Cornwall Diaries Pt II: Rosemergy to Ding-Dong Mine
Right-to-roam, relics, dangerous bees and horses
Often when I go on trips these days, I don’t seriously research the things I want to do until I get there and I’m laid out on the bed that first night. So when I was researching Cornwall that first night, one of the things I found was an app called iWalkCornwall. Very old-school sounding and very old-school looking, but it had mapped out dozens of interesting walks you could do all around the Cornwall Peninsula.
What drew me to one, Rosemergy to Ding Dong Mine, was that it passed through a neolithic stone relic called Men-an-Tol. I wanted to see it, for whatever reason, so I picked that walk to go on my second day.
Driving to Rosemergy from Penzance was harrowing. We’re talking a couple inches of room to pass cars coming the other direction, while being surrounded by stone walls on both sides. Everyone else was zipping along while I crawled.
So, by the time I got to Rosemergy, I had to use the loo, as it were. I tried to stop at “Rosemergy Cream Teas” to get a cream tea (a tea with cream), but I missed it and absolutely couldn’t turn back. So what I ended up stopping at was a place called Morvah Schoolhouse a bit longer down the road.
Morvah Schoolhouse that day was an empty little room full of art. I got a bunch of felted things and pot of clotted cream ice cream, and used the loo. It was a sunny day. Sitting outside, looking out past the pasture and onto the coast, I first felt a “I could live here” protothought.
Finally, I made it to the start of the walk, climbing up a rocky hill called Carn Galver.
The hill was doused in heather. Which was beautiful and felt cool as that’s my name, but I suppose it’s both my namesake and my downfall, as it drew in hundreds (thousands?) of bees, which I’m allergic to. I hadn’t brought my adrenaline shot, and I was completely alone as far as I could see. I thought about turning back, but took the risk instead.
At the top there was a view of the north coast. It’s one of the things I appreciate about hiking alone. I can take as much time as I want at the top, which always seems to be longer than anyone else wants.
I tromped through the skinny path down the hill, passing two people who were sunbathing in the valley, and through several fields.
England has these cool laws about public use of private land called “right to roam”. Very pro-strolling. The app was basically telling me to walk through other people’s land. Something you wouldn’t do in the rural US, let’s just say.
After a mile or so, I encountered the goal, Men-an-Tol. It was a bizarre feeling to be alone in these fields with a relic so old. There were no signs or postings or anyone else as far as I could see.
I also encountered another stone circle called the Nine Maidens, a medieval tablet called Men Scryfa, another tin mine, and also this sign:
As I reached the end of the walk, I started seeing the water again. Here’s where things went awry.
The app was telling me to go through a gate and then walk through to the other side of the field, where I would go through another gate to exit.
Milling beyond this gate were gorgeous horses. The sign on the gate said that these were public grazing horses, and to not feed them. I vowed to not feed them. After all, they weren’t paying me much attention. I opened the gate just enough to slip through, closing it behind me.
The second I closed the gate behind me, the horses surrounded me, quite closely.
I started to get a bit terrified to be honest. I just wanted to get out of there, out of that semicircle of towering grazing horses. I knew that I shouldn’t get behind them, where they could kick me, so it didn’t seem like I should try to go through them. I also didn’t want to turn around and go back through the gate since I couldn’t see them with my back facing them.
I pulled my appendages in close to my body. My best thought was to face them and somehow navigate my way over the tall gate backwards. But also, what did they want from me??
Meanwhile, one of the horses slowly maneuvered its head around me and gently nipped the juicy back fat of my arm. It hurt like hell. However, I could tell that it wasn’t trying to hurt me, it was just really trying to tell me something.
It was a truly effective communication. I knew at once the horse was telling me: 1) They know I have food. 2) It’s in my backpack, they know. 3) Give it to them already.
So then it was like, do I give them food to make them happy? Will that just make them more excited? Oh my god.
Just at that moment, a man ambled up through the field. For some reason, he was dressed like a British fancy boy. Cardigan, slacks, hands in pockets, strolling through the rural field.
I couldn’t make him fit into the scenery. Did he own this land maybe, and saw the horses surrounding me from afar, maybe through the spotting scope in his country house?…or was he himself on a walk in his best strolling attire? It felt like I was encountering a Mr. Darcy video game sprite.
I accepted it and plainly asked him what to do. He just shrugged pleasantly. However, his presence behind the horses was enough to break up their concentration on me. They scattered enough for me to pass them, and I hurried on through the field.
After making it through the scary valley of horses, I ended the hike at the coast. It was exhilarating to both stare out at the calm ocean water and feel safe. However, the scariest part was ahead: driving home on the Cornwall roads.
The next day, my horse kiss showed up: