have been the inspiration for the river in Kenneth Grahame’s The Wind in the Willows.
Kenneth Grahame never lived in Cornwall but he holidayed often in these parts and even honeymooned in St. Ives. In 1907 he stayed at the town of Fowey, further up the river and the story goes that he took a boat trip to Lerryn and spent a day messing about on the water. This it seems became the inspiration for the first chapter to the book when Mole and Rat meet and take a paddle up the river.
After his stay at Fowey Grahame spent some time at the Greenbank Hotel in Falmouth and it was here that he began to write the story that would become The Wind in the Willows, it initially took the form of letters to his young son Alistair.
The woods on one side of the river at Lerryn are owned by the National Trust and are known as Ethy Woods but I have to wonder if they are the Wild Woods from Graham’s story. Next time I am there I will definitely keep my eyes open for Rat and Mole.
“Beyond the Wild Wood comes the Wide World,” said the Rat. “And that’s something that doesn’t matter, either to you or me. I’ve never been there and I’m never going . . .”