Saturday, 26 November 2016

BOTALLACK AND KENIDJACK



Continuing the mining theme, just along the road from Pendeen are the neighbouring villages of Botallack and Kenidjack.  The mining landscape between the villages and the coast path is come of the best in Cornwall, and includes the remains the engine house Wheal Edward, part of the Wheal Owles Mine Sett.  In 1893 Wheal Owles was the scene of a tragic accident, when water came rushing in from a flooded neighbouring mine, a common hazard in the Cornish mines, which often extended far out under the sea.  20 men were drowned in the accident, almost half the men who were down the mine at the time.  The Botallack Count House Workshop, owned by the National Trust but free to enter, has information on mining in the area and on Poldark, as well as a cafe, all housed in a building which performed an essential role as the place where the miners went to collect their pay.  The nearby Crowns Engine Houses in Botallack occupy a dramatic position towards the lower end of the cliff, and featured in the latest Poldark series.  Kenidjack Headland is home to an Iron Age cliff castle, and there are Bronze Age cairns in the area.  The views of Cape Cornwall from here and, on a clear day the Scilly Islands, are spectacular.  If all this is not enough to tempt walkers out onto the headland, birding enthusiasts will have the added pleasure of keeping an eye out for peregrine falcons and Cornish choughs, identifiable by their red bills.

Map of the area.

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Crowns Engine Houses. Photo by Nilfanion, via Wikimedia Commons

Thursday, 17 November 2016

PENDEEN



The village of Pendeen is strung out along the B3306, with Carn Eanes, known locally as “The Carn”, towering over it.  The moorlands above the village are dotted with prehistoric sites and relics of the local mining industry.  The village is separated from the coastal path by fields with assorted farm animals.  Over in the distance the handsome whitewash lighthouse known as Pendeen Watch, built in 1891, still lights up as soon as dusk descends, warning passing ships off this treacherous stretch of coast.  The coastal path heading east from the lighthouse leads to the delightfully secluded Portheras Cove.  Pendeen was otherwise known as Boskaswal Wartha, and the present-day village is divided into Higher Boscaswell and Lower Boscaswell.  Anyone wanting to get a sense of the landscape around here should read ‘A Perfectly Good Man’ by Patrick Gale.  My mother and stepfather live in the village, and reading this book the description of the main character’s house and surroundings felt eerily familiar.

                                                         View towards Pendeen Watch


Between Pendeen and the neighbouring village of Trewellard is the entrance to Geevor Tin Mine, which offers tours of the old mine workings.  The mine was operational for a good part of the 20th century, and owes its existence to a group of St Just miners who had emigrated to South Africa but were forced to return due to the outbreak of the Second Boer War.  Being claustrophobic, I have not been on the mine tour, in spite of its proximity to my relatives’ house.  However, I can vouch for the novel experience of walking through this evocative industrial landscape.  It is a steep and uneven walk down to the coastal path below, but well worth it for the chance to perch on the cliff top and gaze down at the sea crashing against the rocks.  Near Geevor Mine is the Levant Mine and BeamEngine, owned by the National Trust.  Poldark fans may recognise it, as it doubled up as Tressiders Rolling Mill in the TV series.

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Relics of the mining industry at Geevor


Pendeen Lighthouse, by Barbara Ashley


Map of the area.

Friday, 11 November 2016

GURNARD'S HEAD



This prominent headland on the stretch of coast between St Ives and Lands End got its name from the fact that its shape is reminiscent of the gurnard fish.  There has always been a lone pub on the headland as long as I can remember.  Back in the day it was a normal, unassuming St Austell Ales inn, but now, as a sign of the times, it has been turned into a smart hotel and gastropub, no doubt a welcome stop along this wild coast for those walking the South West Coast Path. 

There is an iron age hill fort called Trereen Dinas (‘fort at the farm on the point’) on the headland, the remnants of which can still just about be made out in the form of a ditch and a bank with some drystone walling.  In the early 1800s there was a copper mine named Wheal Treen in operation on Gurnard’s Head, but it fell into disuse in 1877.  Now there is just the hotel and the nearby village of Treen.  The nearest beach to the headland is Treen Cove, a short distance to the east of the headland.  Probably not one for families, as there are no facilities and no lifeguard cover, just the wild beauty of the Atlantic breakers crashing on to the shore.

Map of the area. 

Gurnard's Head, by Barbara Ashley