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Walking to the Merry Maidens and Pipers (or how not to do it).

Sunday 18th April dawned as bright and warm as any summer's day – the first full day of my week in Penwith. Friend and I wandered down to Penzance bus station next to the harbour with no definite plan for day. The Information Office was closed until Monday so we couldn't get a bus timetable, however, there was by chance a convention of veteran Western Greyhound green buses taking place with free bus rides across West Cornwall. We chose to hop on the bus going to the village of Paul which is situated uphill from the picturesque fishing village of Mousehole – a gentle stroll down to the harbour for the mandatory crab sandwich and a drink before setting off on the walk to the Merry Maidens.

Armed with Ian Cook's little guide book containing his hand drawn instruction of 'how to get there without a car' it all looked fairly straight forward – me leading the way we headed back uphill out of Mousehole picking up the footpath as directed. We walked through three fields apparently heading for the village of Raginnis; this is where I learnt my first important lesson about walking in hitherto unknown countryside – equip yourself with an ordinance survey map and a compass. We actually walked round in circle and came back out in Paul … doh!

Undeterred(ish), we walked diagonally across a field and came out in the peaceful hamlet of Sheffield where I asked a local resident for directions. He looked faintly amused and said we were on the right road if we were feeling energetic. So off we set again, along the B3315 – I'm not at all keen on road walking but compared to Wiltshire roads this was one was relatively quiet and passing cars slowed down to give us space. Just outside Sheffield we passed a lovely holed granite stone set just back from the road, not sure about its antiquity though.

Before too very long we found ourselves in the beautiful wooded slopes of Lamorna valley where we stopped for a bit by a peaceful, shady stream which ran over moss covered stones on its course to Lamorna Cove and the sea.

Onwards, past the turning for Lamorna Cove we came to Rosemerryn – where the Boleigh Fogou is; tentatively we made our way along the track to the main house. A truly lovely setting in the afternoon spring sunlight, the doors were wide open, dogs barking from somewhere inside the house but no one appeared to be at home – we wandered around the back (friend muttering something about the Hound of the Baskervilles) where we saw the open wood shed with axe in situ; decided to leave it for another day and ring ahead first.

Fairly soon the first Pipers menhir came into sight – we clambered over a stone stile (possibly a wall) into the field of the leaning menhir – what a spectacular view over the surrounding farmland. I left friend to light one up while I trundled off to the next field and the other menhir.

Finally, past a ploughed field with its single standing stone and onto the Merry Maidens – easily accessible for anyone with a car; for us, however, it was something of an effort so reaching it was doubly satisfying. We climbed over the first gate we came to so did not discover until our second visit later in the week that there was a bus stop outside the official entrance. The single stone just outside the circle was intriguing and it did seem as though the circle may be aligned towards the Pipers menhirs.

Friend was flagging by this time so we retreated back to Lamorna Pottery where we had earlier passed a bus stop, we made it with minutes to spare before one of the infrequent Sunday buses back to Penzance arrived. Would you believe it, an open top bus – an exhilarating ride back to Penzance with wonderful views of Newlyn harbour as the bus went down the very steep hill into Penzance – a fabulous start to the week.

PS: Thanks to 'thesweetcheat' (Alken) for all his enthusiasm and helpful information which basically was the inspiration for the trip.

tjj Posted by tjj
27th April 2010ce
Edited 27th April 2010ce

Comments (3)

Brilliant, that's exactly how to do it. It's no fun if you don't get lost at least once...

The single stone is presumably Gun Rith.

Looking forward to the rest of the week June!
thesweetcheat Posted by thesweetcheat
27th April 2010ce
Don't worry I've been lost for a long time..........................interesting stuff. drewbhoy Posted by drewbhoy
27th April 2010ce
Ah, thanks tsc (and Drew). I hadn't intended to post anything much ... to go on about having such a great time seemed a bit insensitive as I have friends who are struggling to make ends meet. It was an inexpensive holiday, costs shared with a good friend - I took my walking boots expecting it to be wet and chilly at this time of year. The fine weather did seem like amazing good luck - and the walking boots were not needed.

tjj Posted by tjj
27th April 2010ce
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