West Penwith. The furthest west you can go on British mainland and where you will find Land’s End. An area which was once rich in mineral wealth and is therefore riddled with mine shafts and abandoned engine houses. It is also an area rich in megalithic and archaeological sites. Fields of standing stones, stone circles, rocks with holes in the middle and a quoit or two.
Staying near the former mining village of Pendeen which lies between the sea and moorland gave me a chance to explore this wild and rugged region. The sun shone brightly every day, although the accompanying wind from the north reduced the temperature to a mere 14°C and made walks on the exposed coastline ‘
interesting‘ difficult to stand up in.
A rather more pleasant walk was inland to find Chûn Quoit and Chûn Castle (though the castle is reduced to a heap of stones as most of it was used to pave the streets of Penzance) as much of the route was along a sheltered lane with high Cornish walls at either side.
Finding the start of the public bridleway was the first hurdle as it isn’t marked from the road, but consulting the Ordnance Survey map we had with us it appeared to start at the back of a group of houses/farm in Higher Bojewyan just around the corner from our cottage.
Hesitant, in case we were straying onto someone’s private land, we found the lane stretching towards the moors. The views towards the coast were incredible and naturally it took us a while because of all the stopping to photograph the masses of wild flowers, the views, the butterflies.
Seeing a smudge on the top of the hill that resembled a mushroom we wondered whether that was the Quoit, but could see no way of getting to it. A man walking his dogs stopped to chat and we asked him if he knew the track to the Quoit. He didn’t even know about this quoit, only said that we were a long way from the Lanyon Quoit (near Madron), so we thanked him and carried on.
Consulting the map once again I figured that if we found the car-park off the North Road we would pick up the track which leads from it up to the quoit and the castle, and in the distance we could indeed see what appeared to be a couple of parked cars by the road-side. And a man strolling from it in our direction. I was a bit hesitant at this point, because the structure looked to be miles away, but we decided to carry on to where the path crossed the one we were on.
At the junction there was a stile leading into a field and to where the man was still striding ahead. It hadn’t taken us long to catch up with him so we decided to follow and after another stile and another field the track led us upwards to the quoit.
The structure comprises of several upright stones with a massive horizontal capstone forming a small chamber. They are thought to be chambered tombs or portal dolmens, and date to the 3rd or 4th millennia BC. They are also found in Wales, Ireland and Brittany. This one is particularly special as it is the only one in Cornwall that still has the capstone in situ (others have been re-settled).
We didn’t carry on up to the ruined castle, but returned the way we had come. Leaving the castle for another day’s exploration.
If you enjoy a walk, long or short, then have a look at Jo’s site where you are welcome to join in.