Our next day had no long hike scheduled. We traveled to
, which is as
far west as we got – not far from Land's End. Ok, I'm
not a beachy person. Although St. Ives is said to be a favored seaside
vacation spot, I wasn't taken with it.
This picture was taken
as we were leaving. The tide is more-or-less in so the boats in the harbor
are afloat. This was not always the case.
This is what the harbor looked like when we first arrived. Cornwall
has quite a tide differential. It would seem to be an ideal place for
generating electricity based
on tidal changes
. At present there are numerous wind farms in Cornwall –
and quite a bit of controversy to go along with them.
The day started out rainy and windy, so we passed on the
hike and puttered around town on our own.
fled the crush in the main tourist areas to find some quiet.
There are a large number of quaint little houses in St. Ives –
of which are B&Bs.
The 15th century church is dedicated to
another unfamiliar saint. According to legend she
traveled from Ireland to Cornwall on a leaf.
Most of the church had been renovated over time.
I was struck by the detailed high-relief carving on the
ends of the pews. The central figures on each one were unique.
All the villages we visited along the Cornish coast had rescue
stations. A museum in Padstow, which we visited later, had an
exhibit on the volunteer groups that attempt to rescue sailors
and passengers from wrecked ships – sometimes losing their own
lives in result. We heard a story of one village that was abandoned when most of the men were killed attempting a rescue. The
women were unable to keep the village going on their own.
tides mean that rescue boats are kept on trailers
so that they can be taken to wherever the water happens to be when the
boat is needed.
After leaving St. Ives we visited
Blue Hills Tin Stream
a working tin producer. Cornwall has been famous for its
since at least the Bronze Age. At
present there is no large-scale mining in Cornwall because increased
competition in the late 20th century lowered prices enough to make it
uneconomical. Although prices have risen since then, the cost of re-opening
old mines is prohibitive due to flooding and other reasons.
is a small producer that makes jewelry from alluvial tin obtained using
historical methods of extraction and smelting.
Our guide is showing us the "vanning" process used to see if sand contains tin. It is not unlike panning for gold,
but the desired color is black not gold.
This water powered stamping mill
crushes the tinstone into a sand that
is separated to obtain the ore for the smelter. The hammers, which
are the vertical bars, are raised and released by fingers projecting
from the shaft. The resulting sand is washed into a separator. It made
quite a racket and we were told that at one time there would have been
several such mills active in the valley.
There are other styles of separators, but this one made the best image.
As the mixture of water, tin ore and rock sand from the mill flows down
this helical structure, the lighter (in color and density) rock is washed
to the outside while the dark tin ore stays closer to the center. The
ore is collected at the bottom of the chute and carried to the smelter.
There are several steps that may be required to produce pure tin depending
on the specific impurities found in the ore. Blue Hills is blessed with
ore that is remarkably free of impurities, but it is still a multi-stage
When the tin reaches its pure crystalline form, small slivers
of it can be bent and there is a characteristic crackling sound called
tin cry. Click this
link for a YouTube
video that illustrates it.
The Blue Hills site that we visited was in the bottom of a deep valley reached by a road that was too steep & narrow for our bus.
We got our daily exercise by first walking down and
then back up! I took this
picture of abandoned mine buildings at the top. There are very many throughout
Cornwall. The above-ground buildings housed engines
that powered pumps and mine access.
There is controversy in Cornwall over wind turbines. It is an ideal
place for them: plenty of consistent wind with easy access,
but many people are concerned about the effects on the views, about noise,
and ironically, environmental damage. Before and after
studies have shown that negative attitudes about wind farms decrease
significantly once turbines are installed and the dreaded bad effects
do not materialize.
I don't find that the turbines
are intrusive – especially as seen here. Admittedly this is only
one turbine, but that's only because I didn't get a decent picture
of a larger grouping.
Would you rather have a wind turbine or a coal-fired
power plant in your back yard? Which causes more environmental
a wind turbine or an open-pit mine? What kills more birds
– wind turbines or global warming accelerated by burning
hydrocarbons? OK, I'm off the soapbox for now.
The following day the planned hike was from Trevone to Padstow. We bailed on the hike
(again) and spent the morning putzing around the
village of Padstow with a few others of our group.
Because of the
tidal changes, Padstow has an inner harbor protected with a sea wall that keeps it at a constant water level. I expect boat owners
pay extra for this service. The down side is that they cannot access
the sea during low tide anyway. The presence of the fisherman on the boat ramp
makes me think that fish manage to find their way in during high tides
when the lock gates are opened.
The outer harbor at low tide.
are resting on the sand. The green stain on the concrete shows the height
of the tide. In order to provide regular access to the boats the dock
floats up & down with the tide. The next two pictures show the same
The tide is coming in.
At the time of our visit, the
was in the
Padstow Institute building
but it has now moved.
It includes a significant discussion
of the lifeboats and how they functioned. At St. Ives
the lifeboat was kept on a trailer. At low tide here in Padstow, there
is no way to get a boat out of the harbor. Back in the day, when a lifeboat
was needed at low tide, the crews notified local farmers who
came with their teams and wagons to haul the lifeboat overland to the
spot where the sea was most accessible. It is ironic that the first
challenge of the lifeboat crew was getting the lifeboat to the water!
Another exhibit covered the
May Day festival. There are some videos at the link. Mardi Gras eat your heart out! There are actually two 'osses –
one indicated by red and one by blue.
The high point (literally) of Padstow is
, an Elizabethan
manor and grounds. Unfortunately our timing was off and when we got
there it was not open for tours. Another couple in our group scheduled
their arrival better and was able to visit the house and gardens.
This view over Padstow rooftops shows the infamous
, for which
the ale is named, in the distance.
One Cornish style of dry-stacked
stone fence can be seen in the foreground. The stones are slate and
they are laid in vertical courses.
The local church
dedicated to St.
. The original church was built in the 12th century,
updated in the 15th, and again in the 19th centuries. It replaced
an earlier Celtic structure.
There is a surviving Celtic cross, perhaps from the 10th century, located
outside the church porch.
We frequently saw wall-mounted sundials during our travels in England,
but this is the first one that has been carefully oriented – presumably
correctly. All the others were just set up on the walls, perhaps as
decoration. None of them gave the correct time (even allowing for summer
time). Unfortunately the day was cloudy, so I couldn't tell if this
one would give the right time either, but I bet it would.
After our walk around town, the inevitable happened and we headed
for the nearest pub on Jim's recommended list. This is the
Golden Lion, the "stable"
of the Old 'Obby 'Oss discussed above. The brew? Doom Bar, of
We are a happy group of (non)hikers, from left to right: Jim, Marsha,
Jane and Susan.
In the fullness of time our hiking friends completed their walk and
made it to Padstow. By the time they arrived, so
had the bulk of the other tourists.
In the morning we had the town pretty much to ourselves, so we
didn't regret our decision.
view shows the Cornwall countryside with hedged
fields leading to the harbors and the sea (actually the Bristol Channel)
Click your "back" button to travel with us across Cornwall
to the south coast.