Thursday, 20 October 2016

Treyarnon Bay

There you have it. A fine view of Treyarnon Bay in Cornwall, one of those surfing bays a few miles west of Padstow on the north Cornish Coast. And I saw it on 22 September, the day after I arrived in North Devon. Although I felt tired from towing the caravan 230-odd miles from Sussex the day before, I couldn't resist a long day trip into Cornwall. It had been unusually warm and sunny for late September, and I wanted to see the premier holiday scene of my childhood. Here's a map of the general area. Treyarnon Bay is bottom-left:

And here is a more detailed map, with Constantine Bay, the subject of my last post, at the top:

This post covers the remaining two-thirds of a walk that began inland and had brought me to the shore at Constantine Bay. Now I would be roughly following (on the second map) the green long-distance footpath from the blue 'P' (for 'Parking') symbol on the south side of Constantine Bay down to Warren Cove, and then back to Treyarnon Bay and up through the caravan site to the main residential part of Constantine Bay, where I had left Fiona (close to where it says 'Hotel').

So back to my opening picture. What a view! In the distance, the unmistakable hump of Trevose Head. Nearer, Booby's Bay and Constantine Bay. Treyarnon Bay is in the centre and foreground of the picture, a bay angled well for surf, but with rocks to fear on each side. I was standing on the cliffs on the south side of the bay. I'm going to show a series of photographs that gradually reveal the beauties of my walk.

First, a glimpse of Constantine Bay, which as you can see is devoid of any seaside development despite having a wonderful beach and good surfing. I don't mind the little mobile coffee bar in the foreground - a civilised touch, I'd say.

So hard to turn away from that northward view towards Trevose Head! At night the lighthouse winks every thirty seconds. Back in the 1960s it was a red light, but nowadays it's white. I preferred red.

There are only a few houses close to the shore. This is one of them. If you look carefully, you can make out a restored ship's figurehead in one of the windows. It looks like this now:

I wrote a post about ships' figureheads (see Figureheads on 13th April 2015) which says a lot about this one in the second half of the post.

A bit beyond this house, Constantine Bay was left behind and Treyarnon Bay started to come into view. I was walking on low turf-topped cliffs made up of sharply-slating slate that the probing sea had indented.

The slate was easily weathered, and where denuded of turf was crumbling away, making it essential to take care near the cliff edge. In the 1960s the turf was mich more extensive, but the footsteps of countless holidaymakers and boot-shod walkers have worn it away. On I went:

Ah, it was still there - a natural bathing pool in the lower rocks. Nobody was using it now, in the cool early autumn. But when I was young, and on holiday there in the summer, it would be very popular. As in this shot from August 1973:

The pool wasn't deep, and it had a sandy bottom. It was safe for kids, if they were confident in the water. Here is my brother Wayne in the pool in August 1966:

These are all my own photos, by the way. I got my very first camera in 1965, when nearly thirteen, and I've been snapping away ever since.

In 2016 it was not so different from fifty years before. Although it looked serene, there have always been lifeguards here, because it isn't safe to get too close to the rocks on the north and south sides of the bay, whether surfing or not. A breeze combined with an incoming tide soon makes the waves crash heavily onto the rocks, as this August 1965 shot shows:

In fact I think that's a shot of the bathing pool in the rocks being invaded by the waves - which this August 1973 picture (from roughly the same spot) of Dad shooting Treyarnon Bay with his cine camera seems to bear out.

I am surprised that there are so few people on the beach in the shot just above. It would typically be packed in the 1960s, and only a bit less so in the early 1970s. Mum and Dad and the family we went on holiday with (the Hintons) were all stay-on-the-beach-all-day sun-worshippers and acquired deep tans. I was the awkward lily-white exception; I disliked spending hours on the beach, was shy of showing so much of my unlovely body, and impatient to be somewhere else more interesting. Here's Mum and Dad (with Mrs Hinton) in beach mode in August 1972, clearly before the tans had developed:

Huh. I must have Dad's nose. Here's Dad with Mr Hinton (in the hat, with the pipe, making a joke) in same year, both showing a rather more sun-kissed look:

It was all very jolly and light-hearted. I just didn't want to join in. I felt trapped. My brother Wayne had no such misfit attitude, though. He was a teenage son to be proud of. He was active, loved the water, and didn't mind posing for my shots. More from 1972:

That was some drop - I think there was a pool below. Or maybe not. Wayne was pretty fearless. Strange to reflect now that he'd be dead before he was forty. I don't know about Mrs Hinton, nor the Hinton kids (two sons and a daughter), but everyone else is dead too. It's quite weird, revisiting this scene of sunny family holidays, and feeling that you are the last person left standing. It used to upset me, but not now.

My walk next took me to the Youth Hostel that overlooks the bay, and where the general public can secure drinks, refreshments and light snacks. It was too sunny for comfort outside, but I got a nice inside table:

Walking on around the top of the beach, I then took the path that followed the bay's southern edge.

I wasn't alone in wondering where those two men were off to. A group of us watched their progress. Their objective seemed to be Trethias Island, a detached chunk of cliff at the mouth of the bay, which was difficult to climb up onto. I remember doing it with Dad in 1967 - rather nervously, but at least Dad was with me - but it's not anything I would attempt now. I absolutely wouldn't dare. But these guys did - in the next two shots they find a way to the top:

What were they going to do on the island? It might presently be sunny, but it was clouding over and the wind was getting cooler. If they didn't have some kind of shelter with them, and warm jackets too, they could be in for a miserable time. Both were carrying a light rucksack and some poles. Were those fishing rods? They made their way to the sea end of the island, then disappeared from view. I wondered if they would get marooned on the island, as the tide was surely coming in. Once dark, they would have to stay there until dawn. Perhaps they knew of a cave.

It must be to fish. And yet, if it were fishing, why clamber up onto the very top of the island? Oh well, it was useless to speculate. The cliffs on the south side of Treyarnon Bay were much higher, and they overlooked a series of deep chasms: Wine Cove (with the big offshore rock), then Warren Cove and Pepper Cove:

There was yet another, Fox Cove. But time was getting on, and I decided to leave that for a future visit from Porthcothan Bay further south.

Nearby were a couple of new clifftop builds. One was a home half-buried in the ground, like a Hobbit's dwelling:

The other was a big single-storey house in full view:

Although these houses were in keeping with the older detached houses already there, they were nevertheless not-very-sympathetic intrusions in the landscape and I was amazed that planning permission had been granted. The board fixed to the decking on the more conventional house had 'Jean-Paul Kuhnzack-Richards' on it. I understand he is a big-name designer, based in North Cornwall.

I retraced my steps back to the head of the bay, and walked uphill through the static caravan site. It looked very much the same as all those decades ago, just a bit modernised and a bit smarter. At the top was the field where tents and touring caravans pitched. Not many there in late September.

As a family we abandoned holidaying in a tent (and turned to static caravans) after my infamous 1971 walkout. I stood up to Mum and Dad for a change. Fed up, I declared my intention to cut my holiday with them short and somehow manage at home for a week until they came back. Everyone was amazed at my behaviour, because being assertive was so uncharacteristic of me. But for once I insisted, asking only for a lift to the nearest station, then Bodmin Road. To be honest, the prospect of a long and novel train journey back to Southampton very much appealed. I was sure I could manage some minimum shopping and cooking. And I would certainly enjoy a bit of freedom for once. There would be TV to watch (my own choice too) and all the home comforts.

I was not behaving like a spoilt prima donna without reason. The August weather in 1971 was wet and windy, and it wasn't at all exciting being cooped up in an unheated tent. I craved hot baths and central heating! Besides, I felt ready to make a point, that I could do stuff on my own.

And I did. Mum and Dad seemed to treat me much less like a child after that.

Really it was Dad who was so keen on tenting. Mum must have had a word with him. To keep me on side, they promised a proper static caravan next year. Mum must anyway have looked forward to the upgrade. A static caravan had space, facilities, conveniences, and even little luxuries well beyond what a tent offered. You could ignore the weather much more easily in a caravan! It was in every way a nicer experience. Ironically the switch from a tent coincided with hotter, sunnier summers.

For the sake of having a free holiday, I went along with Mum and Dad and Wayne and the Hinton family for three more years until 1974. After that, I stayed at home and did not holiday with them again until 1991.

And now I holiday by myself. Well, here I was in North Cornwall. It was already mid-afternoon. I should be heading back to Great Torrington, some sixty miles away to the north-east. Instead I decided to see a curious thing off to the south, at Roche, not far from St Austell. Next post.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you Lucy, the coast round there is truly beautiful and I like how you've captured it. x


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