Tin Coast

Having grown up in a seaside town I have a pathological aversion to anything touristy so Cornwall has never really appealed. I went on a school trip to St Ives once, and I’ve been through Cornwall lots of times to get to the Scillies, but that’s it. Hence, I hadn’t realised that there is this whole bit west of Penzance and St Ives which isn’t touristy at all, especially if you visit in October! Any of you who have enjoyed the latest Poldark TV series would recognise much of the area. Porthcurno beach and the abandoned tin mines at Bottalack were all used as locations. Last week we stayed in an old cottage, with walls a metre thick, in the middle of the Tin Coast which runs from St Just to Pendeen, so called because of its mining history. One of the mines, the Levant, extends for over a mile under the sea. The men dug out the rock but it was the hardy Bal Maidens, working on the surface in all weathers, who sorted the rocks into their useable parts.  Miners and their families came from all over the country to work in the mines but particularly from South Wales. The rows of miners’ cottages and the old Wesleyan chapels lend a Welsh Valleys flavour to the area.

We filled our week with beaches, clifftop walks, rock scrambles, fires in the log burner, hot chocolate, and board games. It was a much needed time to get away from it all. Big Dreamer and I seem to be in a constant state of self-analysis at the moment, desperately seeking ways to manage our time better so that we can prioritise the things that really matter. We go round and round in circles on it, painfully aware that our children’s childhoods are flying by but a million different competing demands pour in from every direction. 

This week the sea crashed on cliffs where Bal Maidens had smashed rocks in times gone by, only a gorse-covered field away from our front door. Squalls blew in and out, but for miles there was nothing but surging ocean. There’s something about the coast on the west side of the UK isn’t there? It’s different to looking out on the English Channel from where we are in Devon. I suppose that’s it exactly, it’s not a channel, it’s the Atlantic Ocean, wild and vast. One night I woke up, rain battering on the window. I peeked out between the curtains at the endless black of the night. I couldn’t make out a single thing beyond the window frame but I knew it was there, the wild vast ocean, making me feel small but very alive. If only I could hold on to that perspective every day.

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