Perranporth – Portreath (12.2 miles)
Distance from Minehead – 214.5 miles / Distance to Poole– 417.3 miles
I’ve now done 1/3 of the walk! Woo hoo! Think I’ll celebrate with a hot bath and an early night!
Today I have passed one of the most iconic image of Cornwall. Wheal Coates stands proudly on the cliff edge marking the place where the tin was once mined, with shafts extending right out and under the sea. On a sunny day people come from around the world to photograph, paint and just come and see the famous image of Cornwall’s past framing the clear blue sea and the rugged cliffs and rocks. Today was not one of those days and the endless drizzle and mist meant no one was about and there was definitely not much point in stopping to admire the view!
This whole area of Cornwall is so rich in heritage and particularly mining history. The remnants of the mining engine houses are scattered amongst the natural landscape and there are often old shafts and adits which have to be covered or fenced off to prevent people falling in. And these are deep shaft mines which mean you would fall many fathoms (some up to 250 fathoms with each fathom being 6 feet) or basically a long way down. So good at digging these mines were the Cornish that they say that if you go to any deep shaft mine around the world, right at the bottom will be a Cornish man!
But the mining boom here is now finished. The ground lies still once again and the engine houses stand empty and unused, perhaps as a stark reminder of what this part of the world has gone through in its past. They are scars if you like – evidence of something that once happened here and although the mining activity longer continues, the effects of it are still impacting the area.
Things that happen to us in life can often leave us with scars, both visible and invisible. These scars can appear to us as ugly and unwanted and perhaps our instinct is to try to get rid of them. We don’t want reminding of what has happened, what we have been through, how we have been hurt or how we no longer fit the way we used to. But perhaps we should be less ashamed of our scars and think of them more like Cornwall’s mines. Our scars remind us of what we have been through and like the closed off shafts and adits, they can remind us of the dangers we have encountered when we stray from the path. And our scars remind us of who we are, for without the kind of experiences which can cause scars, and our recovery from them, we would not be the people we are today. Cornwall is proud, and quite rightly too, of its mining heritage, despite the reality of this history being a lot harsher and more problematic than we often care to remember. Today let us be proud, and quite rightly too, of who we are and the life we have lived, despite what problems we may have encountered along the way and just as Wheal Coates stands proud and tall as a ‘scar’ on Cornwall’s landscape, I pray that you too can show your scars off with pride and truly see them as the things of great beauty they are.