Gribbin Head Daymark – Open for a Bird’s Eye View!

Every Sunday this summer you can enjoy what has to be one of the most outstanding views on the Cornish coast.

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The Gribbin Head Daymark is very striking. Its outline can be seen for literally miles, both inland and of course out to sea. That is after all the whole point.

The tower stands 84′ (26m) high and was constructed in 1832 by Trinity House. This historic corporation is still responsible for the majority of the lighthouses and markers that keep shipping safe around the entire coast of the UK. It was formed by Royal Charter more than 500 years by Henry VIII and its full name to this day is “The Master Wardens and Assistants of the Guild, Fraternity or Brotherhood of the Most Glorious and Undivided Trinity”.

The headland and the daymark are now owned and managed by the National Trust who open the tower to visitors a few days a year.

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This is a stunning piece of coastline with secluded coves, ancient woodland and epic views. This is also an area of Cornwall which was very familiar to the author Daphne du Maurier who lived in the derelict Menabilly House just a mile or so inland from Gribbin Head. I have walked past the stripped red and white tower many times but today was the first time I have climbed it. It is a steady 84 slate steps and a short ladder to the top.  The doorway is a bit of a squeeze but wow the view really is cracking!

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On a clear day you can see more than 40 miles along the coast. As far south as Carn Marth near Redruth and up past Rame Head and Plymouth and out to the Eddystone Lighthouse and beyond. The Daymark was built so that ships could distinguish Gribbin Head from nearby Dodman Point and St Anthony Head and therefore find safe passage into Fowey harbour.

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When I come here I usually leave my car in the Menabilly Farm field car park – they ask 50p for the whole day – leave your money in the old milk churn. Just make sure you are out of the field before they lock the gate at 9pm!DSC06032

PL24 2TN should get you there with your sat nav, just don’t drive through the gates into Menabilly Estate, keep going straight til you see the signs for the car park. From here it is about a half an hour walk, part of it up a steep hill. Alternatively if you are feeling fit you can walk from Fowey or Polkerris. There is a nice circular walk from Menabilly – Gribbin – Polkerris -Menabilly.

The Trust will be opening the tower every sunday between 2nd Jul- 10th Sept, 11am to 5pm.

 

Take a Trip to Looe Island

It seems to me that there is nothing quite as romantic as living on your own private island. Looe Island lies just one mile off the Cornish coast but feels a world away from the hustle and bustle of the busy summer seaside towns nearby.  It is home to a breath-taking range of wildlife and 2 very lucky people!

The Moonraker boat takes us the short journey from Buller Quay in East Looe to the makeshift landing point on the white shingle beach of the island. As our small party of 8 people jumps ashore we are greeted by Claire Lewis and her partner Jon Ross.  The pair have been wardens on the island for 9 years, “When the job came up in 2008 we were the lucky ones who got it” Claire laughs as she gives us a quick guide to the “dos and don’t” of the island. Continue reading

Tornado in Bodmin

There is nothing quite like a steam train! And there is no steam train quite like the Tornado! So when I had the chance to climb abroad I didn’t need to be asked twice.

The Tornado is the first steam train to be built in the UK since the 1960s, it was completed in 2009 with all new parts (apart from 3 bits) and so it actually testament to some really awesome old school British engineering. Continue reading

My Guide to Open Studios

Once a year makers all over the county open up their studios to the public. Its a rare and precious opportunity to seeing all kinds of craftspeople – potters, jewellers and painters at work and buy straight from them.

DSC03775I try and fill my life with what makes me happy – my friends, walking, writing, photography and learning something new. I want to spend my time doing as much of what I love as possible and I have to admit not having the responsibility of children allows me to do that freely!

Art (beautiful things) is also one of my loves.

Today I visited the Open Studios event at the Krowji Creative Space in Redruth.

For years I have seen the bright orange O’s in the hedgerows, not really realising what it signifies (that there is a maker nearby you can visit) but I learnt that at Krowji you visit about 50 craftspeople all in one place, without the hassle and extra cost of driving about the countryside.

I have to say I have had a really wonderful day. So many beautiful and inventive things to see it is really hard to pick which ones to talk about but these are my highlights! I particularly enjoyed the bright and bold screenprints of Paul Bawden especially when he let me have a good myself! So much fun and such a lovely man!

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Cornish Blues

Of course the traditional colours of Cornwall are black and gold (or black and white like the St Pirans flag) but there is another colour that I know resonates through our landscape. Blue.

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As I was falling to sleep last night I was thinking back over my day. It had been a glorious May day, more like the height of summer really and I had spent it taking photographs on Gwithian beach.  The sea had be ever-changing shades of deep navy blue, emerald green and turquoise and the sky, well it was just the most wonderful shade of . . . how to describe it . . . well. . . it was Cornish blue. Continue reading

Randigal Rhymes

In the back of Joseph Thomas’ book of poems entitled “Randigal Rhymes” you will find, along with a list of Cornish proverbs and charm for toothache, a glossary of Cornish words.  The first one that you should look up of course is randigal and you will find that it means “a rigmarole, a nonsensical story”.

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Joseph Thomas spent his life listening.  He listened to the stories of fishwives and tin-miners, circus performers and princes, old men and school children and what he heard inspired his writing.

Joseph almost certainly didn’t write with any expectation of publication, indeed we can only read his poems now because they were printed by subscription by his friends after his death. My copy of his book was printed in 1895 and is rather battered and bruised but you can find reprints of “Randigal Rhymes and a Glossary of Cornish Words” here.

Joseph Thomas wrote because he loved it and because he seemed to want to record the comedy, beauty and whimsy of his world. Continue reading

To the Stripple Stones

Whatever the time of year I love the moors. Whether it is in the depths of winter when the air is sharp with cold, one of those days the wind tugs at you and takes your breath away or at the height of a bright blue-skied summers day. Then its a very different place, you can hear the heat coming from the stones and the grass cracks under your feet.

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Watching the cloud shadows moving across those wide empty spaces, that is where I feel really at peace.  But of course these are not really empty spaces and each time I visit I find another new reason to go back.

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Cornish Saffron

For most people Saffron is a captivating and expensive spice which conjures up images of mysterious distant lands but for hundreds of years to the Cornish it has been a more homely than exotic ingredient.

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It is a story of much conjecture and hot debate as to when saffron first arrived in Cornwall.  There are stories of Phoenician and Roman traders from more than 2000 years ago but the more likely answer is a little later than that.  In the 14th century Cornwall had a healthy trade in tin with its Spanish neighbours, who in turn had trade routes across the globe, one theory is that saffron first arrived through them.

And this fantastic aromatic spice made its way into our Cornish cooking.  Saffron buns and saffron cake are an integral part of any cakey tea (well they always have been in my house anyway!) just as much as clotted cream.  And there is even evidence that saffron was cultivated in a few select places in Cornwall for a while – there are records of saffron fields in Launcells near Bude, Fowey, Penryn, Feock and Gerrans. Continue reading

The Propped Stone of Leskernick Hill

The connections between ancient man, the stones structures they built and the natural rulers of the skies – the sun and the moon – are overwhelming.  It seems to me impossible to understand what mattered to our ancestors without taking into account the struggle they faced with the elements and their battle to understand their often hostile world.

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On the top of Leskernick hill hidden in a little visited part of Bodmin Moor lies a simple yet wonderfully intriguing pile of stones.  This stone construction pre-dates all the others that surrounded it and there are many!   Close by you can find the remains of numerous hut circles, a stone row and 2 stone circles. Continue reading