Cornwall 2007 – 5

Harry’s Safari

The “experience” was to go on Harry’s Safari. Harry is a local man who takes parties of up to 8 people on a tour of the area in his van. He is a very pleasant and entertaining character with a wealth of knowledge, anecdotes and jokes to pass on to his charges. Usually I am not keen on guided tours so if I enjoyed this one that shows it was a good one.

There was a bit of field walking and a need to scramble over a couple stone stiles but apart from that the course was easy.

The first stop was at Sancreed to see the Holy Well. This well dates from ancient times but of course, the Christians came and claimed it and there are still baptism services there at certain times of year.

I went down into the well, the only member of the group to do so. There are about six stones arranged as steps leading into a small cave. The well itself resembles a shallow rectangular pool or bath of clear still water.

As you might expect, there are those who believe the water has magical and healing properties. I wondered what tea made of it would be like.

Iron Age Village

Moving on, we came to the star site of the tour, the Carn Euny Iron Age village. According to Harry, there are 40 such villages in the immediate area, most of them unexcavated and only 2 of them accessible to the public. Many are being damaged as stones are removed for modern building projects.

Carn Euny was inhabited from about 800 BC to about 800 AD. The villagers farmed but also traded copper and tin which they obtained from local rivers. According to Harry, the village has survived because it was used as a warehouse by smugglers who kept its location secret and discouraged folk from going near it.

Another stop was at the Merry Maidens, a stone circle. This consists of 19 standing stones, a commonly found number though its significance is unknown. Three larger stones, two called the Pipers and a third called the Fiddler, stand some distance away. I was not convinced by Harry’s explanation of this as a meeting and trading place. I would guess it had ritual and perhaps astronomical significance like stone circles in other places.


Many centuries ago, a tribal chieftain or other principal person had died and been provided with a stone barrow. The body had been imperfectly cremated and the ashes and cinders deposited in an urn set in the floor of the burial chamber which had been lined and roofed with massive stones. Beside the urn had been placed a large flat stone with hollows carved in it, perhaps to hold a selection of grains. What the builders could never have guessed was that in a later era the railway would come to Penzance and a road would be built to carry farming produce to the station or that the labourers digging the bed of the road with pick and shovel would discover what is now known as the Tregiffian Barrow.

Having visited and pondered upon the barrow, we were taken to the Lamorna Pottery for tea and cake in the excellent cafe.

On the way back, we stopped in a daffodil field to admire a view of Penzance and its seafront spread out below us.

Returning to our hotel, we rested and had a cup of tea before embarking on “Wednesday, Part 2”.

First call was the jeweller’s that I had had to leave yesterday to catch the bus. I ransacked their collection of silver rings without finding one that was big enough and that I liked.

We spent some time watching a daring starling that kept entering a bread shop in search of crumbs and then we took the bus to Newlyn.

Newlyn is famous for the school of painters that formed there. We found an art gallery that doubled as a cafe and ordered the Cornish cream tea we had been promising ourselves for some time.

Pizza Patio

After this there was a simple choice: return to Penzance or wait for Pizza Patio to open at 6 pm. It was now only 5pm and everything was closed. We walked to the dock and watched the antics of the gulls and then went to a nearby church. It was closed so we had to make do with the bench outside. There we sat until the restaurant opened.

Having dined, we caught a bus back to Penzance. I am writing this in the hotel while Tigger studies the various travel pamphlets she has collected during the day.


About SilverTiger

I live in Islington with my partner, "Tigger". I blog about our life and our travels, using my own photos for illustration.
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