Monday was another glorious sunny day. St Ives was packed with tourists enjoying the weather.
We spent most of the day mooching about St Ives, then drove out of town to the West on the B3306 to a wild camping spot Mark had found online. This turned out to be a small National Trust car park, but in the absence of any “no overnight parking” signs or anyone looking at all concerned by our presence, we stayed the night after a late afternoon walk up onto the moorland behind.
We’re now down on the very tip of Cornwall. We haven’t managed to acquire a suitable map of the UK to draw our route on yet, but you should be able to make out where we’ve been on the map below:
St Ives is on the North Coast; from there we followed the yellow road West.
Our destination on Tuesday was the Geevor Tin Mine, which is marked on the map a bit further down that same yellow road, a bit to the North of St Just.
I’d previously visited the National Trust’s Levant mine, which is literally next door. Whereas a visit to the Levant mine tells you a lot more about the history of mining in Cornwall (they even have a fully-functioning 1840s beam engine), Geevor is much more about modern mining.
The Geevor Tin Mine closed down in 1990 after the tin price crashed in the mid 1980s and the mine could no longer operate profitably (Geevor wasn’t alone in this; many tin mines around the world closed down in the same period).
Luckily, the site was bought by the local council to protect it so that it could be turned into a tourist attraction.
This is a wild bit of coastline; you can tell you’re facing straight out across the Atlantic. I still can’t get my head around the fact that the mines here extend over a mile out under the sea….
From Geevor we continued down to St Just then turned East to spend the night at Ludgvan, just North of Penzance. We’ve been spending most nights on small camp sites affiliated to the Caravan & Motorhome Club (“certified locations”) and Camping & Caravanning Club (“certificated sites”). These are what my grandparents used to call “five van sites” (they’re licensed to take a maximum of 5 motorhomes or caravans). Most of these sites are lovely. We normally only mention them if they’re particularly good or particularly bad…..
Golden Gate Camp Site was quite comical. It had poor reviews online, but it was clear to us that they’d just ticked too many boxes in their description for facilities that they technically might have but that were way poorer than anyone would expect…..
It’s a rough farmer’s field…. It promised hardstandings (which is why we booked it; given the amount of rain we’ve had in recent weeks, grass could be problematic). They didn’t mention that you had to drive down a sloping grass field (it doesn’t come out well on the photo above but the field definitely sloped downhill from the gate) to get to the “hardstanding” (which is identifiable by the slightly different grass colour!):
The camp site also promised toilets and showers (irrelevant to us but possibly a big selling point for some):
Mark went off to investigate… Apparently one of the “portaloo” cabins has an electric shower in it; the waste water just runs out onto the ground outside.
So far so good (we’re really not fussy campers). We got a bit worried later in the evening when it started raining, but the Met. Office promised it would soon stop, which it did, and that the next day would be sunny. We woke as it started raining again the next morning (weather forecast as accurate as ever…..) and took a strategic decision to leap out of bed and get out of the field while we still could…..
We made it on the second attempt……. phew! Perhaps this camp site shouldn’t be promising hardstandings……
After showers and breakfast in the layby next to the entrance to the field, we set off to Chysauster, which is on a minor road directly North of Penzance.
Chysauster Ancient Village dates back to the late 1st – late 3rd centuries AD when much of Britain was under Roman rule, though the Romans didn’t have a huge presence down in rural Cornwall.
At its height, Chysauster would have been home to 50-70 people in around ten separate dwellings. Some of the houses here are “courtyard houses”, which are only found in the far West of Cornwall and on the Scilly Isles, combining shelters for living in, storage, livestock etc around a central open courtyard.
All very interesting stuff….. though I really don’t think I’d like to live in a hut on a windswept Cornish hillside.
On Wednesday afternoon we had a look at the Lizard, the most southerly point in mainland Britain (bottom right on the zoomed-out map below).
The weather had perked up nicely as the day progressed:
We could get used to this sunshine!
In other news, Chysauster completed page 2 of Mark’s 2018 English Heritage “savings” list. We have apparently “saved” £351.20 thus far….
He’s got a way to go to reach our 2015 savings total of £823.49, but then again it’s not the middle of April yet….. Watch this space!