St Michael's Mount

The huge Logan Stone, perched unfeasibly above Porthcurno, is a geological marvel. It used to rock at the pressure of a fingertip until a Naval officer tested it to destruction in 1824. The outcry at his vandalism resulted in him being ordered to replace it exactly as it was before at his own expense, an exercise which is said to have ruined him. Today, it’s protected from intruding fingertips.

Something weird

Visit Zennor Church to see the 15th century carved bench end showing the Mermaid of Zennor: proof of her existence? The legend says her singing lured the choir’s best singer to his doom…

Insider’s tips

Take the railway branch line from St Erth (near Hayle) to St Ives: it’s a stunning trip and a fantastic way to avoid the traffic and parking horrors of St Ives itself.

Heartlands is a free visitor attraction and World Heritage Site Gateway just off the A30 in Pool. There are 19 acres to explore with exhibitions, climb-on sculptures, gardens of real diversity, a giant adventure playscape for kids, art and craft studios and a unique café in the old carpenter’s workshop.

You’ll probably encounter Dolly Pentreath, from Mousehole, said to have been the last to speak Cornish as her native tongue. She died in 1777. You may even meet John Davey, who, unlike Dolly, spoke only Cornish, and was buried in Zennor in 1891. Ignore both stories. Cornish is still spoken today! The Gorsedh Kernow promotes the language, and holds bardic ceremonies every year, while books are published in the language and primary school children are taught the rudiments. Buy the music of North Cornwall’s The Grenaways or Looe’s The Changing Room and you’ll hear the language sung.

If you’re having a pasty or fish and chips at the seaside – and you certainly should – then watch out for the seagulls!


different Can you solve the mystery of the fogou? South of the houses at Chysauster lie the remains of a fogou – a term derived from the Cornish word for a cave. As the name implies, fogous are stone- built underground tunnels, usually with a long passage and sometimes a chamber. They are distinctive monuments found only in the far west of Cornwall – there are 15, including a famous one at Carn Euny. Most were built during the later Iron Age (about 400 BC– AD 43). But...

The original purpose of fogous is unknown. Traditionally they have been interpreted as storehouses for food or valuables, or as refuges to be used during times of conflict. Or were they burial sites? See what you think.

You’re the pits: Gwennap Pit is an open air amphitheatre, near Redruth, made famous by John Wesley, the founder of Methodism. Possibly a hollow created by mining activities, it has remarkable acoustic properties. Since 1807 it has been used for the annual Whit Monday/Spring Bank Holiday Methodist Rally.

Now owned by the Methodist Church, as well as worship on summer Sunday afternoons, the Pit is used for musical events, drama, weddings - and sponsored walks. Alongside is a Visitor Centre (1991) and the little Busveal Chapel (1836). There’s another open-air amphitheatre at St Just, the Plain-an-Gwarry.

In the pretty little church at Morvah, you may wonder why you’ll find a Swedish flag, candlesticks of Swedish glass, and a church leaflet printed in English and Swedish. It’s because the church is dedicated to St Briget of Sweden, whose cult was very popular in Britain when the church was built in the 15th century.

What was John Lavin thinking of? In Chapel Street, Penzance, you’ll find his Egyptian House, built in 1834 and used to buy, sell and exhibit minerals. It’s thought the bizarre and exotic facade was intended to emphasise the unusual nature of the business and the specimens inside – or it may have been to do with the fact that the French occupation had put Egypt in the news. Nobody knows who designed it. Today, it is owned by the Landmark Trust.

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  Cornish Visitor Guide - Spring 2017 33

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Spot the black bricks of Hayle. Black waste material from copper smelting was moulded into large bricks to which miners were given free access – therefore lots of houses in Hayle have a distinctive black shine.

Got a bad back? Visit the Men-an- Tol on the West Penwith Moors. Men-an-Tol means ‘holed stone’, and that’s what you’ll find at the centre of a mysterious prehistoric monument. An ancient superstition says that passing a child (or anyone) through the hole will cure rickets, scrofula and spinal problems. There’s one drawback. For the procedure to work, you have to be naked.

Smeaton Pier Lighthouse

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