Cornwall or Devon. Devon or Cornwall. That they are two of the finest counties in the land is beyond doubt. Neither is exactly rich in waves but both are comfortably above the breadline, making them suitable stomping grounds for the Great British shredder who refuses to jump ship. But as to the question of which is the finer, I confess I am on the fence.
Surely there must be some scientific way of evaluating the two, and declaring one to be categorically, empirically superior to the other…
Devon has Westward Ho! on the north coast — the only place name in the British Isles to contain an exclamation mark — and the town of Chillington on the south, just west of Ballsaddle Rock. And Cockington, come to think of it, raises a smile, as do Lustleigh Cleave and Pennycomequick, even if neither of these last two are coastal.
Still, Devon cannot hope to compete with the likes of Brown Willy, doubly funny because it’s the highest point in Cornwall, funnier still because it gives its name to the ‘Brown Willy Effect’. This is a genuine meteorological phenomenon, believed to be responsible for the flooding of Bocastle in 2004.
What happens is this. When moist winds from the Atlantic slow down due to friction with the land, they are diverted along the central spine of the Cornish peninsula. The moist air converges at the high point of this spine — Brown Willy, standing proud on Bodmin Moor — and becomes rain, which then tracks northeast with the prevailing wind, causing a thin, continuous line of localised and often heavy precipitation that leaves the surrounding area untouched. This rainfall has been known to stretch as far as Burford, Oxfordshire, 145 miles from Brown Willy where it began.
I’m sorry but that was fucking fascinating.