Down Zennor way

On a fine Saturday, with a temperature of 14 degrees at the very end of November, it would be madness to stay at home.

Under a cloudless sky, we drove to the north west coast, an area of rocky outcrops and ancient Celtic history.

Zennor, a tiny village in an area of Cornish Outstanding Natural beauty, is known for its church and its pub.

In the church of St Senara visitors can find the famous Mermaid Chair which dates from the 15th century and shows, carved on one end, a mermaid holding comb and mirror who was reputed to have enticed a local man away to live with her under the sea.

This beautiful little church is well maintained. All the pews have embroidered kneeling cushions.

Zennor Head looks out over Pendour Cove and is owned by the National Trust. The coastal path ensures wonderful views towards St Ives, 4 miles away.

Looking down towards Pendeen and the Gurnard's Head.

Next stop America.

Enormous granite rocks are typical of this area.

We lunched at the Tinners Arms, a charming unspoilt - unthemed - pub built in 1271. A log fire blazed at one end of a cosy room.

We ordered two perfect dishes: scallops with chorizo and an autumn salad of pigeon breast with tiny mushrooms and salad leaves.

We cut across country towards Penzance and stopped to look again at the Lanyon Quoit dolmen. A disused mine chimney stands on the horizon's higher ground.

The dolmen was rebuilt in the 19th century after it fell during a storm.

Lastly we stopped to admire St Michael's Mount, always fabulous in any weather. The sun was beginning to go down.

Photos (except St Michael's Mount) by Christine West

Re-discovering The Lizard Peninsula

The Lizard Peninsula, the southern-most point of Britain, is a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Most of it is composed of a rare green rock, serpentinite.

The fishing village of Coverack has a small curved harbour wall built out of the local green serpentine rock ( some of the oldest geological strata known to exist).

The beach is safe for swimming and sea sports - or for relaxing while watching younger people play.

Coverack has a small fishing fleet. Boats are moored within the arm of the harbour. This man is using a tender to reach his vessel.

There are lots of places in this pretty village where snacks and take-away food of good quality can be had. Freshly made cakes and pasties are made daily in this idyllic thatched cottage. There is a pub (named after a famous disaster at sea in the 19th century), restaurants and souvenir shops.

On Kennack Sands we looked for interesting pebbles and small examples of serpentine rock and were very pleased with our hoard.

Kynance Cove is now owned and maintained by the National Trust. It has lovely coastal walks to enjoy and white sand beaches.

Views are spectacular. The combination of serpentine rocks and pale sand attracts artists and walkers alike. It is said that it is the most photographed and painted landscape in Cornwall but we think there are other places which would claim the same. Anyway, these three areas of the Lizard Peninsula made a wonderful day out.

Photographs by Christine and Hugh West

A sculpture garden and a famous fishing village

Out and about again this week to visit a recently opened sculpture garden and one of Cornwall's best known coastal villages.

The land at Tremeneere was owned by monks until 1290. After this, the Tremeneere family owned it until the end of the 19th century, having planted woodlands which still cover the sloping valley.

St Michael's Mount can be seen from the upper reaches of the gardens.

Piles of large and small rocks are left for visitors to create their own Land Art.

My Land/Sky Art contribrution. It may last until the next rains.

A huge Minotaur, about the size of a car, made of blackened resin, dominating the hillside.

We wandered past large-scale exotic and sub-tropical plantings...

... and the more familiar pampas grass borders, sometimes known as Prince-of-Wales feathers.

With friends, we entered the Skyspace, an underground elliptical domed chamber, designed by James Turrell for viewing the sky in an entirely novel and unexpected way.

Although the best skyscapes are seen at twilight, we were impressed and delighted by the clouds passing overhead at midday.

Mousehole will forever be remembered for the tragic loss of eight of its lifeboat men in 1981 when they set out to rescue the Union Star in hurricane force winds.
The harbour houses a fleet of fishing boats.

Spanish raiders burned all of Mousehole to the ground in the 13th century, leaving only this stone-built house, once a public house, The Keigwin Arms, now a private home.

Exploring the tiny sloping streets, we noticed one of my old strawberry planters, one of hundreds I made in the early 80s. It felt like unexpectedly meeting an old friend.

Mousehole has a natural swimming pool, refreshed and refilled after each tide.

More Land Art!

There were several of these carefully balanced towers of stones on the beach below the harbour wall.

Photographs (and words) by Christine West

A walk to the Wheal Virgin mine

All mining has ceased in Cornwall but the remains of past workings can be seen everywhere. They are a reminder of the County's rich heritage and a source of pride to all.

A mine chimney stack at Wheal Virgin rises from the bleak exhausted land.

We looked down at the tailings dam which used to be filled from the mine with heavily mineral-rich water. When the water had settled, it was drained and the deposits scraped off for processing.

As the light began to leave the almost lunar scape, we hurried the dogs through the heather back to the car.

A final glimpse. The bare slopes are not without their own beauty and we return often.

Photographs by Christine and Hugh West

Tall Ships Regatta

Falmouth last hosted the Tall Ships race in 2008. This year, 50 beautiful vessels in full sail competed in the Falmouth to Royal Greenwich Tall Ships Regatta, the grandest occasion the town has seen for many a long year.

We went to see the ships at dock on Thursday, the first of this 4-day event. Falmouth's famous harbour (the third deepest natural harbour in the world) was host to 50 vessels from all over the globe. Thousands of people walked in the old streets to see musicians, stilt artists and entertainers - as well as the ships themselves waiting in the sunshine with their sails furled.

British, Dutch and Polish flags were seen.

These days, sailors use security harness before climbing to the tops of these enormously high masts. In past centuries, in heavy seas, many would have been lost without safety ropes.

Some of the crew of Dar Mlodziezy attending to sails.

The Polish ship Dar Mlodziezy was built in 1982. Her masts are over 62m (203ft) high.

The race began on Sunday afternoon at 4o'c. Here, looking towards the Lizard, the most southerly point of the United Kingdom, the ships are lined up for the starter's signal.

We were waiting on Nare Head, far from the Falmouth crowds, to see the Tall Ships pass. The Polish vessel soon overtook the rest, looking magnificent with all sails unfurled.

Photographs by Hugh and Christine West