Just Back From… West Penwith

P1200996 - CopyWe 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.

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P1210077I 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.

A rabbbit’s eye view – from the kitchen window

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The road goes ever on
down from the door where it began
~ from the Lord of the Rings, Tolkien

Gurnards Head In
Gurnards Head Inn – difficult to miss

P1200917We 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.

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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.

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Heyjude

I now live back in the UK, but spent several years travelling the world and then living in South Africa. I look forward to a long and leisurely retirement doing what I like most - gardening, photography, walking and travelling.

65 thoughts on “Just Back From… West Penwith”

  1. Your sheer joy of Cornwall is obvious from both text and photos. Looks as if you have decided where you will end up Jude. Have you been there in the depths of winter too? I am sure that you probably have.
    This should be submitted to the Cornish Tourist Board, as it makes me want to visit the place again, and is far more enticing than any of their magazine or TV ads.
    Regards as always, Pete. x

    1. I’m sure it is damp and grey in the depths of winter with a howling wind! But that’s what a log-burner is for, to curl up in front of, write blog posts, read books, watch films. I can’t wait!

        1. I can’t resist mussels when I see them on the menu. But you are right, the scenery is the star. What these photos don’t show though is that extremely cold wind that tore through you. “A lazy wind” as my mother would have said.

        2. I think that wind was present pretty much all over the country! Second thoughts? Been there. Pulled out. And I am very glad now that we did. I know where I want to be now. No doubts.

  2. Lovely photos Jude! It certainly is damp and grey down here in the winter, and the spring, oh and the autumn too, not to mention the summer. At least, that has been the case for the last 6 or 7 years leading many people to absolute despair, some to pack up and head back up country even but on those relatively rare days, when the sun does shine, Cornwall is magical. You have been very lucky with the weather this year. 🙂

    1. Ah, Adrian, you’re just saying that to put more people off so you can keep this fabulous county to yourself 😉

      I’ll have to get myself some waterproofs and go storm-watching then, or go photographing engine houses in the mist. Or checkout the galleries that I never have time to do when here on holiday. I don’t think the weather will put me off.

  3. This is the area we explored on our Cornish holiday last year – we stayed in St Ives and came to know that road to St Just very well! Thank you for bringing back wonderful memories (not that they had gone far yet).

      1. Loved it! Of course. We were there a week and didn’t stray outside the areas you mention. It was my first visit and John’s second – though he was aged about 7 the first time, when his family rented a cottage at Cape Cornwall. It’s still there, right next to the NTS car park, he was very happy to see.

  4. Completely precious, Jude – the scenes of sea, coastline and nature with stone-laden cottages, and your lovely written descriptions made it all the more enticing. You mentioned ‘house-hunting’. … Was that for a place to stay on this trip or are you planning a move to this slice of heaven?

    1. We have been planning a move to this part of the country for three years Sammy. Almost made it in December 2013, but sellers pulled out at the last moment leaving me pretty devastated. Have doubted whether it is the ‘right’ place, as it is a long way from anywhere else, but whenever I go down there I fall in love all over again. It FEELS like the right place!

      1. Jude, I do hope it works out for you despite your disappointment a couple years ago. Your enthusiasm and joy for the area certainly comes through your art. We have only so much time to live our dreams; may yours come true soon 💖. (it can’t be ‘far from everywhere” if it’s your heart’s home).

  5. What a serene and inviting place. It’s picturesque and laid back. I like the feel of quiet and can smell the water from here. Thank you for this stunning tour. Your pictures tell the story only too well. ❤ ❤ ❤ Love it.

    1. Thank you Tess. When the sun shines here in England there are many beautiful locations, but this is my favourite, glad you like it too 🙂

  6. That’s just my sort of holiday. I love love love Cornwall for its wild starkness, the sea all around and the magical mysteries around every corner. I so understand your yearning. I have visions of a small cottage with bleak sea views, a laptop and no TV and hours and hours of writing time and inspiration.

    1. The cottage didn’t have WiFi at all, but we bought a mobile device which worked very well. The TV worked on BBC channels only though we did manage to catch a bit of the French Open. A perfect place for reading and writing though and walks right from the door. We didn’t use the car for a couple of days just stayed close to the property.

  7. Fabulous! Loved this post – your sheer joy and enthusiasm for this area shine through 😀 and I have to ask, where are those two tin mine engine houses in your picture?

    1. Thanks Sue. I had a great time and didn’t want to leave. The two engine houses were just around the corner from the cottage on the North Rd from Pendeen to Penzance. More images will follow soon.

  8. I can understand your enthusiasm for this area. Your photos are lovely. I hope the house hunting is successful.

    I have never liked oysters and assumed mussels would be the same, and then when we were in Brussels my husband ordered garlic mussels at a café and I tried one. It was so delicious. I would definitely order my own dish of mussels next time.

    1. I only like smoked oysters or baked oysters (delicious with spinach and parmesan cheese) have only ever tasted one raw and it almost made me sick!

        1. So true! And then you get to be old like me and find you have so little time left too and less inclination to be cooped up in a tin can that flies 😦

        2. But there are so many possibilities that are only a boat or train ride away for you! At least you’re not stuck on the bottom of the world. (Although, it must be hard to have family at the end of one of those long sardine journeys. 😦 )

        3. But Australia has so many different areas to explore that you don’t need to go to another country. OK I concede that you don’t have the joys of another culture either. New Zealand is a short flight away, Asia not too bad. Japan. Pacific Islands… now you are giving ME wanderlust.

  9. Very sensory writing Jude! It rains everywhere and Cornwall has more than its fair share but your passion for the area will overcome, I hope your perfect home reveals itself soon.

    1. Gilly, you are so right about the rain. We were told when we moved here that it was wet all the time – rain coming over from the west into Wales and moving eastwards. In actual fact most times the rain passes early on and then we have a lovely day. When it is grey and miserable it is usually the same all over the country! So who knows?

  10. What a picture you paint, Jude! How can anyone not want to live here? I might have to rent a tiny room from you 🙂 This is one of the most beautiful pieces you have ever written. I’m smitten, Jude! Take me to the Merry Maidens! 🙂

      1. Ah-ha! Thanks for Googling it Steve. I haven’t had time yet. Just getting around to answering my comments after a busy day. Sounds promising 🙂

    1. The Merry Maidens weren’t all that exciting Jo, but I shall be introducing you to a few more places in detail over the following weeks 🙂

    1. I haven’t heard anyone speaking it, but it does appear to be gaining popularity. I think it looks a lot like Welsh and equally as hard to pronounce!

  11. Your love of Cornwall soaks through this post Jude your descriptions and photos paint a magical place. It makes me yearn to come and visit. So I will look forward to when and if you settle there and all the places you will take us to and I will visit in cyber space…

    1. Not working has its benefits as far as where to live is concerned and OH works from home so we just need a decent WiFi connection. We are lucky.

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