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St. Ives and Gurnard's Head

 Penzance from the Hill

Penzance from the Hill

When I arrived in St. Ives, I was taken aback by the traffic and congested streets. Somehow, I managed to find my way to a carpark at the top of a hill and get one of the last two parking spaces. The view from the ridge was quite exceptional with the windswept trees, especially as the sun lit up the town and the lighthouse in the distance, which is the one memorialized by Virginia Woolf in “To the Lighthouse.” According to legend, St. Ives was founde when St. La, the daughter of an Irish Noble, missed her boat and had to sail on a leaf. The town began as a fishing settlement and then port. It was chartered in the 13th century by King Edward I. In the 19th Century, fishing was still important and gradually it became a popular tourist destination and then a creative hub. It is still a very important tourism destination and very crowded in the summer.

 St. Ives Harbour Beach

St. Ives Harbour Beach

I have to admit I was a little overcome by all the people crammed into the streets, which you can see in the distance in the photo above. I almost turned around and headed back to the car, but the harbor drew me onward. It was low tide, so all the boats were sitting on the sand amidst the sunbathers and seagulls. It was definitely more peaceful looking back on the town from the sand. After walking around for a while, just to see what it was all about, I headed on to Gurnard’s Head, which is now in the property of the National Trust. This is looking towards the Head from the Southeast.

 Gurnard’s Head

Gurnard’s Head


Gurnard’s Head got its name from resembling the face of a Gurnard fish. Before I proceeded on the walk through the village down to this formation, I stop at the Gurnard’s Head Pub for a snack and a cider. There are so many wonderful walks in Cornwall through fields and over stiles. The wildflowers and turquoise waters made for wonderful colorful highlights. No wonder artists have always been drawn to this region.

 Wild Montbretia, Gurnard’s Head

Wild Montbretia, Gurnard’s Head

These wild Montbretia are actually non-native plants to the English Coast. It was formed in France from parents of African origin and introduced to England in the 1880s. Though it is non-native, it is still incredibly beautiful and lights up the coastline with it’s fire-like color.

 Treen Cove Near Gurnard’s Head

Treen Cove Near Gurnard’s Head

The beach in the image above was secluded and I only noticed one couple and a dog running. I wished I had known how to get down there, but I never saw any paths heading that way. Perhaps they came from one of the couple of houses I saw on the cliffs.

 View from Gurnard’s Head with Ruins and a House

View from Gurnard’s Head with Ruins and a House

The image above shows a greater expanse of the coastline, with both Treen Cove and the rockier Rose-an-Hale Cove, as well as ruins of Chapel Jane falling into the sea and a house in the distance.

 Engine House Remains at Gurnard's Head Mine with Wildflowers

Engine House Remains at Gurnard's Head Mine with Wildflowers

There are many ruins from the tin mines along the coast in Cornwall. The image above is of an engine house. They are often quite overgrown from vegetation and difficult to get to, but beautiful to see nonetheless.

Gurnard's Head with Lichen

The image above is of orange lichen covering the ruins on the summit of Gurnad’s Head. It was amazing to see how much life proliferated there in the strong winds. while I was photographing, a storm started to roll in and I had to keep one hand on my tripod at all times or it would have blown into the sea. Near the very edge, I had difficulty remaining upright myself. Gurnard’s Head is a top destination for Megaliths and Prehistory in the world.  

 Gurnard's Head Promontory

Gurnard's Head Promontory

I processed this image of the summit in black and white to emphasize the starkness of the landscape and the ominous weather. Where these ruins were located was the furthest you could walk out onto the Head and the highest elevation.

 Gurnard’s Head , the site of the Iron Age Promonotory Fort Known as Trereen Dinas

Gurnard’s Head , the site of the Iron Age Promonotory Fort Known as Trereen Dinas

Two stone ramparts exist here that measure 60 meters long. Remains of sixteen roundhouses have also been found. It is difficult to make out what all the remains are but evident that there are man-made ruins in the landscape.

 Gurnard’s Head Ruins

Gurnard’s Head Ruins

Now, with the passage of time and the elements, it is difficult to tell what are ruins and what are rocks, except where big slabs can be seen. Vegetation and lichen have taken hold of everything, man-made or natural, and life continues.

 Gurnard's Head Ruins and Coastline.jpg

Gurnard's Head Ruins and Coastline.jpg

One last view of this rugged coastline steeped in history. I could have spent months walking the Cornish coast and still not taken it all in.