We transferred to Bojewyan, slightly north of Pendeen on Friday 5 June from Penzance. Initially we’d only booked for a one week holiday/house-hunting trip, but at the last minute I managed to find an extension. I was looking forward to exploring the coastline in this wild region of West Penwith. It has a very different character to the rest of Cornwall; it feels almost like an island. Remote villages and hamlets are strung along one of the most beautiful roads in the land between St Just and St Ives. Travelling by road is slow, tractors, trucks, German campervans, French motorhomes, sharp bends, drystone granite walls, abandoned tin mines, carns, views across the patchwork arable fields, bleak moorland, gravel lay-bys barely big enough to fit two cars in to, a maze of hidden lanes and paths and tiny trout streams trickling down to the aquamarine coloured coast.
I came here for the sunsets. Stennack cottage faces the sea, though it doesn’t actually have a sea view, for that you had to walk around the corner. It has the most comfortable bed though, an exceptionally well-equipped kitchen and a lounge complete with log-burner. It even comes with a car parking space and a cute, gravelled and paved courtyard garden, ideal for that evening glass of wine after a day out sight-seeing. For a couple seeking solitude and sunsets, walks from the door and close to a pub or two then it could be the place for you.
The road goes ever on
down from the door where it began
~ from the Lord of the Rings, Tolkien
We spent the week exploring the peninsula, travelling no further east than Marazion where I wanted to return for a bowl of the best St. Austell Bay rope grown mussels, coriander, peppers and miso at the Godolphin Arms and to re-visit the gardens of St Michael’s Mount. Many days were spent along the rugged coast – creeping slowly into Cots Valley, steeply down to Cape Cornwall; exploring Levant Mines being careful not to fall down any holes; walking down to Pendeen Watch, only to find it closed to the public and not having enough energy to continue to Portheras Cove; driving into St Ives to visit the Tate Modern and buy the hottest chilli olives ever from the Allotment Deli on Fore Street and greedily drinking in all the artwork in the many studios and galleries; popping in to St Just on what must have been the windiest day and eating sausage sandwiches at the Cook Book and not being able to resist buying several books; gasping over views of the Towans and Hayle estuary from Lelant Downs and walking the lanes around Bojewyan (bos Uyan = ‘Uyan’s dwelling’) to look for historic sites, engine houses, a sunset, a lighthouse, wild flowers, a pub which serves great curries.
The scenery takes your breath away, or rather it allows you to breathe, to be as one with the land. No fast cars, no noise pollution, just incredible views, and glimpses of the sea. All around you. A buzzard. A hawk. A gull gliding on the thermals above your head. Hedgerows full of colour, bright blue sheeps-bit, egg-yellow birds trefoil, pale pink thrift in huge drifts across the granite walls and cliff-tops. Clouds of frothy cow parsley and wild carrot. And foxgloves everywhere, great, huge banks of them backlit by the evening sun. I am enchanted by the landscape where the sea and the sky become one, a land littered with history, where the past is always present. Watching out for milestones and signposts and interesting mailboxes. Scampering up a hill just to see the view. Forever reversing into too tight spots and hearing the hedgerow whip the wing mirror as I squeeze past. A fox that appears at dusk and slinks away into the undergrowth. A setting sun to the west and a full moon rising in the east. Rows of sturdy granite-built terraced cottages in the treeless, bleak, bare, beautiful empty landscape. I yearn to spend the rest of my life here.
I hope you enjoy my portrait of West Penwith – please click on a photo in the galleries to enlarge the images.
And if you have a place that calls to you, then perhaps you would like to share it with Cathy on her new site.
79 thoughts on “Just Back From… West Penwith”
I can understand your enthusiasm for this area. Your photos are lovely. I hope the house hunting is successful.
I have never liked oysters and assumed mussels would be the same, and then when we were in Brussels my husband ordered garlic mussels at a café and I tried one. It was so delicious. I would definitely order my own dish of mussels next time.
I only like smoked oysters or baked oysters (delicious with spinach and parmesan cheese) have only ever tasted one raw and it almost made me sick!
I tried them once and never again. My husband loves them.
Gosh, Jude!! Such richness in this post. The images, the words, the places. And, oh boy, my feet itch like crazy right now!
E45 make a good itch cream 😉
Oh har de har har
Nuthin’ but a plane ticket is gonna fix this itch.
Anywhere in mind? Iron Man challenge in Peru maybe 😉
So much world, so little money.
So true! And then you get to be old like me and find you have so little time left too and less inclination to be cooped up in a tin can that flies 😦
But there are so many possibilities that are only a boat or train ride away for you! At least you’re not stuck on the bottom of the world. (Although, it must be hard to have family at the end of one of those long sardine journeys. 😦 )
But Australia has so many different areas to explore that you don’t need to go to another country. OK I concede that you don’t have the joys of another culture either. New Zealand is a short flight away, Asia not too bad. Japan. Pacific Islands… now you are giving ME wanderlust.
Very sensory writing Jude! It rains everywhere and Cornwall has more than its fair share but your passion for the area will overcome, I hope your perfect home reveals itself soon.
Gilly, you are so right about the rain. We were told when we moved here that it was wet all the time – rain coming over from the west into Wales and moving eastwards. In actual fact most times the rain passes early on and then we have a lovely day. When it is grey and miserable it is usually the same all over the country! So who knows?
What a picture you paint, Jude! How can anyone not want to live here? I might have to rent a tiny room from you 🙂 This is one of the most beautiful pieces you have ever written. I’m smitten, Jude! Take me to the Merry Maidens! 🙂
At first I thought the Merry Maidens might be named after something in Gilbert & Sullivan, perhaps from Pirates of Penzance, but when I searched online I found that that’s the popular name of a late Neolithic stone circle:
Now we’re left wondering how many merry maidens visit the Merry Maidens each year.
Ah-ha! Thanks for Googling it Steve. I haven’t had time yet. Just getting around to answering my comments after a busy day. Sounds promising 🙂
The Merry Maidens weren’t all that exciting Jo, but I shall be introducing you to a few more places in detail over the following weeks 🙂
I grew up believing that the Cornish language was extinct, but I see now from the article at
that it’s been revived and there are now a few hundred people who speak it. Have you run into any evidence of it (other than place names) in speech or writing?
I haven’t heard anyone speaking it, but it does appear to be gaining popularity. I think it looks a lot like Welsh and equally as hard to pronounce!
Here’s hoping your house hunting went well.
Thank you LD. We found a few we liked this time, so with a bit of luck… 🙂
What an absolutely wonderful week, and particularly beautiful writing. House???
Thank you, I had an amazing week, was high on the ozone! House, a possibility, but I don’t want to jinx things.
Your love of Cornwall soaks through this post Jude your descriptions and photos paint a magical place. It makes me yearn to come and visit. So I will look forward to when and if you settle there and all the places you will take us to and I will visit in cyber space…
Reading this, why would anyone want to live anywhere else! I’d be down there like a shot if I didn’t need a job. One day!
Not working has its benefits as far as where to live is concerned and OH works from home so we just need a decent WiFi connection. We are lucky.
What a beautiful post and photos of West Penwith! A great place to spend time…
It was Amy. And we had excellent weather as well so were able to do a lot of exploring.
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