Saturday 4 June 2016
Zennor to St Just
Cot Valley Youth Hostel (camping)
Mary made me some lovely scrambled eggs with cream and her neighbour’s fresh eggs.
It was a hot day again; sunny and still. As yesterday the scenery was amazing, with a perfectly clear sea and large, rounded rocks studding the cliffs. The rocks made it a tough walk as you constantly have to adjust your footing and scramble over ankle-breakers. I enjoyed it, although by the end of the day the terrain and the heat were taking their toll.
Gurnard’s Head stuck out enough to be visible all the way along the coast as far as Pendeen.
It seemed to take me ages to get barely a couple of miles to Porthmeor Cove. Walking around it I spied a pool in the rocks that a family had been swimming in. There was no one else around so I took the opportunity to clamber carefully down the cliff (leaving my rucksack behind) and go for a dip. The water was lovely, and I didn’t bother with a swimming costume, anyone looking would have just seen my lily-white shorty wetsuit with matching ankle boots!
There were lots of rugged little coves, mostly inaccessible and all very beautiful and unspoilt.
Around Pendeen Watch, with its lighthouse, the St Just Mining District comes into view. There are lots of abandoned mine workings that are now part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Mining is believed to have started in this area as long ago as 5000BC, but the visible mine workings were mostly built in the 19th Century.
Geevor Tin Mine is the largest preserved mining site in the UK, it closed in 1990. It is open to visitors 6 days a week (closed on Saturdays). To me it looked like a huge man-made scar on the landscape; functional rather than beautiful.
The whole area is littered with mines and right next to Geevor Mine is Levant Mine, with its restored beam engine houses that still steam (not on Saturdays). Copper and tin were extracted from up to a mile out to sea and 500m underground. Amazing to thing all this was dug between 1835 and 1930.
Probably the most dramatically situated were the Crowns engine houses of the Botallack Mine, low on the cliff, sticking out.
I arrived at Cape Cornwall, a promontary with a hill, a tiny ruined chapel at the bottom and a chimney stack on the top, built to serve the Cape Cornwall Mine. It is the point where the waters from the Irish Sea, the English Channel, and the Atlantic Ocean all meet and churn around, making for some great stormy winter seas.
I have officially completed the Cape-to-Cape, Wrath to Cornwall.
Before I climbed up the hill and stood on Cape Cornwall I spied the refreshment van and sat down for a much needed mug of tea and slice of cake. It had been a hard walk today.
I still had a couple of miles to go. I had already crossed the Kenidjack Valley and had to walk up the Cot Valley to the youth hostel. Both these valleys are overgrown with trees and plants so their rivers are barely visible. They used to be full of mine workings, but now are full of birds enjoying the tranquility.
There was no room in the youth hostel so I camped in the garden. I walked the extra mile or so into St Just for dinner in the King’s Arms.
St Just is a granite town founded on mining in the heart of West Penwith. It is surrounded by moorland that is dotted with stone circles, quoits and hill forts; the Romans and the Saxons never really made it this far and West Penwith remains Celtic.
It had been a lovely day and I slept well.