|18 June 2010. The perfect weather continues and West Penwith is vibrant with colour and fresh summer loveliness. G/F has a day in St Ives, while I head off to Penzance, to catch one of the little green Western Greyhound's to Drift. I have a couple of sites in mind that I haven't visited before, as they don't particularly lend themselves to walks due to their proximity to the ever-busy A30. But I decide to combine them with two Penwithian circles and see how I get on.
The bus drops me off at Drift crossroads and I have a not very enjoyable 200yds or so along the verge of the A30 itself. My objective is the pair of stones to the southwest, sometimes called The Sisters, which I've seen from the bus before but never visited. They stand in a cultivated field immediately adjacent to the A30. I'm fortunate with the timing of my visit, as the crop has obviously been recently harvested, leaving the stones clear of obstruction. Their location is on sloping ground, above and to the west of a little valley that eventually reaches the sea at Lamorna Cove, which is coincidentally my final destination for the days walk. This sloping ground allows views across the farmland to the east and round to the southwest, where St Buryan church tower is clearly visible.
These are two impressive stones, both over 2m tall. The southeast stone is the pointier of the two, with a natural crevice running diagonally across its southeast face and providing a home for snails out of the fierce sun. The northwest stone is patched with the yellow lichen that adorns many of the Brecon Beacons' stones. I'm really pleased to have finally visited this excellent pair, despite the less than ideal road-walk to get to them.
Which I now repeat in the reverse direction, back to Drift crossroads, from where a minor road takes me northwest past the blue of Drift Reservoir. The OS map marks a wayside cross in the vicinity, but I don't see it. As the sun is now pretty fierce, I don't hang around either but follow the road along as it turns westwards. I'm close to Sancreed here, a lovely little village with a quintessential granite church and a beautiful holy well, but instead I take a leafy bridleway heading south, grateful to be plunged into the shady cool. The bridleway twists and turns on its way, heading back towards the A30 again (in a car the obvious route would have been simply to take the road from Drift stones through Catchall, but it's not a good route on foot). I come out on the road, but only for one field. On the bend a stile takes me into a field planted high with cereal crop and the next of today's "firsts" – The Blind Fiddler.
This magnificent stone stands over 3m tall, one of the tallest in the peninsula. It's one of those stones that assumes an entirely different character from each angle, being very thin on the southwest/northeast faces and broad and tapering on the others. The views are somewhat restricted by hedges and trees, and apart from Sancreed Beacon
it doesn't appear to point to any other obvious prehistoric sites (I'm not sure if the Drift stones
would be visible if you removed all the intervening hedges). Great stone though.
Back on the A30, I head WSW along the verge until the turn for Boscawenoon farm appears. Right next to the farm track, the pointy bulk of Bowscawen-Un hedge stone looms. Despite its rather everyday setting, this is a huge stone. Its triangular shape wouldn't necessarily mark it out as an obvious choice for a standing stone, so perhaps it was erected here on a spot close to its natural setting.
Past the farm buildings (where I was once bitten on the bum by a goose, while G/F made her laughing escape), the tracks heads west and becomes more enclosed – not the overgrown state of a few years ago though. Anticipation builds, as it always does when approaching a circle. I wonder whether there will be anyone else there? It's three days to the solstice, when no doubt the circle will be alive with ritual of one sort or another, but I am in luck today and as I reach the wooden gate into the secluded enclosure, I see that it is empty. Fantastic! I've never been here on my own before, and never in such terrific weather. My memories of summer Boscawen are usually of either rain or hordes of weekend pagans, so this is a real treat. Julian's daughter is dead right; the quartz stone is such a draw. You may be interested to know that the central pillar provides just enough shade to escape from the midday sun if you squeeze right up under it. Time passes.
Eventually I make my way from the circle, still undisturbed by any other visitors and back though the gate to the track. My last "new" site of the day beckons – Boscawen menhir.
Situated two fields north of the Boscawen path, this tall and shapely stone stands over 2.5m tall, but is easily missed as it is out of site of the path. It does not stand straight, as the natural shape of the stone curves gently. Truthfully, it's rather phallic looking from some angles. Landscape views are even more restricted from here than from the Blind Fiddler, due to the agricultural surroundings that make up the lower areas of West Penwith.
A quick visit to the rocky outcrop of Creeg Tol, from which Boscawen circle can just be seen over the summer vegetation, then back onto the A30 for thankfully the last time. I follow the road to Trevorgans Cross, the wheel-head of a Cornish wayside cross mounted on a block next to the road. Bartinney hill dominates the skyline to the northwest from here, but I head in the opposite direction towards St Buryan. Along the road, between the A30 junction and Bunker's Hill farm, I notice a gatepost formed by an enormous megalithic slab. Given the area's proliferation of standing stones, I think this must be a pretty good bet for a former one. It would sit nicely (though less pointily) with Boscawen-Un menhir stone. Just before reaching the village Trevorgans standing stone is easily seen in a field next to the road, but I don't stop today. St Buryan is a nice village, which benefits from regular buses (including the Lands End open-topper), a good pub and several shops. It also has public toilets (handy) and a great church with a collection of wayside crosses dotted about. The church tower is an easily recognisable landmark from much of the peninsula.
I take the b-road southwest, passing Choone Cross before the busy B3315 at Boskenna Cross. (The footpath to Boscawen-Ros standing stones goes from here.) Following the road takes in Tregiffian chambered tomb, well-preserved but for the damage wrought by the road itself, and then in a field directly ahead and uphill, Merry Maidens.
The fourth of the Penwithian circles, Merry Maidens usually leaves me a bit disappointed. Its easy access makes it busy and also takes away some of the atmosphere, for me. There's no moorland walk, no secluded space, just a field next to the road. That said, the circle itself is lovely and it is very pretty. Today, there are cars parked up and a couple dowsing in the circle. I walk around the circle and renew acquaintances with it, but don't linger.
I press on to Lamorna over the footpaths and the enclosed bridleway that head down towards the valley. The Wink is shut (we've never managed to get to Lamorna when it's open) but the bus back to Penzance will soon be due. Another great Penwith day out, with the bonus of the four standing stones I haven't visited before.
Posted by thesweetcheat
29th August 2010ce
Edited 29th August 2010ce
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