A cape is a headland separating two bodies of water and at Cape Cornwall it is the Atlantic that splits and flows either into the English or the Bristol Channel. There are only two in the UK, the other is Cape Wrath on the north west coast of Scotland. From the road I take a picture of the enormous chimney stack, now a navigation aid, rising up from the imposing granite mound that is the headland. I also discover, on this glorious morning, the name of the mansion on the hill………………………………………………………………….
A wiki on Porthledden tells me that it was built by Captain Francis Oats, a local man who at the turn of the nineteenth century, went to South Africa to make his fortune in the diamond mines – he later became chairman of De Beers. Since his death in 1915 the house has been a hotel in the 1920s and 1930s, a gentleman’s club, a girl’s evacuee school during WW2 and a wedding venue. It lay derelict and in a deteriorating state of decay for over twenty years until 2003 when a Grade II listing helped its sale and the subsequent start of an extensive 10 year restoration program.
Following the coast path signs I find myself walking down into a peaceful valley and I suddenly realise just how noisy the sea can be. I normally don’t notice it but when it disappears for a while I am transported back to all the inland walks I have done over the years. Of course it wasn’t always so – the ruined buildings and chimney stacks bear witness to what once was a thriving tin mining industry, which most certainly would not have been a quiet affair.
The ferns that line the very narrow path as it carves its way through the valley are so tall that I almost tread on this poor little bird – I nudge it gently with my finger and it shudders but doesn’t respond to any further attempts I make to revive it. I carefully move it into the ferns, there’s not much else I can do.
From here on I begin to feel like I’m part of an interactive lesson on the history of Cornish mining.
Even more so when I reach the restored Levant Beam Engine mine where in the 1840’s men, women and children once toiled to extract the tin and copper from beneath the waves.
All Brexit voters take note of the “substantial grants from the EU”…………..and no that is not the Scottish flag.
A little further on the path opens up into a wide stretch of stony ground where visitors have been inspired to mark their presence – it’s all very Andy Goldsworthy.
By this time I realise that I cannot go on ignoring what is known as a “hot spot” on my right big toe. This is not as exciting as it sounds and usually means the beginnings of a blister. Sitting down on the grass I inspect the damage and slap on a plaster hoping against hope that it won’t bother me for at least an hour. Sadly, by the time I get to Pendeen Lighthouse the huge blister has burst and despite the temptation to walk on in the brilliant sunshine I am forced to admit defeat.
Sitting on a cairn by the side of the road I nurse my foot and consider the options – there are not many. The lighthouse sits at the end of a narrow tarmac road and there are a few cars around, so I could try and hitch back to St.Just and then a bus to Penzance. Otherwise …………well, there is no otherwise. Suddenly I see a little bird of a woman in a headscarf approaching, camera bouncing wildly from her thin shoulder. “Are you alright ?” she says in a broad Yorkshire accent, reminding me of my stint in Sheffield in the summer, “is there anything I can do to help?” Well – now you mention it.
I am constantly amazed by the generosity of ordinary people I meet on my walks. The woman is on holiday with her brother and they drive me all the way back to St. Just where I don’t have long before a bus comes along to take me back to Penzance. After a further dressing of my toe I hobble along the seafront and come across this beautiful lido, closed now for the winter – I am delighted to see signs that this one is alive and kicking.
Distance: 6 miles