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Monday, August 5, 2013

Cornwall Spells Adventure

Part One: Getting there is half the fun

Rocky tors, windswept moors, a restless sea ever coiling around the knees of granite cliffs… This is Cornwall of yesteryear, and of today too, barring the odd motorway and a plethora of holiday villas. 

Instead of mine-shaft engine houses belching steam and smoke, now wind turbines march across the spine of the Peninsula, as alien to 21st-century residents as were the engine-houses to those in the 17th century. 
Even so, I love Cornwall, and loved it long before I was ever so privileged as to visit.

The Cornwall of my imaginings is peopled not by IT professionals and taxi drivers, exhausted moms with over-stimulated tots and bored teens in tow. Instead, characters from books ride those narrow, stone-fenced byways and stride across the trackless moors. Smugglers, wreckers, wayfarers of good or ill intent all traverse the lands.

What books hooked me on Cornwall? Impossible now to say. Was it in 4th Grade, when Enid Blyton’s first “Adventure” book sent Jack and Lucy-Ann, Phillip and Dinah, into a long-abandoned copper mine off an iron-bound coast? Unlikely, as Ms. Blyton was careful to avoid labeling the real-life locations that inspired her fictional settings and, indeed, is claimed by Dorset if by anywhere.
Was it, then, when I as a teen followed Daphne DuMaurier’s Dick Young as he stumbled across the moor near Kilmarth in search of his (and my) 14th century fictive dream? Much more possible. 
DuMaurier loved Cornwall, set many of her books and short stories there, and lived long there in a semi-hermetical seclusion that can only be envied by authors forced to flog themselves in the screaming marketplace of today.

However my fascination with Cornwall came about, the moment of crossing the Tamar from Devon last month was a homecoming in a literary, if not literal, sense.


  1. "A homecoming in a literary sense" I love that. And oh, the adventurous 4....

  2. Ah, yes, our mutually well-spent youth reading Enid Blyton :-)