• Rising Ground

Recently I’ve been re-reading Philip Marsden’s masterly Rising Ground.  His ability to interweave stories from his walk east-west through Cornwall, the history and significance of topography (although he does not mention Thomas Bond) and his retrieval and renovation of a derelict house upriver from Fowey is brilliant.  I have learned so much from his example as I try to confront the challenges of writing about my French walk that I finished a year ago.  So on this balmy April day I went up into the wood, and to its oldest bench looking over to Sharp Tor, with my copy of Marsden’s book as companion.

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• Amphibian

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• Stupendous Pile

The most impressive cheesewring in these ‘ere parts – to my mind at least – is not the famous one near Minions, magnificent though that is, but one that perches at the western end of Kilmar Tor, a couple of miles away.  The Cornish topographer Thomas Bond (1765-1837) described this cheesewring as a ‘stupendous pile’ and called it the ‘Western Turret’.  It’s also known as ‘The Kilmarth’.  More recently, rock climbers and boulderers have devised half-a-dozen routes up to its summit, one called ‘Western Turret’ and others with five fantastic names to match: ‘Avoidance’, ‘Special Llama’, ‘Light Trip Fandangle’, ‘Two Slaps No Fly’ and ‘Sleepy Hollow’.  Only the brave would attempt these routes, especially on a fiercely windy day like today.  I’ve never seen anyone on them.  There is a terrific guide for those who are tempted to do so, or even for a passive reader like me: Barnaby Carver & Sean Hawken, Cheesewring and South East Cornwall: A Climbers’ Guide (St Ives Printing & Publishing Company, 1998, rev. 2012).


This ‘stupendous pile’ leans both to the north and to the west and its distinctive profile is visible from afar, from the SE clockwise round to the NE.  These two shots – a bit dark, but so was the light – are taken from the east, where a walk along the full spine takes several hours.  What is remarkable, at least to a layman like myself, is how it stays upright.  When you approach more closely, you can see that to the left of the turret (the south side) a whole slew of supporting cheesewrings has sheered off, leaving the rest perilously balanced.  But you can just about work out that the central gravitational line is sufficiently to the right to support the whole turret.  It still looks as if one push might topple it to the left or to the right, but it’s obviously more sturdy than that.  At least, I hope it is.

Sometime I must go up and take a more revealing set of photographs.


St Michael’s Mount & St Ives

I’m on a little trip west.  It was overcast, to say the least, but St Michael’s Mount looks impressive in any weather and the wind and wet did not seem to deter a surfing class on Portmeor Beach in St Ives.

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• Old Wellies, New Wellies

I’ve had my old pair of black Dunlop wells for decades, but one of them has split its sole so is useless in wet weather.  I’ve no wish to go down the green wellie route, so I ordered the closest new black wellies that I could find, again from Dunlop.  How standards have dropped.  They may be a tad taller, but the legs are feebler and less robust.  Worse still, the heels and soles are not a patch on their predecessors’ – they’re so thin that I can feel every stone that I walk over.  I might as well be wearing flip-flops with leggings.

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• Licks

In winter, the animals still on the moor (ponies and sheep mainly , but also cows) lack certain minerals, so the farmer puts out ‘licks’.  They’re obviously extremely tasty.  The ponies share and share alike.  The sheep are not beyond shoving others aside and are more watchful and proprietorial, especially when the licks are put into a cage designed for sheep access only.  It’s only one at a time, leaving the others to position themselves for their turns.
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• Trewortha Bunny

Trewortha Tor, north of Kilmar, has more than its fir share of interestingly shaped rocks and boulder formations.  One of my favourites is what I call the ‘Trewortha Bunny’.  Others see an elephant head…

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• Pond on the Moor

Between Bearah and Kilmar Tors there is a watering hole that never dries up.  Here it is a few days before Christmas, looking north-west.

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• Admiral Carving Beech

What a glorious day.  A hike up to Sharp Tor, where a Red Admiral was basking.  Then the sun was at a good angle to catch the letters and numbers of boundary rock ’12’, ‘RIL’, ‘1846’ (see post from 27 April 2013).  And the leaves of the beech trees lower down glowed golden.

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• Kayak, St Ives

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