Down the Cot Valley

Another drive (or walk if you are so inclined) from St Just is down the Cot Valley following the Cot stream to the shore at Porth Nanven. Once this area was crowded with tin-dressing floors, stamps, settling tanks, reservoirs and wheel-pits. Now long abandoned and overgrown, it can make walking off track somewhat dangerous. The road is very narrow so take it slowly and there is a small car-park at the end.


Porth Nanven is unusual in that the cliffs are formed from rounded boulders of an ancient raised beach, formed in the last ice-age. It is illegal to remove any stone from this location, though many might crave a few for their rockery.


The valley itself is a sheltered microclimate with a trout stream meandering down to the coast. Sycamores, oaks, willow, elder, ash and young elm trees flourish here though several years ago the valley was being choked by Japanese knotweed which was eradicated with hard work by the National Trust. As you near the sea the vegetation changes to maritime plants – Danish scurvy-grass, thrift, stitchwort, kidney vetch and sea campion with small blue butterflies and six-spot burnet moths in abundance. High on the opposite valley bank you can still see the lines of the leats that took the water down to the cliff-top mines.

The Brisons

Someone had thoughtfully placed a bench at the end of the road, where the land meets the water. You can sit and look at the extraordinary colours of that sea, the cliffs, the flowers and the butterflies. It was sheltered from the wind here which made it very pleasant.

Smooth boulders
The bench

Climbing up to the top of the south bank for a look towards Land’s End was a bit of a hike; scrambling back down was a complete loss of dignity as I was practically on my behind. [Note to self: Always take the walking pole even if it does make taking photos awkward.]


But the views were good.

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.

60 thoughts on “Down the Cot Valley”

    1. It is. At least it is out of the school holidays. Not sure how busy it gets along this part. I suspect most families head for the big sandy beaches at Sennen Cove.

  1. You have managed to make the UK look like somewhere in the Mediterranean Jude. (Or you were exceptionally lucky with the weather!) Great shots, as usual, and I especially like the ‘smooth boulders’ one.
    Regards as always, Pete. x

    1. So peaceful down here Pete. I could have sat for hours watching the butterflies, the waves, pootling around the remains of the mines.

  2. Love the bit about loss of dignity….get yourself a collapsible walking pole, then you can have it in a small rucksack until you need it!

    1. The thing is I do have one, but it was in the car. And I find poles get in the way when you carry a camera. But I have learned my lesson.

  3. You certainly had the most perfect weather Jude. And thanks for the name of the moth, I’ve seen them a lot around here on our walks, but didn’t know what they were! I had to look closely for the bench, what a perfect spot to sit and drink in the spectacular views. I’m Cornwall obsessed at the moment, planning a trip to St Ives as soon as, at long last – yippee!! – and also at long last, catching up with Poldark. Even with TV, I’m way behind 🙂 Another beautiful post and photos Jude…and I’m so glad I’m not the only one with rather undignified tumbles 😉 🙂 xx

    1. Ah, Sherri, I shall look forward to your St Ives post (and pictures). You must take some from the top of the Tate (it is free to enter, you only have to pay if you want to go into the exhibition) and join Gilly and I in our ‘St Ives roofs’ posts 🙂

      It is certainly the weather to watch Poldark! Very murky here today – what has happened to summer? Last week I was sitting in the sun reading a book before coming indoors to watch Wimbledon with my bowl of strawberries and glass of Pimms and now… Pff! Gone!

      1. Would love to, thanks Jude, I’ll definitely look out for the top of the Tate, thanks 🙂
        Oh that sounds heavenly! I do hope that we get a return to those balmy, summer days before too long. A bit sunnier today, but intermittent…

        1. Sun shining here now, but the morning was cloudy and grey. Be nice for a few weeks to be consistently sunny and warm!

  4. Piff gone, indeed! 🙂 Don’t we like to moan! I bet you enjoyed it while it lasted.
    What a deliciously rugged bit of Cornwall you’ve found yourself, Jude, poles or not! That header photo is sumptuous (and that’s not a word I use often 🙂 ) This is almost an educational post. (I accused Klausbend of that the other day and he was affronted at the thought of being a teacher with mortar board 🙂 ) At last I get to see thrift up close so I know which one it is. Your flower names trip off the tongue and I’m clueless. And what, pray tell is a ‘leat’ – the runnel type of thing? Man-made or natural, do you mean? We have some stone ones associated with the mines on our cliffs but they don’t look like this. I think we have a language barrier 🙂 🙂
    Many thanks for your lovely company.

    1. Glad you enjoyed it Jo. And yes leats are man-made channels to take the water from streams around to the tin dressing floors which needed a lot of water. Such engineering skills!

  5. Ah dignity, much over-rated! Or so I keep telling myself after every awkward scramble. (Seems pointless saying again that your Cornwall posts are lovely, so please just keep taking it as read.)

    1. I just wish my knees (and hips) worked better Anabel. They are so stiff these days! I can walk for miles on the flat, but hills and stiles are becoming an issue 😦

      1. I can’t do as well as I used to. I find having a good moan takes my mind off the discomfort but it doesn’t make me popular!

  6. It’s a glorious walk/scramble/slide Jude 🙂 , the sea looks inviting too. Are you there now? If so I hope the weather is still being kind to you, it’s been cloudy here for days.

    1. Not there now Gilly, back home, but my neighbour has just come back from Cornwall and said it was very wet there. Been the same here so I guess we are all suffering the same weather 🙂

  7. A beautiful place in a rugged sort of way. The triple photos that segue into each other are my favourite.
    Your comment about the hiking pole made me smile. Even with a pole, I’ve done my fair share of butt descents 🙂

    1. I am sure I shall do a LOT more Jo! And I really ought to have lined those triple images so that the horizon was the same in each one. Oh, well, I’ll try harder next time…

  8. Jude it looks to me like you are warming up for some Via Ferrata! Yes walking poles are always a good idea. The captures of the butterflies and moth are so beautiful.

    1. hahaha… you are so funny Sue! Actually I would have jumped (?) at the chance of doing the stuff you do, several decades ago. It wasn’t until I turned 48 and was 3/4 way up a mountain in the Grampians, Australia that I decided enough was enough (I have had rotten knee joints since my early 20s) and stopped pushing myself. Now, I’m afraid I have become a bit too timid!

      1. I have heard it said that the knees are the practical joke of the body. So sorry to hear that yours have given you so much grief over the years. I shall just have to take you with me, albeit virtually then!

        1. Yeh, we don’t have great knees in my family, my dad, my mum, my brother and my youngest son now (though to be fair his is a result of a broken knee-cap) all have/had bad joints 😦

          But I am happy to climb with you. Just make sure I am well fastened on ;-D

  9. Gorgeous blue skies, Jude. What a beautiful butterfly and moth. They’re not easy to photograph, but yours look well-trained. 🙂 I’ve never used a walking pole, but it sounds like a great idea for steep and rocky paths. I couldn’t help laughing at your description of your undignified descent. 😆

    1. Honest Sylvia, I stood at the top of that slope for ages wondering if there was another route down. There was but it was a long way round. I had jelly legs after the effort of trying to stay upright! Next time I think I’ll just slide down 😉

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