Thursday, 1 March 2012

Instagraming around Cornwall

I took my dogs to the beach yesterday and ended up making a spontaneous visit to Porthcurno, Porthgwarra and St Levan, partly as research for the book that my Mum and I are trying to put together. Without my camera, I took some hipster photos on my phone. I love Instagram far too much. One of my favourite places was a little cave at Porthgwarra which looked like a face from the outside. It reminded me of the Gnome King in Return to Oz, only less scary. I just about managed to climb inside while wearing dress and heels, which was slightly awkward. Next time I really should plan ahead. There was a tiny window inside and now I'm desperate to find out what the caves purpose was. Maybe a shelter for fishermen or smugglers?

The cove at Porthgwarra (shown in the photos above) is famous for a rather sad ghost story, posted here courtesy of Haunted Britain.

A small path ascends from the tiny hamlet of Porthgwarra, and twists through the bracken to arrive at the windswept cliff top of Hella Point where the bleak desolation of the surroundings set the brooding backdrop for a tragic tale.

A local farmers daughter named Nancy fell in love with sailor called William. The relationship, however, was frowned upon by the girls parents and they forbade her to meet with him again.

But, shortly before her lover was due to rejoin his ship, the two managed a clandestine meeting in the pretty weave lashed cove at Porthgwarra, which ever after became known as "Sweethearts Cove." There the lovers pledged their undying love and vowed to meet again when William returned from his voyage.

Following their tearful farewell, Nancy would pace the headland around Hella Point gazing out across the wild ocean watching and waiting for her lovers return. But as the months rolled by their came no word of him and the poor girl sank into a deep depression. Day after day she would stand on the windswept and rugged cliff top looking seaward, and her parents and neighbours could only watch helplessly unable to help in any way.

Then, one stormy night, an old woman walking along the cliff top glanced down to the cove and saw Nancy sitting on a rock in the cove, the foaming waves breaking around her. She rushed down to warn her of the rising tide but was surprised as she approached to see a sailor sitting on the rock alongside her. As she watched, the waves lifted the tow from the rock and carried them out to sea. Nancy was never seen again and, soon after, word came that at the time the old woman had witnessed the lovers together William's ship had sunk and all on board had drowned.

It IS a sad story. The farm where Nancy lived is in Porthgwarra somewhere but with two bouncy dogs in tow, I couldn't go off wandering on the cliffs to find it. Maybe next time, without the kamikaze dogs. It's a lovely cove and though it's privately owned, there is parking nearby and the cove is open for people to swim and have picnics.

Afterwards, I went off to St Levan then which has an amazing medieval church with some rather strange stories. St Levan's Stone in the churchyard is a large stone which is split into two separate pieces. According to legend, when a pack horse can ride through St Levan’s Stone, then the world will end. Now, it's a sizeable gap, but I doubt anyone is going to fit a horse through it any time soon.

I was looking for the grave of Captain Richard Wetheral(l?) of Scilly who drowned in the shipwreck of the Aurora at Land’s End on December 18th 1811. There is a legend that those who are doomed to die within a year can hear the sound of a ship’s bell from his grave. In a way, I'm glad I didn't find it but I know I'll have to at some point as research for the book. *frightened face*

There's a photo up there somewhere of the Telegraph Museum at Porthcurno where Britain was linked with the rest of the world through the submarine communications cables in the 19th century.

So, pretty nice day really and a bit of a history lesson. The weather was lovely but it's still freezing here and I have chilblains on my toes at the moment. Keep wearing those thick socks, everyone! Learn from my mistakes.


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