Rock-cut swimming pools around Pendeen

It being New Year’s Day, we felt the need to get out and explore something new. Continuing our recent theme of searching for rock-cut swimming pools, and advised by another article in Cornwall Live, we set out for the environs of Pendeen to search for three we had not seen before. These were all man-made or man-improved, often by local miners, probably in the C20. As it was a viciously cold bright day, we felt no necessity to pack our swimming things.

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The Tivoli Gardens in Lerryn

A chance encounter with a posting on Cornwall Live’s website took us on a bright October day in search of another Cornish curiosity: the Tivoli gardens in Lerryn. The website tells the story well.

It describes ‘fountains, arches, bandstand and swimming pool, appearing unexpectedly through the trees and undergrowth’ on the edge of a remote Cornish village. We agree with the undergrowth and degree of surprise but the plurals are perhaps generous.

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The Basset baths at Portreath

Inspired by our discovery of the Stackhouse baths a couple of weeks ago, we continued reading Michael Tangye’s article on Rock-cut baths in Cornwall and headed for Portreath to find ‘Lady Basset’s pool’ – or more correctly pools. The Bassets – Lord and Lady – were not people to do things by half for there are seven of the things at Portreath, the nearest large beach to the family home of Tehidy. They are thought to date from the early 1780s ‘for the pleasure of Susannah, Lady Basset, and her young daughter Frances’ (b 1781)’.

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The Stackhouse baths

Imagine: it is the late C18 century, you are a rich gentleman with estates in Camborne and a passion for seaweeds and algae some of the rarest of which are found in a small inaccessible cove on the edge of Mount’s Bay. You want to spend time on your hobby but, at the same time, you fall in love with and marry (1773), a young lady from Shropshire called Susannah Acton. What could be more natural than to build (1775) a castellated mansion for her, just above your favourite cove, and name it after her – Acton Castle – so that she feels at home. You install seawater tanks in the basement so that you can observe your special seaweeds. But how to entertain your new wife?

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Castle an Dinas

Castle an Dinas seen from St Dennis church, with Goss Moor in the valley below

We have often driven down the A30,  and wondered what is on the hill to the north of us, as we pass Goss Moor, haunted with memories of its horrendous traffic jams.

The answer is Castle an Dinas, one of the largest Iron Age hillforts in Cornwall. It is a superb site, with stunning views ranging from Rough Tor and Brown Willy in the east, Hensbarrow to the south, St Agnes beacon to the west, and glimpses of the sea to the north. This is one of the few places where the term ‘360 degree view’ is completely valid.

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Bosporthennis courtyard houses

It is not every day that one sets out in pursuit of a possible new fogou; indeed, as dedicated fogou-hunters, we have already visited the eight ‘standard’ sites. However, a chance remark in Craig Weatherhill’s excellent Belerion sent us out on a bright September day in search of the courtyard huts and beehive hut at Bosporthennis, just to the west of Zennor.

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The Great Flat Lode

The Great Flat Lode walk is a trail created by Cornwall Council which circles Carn Brea hill and takes you through the heart of Cornwall’s former mining district.

Several websites attempt brief descriptions of the walk – part of the network of Mining Trails – but few really do it real justice; a point we return to below. Cornwall Trails point out that the lode in question was discovered in the 1860s and was effectively worked out by 1920. The ever-reliable iWalkCornwall adds more historical information as is its wont and has a version of the trail which takes a (very sensible) diversion to the top of Carn Brea to admire the Bassett memorial, the remains of the Neolithic hillfort and the miniature castle (now a restaurant).

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A journey through the landscape and history of Cornwall