On holiday with Ross Poldark (3)

Last time I was showing you more of the attractions at Botallack, in West Penwith, in western Cornwall:

I introduced the Crowns Mines which I called:

“the most photogenic industrial location in Cornwall.”

From the base of the stone chimney, a long sweeping path descends the cliff face. It goes down towards the Crowns Mines:

Their position is so dramatic that it attracts film crews like bees to honey. Here is a slightly different shot which includes what looks to me like the silhouette of Pan and below that, to the right, a number of faces in the rock. At least two gannets are visible flying past as just two white dots. Notice too, the croquet lawn right in the middle of the photograph:

There must be quite a few people who are frightened by the path, which is wide and flat with a substantial fence made largely of rust. To your left, there is a very, very long way to fall on to the sharp rocks below . If you do fall, though, make sure that you look to the right as views are tremendous.

These mines had tunnels which stretched under the ocean for several miles, allegedly. Equally allegedly, the miners could always hear the noise of the waves above their heads.

As you walk down, the two mines gradually grow closer. If I remember correctly, you can go safely into the right hand structure:

But the left hand tower is a very definite “No-No”. Or at least, you’ve got a very large queue of kamikaze pilots to contend with.
Still, it’s a wonderful location. The ocean is so blue and it is transparent enough for the rock platform underneath the waves to show up. Gannets are still passing by . There is one to the right of the right hand tower, just where the wall meets the ground. Again, if I remember correctly, it is impossible to climb to the top of this tower, although a door lets you in to see a very limited part of the ground floor.

This is the best shot I could get of the left hand tower.

The National Trust says that the tunnels went out under the sea just 450 yards (very roughly 450 metres), and reached 1600 feet under the seabed, an amazing depth if you think about it (very roughly 487.68 metres).

Here is a comparison of the two mines then and now. If you look very carefully, you can see a lot of similarities but many differences, some of them the effects of a hundred years’ plus of Atlantic storms:

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The path leading back up to the main group of ruins is quite steep but you’re not going to get lost with such a landmark to guide you:

How long it must have taken to quarry the stones to build this impressive edifice! It’s certainly lasted a lot longer than the men whose toil and sweat erected it:

Back at the top, among the ruins, I found some intriguing graffiti. This first one could fire at least a couple of romcoms:

And this is a full length effort, vandalised by some moron, unfortunately:

My last memory of the place will be watching a couple of retired BBC planners (click on the picture to enlarge it, and they are on the cliff edge). They are working out the cost of a modern Poldark sequel starring Jeremy Corbin as Poldark’s charismatic youngest son and Vladimir Putin as George Warleggan:


Filed under Cornwall, Film & TV, History, Humour, Literature, Personal, Politics

4 responses to “On holiday with Ross Poldark (3)

  1. I wonder how they built the towers and other structures on the edge of the cliff. Beautiful and it is really sad about vandals. It is difficult to understand their way of thinking.

    • Yes, I had wondered that myself! Perhaps the cliff was further back a hundred years ago, although it is worth making the point that the particular rocks in Cornwall are basalts and granites so they are all extremely hard and capable of bearing a great deal of weight.
      As for vandals, they do enormous amounts of damage in England especially when they start fires in derelict buildings. All I can say is that they must have very empty lives with no friends to be with, and with nothing positive in what they like to do.

  2. Chris Waller

    It astounds me that the Cornish tin-miners could sink shafts to that depth and extend their workings so far (and under the sea at that), given that they were mining is some of the hardest rocks in the British Isles using nothing more than picks and shovels. The working life of a Cornish miner must have been one of unimaginable hardship and unremitting terror.

    • To be fair, I think that they used to use explosives to get started but after that, as you say, it was for the most part with fairly primitive tools. Another method may have been to insert wedges into the rock and then to split it by pouring water on the wood to get it to expand.
      The strange thing, for me, is that when they left Cornwall (described in https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cornish_diaspora) they invariably used to go back to mining, albeit for gold and other precious metals not found in Cornwall.
      One final intriguing legend, recounted to me by one of the people dedicated to spreading the Cornish language, was that, as most of the departing miners spoke Cornish, they took their language with them. The belief therefore exists, that, in the most far flung mountain valleys of Chile and Argentina, there are Cornish people still speaking the language of their ancestors.

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