The last (and indeed only) time I had been in Penwith, the very tip of Cornwall, including Lands End, was way back in 1973. For some years now, I had harboured a desire to go back. I made it as far as north Cornwall in 2013, on a geology field trip, and for some years had been gathering together material on furthest Cornwall. So when, last January, I abandoned all thought of a wildlife holiday on the Continent, I booked a week in a BnB in Penzance. Already availability was low; I think many other retirees had the same thought as I had – grab the first week the schools are back.
On my journey down, the augurs were good. Just minutes from home, as I took Bella to the cattery (Tilly was left well provided for at home, as she is not vaccinated) as I drove through Meare there was a young woman walking along the pavement with a large owl on her arm! I was not quick enough to stop and take a photo, sadly.
Traffic down the M5 was heavy but rarely slow, and I arrived at my planned lunch and walk stop just before midday. One of the many bits of paper I had gathered was about the beautiful and interesting Luxulyan valley, in North Cornwall. As I pulled into the village, I had needed to find just two things: a loo and coffee, preferably in that order.
No difficulty in finding either. For the second, just yards/metres away from where I was able to park my car, was a Memorial Hall,
where a ‘Plant swap and butties’ event going on. (I was later to find out more about Captain Agar-Robartes, a local MP, who had been killed in 1915 while trying to rescue a wounded comrade, during WWI.) There they were very happy to serve me a coffee for £1.
I didn’t stay inside to drink it. The room was small and noisy, and a dozen apparent locals were sitting around, not a mask between them, and one of them was holding forth on political matters in an extremely loud voice. I sat outside on this rather beautiful bench, which took me straight back to my week in Huissen, singing with an international choir in commemoration of the Battle of Arnhem.
Three people passed by in the road, and two of them said hello. Friendly place, Luxulyan.
From my reading, I knew there was a beautiful walk along the valley, and was delighted to find a description of one in a ‘Short walks in Cornwall’ booklet I had just bought.
I set off,
and soon came across this well,
which pleased me for itself, and because it confirmed I had taken the right direction from the church.
The walk soon left the country lanes for footpaths through the woods, alongside leats for much of the time..
In due course I arrived at the Treffry Viaduct, wondering what it (had) carried. I now know that ‘firstly it carried the mine trucks over the valley and secondly it carried the water used to power the water wheel at Carmears. ‘
Overall, I don’t think I have ever said ‘Wow’ so frequently during a walk, not just for the viaduct, but also for the huge blocks of granite and the wonderful views…..
I had said to myself that I would stop to eat my sandwich at the first available place to sit after 1 pm. At 12.58 this came into view, the first bench I had seen (and indeed the last on this walk). I decided not to obsess over two 2 minutes!
The view as I ate.
Whwn I set off again, there were several temptations to wander off either side of the path but I resisted them.
The gap to the left where the 9-metre diameter water wheel had been was unmistakeable. It wound wagons up the incline
From here the water ran to drive it, a tiny trickle today. The Carmears incline was to haul crushed minerals up the slope.
Looking back at the furthest point, (I’ve come from the left and must return on the right) except that the instruction was to continue for a short while down to a bridge over the incline.
This was the turning point of the walk.
There were several ruined buildings on my route.
But this is the top of the wheel machinery.
Not only were stone sleeper supports visible all along the incline, but also the occasional rail support
and even rail.
The walk continues to follow the track, as far as the viaduct.
‘At the end of the viaduct turn left and go up some wooden steps to enter a field.’
And then it all went wrong. I could find no wooden post at which to turn right. But I did find a stile and hoped it was the right one. It was, later confirmed. But I should not have been able to take these next three photos.
When I had what I reckoned from the map was about 20 minutes to go to get back to the church, I realised that something was wrong: no longer did the terrain fit the description. I tried take a common sense approach, knowing that my car was north, (the sun was out) but it proved impossible. Long story short, it was with mixed feelings that I found myself back at the end of the viaduct, pleased to know exactly where I was, but unsure how not to make the same error again. I had literally gone round in a circle. I climbed the steps again, nervous of how to escape the vicious circle!
I took the stile again, and decided to ignore what I had previously taken to be a junction at which I was to turn right, and – phew – this worked. A much more obvious junction soon appeared, and all went smoothly from then on. I was very pleased to see this waymark, indicating, as I hoped, the church from which I had started off.
The ice cream I bought at the village shop was well-deserved, I thought.
The M and S food hall on the outskirts of Hayle, 50 minutes away, was my next planned stop, and from there it was only 20 minutes or so to my BnB. Or should have been. Traffic was incredibly slow through the town, through which I was forced to take an unexpected diversion, for reasons which will become clear in my next post. I went out for a very short wander on foot around 7.30, but likewise the theme of that is more appropriate to my next post…