Mousehole to Lamorna: on the South West Coast Path

by frankbeswick

Walking from Mousehole to Lamorna Cove is a lovely, if sometimes challenging walk.

The South West Coast Path skirts the coasts of the counties of Devon and Cornwall.At times it runs on roads, at others on tracks suitable for horses and cycles, but there are places where the path journeys through rougher scenery where only walkers can tread. One of these is the path to Lamorna, a small, but interrnationally well-known coastal village, whose name became linked to the Lamorna Group of artists, who were inspired by the beauties of Cornwall, Maureen and I did this route one day in Spring 2018, and though there were difficult spots, it was a great day's walking.

Picture above shows a cafe near Lamorna harbour

From Mousehole

Yes, there really is a village called Mousehole, pronounced Mousle, situated near Newlyn and Penzance on Cornwall's rugged and beautiful southern shore. The village, which you can see in the picture below, is composed of cottages, some of which are more spacious than first impressions might suggest. We stayed in a cottage belonging to in-laws, which was situated on the street above the shore. Like much of the town it was  constructed of granite quarried locally. We went to bed at night to  the sound of rolling waves, and were awoken by sea birds a-calling; and the coast path was very near.

We began with a steep walk up roads to the west of the village, which soon straightened out and went at quite an easy  gradient above the sea below. The route made for  safe walking, as we were not walking along cliffs, but above rough, sloping ground that descended to the surf-pounded rocky shore about a hundred and fifty feet below. What was impressive was nature's silence, the state in which  sound is an interruption to tranquility of the natural world, where only winds, waves and seabirds make their  sonic impact.In natural silence like this there is no noise [noise defined as unwanted sound] for every natural sound has its place and you find yourself welcoming it, be it the sighing of the wind, the squawk of a gull, or the low sound of waves beaking on the shore below. 

The plant life was coastal scrub, a profusion of bramble [blackberry] western gorse whose yellow flowers bless us with brightness, though we avoid their thorns.  There were remnants of hedges from times when the agriculture was  practised on those cliffs,. You can tell eighteenth century hedges, for they are composed of lines of hawthorn which have grown into tall,untended plants, but other species were lacking as they had died out in the neglected hedges. There was also a profusion of wild three-cornered garlic.Known for its stem which is triangular in section, it is classed as an invasive weed, especially in the South West, where conditions are favourable for it, but its white flowers are beautiiful and its stem and bulb are  edible. Some people want it eradicated; some enjoy it ; and others eat it. I am on the side of the eaters  and enjoyers. 

In a wet Spring the path becomes challenging at places, for it could be muddy at places. Moreover, walkers have to scramble over large rocks and at places through a stream. As a robust sixty seven I was still capable of handlling this passage, but I think that people much older than I would have had difficulties. 

You come to an area of woodland, called Kemyal Crease, where the path becomes wider and easier underfoot, going downhill, towards the headland Carn Du [Black Cairn] where the path turns north towards Lamorna, where it passes along rocky terrain quite narrow at one place, though safe as it descends to Lamorna Cove, finishing on an easy stretch that takes you into the village, which is the natural place  to take a break. 

Mousehole

Mousehole
Mousehole
Lotharingia

Mousehole

View from our cottage
View from our cottage
Frank Beswick

Lamorna

This is a traditional fishing port  from which now only two boats work, probably crabbers and lobster boats that profit from the crustacean bounty of those teeming waters.  The tiny harbour is home to  a number of leisure craft, some belonging to the wealthy folk who have bought up cottages in the village,a problem with all English villages. Most of the ordinary folk work in the tourist industry or commute to the nearby towns. One Lamorna woman makes a living making pies for local cafes/restaurants in the region. On another day I had a homity pie from her kitchen, a delicacy that I had never eaten before, and it was very satisfying. homity pie is a pastry base containing potato,parsley and garlic, topped with a cheese crust that melts in the cooking. I do not think that there is more to the recipe than that. 

Maureen and I stopped for lunch here. Fortunately, there were seats belonging to a cafe which seemed to be shut, and while its staff  soon arrived to open up they took no umbrage to our presence on their property. They were soon to benefit  when we bought some chocolate from them. 

The village is owned from the local inn, known as the Lamorna Wink. This strange name derives from smuggling days, when smugglers operating out of Lamorna used to wink at each other as a means of saying wordlessly that a smuggling operation was on and assistance was needed.

The route out of the village ascends steeply through woodlands. This is not the scrubby woodland with its hawthorn hedges and bramble running wild, but the woodland of a coastal valley in which well tended cottage gardens flourish.In Cornwall you find much ivy,which seems to thrive in the climate down in that southwestern region. The valley gives all the pleasure that comes from walking through a verdant wood in Spring, with its lush, abundant greenery and the profusion of new growth of self-seeded birch with its supple saplings springing heavenwards in the exuberation of arboreal youth. I spotted some magnolia trees in gardens.But the woodland is a rich diversity in which trees and gardens interact in harmony.But there were more species than I could identify or had time or opportunity to. And indeed, a walk through the woods should not be an ocasion for tick box listing of  tree species in a kind of I-spy game

The woodland conceals the small river that surges down to the sea, revealing itself only in short glimpses, rather like a coquette displaying but a little to tempt the admirer. The steep slopes of this sort but lively watercourse are rich in the woodland flora.

There is a small section of the village near the top composed of well-constructed dwellings and one or two shops. Like the rest of the dwellings that lined the road  it appeared attractive.

Lamorna Cove

Lamorna Cove
Lamorna Cove
Ian Woodcock

Maureen near Lamorna

Maureen near Lamorna
Maureen near Lamorna
Frank Beswick

In Lamorna Woods

In Lamorna Valley
In Lamorna Valley
Frank Beswick

The Return Journey

Now inland from the sea and above the woods we came to the end of the road where it intersects the main road to Penzance at a T. junction and turned eastwards towards our base. While enjoyable to walk, the coastal path had been exacting at places due to the wet ground, and we fancied an easier route. The scenery changed. Whereas we had been walking first on coastal scrub and then through woodland, we now found ourselves walking between rich, grassy fields.Cornwall is an area known for beef farming, and there was not much evidence or arable production. The walking was on undulating ground as the road surface rose and fell with the terrain. 

Eventually we saw a signpost to Mousehole and turned down a quiet and peaceful road, eventually reaching a point on the coastal path which we had passed on our journey. From then to the village was a downhill stroll. We arrived back at the cottage, muddier then when we left, and, being British, we had a cup of tea.   

Updated: 04/10/2018, frankbeswick
 
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frankbeswick on 04/09/2018

No, for we ate out at night only once. I did mention homity pie, which was tasty.That was part of a light lunch

An interesting historical detail about Mousehole. It wass destroyed by the Spanish in 1589 as revenge for the Armada,but they left the squire's house intact in honour of his bravery in fighting the attacking force when all were fleeing. He died a hero. I do not know whether that building now stands. There is also a memorial to the lifeboat crew drowned in 1981 when their boat capsized. Though from Mousehole it was known as the Penlee lifeboat

Veronica on 04/09/2018

Ty for this lovely post. I hope you two had a well-deserved rest down there over Easter.

Although I have never been to Cornwall, I have been interested in Mousehole for a long time because of the children's book based on local legend " The Mousehole Cat " . The legend is of local fisherman Tom Bawcock, his cat and stargazey pie.

Did you eat any stargazey pie last week ?

frankbeswick on 04/09/2018

Wise thoughts

blackspanielgallery on 04/09/2018

Photos cannot provide adequate coverage. A better camera will not solve capturing nature adequately, it is an impossible task. If you take many pictures to show what is there you will not finish the walk.
I recently went through a garden, and soon realized things cannot be captured by camera and get both the up close look at a single flower, and the winding flower-lined paths. Your problem would be similar, is it that tree that caught your eye or the wooded region? One building, or a row of buildings? Then, as sun and shadow change due to cloud passage the scene changed. You could stand and aim, and realize another image would yield different results just because the sun came out. Finally, when a leaf fell from a tree I realized it was futile to capture what the eye could see. Motion of falling leaves or scampering animals are fleeting, but the eye sees them. You paint well with words.

frankbeswick on 04/09/2018

I really should get myself a better camera.

dustytoes on 04/09/2018

Wow, 10 miles! That is a long walk. Thanks for the additional photos too.

frankbeswick on 04/09/2018

I have added more photographs. The walk took about five hours, including time spent eating food. The distance was ten miles.The area is very touristy, especially in Summer. We met a few people on our walk.

dustytoes on 04/09/2018

I often wish for more photos when I read your pages about hiking, but your traveling description is quite vivid. This sounds like another beautiful area to enjoy the great outdoors. Were you pretty much alone on this walk or were there others around? Is this a touristy place? How long did your walk take? Sounds like a perfect way to spend the day!

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