Sunday, August 21, 2011

The north coast of Cornwall

We left Penzance Thursday morning under cloudy skies and with a hopeful forecast of no rain. We once again headed towards the end of the peninsula and the town of St. Just. On the way there we spotted this stack. It is a remnant of the mining industry in this area.

There was a field full of heifers across the road and this inquisitive girl asked to get her picture taken. The cows and sheep have not seen a lot of bicyclists and will stare or stampede when we ride past.

North of St. Just is the Levant Mine museum site. The north coast of Cornwall had a long history of copper and tin mining. There are deposits that become exposed on the cliffs and were mined in ancient times with diggings straight into the cliff. Later on in the 1800's vertical mine shafts were drilled in the cliff and then extended out under the sea floor. The submarine complex of the Levant mine extended for a mile out from the land.

There are mine shafts all over the land like the one pictured below and the stacks were associated with steam engines that powered equipment to raise and lower men and ore.

The Levant mine was one of the largest and most successful employing 550 men in it's heyday.

The beam steam engine is enormous.

As we pedaled onward to St. Ives we enjoyed the beautiful vistas of the land meeting the sea.

As we rode we realized the south coast of the peninsula is protected and heavily wooded, but the north coast is exposed and is a totally different landscape. The north coast has a history of more shipwrecks since it is a lee shore with a north wind blowing boats onto the rocks below the cliffs. On Friday we left St. Ives and had to endure another day of glorious Cornwall coast. The Hell's Mouth was spectacular.

We ate lunch across the road and the food at the cafe was not at all in keeping with it's name.

The heather is in full bloom and creates a beautiful tapestry of color across the hills.

We have been drinking a lot of St. Austell ale since we visited the brewery. There is another large brewery in Cornwall called Skinner's. One of it's popular ales is Betty Stogs. We like Betty and were curious about her legend.

One barman said she was a prostitute. We did some further research and found out she was a wild girl who was raised by drunken parents. She got pregnant and was rushed to the altar with a local ne'er do well. She took to drinking after having the baby and didn't take care of it. So fairies came and took the child and cleaned it up. In the story, she and her husband are so scared by the loss of the baby that when they find it they give up drinking and live happily ever after. On the bottle and on the taps, Betty is represented in her dissolute state. A little further up the road were the North Cliffs.

We ended the day in St. Agnes in a B&B that was more like a boarding house. The old woman who ran it had a lot of family visiting and it was like a zoo. On Saturday we left St. Agnes in a light rain to ride the final 15 miles of our bicycle journey to Newquay. On the way there we spotted this sign and were glad we had not planned on visiting this attraction.

We have mentioned the steepness of the hills we have been cycling through so, although we did not go that way, this sign demonstrates the range of possibilities. Our European trip is coming to a close. We began our last full day of riding with a morning of rain, but then in the afternoon the weather cleared to a glorious Cornish afternoon.

Tomorrow we catch a train to Leicester and the hospitality of our friends Anne and Steadroy. Stay tuned.


mas said...

Geez Louise! Is it really the end? I can't tell you how many times I saw the archangel Michael, JUST YESTERDAY! Oh how I loved the Merry Maidens, and the Irish Lumpy Bumpy, and the stampeding cows, and the Levant Mine, and all the excellent ales, especially Betty Stoggs, that HUSSY! It has been an absolutely EPIC summer, and I thank both of you for sharing all the amazing people, places, food, drink, history and ideas with just ANYONE who happens to tune into one heck of a great blog.

Belinda and Dave, you are both incredible and incredibly LUCKY to have each other to share all these amazing adventures together and with all of us. I am super grateful for being included in all the gorgeous photos and well-written and illuminating text.

Love, mas

Dave and Belinda said...

Geepers! Mark, we really enjoy your remarks! You know, the Irish Lumpy Bumpy still sounds more like a dance to us than a desert! It was delicious though.

Well... The cycling is over but we still have that R&B music festival to go to and we'll be reporting on that. We have had a great trip and are lucky to be able to share it with wonderful friends.

Leslie said...

When are you coming home?

Dave and Belinda said...

Hi, Leslie, we will be home on Sept. 7th. We just got back to Leicester from a music festival and tomorrow Dave will pack the bikes for the airplane. Then Thursday we have hired a van to take us to a hotel near Heathrow Airport. We will have a four days to explore London and then we fly home. After such long travels we are really happy to be coming home.

Love to all.

Brenda and Ray said...

Much as we have enjoyed vicariously sharing your adventures, we have missed you even more and look forward to your return!

Dave and Belinda said...

Ray and Brenda,
Great to hear from you and we've just gotten back from camping in the rain for 4 days. We were often mentioning Big Sur during the weekend and look forward to getting home. See you soon.