|Back to Cornwall again for another week, although this time I was chilling out much more and not undertaking long walks across moors. I even had a day in Truro, the shopping mecca of Cornwall. I was again blessed with great weather, and was confused by a campaign to vote for someone called 'Alex' on Fame Academy, who I mistook for a boy.
On the way down I only stopped at one ancient site, Blackbury Camp, just inside the Devon borders. This is a great spot to stop off and wander around a hill fort. The car park was being used by lorries to take sheep away (presumably to slaughter); one escapee was a few metres down the road when I left but seemed paralysed with confusion about what to do next!
Blackbury Castle / Camp - 27.9.2003
Located just to the North side of A3052 between Seaton and Sidmouth. A relatively simple way to get this English Heritage administered site is via a side road close to the junction with the B3176. However it is not actually signposted from this main road which is a pain if you don't have an OS map. If you do find this lane heading north from the main road, the site is then signposted at the next (left turn), and about 1.5 kms along this road the hillfort lies just south of this narrow lane. At the site itself it is signposted from the westerly direction, but not the easterly so you could miss it! The 1:25,000 OS map calls it Blackbury Camp. The 1:50,000 map calls it Blackbury Castle.
A small car park is located just off the easterly entrance through the large and very impressive ramparts. A board gives the following info, '"An Iron Age hillfort defended by a single bank and ditch forming a rough D-shaped enclosure. A triangular outwork or barbican was added to the South but never completed. The fort was probably occupied between the second and first centuries BC by a cattle farming community".
This is a fantastic and interesting 'hill fort' with impressive defences, and an interesting annexe on the south side. Trees also surround it, and it isn't on the actual top of the hill, but surely would have been quite an imposing structure. Despite being around 185 metres above sea level you cannot see the sea, which is blocked by one more hill to the south. Well worth a visit.
On the Sunday (28th September) I went to the coast between Perranporth and Newquay, via the almost non-existent Cubert Settlement, and the enormous Cubert Common Burrow, which given its great view to the sea may have been for an important local burial.
Cubert Round Settlement - 28th September 2003
Very little now seems to survive of this enclosure. Either that or I wasn't very observant.
The site straddles the road from the A3075 to Cubert and Holywell (about 1km from the A3075 junction), and the OS map seems to be out of date now. The blob on the south side of the road is a large agricultural barn, but a similar (although smaller) structure now also exists on the north side of the road. Both have tracks leading into them where on a quiet day you might be able to park for a short while. There doesn't really seem to be anything left of see of the enclosure, although I assume some of it still exists under the very wild overgrowth on the south side of the road, complete with old agricultural equipment.
Cubert Common Round Barrow - 28th September 2003
This massive barrow can be found on the far south edge of Cubert Common, now owned by the National Trust. It can be reached by two main means, either via the large tract of National Trust land to the west and north (which includes a discrete official and free car park reached via Treago Farm) or via the tiny lanes from Cubert, Tresean or Treworgans. These lanes bring you to a gate on the south edge of the NT land and you can actually park inside the gate, right next to the barrow, but horses have been know to damage cars.
The barrow is massive and has a great view to the sea, so may have been for an important local burial.
From either West Pentire or Holywell it is easy to wander along the cliff path and take in the cliff castles at Kelsey Head and Penhale Point. The defences of the later are most impressive, and not surprisingly the views are great. You can also search for the almost gone barrows around The Kelseys.
Kelsey Head Cliff Castle - 28th September 2003
The car parks at West Pentire both seem to be privately run because they seem to charge all day / all year around (whereas most Council owned ones are free off season / outside peak hours), but are probably still the best places to start if you come by car. If you stick to the coast path you could probably get away without a map. Otherwise you may feel more confident with one. By the by, there is a semi-signposted short cut across fields to 'Porth Joke'. The National Trust car park via Treago Farm is free, but not well signposted.
Porth Joke is not only a great name, but also had cows grazing right up the sand (and even some hoof prints in the sand - had they been out surfing??). Kelsey Head Cliff Castle is then on the next headland.
The defences are not particularly impressive but you can imagine that the site would have been quite out of the way and maybe would not have needed large ramparts. The entrance (in the middle of the V shaped ramparts) is relatively obvious if you walk long the defences.
Penhale Point Cliff Castle - 28th September 2003
Easily reached via Holywell, although the interior of the headland is littered with old mining activity, and modern god knows what (not marked on the map - seem to be some sort of telecom / electrical stuff) and signs tell you to stick to the coast path. It's worth the effort because the view in all directions is stunning, be it out to sea and Carter's Rocks, to Ligger Point to the south or towards Holywell Beach and Kelsey Head to the north. And the defences of the cliff castle are still quite impressive.
The Kelseys Barrows - 28th September 2003
The OS map shows 3 barrows dotted around 'The Kelseys', near Kelsey Head Cliff Castle
. The nearest to the cliff castle is allegedly at SW765605, but I couldn't find a trace of it. The second is visible as a low mound near the cliff edge at SW765602, and the third is at SW768600 but is pretty indistinct.
A short hop over the Crantock channel (if only I was born from the giant Bolster.....) gets you to Pentire Point East, where there are two barrows and stunning views reaching as far north as the Trevose Lighthouse, about 15km up the coast.
Pentire Point East Barrows - 28th September 2003
The area is easily reached via the dead end road through Pentire, 2kms from the A392 coming into Newquay. A car park (not free in season, but only 50p an hour) is situated where the road ends, and also has toilets. Or you could chance parking at Lewinnick Lodge Restaurant, halfway along the north slope of the headland.
Not surprisingly the views off the headland are stunning, reaching as far north as the Trevose Lighthouse, about 15km up the coast. The end of the headland is a great position for a low barrow at SW781616.
Just before you get to the carpark, there is another barrow (topped with vegetation) on the northside of the road at SW789615. Opposite houses, on the 'Pentire Pitch and Putt'.
The next day was spent in and around Penwith (Land's End) but I only managed to visit a few of the 'big' sites I had missed out previously. Carn Euny Fogou & Village was something I really wanted to visit, mainly for the fogou. I didn't get the doggy guided tour and therefore felt very left out. In fact a dog looking like a guide seemed to disappear not long after I got there - maybe I stank of poo? The fogou will blow your mind. The journey is worth it just for this. The corbelled room will shock you even if you have been in other fogous or Scottish souterrains. Forget the dodgy roof, just feel the width!
Carn Euny Settlement - 29th September 2003
With an OS map, this is pretty easy to get to, despite the tortuous journey through lanes with many blind corners. Without a map you might still just make it because the settlement is easily found once you reach Brane, which is basically a dead end settlement. It's a shame that this amazing settlement isn't a little bit better signposted from the carpark and given a separate footpath up to it because I can imagine that this could be a very muddy trek in the wrong weather, and if cows are in the fields.
There is a very small 'brown' tourist sign at Drift, alongside the sign to Sancreed. At the next main junction (at SW423291) 'Brane' is clearly signposted. Only at the next junction (with the lane to Tregonebris - SW416288) is 'Carn Euny' not signposted. As you come into Brane, there is one last 'Carn Euny' brown signpost. 300 metres after this, next to small wooded area and opposite the last house in Brane, is space for about 5 cars to park. The settlement is then about 300 metres away, up a lane, half way up the next field and then left though a small field to the settlement.
The fogou will blow your mind. The journey is worth it just for this. Although I knew it was a long fogou I wasn't sure if it was open (because the Chysauster one is so sadly neglected and buggered by English Heritage) and hadn't totally read up about it. I was happy to simply see that the south entrance was open and got my torch at the ready thinking it would be a creepy, narrow place, but soon realised that once under the lintelled south entrance (which originally wouldn't have been an entrance by the way) I could easily stand up - indeed, I later ran through the fogou and back into the corbelled room jumping up and down at the bloody size of the underground structures! The corbelled room will shock you even if you have been in other fogous or Scottish souterrains. Forget the dodgy roof, just feel the width! And look at the skill of the building work. Amazing. The main fogou passage is also a masterpiece of engineering. The creep at the southern end (believed to be originally the only entrance) is also pretty cool, although it is sensitively blocked at ground level by wooden slats.
The courtyard houses are not as impressive as Chysauster
, but nevertheless are well worth the visit as well.
Ballowall Barrow was my other must see. This will also blow your mind, and despite all the alterations that the kindly Mr Borlase did it surely would have been a magnificent sight all those years ago, whatever it actually looked like at the time.
Ballowall Barrow - 29th September 2003
From the west side of St.Just follow the 'Cape Cornwall' road past 'Cape Cornwall School'. 300 metres on, as the houses finish on the left hand side of the road, take an immediate left. This is NOT signposted (and bloody should be for a site if this importance). Follow this road into the National Trust land and you can hardly fail to spot this sublime 'barrow' on the left hand side of the road, just after an old mine chimney.
Parking is available a short distance past the barrow.
I put inverted commas on 'barrow' because this thing is so amazing that I feel there has to be a separate word for it! I have seen quite few different types of barrows and burial places in my time and this blows them all out of the water, being a mix of different sites and styles. The central dome is assumed to have been significantly bigger before, and with its strange thick collar all around it surely would have been a magnificent sight all those years ago, whatever it actually looked like at the time.
The entrance grave on the outside is clearly visible, as is a cist directly on the other side of the 'outer collar', and another cist at the other side of the central dome. There is also a strange alcove and pit on the east side. This was built by Borlase as a viewing pit; a sort of 'show pit'. Read the English Heritage listing for the barrow via the internet link below to try to fathom out all of this (I could just follow it, but a diagram would have been useful).
Walking between the outer collar and central dome is a fantastic experience as your senses are surrounded by the ancient equivalent of the art of dry stone walling (although some of it is Borlase's work).
On the way to Truro the next day I tried to find something I spotted on the map, a small settlement next to Callestick Cyder Farm; and failed. I love Cornwall but it does have more than its fair share of ultra cheesy touristy places, and this place must be the equivalent of Gorgonzola. It really is awful, and the cider isn't even that good.
Callestick Settlement - 30th September 2003
Marked on the 1:25,000 OS map as a small round settlement. The map suggests it is bisected by a field boundary just to the west of the 'Callestock Cyder Farm'. However when wandering to the west of the cyder farm it seems like the one big field on the map is now two fields - the east side is the car park and some wildish land with a large earth bank as a boundary (which I first took as possibly part of the settlement but later discounted), and the west side has been made into a horse field. This means the setlement must be part of the far side of the horse field, with the other part in the next field. With the naked eye, and at a distance, I couldn't see anything to suggest the
remains of a settlement was there.
I love Cornwall but it does have more than its fair share of ultra cheesy touristy places, and this 'Cyder Farm' must be the equivalent of Gorgonzola. It really is awful, and the cider isn't even that good (and is VERY expensive for no good reason).
Far less difficult to find is the Four Burrows Cemetery. It can't really be missed and two of them stood majestic in their recently ploughed field.
'Four Burrows' Barrow cemetery - 30th September 2003
Located on either side of the A30, on the highest land in the area, these enormous barrows are impossible NOT to spot between the A30/A390/A3075 roundabout (locally called the 'Chiverton' Roundabout) and the junction of the A30 and B3284! You can either park in a small layby right next to the dead-end lane to 'Fourburrow' (not signposted), or just off the dead end lane itself.
As barrows 1 and 2 are located in the corner of fields it looks as though they are pretty much left to grow wild, whereas barrows 3 & 4 are more part of the cropped field and when I visited they were pretty neatly kept, and being famed up to the edge, making them stand out in the field (as if there size didn't make them stand out anyway!)
Posted by pure joy
5th October 2003ce
Edited 7th October 2003ce
pure joy's TMA Blog
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