Our recent trips in search of tidal pools has reminded us of our favourite: the mermaid pool at Porthtowan which is C20th. This is located on the east side of the beach, requiring some scrambling over rocks at anything higher than half tide.
A friend recently shared a wonderful letter with us:
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 Cornwalland headed for Portreath to find ‘Lady Basset’s pool’ – or more correctly pools. Lord or Lady Basset were not a man/lady 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)’.
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?
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.
On our return from Bosporthennis, it was irresistible to stop at the Moomaid in the Field kiosk for some delicious home-made ice cream. But first, we needed to earn it. Zennor quoit lay on the ridge, somewhere just out of sight.
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.
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).
We first walked this route in the dying days of the last millennium, and in the opposite direction. A bright sunny day in late September was too much of temptation and so we set off to do it again, the other way around.
We will admit to any amount of bias but this surely the ‘best’ bit of the whole Cornish coast. The cliffs are rugged granite; the views are spectacular; and there is a real sense of progress as one starts by walking westward, heads south and then ends up walking eastwards. The cliff and rock formations are therefore seen in different lights. On this day, the sea was flat calm and an astonishing array of different colours ranging from deep blue to a watery green.
We started the sixth and last leg of the Copper Trail on one of those May days when one is not sure whether it is going to shower with rain or burn you to a frazzle. It turned out to be a lovely day for a walk: no rain and with enough cloud to prevent over-heating or burning.
Spring had arrived, in a hurry. In a short period of time, leaves had sprung out from branches, fruit trees had burst into blossom, the hedgerows had filled with flowers, and the sun was beating down on a bank holiday weekend. Better still, it had not rained heavily for at least a week and the land was not water-logged.