A walk in the past

West Penwith. The furthest west you can go on British mainland and where you will find Land’s End. An area which was once rich in mineral wealth and is therefore riddled with mine shafts and abandoned engine houses. It is also an area rich in megalithic and archaeological sites. Fields of standing stones, stone circles, rocks with holes in the middle and a quoit or two.


Staying near the former mining village of Pendeen which lies between the sea and moorland gave me a chance to explore this wild and rugged region. The sun shone brightly every day, although the accompanying wind from the north reduced the temperature to a mere 14°C and made walks on the exposed coastline ‘interesting‘ difficult to stand up in.

Higher Bojewyan

A rather more pleasant walk was inland to find Chûn Quoit and Chûn Castle (though the castle is reduced to a heap of stones as most of it was used to pave the streets of Penzance) as much of the route was along a sheltered lane with high Cornish walls at either side.

Finding the start of the public bridleway was the first hurdle as it isn’t marked from the road, but consulting the Ordnance Survey map we had with us it appeared to start at the back of a group of houses/farm in Higher Bojewyan just around the corner from our cottage.

Hesitant, in case we were straying onto someone’s private land, we found the lane stretching towards the moors. The views towards the coast were incredible and naturally it took us a while because of all the stopping to photograph the masses of wild flowers, the views, the butterflies.

Views towards Pendeen and Bojewyan (right)
View south – engine houses with Pendeen church in the distance

Seeing a smudge on the top of the hill that resembled a mushroom we wondered whether that was the Quoit, but could see no way of getting to it. A man walking his dogs stopped to chat and we asked him if he knew the track to the Quoit. He didn’t even know about this quoit, only said that we were a long way from the Lanyon Quoit (near Madron), so we thanked him and carried on.

See the smudge in the background?

Consulting the map once again I figured that if we found the car-park off the North Road we would pick up the track which leads from it up to the quoit and the castle, and in the distance we could indeed see what appeared to be a couple of parked cars by the road-side. And a man strolling from it in our direction. I was a bit hesitant at this point, because the structure looked to be miles away, but we decided to carry on to where the path crossed the one we were on.

Permissive path – let’s hope it is the right one

At the junction there was a stile leading into a field and to where the man was still striding ahead. It hadn’t taken us long to catch up with him so we decided to follow and after another stile and another field the track led us upwards to the quoit.

Chûn Quoit

The structure comprises of several upright stones with a massive horizontal capstone forming a small chamber. They are thought to be chambered tombs or portal dolmens, and date to the 3rd or 4th millennia BC. They are also found in Wales, Ireland and Brittany. This one is particularly special as it is the only one in Cornwall that still has the capstone in situ (others have been re-settled).

We didn’t carry on up to the ruined castle, but returned the way we had come. Leaving the castle for another day’s exploration.

If you enjoy a walk, long or short, then have a look at Jo’s site where you are welcome to join in.

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I have lived in the UK for most of my life, but when young I definitely had wanderlust and even ended up living in South Africa for several years which was a wonderful experience. I now look forward to a long and leisurely retirement doing what I like most - gardening, photography, walking and travelling.

70 thoughts on “A walk in the past”

  1. I get more nostalgic for our holiday last year every time I read one of your Cornish posts! We didn’t find this quoit but visited Lanyon Quoit. I’m like you, always a bit hesitant about paths which might not be right, but John is much more gung ho and has a better sense of direction (in other words he has one) so I trot along behind and he’s usually right.

    1. We tried to find Lanyon Quoit a couple of years ago, but missed the lay-by! These things are not well signposted! We did find the Men an Tol though 🙂

      1. Yes, we visited both on the same day. We had to turn round to find Lanyon once we realise we’d gone too far – the stile is well hidden by vegetation.

        1. That was our intention, but we hit Madron and realised we’d gone too far. Is the lay-by near the tea-room on that road then?

        2. We realised well before Madron. I’ve just rechecked my guidebook and it says half a mile after Men-an-Tol. It’s barely a layby at all from what I can remember.

        3. I did, yes! Though difficult to find as there is little indication of where it is even though right next to the road. There is a post on the Cornish blog about it.

  2. What a beautiful day and a gorgeous and invigorating walk, Jude. I never knew what a quoit was before, but now I do, thanks to you! I love the fields of flowers and the lichen-covered rocks and that impossibly blue sky. This is just my kind of walk, even with the wind that threatens to knock one over! I also love that header photo. The light is fabulous. 🙂

    1. Thanks Cathy. The header was taken later that same day before sunset so the light was much more golden. That is among my favourite photos.

  3. It is a lifetime (almost) since I have been to Madron, and I never did see the Quoit. I have seen something very similar in France though. It’s amazing how little has changed in Cornwall, at least in the countryside. A lovely tour around the area Jude.
    Regards as always, Pete. x

    1. I am determined to find that quoit! We hurried to see one in Wales as the sun was setting. Now that was an impressive one, which reminds me I haven’t written about my Welsh holidays and I have some lovely castle photos.

        1. OK, OK, I know I have promised before. I shall get onto Wales once I have exhausted my Cornish posts (nearly done).

    1. There are a lot next to a road. You can drive to Levant Mine (a post will appear at some point) and walk around, plus you pass Higher Bal. The two Pendeen ones are on the road and Carn Galver is also on the road, just past Morvah. So you can access a lot of them without having to walk much at all 🙂

    1. Oh those stones! If I ever believed in time travel, those would most definitely be the portal (as was used in the Outlander series). They just sweep me off my feet into another world.

      ‘Land’s End’ is an interesting phrase. There was a time when would have thought of that as a fixed point. Now I know – realistically as land erodes and water levels rise – but in a more metaphysical sense that ‘ends’ are temporary, and ‘ends’ always bring ‘beginnings’ of something else.

      It’s blogging, and the personal connections as well as the wealth of musing material that has given me a more elastic version of how fluid we and our world really are.

      1. A very interesting thought Sammy. I have learned an awful lot since I started blogging, both from reading other’s posts and researching my own. I also get a lot out of the immensely varied comments from the deadly serious, the alternate points of views, the additional stories and the humour! I love my virtual world 🙂

    1. Those stones are NOT small – I have no idea how they lifted them – well I have some idea that they used rollers and rope pulleys, but even so it must have been extremely hard.

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