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davidx Saint Just - A travel report by David
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Saint Just,  United Kingdom - flag United Kingdom
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davidx's travel reports

North of ‘West, West Cornwall.’

  14 votes
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This and my Penzance report should be seen together but I readily admit that this would be my preferred area, if I were forced to choose. I love the scenery with mining remains combined with cliffs, the antiquities and the churches.

Cape Cornwall from Kenidjack Castle
Cape Cornwall from Kenidjack Castle
St Just is often called St Just in Penwith to distinguish it from St Just in Roseland, which is situated further east in an inlet off the Carrick Roads [Fal estuary – south coast.] Having loved the latter for many years, I had never heard any suggestion that this one was as picturesque. In fact the two are not easily comparable. The Roseland one would make a smashing jigsaw or chocolate box picture. Only the very best chocs should qualify. This Saint Just wouldn’t rate highly in those terms but what it loses there, it gains by its total authenticity as a typical REAL village, with a number of independent shops.

Everything about it suggests a mining history. I could barely take in what our friend and hostess, who grew up here, was able to tell us about the profusion of tin mines that once existed in the village and the area. The remains on view, which seem quite profuse enough, are only a modest sample. At times tin mining was extremely profitable and some of the houses provide ample evidence of this. Some mines were closed and re-opened as the price of tin fell and then rose but international competition became too strong and Geevor, the last working mine, closed in 1990.

There are two valleys leading down to the sea on either side of Cape Cornwall. This cape fortunately lacks the definition of southernmost [held by the Lizard] or south-westernmost [held by Land’s End] and is consequently allowed to remain almost unspoiled. Some cottages are being built but, as it’s a conservation area, there’s little doubt that they will blend with the scenery. Just out from the cape are two substantial rocks called the Brissons [rhyming with prisons.]

An unusual feature of St Just is Plan-an-Guare, the remains of a medieval amphitheatre used initially for miracle plays. At St Just Church, both the interior and the churchyard are lovely and there are two interesting medieval secco paintings.

Favourite spots:
Cape Cornwall over Kenidjack Valley
Cape Cornwall over Kenidjack Valley
Surprisingly with so many choices, I have no problem in picking a personal favourite. This is a headland between St Just and Zennor called Kenidjack Castle, the ‘castle’ being a grandiloquent description of an earthwork that you could easily miss! I choose it for its superb views, particularly that towards Cape Cornwall, but more particularly for an incident we witnessed the first time we ate a picnic there.

The north coast of Cornwall, facing the open Atlantic, is a surfers’ Paradise. That was not one of the best days for surf but sufficient to induce a few to take to the water. As we watched them, we realised that we were not alone! Further out to sea a few dolphins were bobbing up to take a look. Not satisfied with the distant view, they swam in close to the surfers and did a bit of that jumping in which dolphins delight. We shared in their delight! Just to complete the picture a couple of grey seals joined in.

What's really great:
The Crowns, Botallack
The Crowns, Botallack
Here I mention two particular mines, Botallack and Levant, both now owned by the National Trust and forming a Heritage area. Probably Geevor is the best for those particularly into mining history and technology but these have more scenic remains on the surface.

Levant has a beam engine which is in steam most days in the season and there are guided walks at 10.45. Other remains are spread around.

At Botallack, the old count house has a brilliant display of photos of the area but it is the combination of cliff scenery and remains which is stunning. In particular, there are two mines called the Crowns low on the headland and the old arsenic workings. If you go into the area for a short time from further east in Cornwall, the cliff path from Botallack to Cape Cornwall via Kenidjack Castle would be my recommendation.

We obtained huge pleasure from visiting three particular antiquities. The first was Botallack Round Barrow, which provides good views of Cape Cornwall from the west. The barrow itself consists of concentric walls with a [blocked] tunnel htrough the exterior and steps down into the interior.
Carn Euny is the site of an ancient village with fairly large houses. Its prime appeal, however, is in its fugue [underground passage] with a chamber allowing easy standing after a low entrance passage. Sadly the prosaic explanation of agricultural storage seems the most likely but some of the websites suggest more glamorous possibitities.
Lastly Men-an Toll [which combines neatly to a good circular moorland walk to visit Ding Dong Mine] is a real curiosity, whose precise purpose is unknown. There is an upright at each end of a roud stone with a hole through. See photo – it’s one of those examples where a picture really is worth 1000 words!

St George fresco - St Just Church
St George fresco - St Just Church
We were lucky enough to be staying with our friend at her cottage at the top of the village of Saint Just, with remarkable views over the village to the sea. I’m afraid that St Just was doing what our friend says ‘St Just does best;’ wallowing in mist for much of the time we spent there and we never saw the Scilly Isles, which should form part of the view, during the day – but see ‘Nightlife’ below.

The Tinners Arms that I have described under ‘Hang-outs’ provides accommodation and I think it would be great for a holiday. Alternatively, you could fairly easily find a self-catering house to let.

The fogue at Carn Euny
The fogue at Carn Euny
Apart from the meal we enjoyed at the Beach Restaurant at Sennen Cove [see ‘Restaurants’] we were in the cottage in the evenings. However one great attraction was to sit in the conservatory at the front of the house with the lights turned off and look out at the search light beams.

Some evenings none would show. Most evenings we could see the Longships light and sometimes the Bishop’s Rock lighthouse. I began to wonder whether peoples’ reported sightings of the lights on Scilly were over-influenced by imagination but on our very last night, the lights of Round Island and one from St Mary’s Island [the largest of the Scillies] joined the display. [They were still out of sight in the morning when we left but we are assured that the Scillies rejoined the daytime view later in the day.]

Mermaid bench, Zennor Church
Mermaid bench, Zennor Church
The Tinners Arms at Zennor is an idyllic old pub with a very imaginative lunch time menu and with accommodation. I can only comment from experience on its excellent choice of real ales. They claim it was built in the 13th century to accommodate the workers building the church. If you can locate the Gents without asking you deserve a medal – ladies will have no such problem!

The church is noted for the mermaid carving on a pew end. Of course she lured a poor sailor away to the depths and he was never seen again – isn’t that what mermaids always do? The churchyard holds some examples of the ancient crosses often seen at crossroads or in hedges, most of them being very primitive indeed.

The fishing cove, Sennen
The fishing cove, Sennen
The Beach restaurant at Sennen Cove provided us with a splendid meal. It wasn’t particularly cheap for anything regular, although at lunch times there’s a cheaper menu. You can have meat if you want but why anybody would want anything other than fish here escapes me – unless they suffer from a piscine allergy. I loved my swordfish starter and brill main course and the women very much enjoyed monkfish. The restaurant is situated at the end of a really long beach and provides wonderful views.

Sennen Cove was a major fishing village and, although the trade has horribly diminished, the fishing cove still provides picturesque scenery. Beyond it you can enjoy a great view of the cliffs of Land’s End, without having to suffer its commercialism.

We were lucky enough to see the Sennen Gig going in and out. These heavy rowing boats with huge oars are said to be like the old fashioned life boats. Now they are mainly used for races between the different localities.

Other recommendations:
West Wheal Owles, Bottalack - with donkeys!
West Wheal Owles, Bottalack - with donkeys!
Some urls may be useful if you want to find out more about the area. is the village’s own website. is for Men-an-Tol but there is a way of transferring to any of the other antiquity sites mentioned here or in my Penzance report. is about Cape Cornwall and also provides easy links to Zennor [and St Levan – Penzance report] gives access to any mine mentioned is useful for places in both reports.

Published on Friday September 15th, 2006

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Wed, Oct 25 2006 - 03:07 PM rating by mistybleu

David, I haven't read any reports from your in a while so I was please to see your last two creations. Thoroughly enjoyable.

The title picture 'Cape Cornwall' reminds me so much of Cape Point in South Africa. This a lovely picture.

Sun, Sep 24 2006 - 09:47 AM rating by st.vincent

A delight to read David, I'll be on the lookout for the Tinners Arms if I am ever in the area

Sun, Sep 24 2006 - 01:06 AM rating by marianne

Your report makes me long to go back to Cornwall

Sun, Sep 17 2006 - 05:55 AM rating by terje

David, you should try to pick up where HV Morton stopped. Why not put together you England reports into a "In search of..."

Fri, Sep 15 2006 - 05:11 PM rating by eirekay

David, your reports are always a delight to read!

Fri, Sep 15 2006 - 01:05 PM rating by mrscanada

I wonder why they call it men and tool!!! Wink

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