Sunday 11th May 2014
Destination: The Golden Lion, Stithians
The weather forecasters, having been pilloried in the past for predicting clement airs only to see the landscape washed into the sea in a gale, are understandably leery of suggesting good things to come. So it was that the web site pictograms showed nothing more optimistic than a sky populated with black clouds and deluging not single but double raindrops and only the optimistic hint of sun ray fringing one edge. And a westerly to peel the chrome of a tow-hitch.
All lies! The wind was fresh and the roads had been wet but the first thing to note is that in the entire day, apart from a tiny spritz as we neared Nine Maidens, it was dry. Early on Nigel donned the talismanic shower proof jacket and following that no threatening cloud came near.
But to begin at the beginning in the tradition of all tales. Four of us gathered by the drummer boy at the start – Niq, Tim, Nigel and myself as the ride leader. Myself still wondering whether I had been wise as a Stithians resident to lead a ride to my home village. My day panned out as two forays away from the village only to return. Stithians is the flame to my moth it would seem.
When it became apparent that four was our muster and any further delay would only make us colder we set forth. For a lumpy ride beginning with a direct assault on the Col de Chapel Hill. Crossing Treyew Road to immediately plunge back down to Penwethers and then another climb towards Quenchwell Road set the tone for the outward leg to lunch. The ride leader at this point gesticulating very vaguely at the long overgrown embankment and muttering cryptically about a buried viaduct. Of which more later.
Across the Falmouth branch line then and then across Quenchwell Road to descend via Helston Water to the Carnon Valley. We bore right when we reached the valley floor and continued past Bissoe and Hicks Mill to Cusgarne and then climbed up to Frogpool and Pulla Cross. Then another dip past Crowsmennegus (I’m reading this off the map, I would never know otherwise!) to Pelean Cross. At this point it became apparent that we might have been stopping a little less frequently than usual. It was just gone eleven in the morning and we were within two miles of Stithians. So various detours and loops were considered and a destination was suggested to see Niq’s land. (To make sure, in his words, that he had not lost his plot) So we began the ascent of the hill to the showground and Stithians but diverted halfway up to the right for Trebost and Seaureaugh Mill then twisted back past Foundry and meandered off towards the top of Kennal Vale and on to Lidgey. We emerged past the Orthodox Church of Archangel Michael and Holy Piran at Laity Moor for a brief viewing of Niq’s very own god’s little acre on earth. Or possibly a hedged in pocket of vigorous nettles. The previous lanes having been quite slarted with mud by the passing dairies, Nigel made best use of the pause to scrape at his bike with the most appropriate hedgerow plant he could find to hand.
Progress then followed the road towards Longdowns but turned right well short of there to go towards Gribbas Corner and Stithians. Having killed enough time we pressed through the village past Goonlaze to Penhalvean and then left to the pub. The leader’s picturesque alternate approach was held over for another trip.
At the pub Tim decided to make off towards the north coast before returning to Truro. So following the farewells it was three of us that sat down to roast meat baguettes with gravy accompaniments. The Leader brought out his evidence for the buried viaduct of Penwethers with helpful before’n’after photos and then a map to pore over in a discussion of lost tramways, seldom seen lanes and the post lunch route. All very educational.
And post lunch was a skirting of the Carnmenellis/Polgear massif, a crossing of the Helston Road at Nine Maidens enlivened by the only drops of rain of the day and then via Bolenowe and Newton Moor to Brea. At Brea Nigel took us under the railway on a path into Tuckingmill. Where three became two. Nigel departed to Pets Are Us at Home or equivalent for food for the menagerie and Niq and I followed obscure paths through Camborne College and beyond to Park Bottom. A bit of Spar Lane and some guesswork in Illogan to eventually descend Bridge Hill and back onto familiar ground. The usual route of Cambrose and Mawla, some tramway through to Scorrier and the last split of the day with Niq headed towards Blackwater and me back to Stithians. Again.
Various distances achieved but nothing for anybody less than 35 miles for the day. All enlivened by the usual range of chat, serious or otherwise, including in no particular order: 1st Album ever bought, the felony of deception in pretending a bungalow is a barn, planning law, economy 7 energy, the vagaries of customer service, men of a certain antiquity hankering after plots of land to create their own little haven, straight sycamores, Tudor personal hygiene, speculation on place names and house names inspired by the lifespan of amphibians and the geographical and temporal progression from Frogpool to Greensplat, mines on the Great Flat Lode and a couple of pauses to take in the view. Once near Laity Moor to observe the alleged showers traversing the landscape in a comfortably far distance and once on the descent from Bolenowe to contemplate the landscape of parcels of scrubby land and dilapidated sheds. A special appreciation for the pleasant dog walker who warned us of the loose road surface. And encounters with steam and horse traction for a 19th century flavour. The latter proving, if proof were needed, that even when horses were the norm the lanes were already too narrow!
Many thanks to my fellow riders and fulsome apologies if you arrived after ten past ten and we had disappeared.
Turned out nice!