Reader friends blessed with long attention spans may recall that I began this blog last autumn to chart my Great Adventure – my walk home from Land’s End – and they may be wondering about the distinctly unCornish directions my jaunts have taken ever since.
Well, wonder no more because here I am, back in the far west and all set to notch up a few more miles of the South West Coast Path. Thanks to the lovely N bringing me a memento from one of her trips (she knows I cannot resist a souvenir tea towel), we have a visual aid with which to orientate ourselves. Find Sennen Cove and we can take it from there.
On a sunny Sunday morning in June, I expected the Cove to be packed but instead it was practically deserted; indeed on the next door beach of Gwynver I spotted only one lifeguard, two surfers and one dog. Do surfers keep late hours (it was getting on for midday – I keep late hours too) or was the tide going in the wrong direction? Either way, rush there before everyone else discovers this beautiful spot.
Once the path had taken me off the beach, I settled into the rhythm of the trail. Gentle walking was interspersed with steep slopes up and down, wide easy paths were broken up by bits of rocky scrambling, even some seat of the pants stuff as my appalling sense of balance dictated frequent descentes sur derriere.
Exposed cliff tops contrasted with lush green valleys but at this time of year there were flowers everywhere. I have no idea what is growing in these fields below but isn’t the effect stunning? Any idea as to what it is? And what can the story be here? Something poignant, I feel, for it looks as though someone has carefully lain those cut flowers on the boulder in the stream
Gradually Sennen retreated into the distance as Cape Cornwall grew closer. As it did so the reminders of the landscape’s mining past began to appear.
At first they were mainly confined to the valleys where nature has almost succeeded in hiding them away (although I think that this walled construction up on the hill top is an entrance to a mine shaft – it certainly looks pretty deep).
This was to change, but not before I reached Cape Cornwall and finally turned the corner, away from Land’s End and on towards St Ives. There’s not a huge amount to Cape Cornwall but what is there is rather charming. Have a read of this interesting blog post by a local writer who knows a lot about the place (https://cornishbirdblog.wordpress.com/2016/08/), admire these women having a dip in the tidal pool,and imagine my delight at the discovery of this timely homemade cake and tea trailer.Suitably refreshed (just tea for me, I never feel hungry when I’m walking, not even for cake. Odd that), I left Cape Cornwall behind and headed for Botallack. Now the scenery grew really industrial – remnants of old mine engine houses, chimneys and other edifices in all directions.The weather was closing in but, even if it had not done so, the landscape had really changed – no more human scale, dry stone walled farmers’ fields, here it was bleak and barren, despoiled by the copper and tin mining industry of the past. The Crowns engine houses clinging dramatically to the cliff are understandably magnets for photographers much more skilled than me.
Take my word for it that seeing the site in the gloomy damp brought home to me a little of the harshness of the lives once lived in this extraordinary place, a world away from the sunshine and the sandcastles, or even the swashbuckling and the sagas, of Cornwall as it is more often shown. What a fascinating place.