“The golden and unpeopled bays
The shadowy cliffs and sheep-worn ways
The white unpopulated surf
The thyme-and-mushroom scented surf
The slate-hung farms, the oil-lit chapels
Thin elms and lemon-coloured apples…” –
Sir John Betjeman, Delectable Duchy, 1974
As we were so close by, we spent a lot of time in St Agnes. I felt so at home there. It was like stepping back in time. There is a greengrocer, a bakery, a cafe, and a butcher, no huge supermarkets for the Cornish! I have to admire their determination to refuse permission for certain large stores to set up. The town is so pretty with just one main street. We bought provisions there as well as ‘the best pizzas and pasties’ in Cornwall! I wanted to move their immediately and we began looking for potential properties! It was on one of these explorations that we came across ‘Stippy Stappy’, a steep twitchel that leads from close to the tiny beach up to the town. Half way up and almost needing resuscitation, I sat down on a bench to recover from the climb. I was joined by a robin who came and stood by me. Watching me closely he edged along the seat and posed beautifully for a picture! On our way back, now having ‘lost’ the car, we were amazed to see a huge lorry stuck on a bend on the top of the hill right in the middle of the town. It looked very precarious and was still creaking as we approached it. It was hard to squeeze past and we were told to get a move on as the spectators, now gathered, thought it could crush us! I didn’t stop to take a picture! The whole town had come to a standstill and residents came out of their homes to redirect the increasing traffic. We were told it is a common occurrence as Sat. Navs. increasingly direct the lorry drivers into the town. We ended the day sitting in a bar at the water’s and watched the waves getting fiercer and a member of the RNLI trying to avoid getting wet!
I was keen to visit the Towanroath engine pumping house, as well as the beautiful beach at Chapel Porth. The former is part of the Wheal Coates copper and tin mine, used to pump water from the 600 foot shaft. Built in 1872 and owned by the National Trust, it is often used as a ‘stand in’ for the Botallick Mine owned by Ross Poldark in the popular TV series ‘Poldark’.
Our day began at the beautiful beach. We parked the car in a lady’s field as the car park on the beach was full. It only caters for about 40 cars. The girls walked on as I stopped to take the odd picture and by the time I found where they had left their bags and clothes, they were swimming and enjoying the last of the September sun. Keen to get into the water they had not realised the tide was coming in very fast indeed. I began trying to grab their bags and move them to safety whilst ensuring my camera was not swept away. I lost a shoe in my haste and as I finally got the bags to safety and returned to get the last few things, I saw my shoe float off followed by Kate’s. I grabbed Hannah’s sandals and then tried to fish for the others. It was hopeless, the current was quite strong outside the safety cordon set up by the RNLI and I was mindful that the waves were already close to where I had left my camera. I couldn’t attract the girls’ attention so I gave up and just rescued my camera and the bags yet again! With no shoes we couldn’t attempt the steep climb to the pump house it was bad enough walking bare feet back to the car across a stony field! Hannah, who still had her shoes, drove us home to collect suitable footwear for our walk. When we finally got up close to the engine pump house, after an extremely rugged climb, we were not disappointed. It occupies an amazing position on the edge of the cliff. Even without a sunrise or sunset as a backdrop, it looked stunning. The girls were in awe as we looked out across the Atlantic and imagined what it might have been like to work there in the 19th Century.
Early one morning, in rather beautiful light we visited another old pump house close to where we were staying. Unfortunately we never found out what it was called. On the last few days I spent time trying to improve my long exposure photography whilst the girls enjoyed the hot tub. I sat on the beach at Porth Towan in sinking sand, and a fast incoming sea. I got very wet as did the camera. I love the hazy effect on some of the photographs which I have added to, using textures.
Our final visit was to Mousehole. It began badly, as we drove straight into the very narrow streets before realising we should have parked further out. It was a tight squeeze and after a few expletives we extricated ourselves and began a walk around the pretty harbour. There is a calmness and quiet beauty in Mousehole. Tiny houses, narrow streets and unexpected views behind the main town ensure any walk is full of surprises. As we finished our tasty lunch in the garden of a small restaurant, it began to rain heavily. We drove home and spent the evening sitting in the hot tub while the waves roared, the wind howled and the rain fell. It was bliss!
Cornwall has captured our hearts and minds. It is the most wonderfully uplifting place. It could take me another twenty years to explore and photograph all the small coves, beaches and landmarks before I even start on the wildlife. I haven’t quite given up the idea that maybe one day, in the not too distant future, I might live somewhere on that wild coast and enjoy the sun, sea and surf everyday rather than just for one or two quickly lived weeks each year!
“You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream’ CS Lewis