Sunday 3 May 2015

Wild Cornwall

Scenes from a wild and wet out-of-season Cornwall last month ...

Minack, the open air theatre carved into the rocks and perched spectacularly on the cliff tops overlooking Porthcurno Bay is just a short drive from Lands End.

Despite or maybe because of the thick mist this place and bit of coastline was astonishing, though I may have become a tad obsessed with Cornwall's history of smuggling and pirates from watching BBC One's Poldark.

There was a detour to the quaintly named Mousehole (quaintly pronounced Mowzel) to track down Dolly Pentreath's tombstone.

This fish wife of Mousehole was the last monolingual native speaker of Cornish, and when she died in 1777 the language essentially died with her, "the peculiar language of this county from the earliest records till it expired in the eighteenth century in this parish of Saint Paul". (Actually her status as last speaker is disputed, and the language is undergoing attempts at revival, but I'm not inclined to quibble - I'm all in favour of tombstones to dying languages).

Also on the south Cornish coast, Trelissick gardens near Truro are set on a peninsula with fabulous sea and estuary views on each side.

Cornwall's closeness to the Gulf Stream makes it Britain's only sub-tropical region with its own micro-climate, and Trelissick is only one of a number of botanical gardens including the wonderfully named Lost Gardens of Heligan.

Rhododendrons are the big thing at Trelissick, many of them grown to massive heights.

From Trelissick the King Harry ferry was definitely the most unusual and scenic way to travel across the estuary that divides Truro from St Mawes ...

to reach St Just in Roseland where there is possibly the prettiest cemetery I've ever seen, around a 13C church on the edge of the estuary

Cornwall south coast April 2015

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