The lure of the heathlands vivid now, with purple heather and bright yellow gorse proved too much today and we set out beyond Penzance to follow the road towards St Just. I mentioned in my last blog the lure of the fabulous autumn on the sweep of the Penwith moors is not to be missed now and I’d heard of a spot, quite near to Cot Valley with an amazing depth of colours. Well that shouldn’t be hard to find should it?
Charles swung our old land rover towards the depths of Penwith taking the side road beside the drinking trough just as you enter Penzance, and what a wonderful afternoon we had. We following the lush green banked lanes out towards St Just with the swathes of tiny fields laid out beside us rising up to the heather clad moors until finally we reached the ancient Mining town of St Just.
We drove through the old town square, lined with traditional, sturdy, granite buildings and bright with tubs of flowers to take the narrow lane on towards Cot valley.
The drive to Cot Valley
Well the road narrowed and narrowed, first we passed the granite miners cottages on the outskirts of the town and then back out into the countryside on a lane no wider than a bridle path. Suddenly Charles said “look! The isles of Scilly” and in the distance, across the impossibly blue sea, lay the mounded shapes of the Scillies Isles, they looked almost dreamlike like on the horizon, amorphous shades of blue. I planned to take a photo when we came back but – do you know? The clouds had shrouded them when we came back that way later – maybe it was a mirage or a ghost of the lost land of Lyonesse after all!
We inched our way down to Cot Valley following the land rovers brave bonnet as the foliage grew more and more exotic as we followed the stream down the valley beside great towering stands of Gunnera,
Finally we found a neat little car park at our journey’s end, with Porth Nanven beach just below.
Porth Nanven beach below Cot Valley
This is a gorgeous, tiny honey coloured beach, surrounded by the famous, smooth, honey coloured granite boulders, left from changes in the sea levels 120,000 years ago and designated part of the Aire Point to Carrick Du site of Special Scientific Interest,
We clambered up towards a granite headland to look out across this special area with the hope of seeing the Scilly Isles again but no – only Land’s End and Long ships light house, over to our left that was the last stop in my Penwith Tour.
We dropped back down the precipitous hillside drawn by the little beach below us and I followed the stream as it vanished under the boulders to look at a little sculpture I had spotted at the end of the stream bed, carefully skipping over the big boulders while Charles sensibly waited above!
And the picture of the heather?
Still, too soon our afternoon was over and it was time to drive home to be ready for our next guest, back to join the holiday traffic or was it I Le Mans road race! I certainly saw some nice heath land along the way but there was always a “car-behind-I-can’t-stop,” Eventually we could turn off and I got the treasured picture of the foliage that many a garden designer would be proud of I think, (Not the picture though!)
Finally and as we dropped down from the high ground behind Penzance, St Michael’s Mount came back into view but from this side the encompassing arms of Cudden Point and the Lizard were clearly in view across Mount’s Bay. Sorry there-was-a-car-behind so no picture! Let’s see though – we have gardening tomorrow, so maybe I’ll try again on Thursday!