14 – 15 September: Newlyn

We left St Mawes late morning to catch the tide at Lizard Point to take us to Newlyn.  We started out with very good wind, but it was south-westerly as usual which means we were close-hauled all the way. These are the prevailing winds and we’ve had them ever since we left the Solent – just as well we can sail against the wind! It was quite lumpy around the Lizard even though we gave it a wide berth – but nothing like as bad as it was when we went round the Isle of Wight.

We often see an elegant gannet resting in the water, many miles out at sea.  Do they feel lonely, I wonder?  At other times there’s a whole flock of birds resting together.  One moment you see them, the next you don’t, as the waves move them up and down.

At 2pm we sailed past Lizard Point, the most southerly point of mainland Britain!  We were too far out at sea for a good photo, but here is proof from Google maps!Screenshot_20180914-135944.png

The name “Lizard” is likely to be a corruption of the Cornish name “Lys Ardh”, meaning high court and it is purely coincidental that much of the peninsula is composed of serpentinite-bearing rock!

As we went round the Lizard we had 20 knots of wind but with an over-cautious double reef it was quite comfortable and the boat still did 7-8 knots. Once we were headed for Newlyn (at least as close as the wind would allow) the wind died and we took out both reefs, though towards the end the wind got back to 20 knots. With calmer seas, Idun can still sail quite well with no reefs with 20 knots so we went pretty fast before taking the sails down outside Penzance and motoring the rest of the way to Newlyn.  We were debating whether to anchor off Penzance, go into their harbour or whether to ask for a berth in Newlyn, but as the wind is picking up quite a bit over the weekend we decided to avoid anchoring.  Though Newlyn is very much a fishing harbour and fishing vessels get priority to yachts.  They told Dominic we could raft up to Bessie Ellen, a restored ketch on the north pier.

Sailing past St Michael’s Mount

Believe it or not but we came across Raysut the orange tanker again, anchored together with at least another 15 tankers in what can only be described as a tanker park, south east of the Lizard.  And we previously saw a few outside Falmouth, and more further up the coast. What are they doing here?   So I googled it, and find that this is indeed something our newspapers have taken up recently, and that oil traders have been criticised for parking tankers off the British Coast as they wait for petrol prices to rise.  Well I can tell you that we’ve seen it first hand!

Saturday: This turned out to be a very nice day!  I woke up early after a disturbed night with trawlers coming and going and loud generators running constantly around us.  Understandable as it is a working harbour.  We saw a yacht leaving the finger pontoon berths early, so we scooted over as soon as we could, and just before the ketch wanted to go.  That was lucky, as otherwise we would have had to raft on to one of the trawlers!

Rafted up to a ketch at the entrance to Newlyn harbour, with two trawlers right in front of us

We had planned to go to St Michael’s Mount today, but it turns out that they are closed on Saturdays.  Instead we walked along the coast road out from Newlyn.  We passed the Old Penlee RNLI boathouse and the memorial to the crew of the lifeboat Solomon Browne, who all died when going to the aid of the MV Union Star in 1981.  Heartbreaking.  We soon came to Mousehole (pronounced Mowzle), which according to my guidebook has a high proportion of second homes, hence is a bit dead in winter.  What a shame as it’s a really quaint narrow-laned village which doesn’t deserve to be abandoned.

Mousehole harbour

The Coastal Path starts up again just outside the village and we enjoyed the most strenuous but also the most enjoyable walk we’ve had so far on the Path.  It took us along breathtaking cliff paths, through Monterey Pine forest with wild growing fuchsia, over creeks and boulder patches, steeply up and sharply down.  We had lizards running across the path, seagulls galore on the rocks, and we snacked on tasty blackberries along the way. We ended up in the wonderful Lamorna Cove where we sat down for a rest, drinking in all the loveliness.

Walking the coastal path
Natural building blocks!
Cornish cottages with well-tended gardens
Admiring the view

We continued our day walking up along the Lamorna road to the B3315.  This turned out to be a really pretty wood-enclosed road, with sub-tropical plants growing all along it.  We were walking up here as there is an outstanding amount of prehistoric monuments along this road and in the fields nearby.   The Merry Maidens is a group of 19 stones positioned in a large circle.  These were once 19 pretty maidens on their way to Sunday vespers.  They were distracted by the playing of The Pipers a quarter of a mile in the distance and strayed into a field, full of high spirits to laugh and dance to their music. As a mighty thunderbolt struck, the maidens and pipers were transfixed to the spot where they now forever stand, turned to stone for the sin of dancing on The Sabbath Day. (This thunderbolt seems to have petrified fun loving maidens not only in several places in Cornwall, but also as far away as in my home environs of Halsingland in Sweden, and doubtless in many other places too!)  Or, this is a neolithic, restored granite stone circle; one of a number of ritual and mortuary features in this ceremonial landscape.  For archaeological information, here is a link to Cornwall and Scilly HER .  We also saw the remains of a neolithic or early Bronze Age entrance grave and a medieval wayside cross.  Thoroughly enjoyable!

One of The Pipers
The Merry Maidens
The Tregiffian burial chamber, showing the kerb stones in an arc, the decorated jambstone and the entrance to the burial chamber.
The Nun Careg wayside cross   The cross acted as a way marker within the parish to the church at St Buryan.
Dominic enjoying a bit of archaeology ha ha!

We took the open top bus from Merry Maidens to Penzance.  We had no particular reason for going, but thought we might as well visit.   We wandered through the town centre, looked at the harbours (and were very glad that we had decided to not enter there as we would have been quadruple rafted in a very small space!).  We walked around the Jubilee Pool at low tide, ending up on the beach where people were collecting mussels, and then took the Promenade back to Newlyn.  We were pretty tired when we got back to the boat.  25,218 steps today!

The Promenade at Penzance at low tide
The bronze statue in Newlyn of a fisherman casting his line as the boat arrives in port. It was built to honour dead fishermen, with over twenty local men having died fishing since 1980.

4 thoughts on “14 – 15 September: Newlyn

  1. Is the moral of the story, that just to be on the safe side, merry maidens shouldn’t have fun?

    Like the photo of Dominic using his back to discover ancient perturbations in the landscape!


    1. Hmmm, then they wouldn’t be very merry, I should think, if they abandoned all fun. And how do we know that being petrified for perpetuity is not fun? Though it sounds unlikely ha ha!


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