Saturday 4th May:
Our first full day on Idun this season and it was Cleaning Day. Dominic took charge of the outside work, in the cold, while I cleaned on the inside. And then we could unpack what we’d brought along from home and what had been packed away in airtight bags on the boat over the winter. We also went to Asda for a rather big food shop. One half of the provisions we’re getting stowed away on Idun. There are so many practical storage spaces under the floor boards.
We also tried out the new wind turbines. One of them does not seem to produce electricity, so this will need to be fixed, but we the left the other one humming away in the background.
We were both very tired in the evening, but Idun now looks like home again, which is very satisfying!
Sunday 5th May:
Today was First Aid Training Day. I’d found us a RYA training course a while back, handily situated in Falmouth. There were only three of us on the course which was actually good, as we got very personal tuition. John, our tutor, was clearly very experienced both as a trainer and as a first responder. The training was interspersed with anecdotes which explained the reality of being a first responder, both its highlights and difficulties. We covered everything from CPR and the recovery position to the many kinds of burns and the extent of your legal responsibilities as a First Aider and as Skipper. It was a full-on day with much practical training and plenty of information to mull over and absorb.
We had planned to drive to Lands End after the course, but we could see on the app that the Electric Highway charging point wasn’t working, so we didn’t feel like risking that we’d make it there and back. And to be honest, we were pretty tired after the intensity of the day, so went back to Mylor, plugged the car in, and spent the evening getting things organised and reading.
Monday 6th May:
We felt we had earned a Sightseeing Day. We first stopped off near St Michael’s Mount, which we ended up not visiting last summer, but at least we have now viewed it from every side and seen people walking along the causeway to the Mount.
Our next stop was Lands End; Penn-an-Wlas, End of Land in Cornish, and the Greeks referred to it as Belerion, The Shining Land. Now we can boast that we’ve been to the westernmost point in Cornwall and therefore in England.
The website tells us: ‘Land’s End was formed around 270 million years ago, when a mass of boiling granite forced its way through the overlying softer rocks to the surface. The result was the Land’s End Peninsula, one of four roughly circular granite domes forming the backbone of Cornwall.’
We walked along the headland down to Grebb Farm, a restored 200-year-old farmstead typical of those that once dotted this part of the Cornish coastline. There’s archaeological evidence that people have been on this site since the Mesolithic. Although it is a windy place to live, it does have a relatively mild climate so maybe it isn’t so farfetched to choose to live here.
We sat in the sunshine and just enjoyed the landscape for quite a while. It is stunningly beautiful here. We didn’t see all of the 220 species of flowering plant and 81 species of lichen, but what we enjoyed was more than enough. Try as we might, but we couldn’t see King Arthur’s mythical ‘Lost Land of Lyonesse’, but we did spot the Isles of Scilly on the horizon.
When Dominic sailed around Britain he was forced to sail very close to Lands End on the coastal side of the Longships Lighthouse, due to the currents, and he remembers this with some trepidation. There are over 130 recorded shipwrecks around Lands End.
The cliffs around Lands End are formed of two types of granite, and there’s a wealth of tin and copper between the interface of granite and softer rock. This has enticed many brave souls and raw-material-hungry rulers. Archaeological evidence indicates that Cornwall has a history of tin production dating from at least 1800 BC, and from the Bronze Age the area was an important producer of tin, which when mixed with copper forms the alloy bronze. By the 18th century Cornwall had developed into the world’s major producer of tin and copper and by the early 19th century it was the world’s most technologically advanced mining district.
We wanted to see some of this for ourselves, so we continued our journey up the coast to Botallack, which produced 14,500 tonnes of tin, 20,000 tonnes of copper ore and 1,500 tonnes of refined arsenic. It was a submarine mine, and its shafts reach 570m deep and extend nearly half a mile out to sea.
It is hard to imagine the sheer misery for those men, women, boys and ponies who worked in the mines and above ground breaking up the rock. Life expectancy was short and bronchitis, silicosis, TB and rheumatism were all common complaints for the miners. By the 1990s Cornish tin mining was no more. South Crofty was the last mine to close in 1998. The end of an era.
We ended our sightseeing day in St Ives. We had a late lunch by the harbour which was completely dried up. If we sail here, we’ll have to anchor out in the bay. We walked through the narrow streets of the old part of the town, saw plenty of art galleries dotted around, and ended up by the Coastwatch station situated high up on the promontory. A beautiful place where wonderful volunteers keep a sharp eye out for people and vessels in danger.