Cornwall 3- 12. The Eden Project


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I was homeward bound on Saturday, 11th September, but could not let pass the opportunity to visit on the way this world-renowned project. I had a booking for 11.00. My satnav the evening before told me that I would need 90 minutes to get there, which surprised me somewhat, but I allowed two hours. As I left my BnB at 9.00 it was saying I would need 65 minutes – the difference between Friday evening and Saturday morning traffic I suppose. But thank goodness I had all that leeway. There were huge hold-ups on the A30, due I think to road closures elsewhere, with traffic being funnelled on to this road. In the event I arrived just 10 minutes before my ticket’s time.

It was quite a walk between my car park down to the entrance – but not so far that I qualified for the shuttle bus. Just one more car park up and …

I find I have 108 photos, and have found it incredibly difficult to make a selection. I have only managed to cut them down to 58 – sorry – and they give only a glimpse into what was to be seen.

Here’s the plan from my pre-ordered guide. I should like to have been able to sit down and study it in greater depth before going round, but things were well-labelled.

Basically, I wandered around the Outdoor Gardens and then the Crops, which I think is how it is intended you should, then visited first the Rainforest Biome, followed by the Mediterranean one (only about a third the area, but with a few more species), then went along the Avenue to the Core. I seem to have missed the Zigzag through Time, and I don’t think I did justice to the Invisible Worlds.

My photos are largely without commentary.

I think this next picture is my very favourite of the day.

This queue (note one person peeling off left)…

… was for this. Good fun!

There was a link corridor, with shops and café, to the …

About 15 minutes into the Rainforest Biome, there was a notice warning people who were finding it too hot to turn back, as it was another 30 minutes to the exit. (A one-way system was in operation with little byways roped off, presumably because of Covid.) The Mediterranean Biome was also hot, in a lovely dry Mediterranean way, but I was very pleased to find this almost unpatronised drinks bar near its exit. Time for a chilled elderflower cordial.

Frim time to time there was a swooshing sound from above. I had just days ago watched Chris Packham and Megan McCubbin on television on a zipline, and thought, ‘How I would love to do that!’. And here would have been my opportunity! If I had known in advance about the possibility here, I would definitely have looked into it. As it was, I picked up a leaflet when I left.

‘Infinity Blue’ and, to a lesser extent, ‘Seed’ were the two main attractions in the Core.

Perfect smoke (or rather vapour) rings every time. They represent Oxygen.
‘Seed’ was about twice my height.

‘Infinity Blue’ from an upper floor. In about a decade it may be lowered into the sea as a reef habitat for marine life. (It’s not crooked, my camera was.)

Up a lift, across a bridge, and it was back to the entrance/visitor centre/exit…

… for a coffee before setting off on the rest of my journey home. I was amused to see this old coffee making machine on display, sadly not in use.

How to reflect on eight such days? I was absolutely shattered for a while after my return, but so happy to have spent my time so fully. Cornwall is a such a beautiful place, with so much to explore and experience. I tried, and I think I succeeded, not to let an underlying fear of Covid spoil my enjoyment, though it was unnerving to see so many people, freed of legal obligation, appearing to believe that if they did not wear masks indoors the risk was only to themselves, not to others. But it was heartening also to see how many did wear masks, especially those serving, in whatever setting.

I have to go back. I have to make that helicopter trip. I have to use more those various guides to archology, geology, walks, built places to visit. My Eden Project ticket is valid for a year! (I could – perhaps – go on that zipline…) I’m already thinking that I may take another holiday in the county next June, perhaps based at Hayle this time.

Cornwall 3 – 11. Lizard Point

Well, something had to decide me on my final full day’s activities. In the end it was Covid. Lanhydrock was too far, the weather forecast, though not amazing, was too good to spend the day indoors at an art gallery, so it came down to going west (further exploration of the Tin Coast) or east (Lizard Point and nature)

As is my habit every evening, I was looking at the updated Government’s coronavirus dashboard, and its pretty large-scale detailed maps of prevalence, albeit it as at 6 days before. I saw that to the west was deep purple and going up, to the east was pale blue and going down. As I say, something had to decide it for me, and there was my solution.

I made for the car park shown on the OS map at Lizard Point. It turned it to be a National Trust one, free to members. Excellent. Also excellent, there were guided tours of the lighthouse, and one was due to start in 25 minutes.

The fact there are two towers was (is still?) significant to navigation.

Just time for a coffee, and a perusal of the visitor centre’s copious – far too copious to absorb much in 20 minutes – information.

The tour was led by the daughter of a lighthouse family who much regretted – as we kept on hearing in ‘humorous’ references  – the automation that came in 1998. But I appreciated the chance to go to the top of the lighthouse, apparently the only lighthouse in the UK where this is allowed to the general public. Fortunately the climb was not too strenuous, being only of three floors.

The tour started outdoors.

Staff lived in these four cottages. The chimneys were painted black so that the two white towers would show up clearly to the shipping.


This was the view to the east,

and zooming in on two little black buildings, it was from these that in January 1901 Marconi received the first radio transmission over a horizon, leading him on to greater ambitions across the Atlantic, achieved from nearby the following December.

These are atmospheric damp sensors. At a given degree of humidity, the foghorns are set off automatically.

Each of the two lower floors had one of these cupboards. The rest of each floor now was dominated by modern digital equipment.
Local slate steps between the first and upper floors worn by centuries of footsteps

It was sadly impossible to step back to take a full view of the beautiful lantern, turning and turning on a bed of mercury. No-one is allowed outside onto the balcony.

The tour over, my intention for the rest of the day was not to exert myself too much, but just to wander along the South West Coast Path for a little way, see what I  could, and return to my car. Which is pretty well what I did, cutting diagonally across the fields back to the village of Lizard, about a mile inland, and then out coastwards to my car. Looking at the map, I reckon I did about 2.5 miles, 4 km, including a few ups and downs.

Lizard Point is the most southerly tip of the UK, and, yuk, commercialism is there to exploit it. I hurried on.

After a very short while I sat down to eat a banana, with this to my left,

and this ahead.

Cormorants at the right hand end of the rock,

and cormorants to the left. But what’s that log below them?

That ‘log’ is a seal, a grey seal I believe, and after a while it started ‘singing’, Talk about siren mermaids…

It was time to move on, with Lizard village to my right,

and the lighthouse behind me.

I turned inland across the fields, hoping I was on one of the paths marked on the OS map – it been a bit difficult to follow exactly which cove I was at at any given point. Coming across this stile was reassuring.

Rain was threatening, though never really got going, and there was not too much of interest to photograph.

A solitary and rather faded scarlet pimpernel
Lining the garden of a house as I approached Lizard village
Lining the path as I walked towards the lighthouse and my car

Intentionally, I got back to my room quite early, to get as much of my packing done as I could, and then treat myself to a meal out at the Alverne restaurant where I had earlier in the week reserved a table. Other than the sandwich bought at lunchtime on the Monday at Perrunuthnoe, given that I was having a full English at breakfast, I was eating just a banana, if that, during the day, and managing in the evening on a few things I had brought from home, plus what I had bought at the M and S food hall the previous Saturday. I really appreciated my hake and local cider.

But my outings had not come to an end…

Cornwall 3 – 10. Godolphin and Porthleven


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Thursday, 9th September was to be the high point – literally and figuratively – of my time in Cornwall, fulfilling a lifetime ambition. Two months previously I had booked a helicopter flight to the island of St Mary’s, on the Scillies. As I checked over its arrangements on the Wednesday evening, I had had a shock, which I should have anticipated, given the weather. All helicopter flights that day had been cancelled, because of fog both at Penzance and on the Scilly Isles. I was also beginning to worry seriously about what I would do there once arrived, given the forecast of about 80% rain on St Mary’s for much of Thursday.

However, having also checked my right to a full refund, when I woke up on the day I found myself really hoping the company would cancel, given that weather forecast. It was also very misty in Penzance.

Dead-on 9.00 the company called me. They weren’t yet cancelling but were running huge delays, so [since I was booked on a day trip, not going over to stay] they were offering me the choice of rebooking, free of penalty, or receiving a full refund. I accepted the latter, obviously, and felt hugely relieved, my disappointment having already been overcome the evening before. I would have to fly in a helicopter for the first (and probably only) time in my life on some other occasion.

What to do instead? I could have occupied myself in my room, knitting, reading, listening to the radio, but they didn’t seem like ideal holiday pass-times. I decided to take a risk with the weather (not forecast to be quite so bad on the mainland) and to go to Godolphin (National Trust), to spend time indoors in the large house there. It didn’t need pre-booking.

The surface of the sea in the harbour was like a mirror as I passed, but sadly it was not possible to stop to take a photo.

It turned out to me much less house than I thought, so it was as well that the weather also turned out to be much better than forecast. At the exit of the car park was a notice board suggested various walks in the wider estate, so I decided to start out on the orange walk before making for the house and its grounds.

But I turned back when it started to drizzle, not least because I wasn’t really properly shod or dressed for a damp, muddy walk. (The drizzle soon stopped, fortunately.)

Checking in to the charging part of the property, I was given a ticket for the house for 1 o’clock, an hour off. Coffee (studying the plan – yes, I like plans and maps),

and a wander round the more formal grounds filled in the time nicely.

The door behind the colonnade I would take at the start of the tour
(If only I knew enough to photoshop out that turquoise coat.)
Notice by one of the shippons (cowsheds)

I knew I had been to Godolphin House in 1973, (though I could remember almost nothing of the visit), with some of my non-participant helper colleagues on the International Musicians Seminar, so I was somewhat surprised to learn from the welcoming guide that the Trust only took the house over in 2000. I checked out with her – yes, the previous owner, painter Mary Schofield, née Lanyon, did show people round sometimes. My memory also told me that the house was bigger when I visited – the Wikipedia article says that it was once much larger, but does not say when it was reduced.

The guide explained that the house was only open for visits like this when it was not let out as a holiday ‘cottage’, details here. Going round the house I was reminded by its style how some of us had rented my local NT ‘cottage’ Lytes Cary, for music-making holidays in 2013 and 2014.

Linenfold panels
A kitchen fit for a 21st century letting

When I came to this final room, called the King’s Room I believe, I thought how wonderful it would be for music-making with friends. It displayed large paintings by West Country painter, Robert Organ, a friend of John Schofield, (Mary’s son presumably).

30 minutes and the house was thoroughly ‘done’. The exit from the one-way system was into the King’s Garden, where I sat for a few minutes, just enjoying the quiet, and contemplating what to do next.

I returned to my car, and asked my satnav what attractions there were in the vicinity. ‘Helston Railway ‘ it replied. Super! Take me there, James, I commanded. After a few minutes it led me to a firmly closed gateway to what appeared to be a private property. I could not get an internet signal to find out more about the attraction. OK, thought I, I’ll go to Helston itself (car and I were several miles away) and find out more.

With a signal in the Lidl customer car park on the outskirts of the town, I found out that Thursday was one of the three days each week the volunteer-run railway was, um, running, and that I had in fact been very near to it at those gates.

But they were miles back, through narrow country lanes, and time was rolling on, so no way was I returning. I decided instead to go to the coast, to Porthleven just 2 miles away. It was heaving with people, but fortunately I found somewhere to park right by the harbour, allowed just 30 minutes. Given the crowds, I reckoned that was all I’d want.

These photos reveal neither the great crowds of people nor the touristy souvenir and other shops trying to tempt them, apparently successfully. I walked firstly along the left hand quay.

The inner harbour
And the outer. I don’t think the paddle boarders are in any danger. Not from the cannon anyway.

Returning along that quay, I waited a while to clear this view, over my right shoulder, of as many people as possible.

‘Bal Maidens’ were those women and girls who broke up the metal ores, after their menfolk had mined them.

When I walked along the right-hand quay I was not tempted to take pictures, as the crowds were really heavily gathered there, around the many tourist shops and cafés. The road rose sharply, and I took this looking back.

Past the last houses there was path off to the left, and I found myself once more on the South-West Coast Path. Indeed, technically, I had been on it all the time.

Perhaps it was as well that there was nowhere to sit, because it was time to turn back and recover my car from its 30 minutes’ permitted time.

Female Common hawker, I think

My final picture was a zoom in on this building, which I have since discovered is the Bickford-Smith Institute, which opened in 1884 as a gift from a former MP.

I confess to having been 10 minutes late back to my car, but that is how long it took to be served with an ice cream. As can be seen from the photos, the sun was out when I arrived, but it had gone by then, and as I drove back to Penzance, there was sea mist rolling inland.

So many possibilities for Friday, my final full day: including a walk in the Lizard area; further exploration of the Tin (= north Penwith) Coast; the Penlee Art Gallery; or a drive well north to Lanhydrock (to follow up Captain Thomas Agar-Robartes MP, of the memorial hall in Luxulyan).

Cornwall 3 – 9. Ecclesiastica


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I may have made that word up.

Before going round the Truro museum, in the morning of Wednesday, 8th September, I had had a coffee (ordered by QR code!) in the café next door, and shared a table with a stranger visiting from Leicestershire. (Covid-wise, I managed to sit a good few feet away from her.) She asked me if I had yet visited the Cathedral, and I decided to do so in the afternoon. She in turn thanked me for various ideas she had gleaned from my own visits already done. We both said that there was so much to see in Cornwall that we would have to return to the county.

The rain had fully stopped by the time I left the museum, though the air was still very damp. It was only a short walk to the Cathedral.

I couldn’t take a view of its west front from further back because of this:

It was rather fun to watch. I think they were replacing old benches, and adding to seating capacity in the square.

Inside all was much quieter.

I particularly liked all the verticals of this aspect.

As well as the architecture, there were many objects of interest.

The origin of a 141-year-old tradition:

This is half of a beautiful piece of embroidery, but I could not see what its function was. It was about 2 ft/60 cm high, and presented behind glass at ground level in a side aisle.

This fantastic painting is explained below.

With commentary by the artist:

A backward look as I was about to leave.

After that, there was another church in my sights. One of the booklets I had been studying to prepare the Cornwall trip was an old one by the Archaeological Department of Cornwall County Council, but I had not yet been able to use any of its suggestions. However, the village of Breage could be on my way back to my BnB in Penzance with a little diversion. (Though I do wish I’d not relied on my satnav which, so helpful in finding me a car park in the morning, led me a totally unnecessary merry dance through single track lanes to get there. I should in this case have looked at my maps.)

The 15th century church of St Breaca‘s attractions, from the booklet, were a Roman milepost, which took a while to find, mediaeval wall paintings and a cross.

This sundial was over the entrance to the church. I took this photo as I went in. By the time I came out, there was a wan sun, but will as I did, it was never strong enough for me to check how well the dial was keeping time after 226 years.

John Miller, in the commentary to his painting in the cathedral, had referred to Cornwall as the land of the saints. Here is a reference to the local ones. Another panel gave a description of each.

At last I found the Roman (3rd century) milestone, tucked away in a corner.

Discerned by those who could read it was its abbreviated transcription of ‘the Emperor Caesar our lord Marcus Cassianus Latinius Postumus, pious, fortunate, august’.

The church was as wide as it was long,

as can be seen from this model.

There was an impressive list of every incumbent of the parish since 1219, and one before.

The cross, in the churchyard, is described as Hiberno-Saxon.

The next day was meant to be the peak experience, though I was having my doubts as to whether it would happen…

Cornwall 3 – 8. Truro Museum


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Wednesday 8th September was one of my ‘un-pre-planned’ days, but my wishlist was long. High up it was the geology section of the Royal Cornwall Museum in Truro.  My knees, unaccustomed to so much strenuous walking over the previous few days, and which had much disturbed my sleep the night before, pushed it even further up. The weather forecast for the day cemented its new position.

St Michael’s Mount was nowhere to be seen as I drove along Penzance’s Western Promenade in the morning. Rain and/or heavy mist accompanied me to Truro, (as did much very slow traffic in the city itself). I was pleased that it was only a few minutes’ walk from the car park, (found courtesy of satnav), to the Museum. The main hall:

set out Cornwall’s history, and the very impressive and beautiful geology collection was in the first room off to the left.

But first there was a showcase of Cornwall gold.

Middle/Late Bronze Age arm ring
Gold lanula, Beaker period (2000-2300 BC)
Water-worn nugget, largest ever found in Cornwall, 1808. It’s about 5cm/2 in long.

I  have no idea how many of the world’s minerals were represented there. I  just enjoyed the visual feast. For real scholars it must be a treasure chest.

As you enter the room, there are firstly some paintings on the wall to your left. I found this one particularly striking.

Roy Billingham, ‘Wheal Maid, the Majesty of the Morn brings with it Hope.’ The painting was made in response to local grief as the falling price of tin made mining it unviable.

The title of this display cabinet is ‘Rocks and Minerals of the Lizard Peninsula’.

Vince had explained at the Levant Mine on Sunday how minerals separated out in a lode. This diagram shows how the various grades of copper settle out.

Tin smelting
Miners’ tools

I took dozens of photos. Here are just a few. (I have no specialist knowledge. When I did my Open University module on geology in 2007/8 it was the macro stuff that interested me most, and in any case, in one basic module, you don’t get much detail on individual minerals.)

Hopefully detail on labels can be seen by clicking, then clicking again, on photos.

(‘Fool’s gold’)

The museum also commemorated individual mineral collectors.

Chalcedony – theological associations?

This photo does not give fully replicate the rich purple colour of the ‘Blue’ John.

Blister copper, ‘partly purified copper with a blistered surface formed during smelting

Finally in this room there were models of a beam engine.

Moving on round the main hall:

I ‘did’ the rest of the Museum, with lesser or greater intensity,

Earliest surviving passenger rail vehicle in the world, dating from about 1810. It was used to transport the directors of the Poldrice to Portreath (horse-drawn) railway in Cornwall.
Trewinnard coach, c. 1700. An ‘obvious statement of wealth’ which took 15% of one family’s household expenses.

Not all the exhibits came from Cornwall.

‘Vicar and Moses [the clerk]’, Staffordshire, c 1760.
So Dolly Pentreath (see post on St Michael’s Mount) did not speak only Cornish…

I went upstairs.

and walked round a room whose theme I could not diagnose, but where I much enjoyed this painting,

‘Work’ by Frank Brangwyn, 1867-1956

and this piece of pottery, about which I have no details.

In a separate room was a temporary (to 24th December) exhibition called ‘Fragile Earth: Watercolour journeys into wild places’, featuring the paintings of Cornish painter, Tony Foster. He travels the world and comes back not just with paintings he has made, but mementoes of each location which he incorporates in each work. A little map,

samples of vegetation,

a twig,

models of what is harming the relevant environment,

or paintings of leaves and seeds.

The last wall of the museum downstairs marked more recent times, the 19th and 20th centuries.

A resined felt hat, such as shown us by Vince on Sunday.

So that was Wednesday morning.

Cornwall 3 – 7. Tremenheere Sculpture Gardens


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The signpost I had noticed on my way to St Michael’s Mount, on Tuesday 7th September, was for the Tremenheere Sculpture Gardens. I spent a happy hour-plus wandering around. There were several sculptures to be seen even before reaching the hard-to-find reception kiosk.

This colourful bench was by the ticket shed, the dappled sunlight adding to the effect.
Shelia Williams, ‘Winter Heliotrope’
More Cornish large lushness
Michael Johnson, ‘Wall of Taps’
A dragonfly pretending it’s not there.

You had to walk right into this sculpture, an oval room open to the sky, with an ante-room. It would appear that it was inspired by the sculptor’s Quaker background. I took this sitting on the ledge.

James Turrell, RA, ‘Tewlwolow Kernow’, twilight in Cornwall. Here’s a blog someone wrote about it after a visit when the sky was blue.
View from near the furthest point of the gardens. St Michael’s Mount can be seen peering over the shoulder of the trees.
Richard Long RA, ‘Tremenheere Line’
Philip Rae Scott, ‘Crypto-Synthesis’
These towered over me.
Peter Randall-Page RA, ‘Slip of the Lip’. The whole is about 2 metres across.
Vong Phaphanit, ‘Field of Rods’

Having finished my tour, I bought a hot chocolate from the snacks kiosk. I sat on the base of Michael Chaikin’s ‘Tree of Life’ and was mesmerised by Penny Saunders’s ‘Restless Temple’. The longer I watched it, the more I realised that it was not mechanically driven, and that its angle of drunkenness was entirely dependent on the strength of the breeze.

I heard a buzzard mewling.

And realised there was a second.

My last stop was at Penzance Harbour. I had by now driven past it thrice, and did not want to let the week pass without exploring it on foot. Combined with a visit to a Post Office for some stamps to put on three postcards I had bought on St Michael’s Mount, this was time efficiently spent, I felt!

It was this that really attracted me to the harbour.

Sadly, it was not possible to get really close, as there was another boat in the way. Men were working very hard on, apparently, restoring and adapting her.

But I was able to take a photo of his rather worn panel.

In her present state she would not be fit to star in anything. I’d have loved to find out more from the workers, but they were – probably deliberately – not lifting their heads, and in any case they were quite far away. I have managed to find out that she left Charleston, Cornwall, around two years ago, headed for Liverpool, and that she arrived in Penzance, probably to be her permanent home, in February of this year. I wonder where Portsmouth fits in.

The Dolphin is a favoured eating place.

As I returned to my car, I noted that the very inner part of the harbour is now a swimming pool at high tide,

and loved the action of a devoted father pulling his children around in the boat.

Another full day, and a happy return to Chiverton House. The weather forecast was not so good for the next day…

Cornwall 3 – 6. St Michael’s Mount


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It was time to cross another causeway. After all, it was nearly twelve weeks since I had driven across the one to Lindisfarne. But this time it was to be on foot.

For the first time this week, the view to St Michael’s Mount was clear as I set off along the Western Promenade in Penzance for Marazion and the causeway to the castle on Tuesday, 7th September. Booking ahead was imperative; entry would be denied without a pre-booked ticket. The attraction is run jointly by the National Trust and the St Aubyn family, who still own much of the island.

You are told to arrive at the gate of the castle at the time of your ticket, and to allow 15 minutes beforehand to cross the causeway, whether on foot when the tide is low enough, or by ferry. I was pleased to have allowed even more time than that, since the car park fee took time to pay, at one of those horribly complicated machines that wants to know all about you.

At the castle gate I appeared to get special, expedited, treatment. Was this because I was a National Trust member? Anyway, I was soon on my way to the visitor centre.

Sadly, it would not be possible to visit the gardens, which had closed for the season just a few days beforehand.

Then over to the wall for some views,

Black-backed gull

before starting the long, steep and difficult cobbled and/or stony upward trek to the ‘top’.

Nearly there
There were people at the ‘top’.
There were lots of people at the ‘top’, which proved not to be the top. It was at least 20 minutes before I was able to enter the castle, the queue was so long.

I amused myself looking for dolphins (unsuccessfully)

Nearly there

I also filled in the time reading about the castle on an app I had downloaded thanks to a QR code at the bottom of the steps. Annoyingly, that app is no longer on my phone. I suppose it’s possible that it could have auto-deleted as I left the premises, but, much more likely, I deleted it myself thinking I would have no more need of it, forgetting that it would be really useful in identifying my photos. My memory serves me poorly…

I do recall that this particularly appealed to me in a whole roomful of delightful drawings by Lady Catherine Someone.


The route led to an upper terrace

They’re still queuing down there on the lower terrace.

Despite the number of people there, the 15th century chapel, where a service is held every Sunday in the summer months, brought a sense of palpable calm.

I recall that the guide described this blue room as Strawberry Hill Gothic.

I could have spent a very long time in the maps room, and took photos of several of the exhibits. I limit myself to sharing just one of them.

In the same room was this cork sculpture of the island.

This is a portrait of Dolly Pentreath, said to have been the last person to have spoken only Cornish. (Though the next day was to moderate that claim in my mind – see two posts on in due course.)

At last there were no other people around for a short while, as I looked back along a corridor of pictures.

A room described as the Museum was closed for renovations, and the Garrison Room did not interest me too much. But a few more pictures towards the exit did. For colour and style…

… and for nostalgia: Giles, Vera and Gran!

View from exit of castle

When was looking, without success, to see if I could find any more detail about the castle’s contents on the internet, I came across this walk-through film lasting about 15 minutes.

The walk down the uneven path could have daunted me, but this time I had my walking pole with me. Without it, I would have found the descent a miserable experience. Once down, I was reminded that the ferry, which I was planning to take back for the sake of having a boat ride, would not be running until well after 2.00 pm, given the state of the tide.

Not really hungry after the very copious breakfast served by Alan and prepared by the unseen Sally at Chiverton House, (despite my taking neither sausage not bacon, nor any of the carbohydrate-packed offerings) I went to sit on the big lawn for a few minutes.

I usually try to avoid taking photos with people in them unless they are part of the story, but I think they add something here – others may disagree.

I was delighted to see a little egret on the near shore and zoomed in on it.

Having patronised the Island Shop, I then walked back to the car park. I saw no point in hanging on for more than hour just for the sake of having a short boat ride. The cobbles were not kind to sore feet,

so I cut off leftwards to take the hypotenuse back to my car. Sadly the ripple marks on the wet sand were almost as uncomfortable as the cobbles.

On the way to Marazion, I had noticed a signpost to an attraction I had added the evening before to my ever-increasing list of ‘Things I’d like to do’…

Cornwall 3 – 5. Trengwainton Garden


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Trengwainton Garden (National Trust) was my destination for the Monday afternoon, despite my very tired legs and feet. My plan was to have a gentle stroll around the gardens and then have a drink in the tea-room at the end. Sadly, the last part was thwarted, as the tea-room shut at 3.00 (staff shortage?). But the tea-tray in my room at my BnB was only minutes away.

The entry was at G below, right. I first explored the walled gardens, then went along the main avenue (gently ascending but not gently enough!) to the lawns by the main house, and returned via the woodland area with the stream running though it.

Proof of acid soil or what!

As everywhere I went in Cornwall, my impression was ‘lush and large’ with a dash of exoticism.

I wondered what this huge tree with red flowers could possibly be.

A close up with my camera revealed that it was a fuchsia.

And reaching its origins, I saw that the fuchsia was supported by a sequoia.

The house itself is still owned and lived in by the family that bought it in the 19th century, and a discreet rope keeps the public at bay.

I had been told at reception that the views from up here were ‘spectacular’. She didn’t know where I had been in the morning!

An original orientation table
What a shame!

There were several benches up by the lawns, but it took a while for one to be vacated, and how my legs were longing to sit down. Eventually I was able to rest on this bench. I’ve been unable to find anything about the coat of arms – but I have a plea out to the Fleur-de-Lys History Society by social media!

I was intrigued by the apparently perfect square shape of the hole in this trunk.

It turned out not to be a perfect square, and to contain some fascinating fungi.

Back through the tree ferns of the woodland area. I was reminded of my trip with a friend to Tasmania.

One final picture near the entrance.

When eating my huge sandwich at Perranuthnoe at lunchtime, I had been sitting on a bench, with a local woman at the other end. When I told her of my plan for the afternoon, she told me I would learn of the slavery connections of Trengwainton. I didn’t, but, local paper style, it is here. A more sober account, part of a very long description of the property, is by Historic England.

The coolness of the mainly shady gardens of Trengwainton had been most welcome, on the hottest day of my stay in Cornwall. The rest of the week remained largely dry, during the day, but at times was very misty.

I slept well that night.

Cornwall 3 – 4. Prussia Cove and Cudden Point


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This was my choice for Monday morning, 9th September, the third day of my holiday in the far tip of Cornwall. I thought the walk would probably stretch me, but I had a reason for choosing it, from my other ‘walks’ book, by the Ordnance Survey.

It started at Perranuthnoe, the sun having cleared the heavy sea mist which prevailed just 20 minutes earlier as I had set off eastwards from Penzance.

The remains of the sea mist

For about half of its distance the walk would be through fields and lanes.

Looking back towards Perranuthnoe once I’d made the necessary height.
Interesting stiles in Cornwall
The walk started at the north-west tip and went clockwise.
Interesting stiles in Cornwall. This one’s almost level, despite appearances.

After half an hour I realised that I had failed to take my walking pole from my boot. Too far in now, I would have to manage without, something I was not looking forward to for the second part of the walk, along the South-west Coastal Path, up and down, up and down, cliff and cove, where my pole would, I thought, make all the difference to the ‘down’ bits.

I was most surprised to see this beehive to my right at one point, though further from me than this photo makes it appear.

Just metres further on I saw this shack, clearly party of a homestead. For the next couple of hundred metres, well spaced out, there were more dwellings, rather less ‘shacky’.

The last section of the inland part of the walk went north-south, along a path with, to me, a vertiginous descent, and very slippery because of little pebbles and soil. How I missed my walking pole to steady me, balance not being my strongest point. I grew increasingly fearful of the coastal path to come. At points down this steep path I used the method toddlers use when going down stairs…

As I neared the end of this descent, I could see Porth-en-Alls House, which took me back to 1973, though I had not seen it from this angle before. But I did recall seeing from the House the waves crashing onto the rocks of the promontory.

The House can just be seen centre, slightly right.
Kenneggy Sands. At this point I was to turn right onto the South-west Coastal Path.

Where inland met coast was my reason for wanting to do this walk. When I was in this tip of Cornwall for the only previous time, in 1973, I had stayed for three weeks at Prussia Cove, near Marazion. This was, and still is, an estate of holiday cottages on the coast, and mine was one of the Coastguard Cottages, which I had all to myself.  I was there, on unpaid leave from H M Treasury,  as secretary to the International Musicians Seminar, founded just the year earlier by the celebrated Hungarian violinist, Sandor Vegh, and by Hilary Tunstall-Behrens. It still runs, and still takes place at Prussia Cove, based on Porth-en-Alls House. (I had no knowledge of H T-B’s exploits when I was introduced to him on taking the job!)

Two longer term consequences of my involvement in this event arose for me personally. The broadcaster and music critic John Amis, and radio presenter Natalie Wheen, visited for a couple days on behalf of the BBC.  I found myself singing 4-part music with them once or twice. We remained in touch and had few further sessions, this time with five singers, back in London, once in my flat in Kentish Town.

The other consequence arose because it was my task, on the eve of Sandor Vegh’s arrival, to visit the cottage where he was to stay to check on, (or was it to light?), a fire to warm the place. (I think this was April.) The ‘cottages’ on the estate are well spread out, and a black and white cat was hanging around one of them. I can never resist talking to a cat, and I was a little embarrassed that she followed me all the way back to my own cottage. Free to leave if she wanted, she adopted me, and my reward was to find a dead mouse by my slippers nearly every morning when I woke up. I was informed, by the estate owners I think, that they thought she had been left behind by some previous holiday makers. Missy, as she became, virtually jumped in my car as I left Prussia Cove to return to London, my lovely companion for the next 12 years.

After 15 minutes or so, I arrived at Porth-en-Alls House. From that angle it did not seem at all familiar to me. But I was delighted to hear string chamber music emerging from this building, stopping and starting as if learning/rehearsing was going on – for these concerts perhaps?

I vaguely remembered this parking area, the upper part of which is on the SW Coastal Path. Perhaps the reason I recall it, unlike the House, is is that my car wouldn’t start and had to call the AA. Embarrassingly it turned out that I had just run out of petrol, (half of their call-outs they told me). Living in London, and a new driver, I had not got used to doing long journeys and and failed to check the fuel gauge sufficiently!

I snuck this photo, in which a violinist can just been seen. One of these presumably.

I failed to see the Coastguard Cottages, and I had neither the energy nor the time to go searching for them. It was very hot, not a cloud in the sky all day.

Bessy’s Cove, one of the four making up Prussia Cove, and the nearest to the House
Looking back at Bessy’s Cove. I recall singing three-part madrigals with two other women, sitting on one of the rocks.

My dread of the Coastal Path was unnecessary. That descent to the coastal path had been much worse than anything I encountered from then on. That said, this climb was steep!

Reached the top, I sat down on the narrow path, rested and took this photo. Fortunately no-one wanted to get by in either direction while I was there.

I arrived at Cudden Point.

This was the view as I passed over it, with Perranuthnoe in the far distance.

Brief exchanges with people coming in the other direction, or just resting, added to the pleasure of the walk. Footsore and very weary, I could see Perranurthnoe was getting nearer,

and then as I rounded every headland, it came nearer and nearer (as it were).

St Michael’s Mount can be seen in the mist. Nearby, blackberries sustained me.

Three hours and 15 minutes after setting off, I arrived at the Beach Cabin Café, where a cheese sandwich and some apple juice refreshed. And I hadn’t even had to queue, despite the staff shortages in hospitality venues announced everywhere.

My ‘sandwich’ half eaten (it was a doorstep with copious filling, salad and crisps, much more than I wanted) I walked the few paces down to the beach to see what was attracting those going by, before climbing wearily back to my car.

It was only 2 pm, so the day’s entertainment could not end there.

Cornwall 3 – 3. Levant Tin Mine and Beam Engine


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The National Trust tour I had pre-booked for the Sunday afternoon of my Cornwall holiday was of the Levant Mine and Beam Engine, in the St Just area on the north coast of the Penwith peninsula. As requested by the Trust, because of the earlier start of the Tour of Britain, I had allowed plenty of time to get there, and, also at their request, parked not at the Mine itself but a 20-minute walk away at Geevor mine, open to the public, but not NT property.

It was a very grey day, with rain threatening all the time.

As I had thought, the Tour of Britain had no impact on access, having passed surely three hours previously – but thank you, National Trust, for having alerted me to it! I had therefore, even allowing for the walk to Levant, some 30 minutes in hand, so I wandered around the desolate landscape for some while.

I was surprised to see how little nature had taken over from the abandoned terrain, but later learned that Geevor had only closed in 1991.

My first, but not last, sight of the South West Coast Path, here going north-east. But I had to go south-west and make my way to the Levant Mine.
The name of this valley is Trewellard Bottoms.
Arsenic processing buildings
L to R: Compressor house chimney, Stamps chimney and Arsenic chimney

Vince was our volunteer guide, a geology teacher of both aspiring mining engineers and of A level students. (In reply to a question from me, he said that the future’s in lithium, indium and gallium apparently, although the first two are running out, especially indium, essential for our touch screens to work, and that will be all mined out by 2030.) From his style, I would guess that Vince is an excellent and passionate teacher.

He gave us full and fascinating explanations, and was also a mine (sorry) of historical anecdotes. I was very conscious that I would manage to hang on to very little of what he said, which is perhaps fortunate, since this post would be very long if so. But I do recall that he said that mining in this area had started some 4500 years ago. Beaker people from Switzerland had brought the skills here, but it was not known how they had acquired those skills. Here is a full account of mining in Cornwall and Devon.

The only piece of 20th century equipment in the mine, which closed in 1930.
So much more protective than a modern geologist’s plastic helmet, this miner’s hat is made of felt and rendered rock solid with resin.

Vince explained about lodes and the way their valuable constituents separated themselves out, into tin, copper, arsenic and silver, and how they went for miles out to sea.

The turquoise reveals the continued presence of copper.
The picture shows a pony being lowered into the mine. It would then live there for four years before being brought up, gradually accustomed to the light, and put out to pasture. Apparently the conditions the law insisted on for ponies were much better than those it prescribed for miners.
The tools used by bal maidens to break up the rocks. Their conditions were even worse than those of the men down the mines.

After a while, Vince took us to the beam engine, and handed us over to Peter, the engineer, who explained how steam was raised and worked the engine. For various reasons I was able to follow little, and just concentrated on the sheer beauty of the thing, and loved seeing it set in motion.

Entrance to the Beam engine house
The beam from the top.
What the wheel turned. I was just outside in time to see them in action.
Looking back on the various buildings

Ahead was the Miners’ Dry. a huge room where the miners dried out at the end of a shift. But before that, Vince explained why some parts of the land were so dangerous.

When a shaft was closed, it was just covered with wooden boards which were grown over and just rotted in due course. Tread on one of those areas and…

In its heyday this was the Miners’ Dry:

Just the floor remains now, with the Compressor house chimney beyond.

Next and last we descended to the start of the the man engine shaft. The man engine was an ingenious but very dangerous mechanism for lowering the miners to their working areas. It broke in 1919, killing 31 people, after which mining the lowest levels was abandoned.

Botallack mine (also National Trust, though not part of this tour) was just a kilometre further down the coast. I was shattered, and had a 15-minute climb back to the car park ahead of me, so I decided I would not join a couple who were planning to visit, but returned to my car tired, but very happy, at the end of two excellent days.

I had planned nothing yet for the Monday, but had lots of competing ideas.