The Church of The Storms

Exploring on your own is pretty cool. As you know, my trips out in Cornwall are usually with my family in tow but recently I’ve had a tendency to wander off. I take them with me of course but then once everyone’s doing their own thing I like to slope off for a bit. See what’s about. I can use the excuse of exploring for the blog or taking photos, whatever. Really it’s just a fact that I’m curious and get a bit over excited when I discover stuff. Also I don’t sit still well for long…

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Down at Gunwalloe on Bank Holiday Monday I found myself in a little untouched world where the mind wanders to the days of smugglers and shipwrecks, pirates, treasure and dare I say Poldark. I can say Poldark. I wasn’t going to but when I went to the little cafe and ordered my latte to walk (trés civilised) the lady running the place couldn’t wait to tell me that they filmed some of the shipwreck stuff there for Poldark. Although I’m sure she tells everyone who comes, it felt like she’d let me in on a little secret. So when I stepped down on to Dollar Cove (apparently something to do with the pieces of eight or silver dollars that once washed up here from a 17th century shipwreck) to find myself alone, I got a little bit into the exploration and my imagination started to tick on at a pace. I was pretty sure for a while that if I kept my eyes peeled I’d soon be the guy on the front of The West Briton holding up a hand full of pirate treasure from the days of yore or yesteryear whichever is older.

I really was on my own on the beach. Bank Holiday Monday and as the tide had just ebbed revealing the rocky cove, when I walked past the first part of the beach there were no more footprints. I was the first to walk on the sand. This as you can imagine set me thinking that if any treasure had washed up or been revealed by the gently breaking waves it was sure to be mine. Sure enough, I did find treasure, tons of it, everywhere I looked. Sadly it wasn’t Spanish silver dollars. It was photographic gold! Well, black and white at any rate. It was a dull day with leaden skies and graphite waves so the best way to capture it (not sure what made you think of this Claire) was in approximately fifty shades of grey.

Dollar Cove is separated from Church Cove by an Iron Age hill fort of which there are many in Cornwall. I felt compelled to climb the sloping hill and with every step up I felt I was stepping back in time. It’s a strange feeling to tread in the footsteps of ancient settlers. This is a large lumpy bit of land jutting out into the sea which would have been easy to defend being surrounded by high cliffs and sea on three sides. At the base of the cliff/ fort is the fourteenth century church of St. Winwaloe which is charming.  I wandered the churchyard and read the graves which is always an interesting thing to do. There are recurring local names and memorials that mark the sad loss of life at the hands of the ocean. An atmospheric and special place, set right by the beach with just the cliff and a high sea wall to protect it from the storms and waves of the Southwest approaches. Some of the tombs have been burrowed under, I guess by rabbits, leaving holes where you can peer into the depths. I did so, preparing myself to be terrified by the sight of a coffin or skeleton. I saw nothing and blame my irrational fears on Moonfleet which we read and watched on TV as kids in the 80’s. If I had found a smugglers’ tunnel I would have felt compelled to explore it.

After the church I found myself back at Church Cove and back to Claire, Tom and Katie. They were all just where I’d left them, the kids building a pool fed by the stream and Claire stuck on a tricky puzzle. I played down the walk. Didn’t mention the time travel or the treasure hunting, my little adventure.

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