Friday, 30 April 2010


The long spell of fine settled weather has brought out long distance walkers. One morning I stop to talk to a man who tells me that his name is Inch.
Inch is making for St Ives, and carrying everything he needs for life on the coast path.
The day before he had walked from coast to coast, and back again, along the old mineral tramway that runs from Portreath to Devoran. He had spent the night on the cliffs somewhere near Portreath, and been kept awake by the cold.
He tells me about a frosty night when a woman had taken pity on him and provided a duvet to keep him warm, and about walking in Ireland where the people were very hospitable. He remarks that he did not meet any Cornish in Portreath.
Blogging is a mystery to Inch, but when I explain what I am up to he is happy to pose for a photo. He says it is not the first time he has been asked to do this.

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Making the circuit

On another glorious day I make a complete circuit. Going clockwise from Bassetts Cove into Tehidy Woods, I follow the paths through the patches of sunlight amongst the trees to emerge in the tiny hamlet of Bell Lake. A timber chalet has been erected on the edge of the woods to serve teas during the summer months; I'm suprised the planners gave permission for that.
A few yards up the road I turn right through a small gate beside a stile to take the path up across the fields back to the cliffs. As I close the gate the coconut scent of the gorse in that warm and sheltered spot is overpowering.
In the fields a buzzard overhead is being mobbed by two crows. Eventually they give up, and leave the buzzard to spiral in peace - a dark shape, wings spread, against the pure blue of the sky.
On the path back along the cliffs to the Cove I meet John Elsey who is walking from Porthtowan to Hayle.
John lives inland at Perranwell now, but still walks the coast path regularly. His suntanned face framed by shining, wavey steel-grey hair shows that he likes being outdoors.
I am unable to help John with information about tide times. He starts off again on his way to Godrevy without knowing whether he will be able to take the easy route along the beach from there to Hayle, or whether he will have to stretch his calves and his lungs on the path through the undulating dunes.

Heather Hosking

Saturday, 24 April 2010

Trevithick Day

A few entries ago I told of meeting George Wilson, secretary of the Trevithick Society, while out walking.

This morning I had forgotten that today is Camborne's annual celebration of the engineering genius of local boy, Richard Trevithick. I thought at first that the leisure centre was on fire when I arrived for my swim and saw a huge cloud billowing up from behind the building: then the steam engines came into view.

In the afternoon, I watched through a haze of smoke and steam as the procession of engines made their way down Trelawney Road, and then back up Tehidy Road - the Camborne Hill of the Cornish folk song.

Julia Goldsworthy, our local Liberal Democrat MP until a few weeks ago when the election was called, was sitting in a trailer behind the last engine, looking as if she was glad to take a rest from the campaign to be re-elected, although she did flash me a big smile.

Someone called out "Bet Gordon isn't doing this today."
"No. Poor him", Julia replied.

Heather Hosking


I forgot to say that the swifts have arrived as well. As I walk along the coast path there is a flash of white and a bird zips skywards just off the edge of the cliff, then executes a quick flip to swoop low across my path and out over the field.

Monday, 19 April 2010


I have been trying to write an article about granite, but the phrases will not flow. I imagine the words, heavy and piled on top of each other, like the massive boulders at the summit of Cornwall's tors and carns.

I give up and go out into the sunshine.

At Bassetts Cove I hear the bleating of sheep, the call of a pheasant, and the endless susurration of the sea. On a sheltered hedge the first clump of Thrift is out, and there are green shoots breaking through in the ploughed field.

I meet two stylish blonde ladies. One, from nearby Illogan, is wearing a peach- coloured hoody. The other, who has come to care for her elderly father, is in a neat black track suit. They drive off in a Jag.

By the time I reach the granite gate post at the entrance to Tehidy Country park I am discovering the poetry in the landscape again - even in the stone.

In the woods the ground is covered with celandines, primroses and the blind spikes of bluebells. A grey and brown buzzard glides, at head height, through the moss-wrapped, sun-dappled trees.

Heather Hosking

Thursday, 15 April 2010

Brilliant day

I was back at Godrevy today - walking through the sand dunes at the back of the beach that curves away towards Carbis Bay and St Ives. The colours were so perfect that only cliches could do them justice: blue sea, blue sky, wispy white clouds, smooth beige sand, white foam-tipped waves.
In one of my classes at Uni College Falmouth a tutor showed a slide to illustrate a point being made. It was a picture of a cove in Cornwall and the sea was invitingly blue. "The sea doesn't look like that very often," the tutor said. I don't agree - nor, I think, did John Miller.

Heather Hosking

Tuesday, 13 April 2010


They're back, and if you look hard enough you'll see there's one in this picture. Sorry -it's the best I could do.

Heather Hosking

Monday, 12 April 2010

Signs of spring

It is a three peg day:the northerly wind is strong enough to make the washing whip backwards and forwards on the line, but the sun is out, and at the start of the walk there is a cellophane haze of heat over the field next to my parking place. The soil is so recently flattened and rolled that there is not even a hint as yet of green shoots; just earth and stone.

The wind-blasted shrubs amongst the gorse are struggling into life: I see catkins and, on the ground, violets and primroses.

The man sitting in the sunshine on the low wooden bench at the cliff edge just beyond the kissing gate is George Wilson. He is wearing a navy and beige Pringle jumper, and has a head of thick white hair -the wind plays with it - a white moustache and a Scottish lilt to his voice although he left Scotland in 1953. He has walked down to the coast path from his home on what was once part of the parkland of the Bassett family mansion house.

I tell George I am writing an "internet diary" thinking he may not be interested in computers and blogging. I feel a little foolish when I discover that George is an engineer who has used computers most of his working life, and owns an Apple Mac. These days he is the secretary of the Trevithick Society. The Society, named after the celebrated Cornish engineer and Camborne man Richard Trevithick (1771-1833), exists to preserve and study Cornwall's industrial past.When we finish talking I leave George sitting on the bench surveying the silvered surface of the sea.

Heather Hosking

Thursday, 8 April 2010

Hell's Mouth

After yet more rain, a glorious spring day. I walk a section of the coast path a bit further south than my usual route, but not as far south as Godrevy. My main reason for choosing this area is not the unbelieveably turquoise sea or the razorbills, fulmars and kittiwakes nesting on ledges on the cliffs but that I shall pass the cafe at Hell's Mouth and shall be able to indulge in a cream tea. Hell's Mouth lives up to its name by being a popular suicide spot and the scene of a shipwreck at night a few years ago when a member of the crew drowned in the boiling, black sea when he fell out of the strop lifting him into the rescue helicopter. Some of the jagged metal remains of the ship are still visible at times. Do the tourists sitting in the sunshine outside the cafe realise what a dark place this is?

Heather Hosking

Monday, 5 April 2010

More about Godrevy Head

As I have mentioned before, Godrevy Head is at one end of the Site of Special Scientific Interest of which my walking route forms part. The information about the site gives details of the impressive array of flora and fauna that can be found there. What it does not mention are the seals which can often be seen in large numbers at Godrevy.

Yesterday, 4th April, I counted 103. This is the most I have ever seen at one time and there can't be many places where seals can be seen so easily: the cove where this group were "sunbathing" as one child called out in delight, is at the base of cliffs just yards from the National Trust car park.

An enthusiast

On another blustery March morning I encounter Ian Tellam walking in the direction of Portreath. He has a woollen hat pulled well down almost to his ginger eyebrows and rain-splattered glasses. He is carrying a wooden walking staff of the type I have not seen since I was in the Picos in northern Spain; most walkers here have been converted to carrying aluminium walking poles. We grin at each other when still a few yards apart and get into conversation as we draw level. Ian is another local person and one who walks this part of the coast a number of times each week for enjoyment. I learn from him that the starting point of my walk - Bassetts Cove - has not always been known by that name. What is now the village of Portreath was the original Bassetts Cove. The Bassett family grew wealthy from the mining industry, but, the story goes, a profligate member gambled away much of the money. What was once their mansion house in hundreds of acres of parkland and woodland, became at first a hospital, and was then converted into a number of dwellings.

Godrevy Head

My usual route does not take me as far as Godrevy Head, but it is another place where I like to walk. In Natural England's information about the SSSI that incorporates that promontory, there is mention of the Shetland ponies that graze there as a means of managing the gorse and shrub. I can tell you that they do an amazing job: where once there was a dense covering of gorse and brambles is now an expanse of moorland turf. The vegetation is so closely clipped that every lump, bump and contour of the ground is revealed: just as on a shaven head. The ponies are picturesque too, although I think their appearance can be deceptive and it is best to keep your distance.

Site of special scientific interest

Following my recent encounter with the students from Duchy College, I have been reading about the SSSI that includes the area of my walk. It runs from Godrevy Head in the south to St Agnes in the north. I did not know that 25 species of butterfly, 10 species of dragonfly and damselfly and the largest breeding colony of kittiwakes can be found on this stretch of the coast. But I felt the peculiar pleasure (a feeling of being on the inside and with superior knowledge) that comes with finding references to places and people you know, when the peregrine, rock pippit and stonechat were mentioned. These three are my frequent companions on this walk.

Coming out of the dark

It's March and I find the enthusiasm to venture out again. There are signs that the winter - the coldest for 30 years - is coming to an end. The field next to the track down to the cliffs is newly ploughed. Acid yellow gorse stands out against the grey of the sky, the rich dark brown of the soil and the washed out colours of dead grasses.
A group of people and a dog are clustered around a man giving a talk. One of them, Nick Taylor, explains that the listeners are from Duchy College on the outskirts of Camborne and are listening to a representative of the National Trust explain the Trust's policy for management of this area which is a site of special scientific interest. I want to ask if I can stay to listen and learn more, but don't have the nerve. So I walk on.