Today we leave the narrow winding lanes of Mousehole behind and climb up towards Paul to journey back into the still beating ancient heart of Cornwall. Follow the winding road that skirts the sea, passed stone circles and ancient stones from the stone and bronze age, to discover isolated fishing coves seemingly untouched by time.
Index of destinations from Paul to Porthgwarra – The Penwith Tour
Paul takes its modern name from the patron saint of the church St Paul taken from Paulinius of Wales who also founded monasteries in Brittany – notably St Pol-de-Leon. Famously the church’s impressive tower was sighted on by the invading Spanish in 1595 and the church was largely burnt although a little of the original structure can still be seen.
There is a monument in the church wall to Dolly Pentreath of Mousehole who was claimed to be the last Cornish speaker. Fittingly it is inscribed in both English and Cornish for her stock words were “Me ne vidn kewsel Sowsnek!”” Meaning “I will not speak English!”
The alternative and older name for the churchtown is Breweny
Dolly Pentreath was a fish seller living in Mousehole sort out by an Englishman wanting to hear the last Cornish speaker and he later published a paper on the expiration of the Cornish language. Although I have heard that if the gentleman had travelled further out on to the wild Peninsular he would have heard more Cornish spoken with a slight variation between the isolated communities.
The road climbs on towards Sheffield and if you’ve a moment pause and look back down over the landscape and the the superb views across Mounts Bay to the Lizard far beyond Penwith.
The road twists and turns, flanked by gorse topped banks, occasionally dropping down through stands of mossy trees flanked by streams and it gives a real taste of the ancient character of Cornwall. Look out for Boleigh Farm that straddles the road where Samuel John Lamorna Birch lived and worked for a while and then decide whether to take the Lamorna turn off or continue on to the Merry Maidens
A tiny fishing village of Lamorna backed by a quarry that supplied the granite for the Thames embankment – to this day a tumble of granite blocks can be seen on the hillside as though the workers just walked away on day.
Just before you reach the village the pub known as the “Wink” is on the left – the wink was a smuggling sign that contraband could be obtained. The parking on the harbour though is very strictly policed so do buy a ticket and be careful of the ticket times if you use this as a base for walking from.
Back on the road and on the left the Merry Maidens are brown signed with a small lay-by to park in.
The Merry Maidens
One of the many stone circles surviving in this part of Cornwall that hasn’t experienced such intensive agricultural practices as other parts of the country, yet still many were lost through field clearances – the Merry Maidens was preserved on the express orders of Lord Falmouth to his tenants who forbade them to cultivate the ground. The Merry Maidens it is thought to be the finest surviving circle dating from the Late Stone age to Mid-bronze age with a perfect circle of nineteen stones.
To continue the tour and back to the sea taking the sharp turn down to
A narrow lane follows a stream and park beside the tinkling waters just before a sign saying “No vehicles beyond this point” and continue on foot passed beautiful low thatched cottages to the cove headed by a huge Capstan with fishing boats pulled up out of the water at the top of the granite slipway. We often used to walk from here along to the bracken clad cliffs stepping back through time, as winter revealed the bones of the old landscape. I often wondered as I passed the tiny fields once so vital to the local people – now long abandoned would they ever be used again?
A less difficult turn is just beside the Penberth turn to Treen with a great pub The Logan Rock Inn and good parking to walk across the fields to the famous rocking Logan Rock. Stand on the headland and look to the right for superb views further along the coast to Porthcurno and The Minack Theatre.
A fabulous deep sandy beach sheltered on both side by low cliffs and the famous Minack Theatre of course. The first Transatlantic cable came ashore here and the Porthcurno Museum has an impressive presentation.
The Minack Theatre
This is a real must see for our area, along with St Michael’s Mount if you choose only a couple of things to do. The theatre is dramatically set clinging to the cliffs and the work of one woman, Rowena Cade originally (along with a posse of gardens!) Allow time to wander the terraces of the theatre and admire the small gardens full of succulents, that thrive in the warmth of the granite crevices and of course there is a super café for lunch with views to die for. If you have time book a ticket to a performance and take a yummy picnic to enjoy. Again book well in advance – tickets are quite sort after in the height of summer.
A small fishing hamlet once again famous for its recent appearance in the new Poldark series. This is a charming cove with a tunnel cut through the rocks to allow the fishing catch to be landed at high tide below a quiet hamlet.
We took a drive to Porthgwarra from Ednovean Farm the other evening following the narrow lane edged with a bright ribbon of yellow gorse flowers until it opened spectacularly to reveal the heathland running down to the cliffs. Just how the BBC managed to get all of its vehicles and crew down there to film the recent scene in Poldark must have been a feat of engineering!
The tide was in when we arrived and the cove already cast in shadow but we took the narrow tunnel cut by the miners in the last century down to the slipway and it held the very soul of the sea in its confines – the rich salty scent of so many holidays and gentle echo of the waves in it midst. And so we were not disappointed by the memories it stirred and I made myself a promise to go back earlier in the day to see the cove in sunshine!
If you missed part one of my tour, starting from Ednovean Farm and visiting Marazion, Penzance, Newlyn and Mousehole you can read it here!
The road will finish very soon now at the world famous landmark of Lands End where i will pick up our journey again to continue along the north coast to St Ives
To Follow the Penwith Tour
The Penwith Tour that follows the sea around the south west Peninsular, is a great way to start to explore Cornwall – click on any box to follow more journeys through West Cornwall