Sunday June 16: Day 5 Cape Cornwall to Zennor

Miles walked: today 12.7 cumulative 70.7

This was the hardest days walking so far. Although shorter in distance, the path was much more rugged with steep ascents and descents, total ascent 1800 feet.

The breakfast room was busy as there was a tournament on with a shotgun start ( all the golfers start at the same time, split between the 18 holes). I wandered across the course, down to the Cape and starting back on the coast path. I now entered the Tin Coast which is a World Heritage Site.

the last picture shows a mine shaft, many are still open shafts, the ones on the footpath have walls round them to stop day dreaming walkers falling in!

I stopped to look at the Levant mine, owned by the National Trust where there is a working beam engine.

I mentioned that tin mine shafts tend to be vertical based on the web site cornwall-calling.co.uk. However, at Levant horizontal levels were dug out from the vertical shaft and extended out under the sea. Lots of info is present on the internet but a few interesting facts:

Tin ore is called Casserite

Women and girls worked at the mines, mainly on the surface. The women were called Bal maidens and worked with hammers and picks to break up the raw ore ( called dressing the ore). They would work at the mine from about 6am until 5pm and then return home to do the washing and cooking. Many were widows of men who had died in the mines.

Arsenic is a significant component of casserite. This was extracted by heating the ore in a furnace and condensing the arsenic on the walls of the tall chimneys. Men or children, with minimal protective clothing, would brush out the arsenic dust from the chimneys to use in dyes, medicines etc.

Mining in Cornwall started 1000-2000BC and, of course, heralded the Bronze Age, bronze being an alloy of tin an copper. Copper was also found in the tin mines.

By the way, why and how did someone first have the idea of heating stone up to extract metal?

I wondered a couple of days ago whether the mines may reopen with the increased demands for these metals in modern electronics. In researching this I read that a Canadian company is trying to raise investment to reopen the South Crofty mine.

I continued around the coast with great views. The weather became very overcast with occasional showers so not many photographic opportunities. As I approached Gurnard’s Head I could see rock climbers in the distance. They reminded me of the seabirds I saw on the cliff top a few days ago, you can just see their red helmets.

Gurnard’s Head actually looks a bit like the fish from the South-west.

I couldn’t upload a picture of the fish. If you have a good fishmonger they sometimes sell the fish. They work out quite expensive because the head is so big. They make an excellent fish stew, but remember to take the head and bones home as well to make a fish stock. Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s fish book has the recipe.

Tired and hungry I arrived at the Tinners Arms In Zennor.After 2 pints of Tinners Ale and an excellent roast beef dinner I was happy to retire to the White House next door