Thursday, September 22, 2016

St. Ives to St. Agnes - Day 10

Wednesday, September 21, 2016
"As I was going to St. Ives, I met a man with 7 wives" as the old nursery riddle goes. "Kits, cats, sacks, wives. How many were going to St. Ives?"
Today 24 of us went to the picturesque town of St. Ives on the Land's End Peninsula on the northern coast.
Once a thriving fishing port, it now caters mostly to tourism. Like so many towns and villages in Cornwall, it is set on a hillside and parts of the residential areas drop steeply to the harbour and downtown. 
Look closely at this photo and notice that the boats in the harbour are floating in water.
Later they will be sitting on land due to the extreme shifts in tides.
We walked through town and split into two groups. One stayed in town while the rest of us went on a 3-mile walk around the old harbour and St. Ives Head and out to Clodgy Point.

We ended up above town in the residential area and walked down a 25 degree incline to return to the village center.
Along the way were beautiful vacation homes.
Sydney and I decided to spend our lunch hour looking around the city. We walked to the harbour where we saw the seemingly dry docked boats,

And the busy boardwalk along the beach.  
For lunch we decided to have a famous Cornish pasty, a type of baked pastry in a half circle that contains various meats and vegetables - and sometimes meats and sweets in the same pastry.
This was the traditional lunch for the tin miners. It was made with a thick edge for the miners to hold so they would not get dirt on their food. It was an interesting culinary experience but probably don't need to do it again.
After lunch we drove to St. Agnes to Blue Hills Tin Streams where we were met by Mark Wills, the mine proprietor and artist.
Tin has been mined in this area since the Bronze Age (4,000 years ago) and was perhaps the reason the Romans came this far west around the first century. Its real heyday was around 500 years ago until the early 1700s when competition with other parts of the world put an end to the mining.
The Wills family, a Cornish family that has been involved with mining for generations, bought this land and mine in the 1970s.  
Mark took us on a tour and demonstrated the full process
including the crushing of the rock with heavy steel beams operated by a water wheel,
washing and panning of the sand (which separates the tin particles from the rock particles),
(the tin is the brown part), smelting and the final production of high quality tin which Mark converts into decorative artifacts such as jewelry, ornaments and commission work. I treated myself to this beautiful Celtic pendant for only £18.
Mark noted that tin does not tarnish like silver. Mark produces about a ton of silver a year for use in his business.
Along the drive to Mark's place, we saw remnants of the tin mining in the hills.
These are the smokestacks that were used to burn coal to run the steam engines to pump the water out of the wells. 
Caught a last glimpse of the coast before we boarded the bus for our hotel.
Another nice evening at our hotel -- dinner with friends and off to rest for another day.

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