Three cool places in one day!

It doesn’t take much imagination to realise there is something on the other side of this gate.

This is Castle Dore, an Iron Age hill fort/defended settlement (the last one 🙁 ) It is interesting for three reasons. First, it is easy to get to. You get off the bus, walk 3 minutes down the road and there’s this well-maintained gate. No trudging along muddy ditches claiming to be paths or clambering up bracken-covered hills.

Second, Dore is associated with the story of Tristan & Iseult* as the main residence of King Mark. There is the slight problem of there being no evidence of the site being inhabited beyond the Iron Age, except for a battle during the civil war in the 17th centure.

(*If you’re not familiar with the story: Iseult, an Irish princess comes to Cornwall to marry the king, Mark, but she falls in love with her nephew Tristan. Adventures ensue. Tristan dies tragically. Remember this, it will come up again.)

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Some photos of Truro

Now it’s November, I won’t have as much time to edit & upload photos. So it’ll either be less photos or less often.

For today, some pictures of Truro, the administrative centre for Cornwall. It’s a cathedral city with a population of about 20,000.

I’ll start with the cathedral because (as you might notice) it dominates the town. Everywhere you look, there’s the cathedral spires. I walk out of the door of the hotel and there’s the cathedral. OK that might be because it’s next door. It doesn’t look next door on the map but there it is.

This is the cathedral. Inside it’s pretty much the same as any other cathedral but less interesting. Maybe because it hasn’t had time to develop interestingness. It was only built in 1880. St David’s is older than that.

Except for the reredos. It is a very cool reredos.

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Island Hopping: St Mary’s, the other bit.

Today I walked up to the other other side of St Mary’s. You’ll never guess what I found! OK if you’ve been paying attention you can probably guess.

But first, another entrance grave.

From the English Heritage panel:

Innisidgen Upper Burial Chamber
There are as many as 80 prehistoric chambered tombs known on the Isles of Scilly, but this is one of the best preserved. They are generally of the form known as ‘entrance graves’, and date from the Neolithic or the early Bronze Age. The name ‘entrance grave’ may be misleading, since this type of prehistoric monument is unlikely to have been constructed solely for burial purposes. Such ‘graves’ could also have functioned as shrines or as a focus of ceremonies. . . . Although nothing has been found in this chamber, the walls revealed traces of rough clay mortar, suggesting that it was once plastered and possibly even decorated.

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Island Hopping: a day on Tresco

This is Tresco, the second largest island of Scilly. It’s about 3.5 km long so you can easily walk from the north to the south.

In the north you’ll find King Charles’ Castle, which is neither a castle nor built by, for or in the time of King Charles. It’s a 16th century fort, but it was occupied by Royalist Forces in the Civil War (a century later).

And this is Cromwell’s Castle (also not a castle), built by Parlimentarian forces after they took the island from the Royalists during the Civil War.

On a clear day you can certainly see the Isles of Scilly from here. Also on a rainy day, if slightly less then. The island to the rear is Bryher.

And that’s Tresco stretching out out before us. The southern tip looks a long way away.

Castle to Castle.

The main settled areas are in the middle of the island. To the south are the Abbey Gardens, the main attraction on the island.

Little plane!

In 1834, Augustus Smith left Hertfordshire and took up residence on the Isles of Scilly as Lord Proprietor and leaseholder of all the islands, choosing Tresco as his home… He selected a site adjacent to St Nicholas Priory – which had fallen into disrepair in the sixteenth century – to build his home. On a rocky outcrop above these ruins, Augustus Smith built his house, which he named Tresco Abbey. In addition to constructing the house, he started almost immediately creating a garden based around the priory ruins. In order to protect his early plantings from the winter gales, he built a series of walls around the garden. The garden then expanded across the south-facing hillside on a series of terraces carved from the granite subsoil.
Tresco Island


More here.

The unique Valhalla collection is situated within Tresco Abbey Garden and contains some 30 figureheads, as well as name boards and other decorative ships’ carvings from the days of sail. Over the years, many ships and lives have been lost on the rocky coasts of the Scillies and it is from shipwrecks – mostly of merchant vessels – that the collection was built up, starting in about 1840, by Augustus Smith of Tresco Abbey, ‘Lord Proprietor’ of the Islands. . . . [M]ost of the figureheads date from the middle and end of the 19th century and come from merchant sailing vessels or early steamships that were wrecked on the Isles of Scilly.
Tresco Island

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(Content Warning: contains giant millipedes)

After visiting the Maidens and friends yesterday morning, I was back on the bus by 11 am. It was a sunny day and the Land’s End Coaster that I was on went around to St Ives, where I’d been the day before but it was raining. Drenching, solid rain, and the streets were full of people dragging along bored kids and miserable dogs. It wasn’t much fun. So, with a sunny day and no plans, I thought I’d give it a second chance.

The Land End’s Coaster also stops at Land’s End. My earlier visit there was… brief. Again, it was raining and miserable. I got off one bus and caught the next on in the other direction. I felt it might be a bit better on a sunny day.

Land’s End Landmark this place calls itself. I think it’s trying to be a theme park. They have these “experiences”.

The Aardman one might actually be all right if you’re into Wallace & Gromit or Shaun the Sheep. I’m not and I didn’t feel like handing over 5.50  to find out. There are also some eating places and a very big, possibly mutli-shops, souvenir place. There’s another souvenir shop at the experience exit, with Aardman & pireate souvenirs.

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Lots of stones!

About halfway between Penzance and Land’s End by bus, you’ll find this lovely stone circle in a field.

This late Stone/early Bronze Age (2500-1500BC) stone circle is renowned for both its beauty and the stories connected to it. . . . The regularity of spacing between stones and its truly circular form make the Boleigh Merry Maidens unusual in Cornwall, however restorations in the C19th (on the orders of the land owner Lord Falmouth who wanted to avoid the fate which had befallen other nearby circles and stones, namely field clearance and their use in construction) led to some stones being put back slightly skewed. There are 19 stones in all, with a gap in the eastern section which is common to almost all British stone circles. In addition to the regular spacing, the stones were also obviously carefully chosen and positioned as they gradually diminish in size from the southwest to the northeast; this waxing and waning in size believed to mirror the cycle of the moon.
Cornwall Guide

As you can see it’s early in the morning. There’s just me and nineteen stones in a perfect circle.

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The Mine of Botallack

Yesterday the forecast was overcast in the morning with heavy rain starting around noon. I had my doubts about going all the way to the other coast to check out Botallack. Even if it wasn’t going to be raining in the morning, overcast and grey wasn’t going to be good for the photos I wanted to take. Maybe it could wait until the next day. Which seemed  a waste of my second last day here.

But “the other coast” is only 25 minutes away by bus, so I could go for a look and if necessary, come back!

It is rather cool to be sitting on a bus, doing a bit of reading, checking the map, then to look out and see these odd shaped ruins.

They don’t know when mining first started in this area. Maybe not long after people first looked at rocks and thought they could do something more useful than just banging them together, which lead to the Bronze Age. (Do you ever wonder how someone came up with the idea of melting stone to make weapons and other cool stuff? And did they call it melted stone at first?)

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St Michael’s Mount

This is the island you can see from Penzance. It’s about 5 miles around the coast and it’s a tidal island. (Yes, another.)

So it’s accessed by a causeway. I arrived early because I wanted to watch the causeway uncover. Which is really cool to watch.  You see it appearing ahead through the water, then the water pulls back and you can walk along. Then you stop and wait for more to appear.

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