Charles loves to visit the numerous Neolithic and early Bronze Age sites in West Cornwall and I love to see the Cornish heathland clothed in the vibrant swathes of heather and gorse at this time of the year and so it was an easy decision to combine the two, while choosing places within easy striking distance of Ednovean Farm and Penzance.
This week we visited Men an Tol – a holed healing stone and the stone circles of Tregeseal and Nine Maidens and the Ballowall Barrow overlooking the spectacular coastline at Cape Cornwall
Ancient places, Tregeseal stone Circle.
Our first visit of the month was to Tregeseal stone circle where we walked up to common to find the ancient stone circle and sat to breath in the fabulous sweep of purple heathers tucked under a comfortable old Cornish bank with a tasty picnic. To read more about the circle, try my blog about the ancient sites to visit in West Cornwall
Our next adventure took us out to St Just to explore the lush reaches of subtropical Cot valley. We followed the gurgling stream down to Porth Nanven beach along a narrowing lane through the valley. It is an amazing spot – the wooded slopes are one of the first resting places for migrating birds with lush vegetation hiding intriguing secluded cottages and a beach framed by beach unusual ovoid boulders, deposited by the last Ice age.
Bitten by the travelling bug, the next day we returned again to St just but this time took the other lane that leads instead out towards the sea and down to Cape Cornwall, stopping to explore an early tomb and cist graves, of Ballowall Barrow. Set in a spectacular cliff top location, just beside the road and with a comfortable spot for Lucy Land Rover to park, before venturing on to the cliff path to admire Cape Cornwall. I even peeped over the boundary bank of Cape Cornwall golf course to the eighteenth hole!
Men-anTol – ancient healing stone
Our next adventure took us back to Men-an-Tol. There’s a little lay-by just off of the lane to park and then a cart track to walk up to the stones. We met a farmer who stopped to chat settled comfortably on a sturdy quad bike loaded with farming paraphernalia as we peered at a derelict farmyard far off of the lane.
He described his conservation work and talked about his family roots over the centuries; he talked about the landmarks on the moors; about the longhouses and standing stones and finally told us the farm had last been lived in the 1960’s.
A circular walk from Men-an-Tol to Nine Maidens
When we finally reached the holed stone it was “in use” with an American lady clambering through the orifice, ably encouraged by two male cyclist. So we changed our plans and set off again to picnic across the moors at Ding Dong Mine with the idea of looking down over Mounts bay as we ate our lunch. Well, we reached the mine and as we sat down, we asked a passing dog walker the exact route to the stone circle we had last visited – was it twenty years ago ….an hour later we thought we had better move on!
Walking from Ding Dong Mine to Nine Maidens
We had the instruction: – “Follow the track until we met the fields and then turn on to the moor again.” . We decided we could eat lunch towards the Nine Maidens stone circle instead!
The clouds were coming in by now and the fabulous stretches of moorland rolled away in front of us. And actually we were getting pretty hungry. Finally the circle came into site and I found a comfortable gorse bush to tuck myself down beside and settled amongst the stones for lunch ….and only three o clocks!
A second chance encounter, high on the heathland
We were not alone when we got there. So we sat and watched as an older lady, visiting each stone in turn, with affection, before she left us to stride away across the moor.
Charles took his photos of the circle – It looked so much better than the last time we visited many years ago, then motor bike scramble bikes had churned up the earth in deep ruts. THis time the circle was healed and fresh and exactly as it should be.
After two lengthy conversations along the way, we had to hurry, striding along a deep, well worn path that finally rejoined the little cart track. We passed the elderly lady again! I’d have loved to have stopped to talk to her longer as she described her walk to see the Belted Galloway cattle far across the moor but I had to make my excuses and hurry on. I bet she had ridden her pony as a child across these same moors – oh maybe seventy years, seventy five years ago and today she still loved the old ancient places.
I loved visiting the great swathes of heather the truly ancient stones that bare memory to long lost societies. But you know my most resounding memory of that day were the characters we had met along the route.