We transferred to Bojewyan, slightly north of Pendeen on Friday 5 June from Penzance. Initially we’d only booked for a one week holiday/house-hunting trip, but at the last minute I managed to find an extension. I was looking forward to exploring the coastline in this wild region of West Penwith. It has a very different character to the rest of Cornwall; it feels almost like an island. Remote villages and hamlets are strung along one of the most beautiful roads in the land between St Just and St Ives. Travelling by road is slow, tractors, trucks, German campervans, French motorhomes, sharp bends, drystone granite walls, abandoned tin mines, carns, views across the patchwork arable fields, bleak moorland, gravel lay-bys barely big enough to fit two cars in to, a maze of hidden lanes and paths and tiny trout streams trickling down to the aquamarine coloured coast.
I came here for the sunsets. Stennack cottage faces the sea, though it doesn’t actually have a sea view, for that you had to walk around the corner. It has the most comfortable bed though, an exceptionally well-equipped kitchen and a lounge complete with log-burner. It even comes with a car parking space and a cute, gravelled and paved courtyard garden, ideal for that evening glass of wine after a day out sight-seeing. For a couple seeking solitude and sunsets, walks from the door and close to a pub or two then it could be the place for you.
The road goes ever on
down from the door where it began
~ from the Lord of the Rings, Tolkien
We spent the week exploring the peninsula, travelling no further east than Marazion where I wanted to return for a bowl of the best St. Austell Bay rope grown mussels, coriander, peppers and miso at the Godolphin Arms and to re-visit the gardens of St Michael’s Mount. Many days were spent along the rugged coast – creeping slowly into Cots Valley, steeply down to Cape Cornwall; exploring Levant Mines being careful not to fall down any holes; walking down to Pendeen Watch, only to find it closed to the public and not having enough energy to continue to Portheras Cove; driving into St Ives to visit the Tate Modern and buy the hottest chilli olives ever from the Allotment Deli on Fore Street and greedily drinking in all the artwork in the many studios and galleries; popping in to St Just on what must have been the windiest day and eating sausage sandwiches at the Cook Book and not being able to resist buying several books; gasping over views of the Towans and Hayle estuary from Lelant Downs and walking the lanes around Bojewyan (bos Uyan = ‘Uyan’s dwelling’) to look for historic sites, engine houses, a sunset, a lighthouse, wild flowers, a pub which serves great curries.
The scenery takes your breath away, or rather it allows you to breathe, to be as one with the land. No fast cars, no noise pollution, just incredible views, and glimpses of the sea. All around you. A buzzard. A hawk. A gull gliding on the thermals above your head. Hedgerows full of colour, bright blue sheeps-bit, egg-yellow birds trefoil, pale pink thrift in huge drifts across the granite walls and cliff-tops. Clouds of frothy cow parsley and wild carrot. And foxgloves everywhere, great, huge banks of them backlit by the evening sun. I am enchanted by the landscape where the sea and the sky become one, a land littered with history, where the past is always present. Watching out for milestones and signposts and interesting mailboxes. Scampering up a hill just to see the view. Forever reversing into too tight spots and hearing the hedgerow whip the wing mirror as I squeeze past. A fox that appears at dusk and slinks away into the undergrowth. A setting sun to the west and a full moon rising in the east. Rows of sturdy granite-built terraced cottages in the treeless, bleak, bare, beautiful empty landscape. I yearn to spend the rest of my life here.
I hope you enjoy my portrait of West Penwith – please click on a photo in the galleries to enlarge the images.