I’ve never done anything but dream. This, and this alone, has been the meaning of my life. My only real concern has been my inner life. FERNANDO PESSOA

Sunday, 3 October 2010

The Mines Of St Agnes

Newquay came as a shock. It was big and brash and loud, and smelt of sewage and ersatz Mexican food. I hurried through. Somehow I had to cross the tidal estuary of the Gannel just south of town. The footbridge was submerged - it was high tide - but a ferryman took me across in his tiny dinghy fitted with an outboard motor.

From Crantock I rashly decided to head inland and away from the Coast Path for a while. By doing so I hoped to avoid the Penhale Army Training Area. This I did, but it was no short-cut. I had no adequate map and only a rough idea of where I was going. (See pic of an ancient holloway I stumbled upon.) However, by a combination of luck, intuition and asking people the way, I finally arrived at Perranporth, a busy, noisy surfing resort, and another place I wasn't sorry to leave - especially since I had to listen to the owners of my guest house arguing all night.

But the next day I set off in the early morning sunshine in good spirits. I'd now been on the trail for exactly two weeks. So I was almost half-way through my trip, and on track to reach Plymouth by the end of the month. Soon I approached Trevaunance Cove...


... and rounded St Agnes Head. The coastline was quite rugged here, but the path was easy to follow, and the views outstanding. This really was a most enjoyable section. Also the weather was perfect...




In the 19th century this area was central to the Cornish tin mining industry. I began to notice chimneys and engine houses littering the horizons, and I passed capped mine shafts and adits. Here's Towanroath, one of the three engine houses at Wheal Coates ('wheal' is Cornish for 'mine') - preserved by the National Trust in the 1980s as an industrial heritage site. This particular engine house was built to pump water from an adjacent mine shaft. Other engine houses powered winding gear and ore-crushing machines.


Gazing back along the coastal path, you could still see these old industrial relics from several miles away. In the heat haze they looked like grey ghosts in the landscape...


7 comments:

Grizz………… said...

Solitary…

I love the big open vistas of this country, the sweep of sky and sea. What a wonder place for a walking adventure!

One question…is that purple-pink stuff in the last shot a heather?

The Solitary Walker said...

It was a great, if strenuous, walk, Grizz - with so many wonderful, open views. Also there were some days of more closed-in woodland walking - which provided a nice contrast.

Yes, that's heather. I saw a lot of it from the path - often mized in with gorse. Apparently there are quite a few different sorts of heather - ling, bell, cross-leaved - to be seen, as well as rarer, more localized varieties such as the Cornish heath. Not sure I could tell the difference at the time, though.

George said...

I just tried to post a comment, but I think it failed for some reason, so I'll try again. It appears that you were rewarded for pressing through the unpleasant parts of this day's walk. The photo of Trevaunance Cove is sensational. I also like the header photo. I find it magical to walk through these types of tunnel structures that one finds on paths from time to time.

am said...

I've been following along quietly. Twas in another lifetime that Richard and I walked this trail together. Richard's roots were there, too. It's uncanny how much England's coastal landscape looks like the California coast north and south of San Francisco. Especially the last photo. These coastal photos are a treasure, Solitary Walker. Thanks so much!

The Weaver of Grass said...

I am so enjoying your walk - all the beauty without the hard walking.

Tramp said...

The sound and smell of the sea and the feel of the wind in those pictures are palpable.
...Tramp

ksam said...

Can't help but wonder what the sounds and smells would have been like in earlier times when those tin mines were active! Thank God they aren't!