Archive for September, 2010

Stunning Cornish Coastline, Marconi Monument & Mullion AFC

Ignoring the early morning drizzle today (we were later rewarded with nice sunny spells) we set off on a four mile (three hour) circular walk starting at Poldhu Cove on the western side of the Lizard Peninsula.

One of many haunts for surfers and swimmers alike during the summer, the cove, with large sandy beach and dunes, was virtually empty today. The footpath takes you past a rather imposing residential home that overlooks the cove and then up and away from the sea towards Mullion village.

The largest village on the peninsula Mullion is largely unremarkable although quite by chance we came across the picturesque home of Cornish Combination League side Mullion AFC. Mrs. Extremegroundhopping demanded recompense for my fifteen minute photo stop with a break for coffee and cake at the Mullion Meadows Chocolate Factory. Then it was down again towards Mullion Cove where we were on Sunday. Fantastic views all the way.

Continuing along the coastal path to Polurrian Cove – another beach that we had to ourselves except for two young kids on horseback – and then along a hair-raising cliff path towards the Marconi Monument and back to the car at Poldhu Cove.

The Marconi Monument is close to where the Poldhu Wireless Station operated between 1900 and 1933 and where the very first ever signal was conveyed across the Atlantic Ocean, by wireless telegraphy, back in 1901. As a one time employee of Marconi Communications Systems Ltd this was of particular interest to yours truly.

More pictures of Mullion AFC will appear in a summary post at the end of the week.

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Cornish Mines and Engines & Falmouth Town AFC

Sunny with virtually clear skies again and time for a trip out to Mrs. Extremegroundhopping’s ancestral home, Camborne. For many years she believed that her paternal grandmother’s family originated from the Leeds/Bradford area but it seems that before that they hailed from Cornwall. They were tin miners in the Camborne area and only moved to Yorkshire in the 1850’s. We noted one or two gravestones in the town’s church yard who shared Mrs. E’s surname and whose deaths were around the time that her family would have been in the area. Relatives perhaps?

A few miles away in Pool is the National Trust’s Cornish Mines and Engines. This features two Cornish beam engines in two locations either side of the main Redruth and Camborne road. One is fully operational and it’s worth exploring the inside of its engine house to watch the various parts of the mechanism – including the huge beam – toiling away. There is also a reasonably well done museum/discovery centre but it’s the engines and old mining buildings that you should concentrate on, not least the 36 metre high chimney stack.

I’ve posted three movies (one, two, three) over on YouTube of the beam engine in action for your entertainment (possibly)…

We headed to the outskirts of Falmouth on the way back to our holiday cottage for a quick look at Falmouth Town AFC’s Bickland Park. A rather nice looking venue cut into the side of a hill. The ground has a decent looking wooden grandstand with seating for perhaps 200. There are steep grass covered banks on either side of this, too steep to be used as standing areas, with access to the stand from the back. There are covered standing areas on the other three sides, with a largish car park and club house roadside.

More pictures of Bickland Park will appear in a summary post at the end of the week.

Truro City FC, St Mawes AFC and St Mawes Castle

Drizzle, followed by more drizzle and then some more drizzle after that. Liquid sunshine as it’s referred to in Cornwall. So, poor weather and Mrs. Extremegroundhopping is under the weather. Given the latter I decided to strike off on my own and first port of call is Truro City FC.

The nearest league football for Junior, following his move to Cornwall, will require a trip to either Plymouth or Exeter although I’m hoping that he will give local football a try and take in a few Truro City games. Their Treyew Road ground is just three quarters of a mile from his new house and it would make sense to head there rather than traipsing up ‘north’ to Devon to get his ‘in the flesh’ football fix.

Truro City are Cornwall’s leading side and you may recall that they won the first ever FA Trophy Final held at the rebuilt Wembley Stadium in 2007. By chance I was at that game, although rooting for the opposition AFC Totton. Their 3–1 victory, in front of an FA Vase record crowd of 36,232 fans, saw them become the first Cornish side to win a national trophy.

They currently play in the Southern League Premier Division following four successive promotions: South Western League 2005-06 as runners-up, Western League Division One 2006-07 as Champions, Western League Premier Division 2007-08 again as Champions and Southern Football League Division One South & West 2008-09 as Champions for the 3rd successive season.

There seems to be a relatively new covered all-seater stand behind the goal at the far end of the ground (as viewed from the car park) and two separate uncovered seating areas along the right touchline, with hard standing on the left. A humble home for a club that were in the national spot light just three years ago, although various plans have been put forward by the club to move to a new 16,000 plus all-seater stadium, all of which have been rejected by Carrick District Council.

After Treyew Road I headed off to St Mawes Castle via the King Harry Ferry. The ferry connects St Mawes and the Roseland Peninsula with Truro by avoiding a 20 odd mile detour through Tresillian. There are only five of this type of ferry in England which is essentially a floating platform drawn across the river by chains.

The 300 metre ‘voyage’ took five minutes and set me back £7.50 for a return, although the views up and down the river Fal during the short journey were well worth it, and explains why (according to some tourist bumf I’d read beforehand) it has been voted one of the ten most scenic ferry trips in the world by The Independent newspaper.

Heading south towards the castle I passed the ground (more an enclosed field) of St Mawes AFC. A quick hunt of the net this evening has failed to provide any further information so I guess they are a junior/Sunday league side. If you know differently I’d like to know. Quite a slope to the pitch which from its elevated position on the side of a hill offers great views of Falmouth on the opposite side of the Fal estuary.

Finally onto St Mawes Castle a nicely preserved coastal artillery fortress built by Henry VIII. Designed to house heavy guage ship-sinking guns it combined with Pendennis Castle over on the other side of the estuary to counter the threat of invasion by the French and Spanish Navies in the mid-sixteenth century. Around a century after it was built it saw its first and only significant action when, rather ignominiously, it fell to a land attack by Roundhead’s during the civil war.

More pictures of Truro City and St Mawes grounds will appear in a summary post at the end of the week.

Godolphin House and the Great Work Mine

The great weather continues as today we headed for Godolphin House. This is a 16th century Tudor/Stuart mansion with 17th century Elizabethan stables and formal gardens that date back to the thirteen-hundreds (that’s enough dates to be getting on with – Ed).

Godolphin House

The mansion is currently undergoing major renovation works by the National Trust and you’ll need to sign up for a ‘hard hat’ tour to take a look inside although Mrs. Extremegroundhopping and I opted for a leisurely stroll through the estate. A considerable amount of work has been put into bringing the 4.5 acres of formal gardens, with their raised walks and carp ponds, back to life, and while this work is still unfinished it’s still all quite splendid.

Godolphin House

The Godolphin’s where a much respected family and were heavily involved in the formative years of the Cornish mining industry, Sir William Godolphin making his fortune from tin and copper mineral deposits. The land between the house and Tregonning Hill, a couple of miles away, was at one time rich in such deposits and the area became known as the Great Work Mine. But more on that in a second.

Godolphin Hill

After our meanderings through the gardens we took a walk to the top of Godolphin Hill and on reaching the top we were rewarded with a quite outstanding view. The Atlantic Ocean to the South (Penzance and St Michael’s Mount easily visible), the Bristol Channel and a smattering of cargo vessels to the North, and the Cornish landscape in between scattered with old mining buildings (my two panoramas just don’t do it all justice).

Godolphin Hill

Our route back took to the car took us past the Leeds Shaft of what was once the Great Work Mine. The original workings of the mine date from the early sixteenth century when it employed as many as 3000 people although the beauty and peacefulness of the area fail to convey any impression that this area was once a major industrial landscape.

Great Work Mine

The shaft and engine house of the Leeds Shaft (pictured) are maintained to a high standard and a metal grille over the shaft allow a glimpse into the subterranean world below although, it should be noted, they are there to allow bats to nest in the old mine workings and not for the benefit of inquisitive souls such as Mrs. Extremegroundhopping and I.

Mullion Cove, Coverack and Helston Athletic FC

With Cornwall bathed in sunshine we headed out to the Lizard peninsula, first taking in Mullion Cove, and what a stunning place its is. A superlative that I suspect will be repeated numerous times as I report back on our week down in the south west. On the western side of the peninsular the cove is around six miles from Helston and a mile down a fairly steep road from Mullion Village.

Mullion Cove

It has two seal walls which date from the late eighteen hundreds. These were constructed to protect the local pilchard boats from the ferocious winter storms that pound the Cornish coast, although the image of waves crashing against the harbour walls is a difficult one to conjure up as we wandered along its walls in shirt sleeves in the late summer sun and a gentle breeze.

Mullion Cove

This is a nasty stretch of coast for shipping with nine wrecks reported along the immediate coastline from 1867 to 1873. The rocky cliffs and outcrops, which today are picture postcard stuff, must have been the perfect place for smugglers to bring ashore their goods undetected by the authorities.

Mullion Cove

We then headed eastward across Goonhilly Downs, past the Goonhilly Satellite Earth Station, and onto the fishing village of Coverack. Not quite as stunning as Mullion Cove the village also boasts of past links with smuggling. The harbour wall here was built in 1724 and a number of the cottages that it protects are said to have secret cellars for the hiding of contraband.

Coverack

Last stop of the day was on the edge of Helston and Kellaway Park the home of Helston Athletic FC. At last a football related post I hear you say. This is ground one of several that I hope to get to this coming week. Given the beautiful scenery we’d been privileged to take in earlier this was bound to be a disappointment, and so it proved to be.

Helston Athletic FC

There is an air of neglect about the place not least the pebble dashed concrete club house, which looks to be missing various bits of roofing. The neglect is echoed in the official website which hasn’t been updated since 2008. But after the delights of Mullion Cove perhaps I’m being too hard on the Cornwall Combination side.

I’ll include a few more pictures of Helston Athletic FC in a summary post at the end of the week.

Truro, Cornwall

Truro

Extreme Groundhopping Jnr has decided to go for a complete life change and head off for pastures new in – possibly the furthest place he can find away from Ipswich without needing to cross a major body of water – Truro, Cornwall.

Mum and Dad, having kindly agreed to move him and his worldly possessions, have decided to take a weeks break in England’s most southerly and westerly county while they are at it and I will be reporting on what we get up to over the course of the next seven days.

No specific plans yet but I can tell you that some football grounds will be visited 😉

Biggin Hill Airfield

After an overnight stay in the leafy streets of Bromley (thank you SE20 Blue) today we visited Biggin Hill Airfield and the nearby St George’s RAF Chapel of Remembrance. The guided tour of Biggin Hill Airfield took in surviving installations from the Battle of Britain, including pillboxes and fortified sleeping quarters. By happy coincidence these where featured later in the day in BBC One’s documentary ‘The Battle of Britain’.

Biggin Hill

The St George’s RAF Chapel is a memorial to all the aircrew – those who lost their lives and well as those that survived – who took part in missions from Biggin Hill during WWII. Its entrance way is home to two beautifully restored fighter planes – a Spitfire and Hurricane – both of which flew from the airfield during the conflict.