The Church of the Storms – Church Cove Gunwalloe

Friday, 29th May 2015


We’re doing well with the walking this week aren’t we?  Considering life is so busy you know? Walking, knitting, sewing, blogging etc etc.  Love it!

Friday we ventured to Gunwalloe where we parked in the lay-by and walked along the cliffs to Church Cove.  We left the waterproof trousers in the car as it didn’t look like rain when we set off.  Bad move!!  You know that sort of wet you get when the rain just pours down in torrents and you can feel it dripping down your back and into your knickers?  Yes – that was us!  Later we tried to think of when we last got so wet out walking – it was a few years ago in Scotland when we went walking in Pitlochry.  Lovely walk but oh so wet!

Enjoy reading

Ricketyrambler xx

Gunwalloe Cliffs circular via Church Cove and Mullion (6 miles)

The cliff tops here are strewn with wild flowers, absolutely gorgeous:



Sea Pinks and the sadly named but lovely Mayweed, some bluebells still hanging in there, and lots of these umbelliferous (long word meaning umbrella like) plants – can’t quite make up my mind what they are, but they’re perfectly formed:Any ideas?


Oh and here’s Mr RR striding ahead alongside the pretty sea pinks:
It’s very windy up here – I think it was windy last time we came back in April – you can read about that walk here.  We could hear the skylarks then – we can’t hear much above the howling wind today!

As we battle on, with the choppy sea on our right, we pass a cluster of hawthorn and notice this:

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It’s like thick spider webs all over the hawthorn with caterpillars crawling around in and on it.  I had to look it up on the web to discover more about it.  Apparently the Brown Tail Moth or Ermine Moths lay their eggs on shrubbery suitable for their young to feed on when they hatch, the young then weave these webs to protect themselves and their food from predators.  They then eat themselves silly  (well, they don’t eat themselves obviously – they eat the hawthorn leaves) under the cocoon  before pupating into moths. Isn’t nature amazing?!

Down over the hill into Church Cove and we make a quick visit to Gunwalloe Church, otherwise known as ‘The Church of the Storms’.  And you can see why that is, perched on the beach against the cliffs, it must have suffered many fierce storms in its’ time.  Indeed there’s a wooden panel inside which was part of the door and originally part of the church rood screen, which was made from the timbers of a ship wrecked in the bay in the 16th century:


I love this little church, it’s got such a peaceful atmosphere. The oldest part is 14th Century and you can still see the rood stairs which used to lead up to the rood loft (or gallery) – the area above the rood screen which traditionally held the statues of the Virgin Mary and St John flanking the rood screen.

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The original beams in the entrance porch and the oldest part of the interior, are expertly carved wood, and the pews (later I should think) are also carved.

Carved beam in the entrance porch
Carved beam in the entrance porch

The granite high altar was designed by Sir Ninian Comper, a Scottish born Gothic Revival architect – there’s no information about how he came to be designing altars for a church in such a faraway place though.

We cross the beach towards the hill alongside the golf course, there’s sea holly here:

Sea Holly
Sea Holly

and also this little flower – is this a type of watercress?  Not sure:

I wish I was better at this plant identification thing!!
I wish I was better at this plant identification thing!!

We head up the hill alongside the golf course and through the little car park, then down the other side towards Poldhu Cove.Usually at this point we stop for a cup of tea at the Poldhu Beach Cafe but we must be feeling energetic today because we walk straight past and continue up the next hill towards the Poldhu Nursing home perched on the cliff top.  I’m just thinking to myself that if I remembered before we set off how hilly it is here, I probably wouldn’t come, when we hear the search and rescue helicopter hovering and stop to watch it land and deposit 2 men on the cliff.  A training exercise hopefully, as we’ve just walked along those cliffs and heard no shouts for help!


Mr RR wishes he could fly a helicopter


As we stand watching, we can see the rain clouds gathering – obviously they’re not coming our way though so we keep going! We walk on along the cliffs past the Marconi Wireless Centre and towards Mullion Cove and then turn inland across the fields heading for Mullion village and the footpath back down into Poldhu.  At a field gateway we notice this commemorative stone:DSCN0307

Apparently John Wesley, who was a very keen open air preacher, visited Cornwall no less than 32 times and the Cornish took to Methodism like no other county.  (

Turning into the lane we pass this  lovely cottage.  We’ve watched over the last few months when we’ve walked this way, as it has been rethatched.  It’s now finished and looks splendid don’t you think….what amazing skill!!DSCN0310

But for us, it’s here that it all goes badly wrong!

The rain clouds have caught up with us and a few drops start to fall, then a few more.  After a couple of minutes I’m forced to seek shelter for my (new) camera and plonk it hurriedly into Mr RRs backpack, then it’s hoods up and heads down in the hope of making it back down to the cafe before we’re too wet.  We don’t get far before an absolute torrent of freezing rain descends and we’re forced to huddle against a hedge in the hope of avoiding the worst of it.  Too late really – we’re completely soaked, our trousers are sticking to our legs, water is seeping through our coats and I can feel drips trickling down my back into my knickers!  Yuck!

It’s not going to stop, so there’s nothing for it but to ramble on as fast as possible, down over the hill, to take the back steps to the cafe, where we apologise for dripping everywhere although no-one seems to mind.  We take our time over a hot drink and then, because it’s not nice sitting in wet knickers, we stand outside under cover for a while waiting for some sign that its going to stop soon but eventually we give up and get moving.

Down on the beach at Church Cove we stop briefly to watch the Sand Martins darting in and out of their nesting holes in the cliffs and as we pass the farm they are flittering all around us, and two of them land on the compost pile searching for insects. They don’t rest for long though and they soon swoop away over the cliffs.

As we head back up and over the hill the clouds move away, and by the time we’ve crossed the marshes and walked back along the cliff tops to the car we’re almost dry on the outside.  No satisfaction in hearing that it’s not rained in Porthleven though! In fact, I think the only place it did rain was Poldhu Cove!  Hey ho – that’s life.

(382.5 miles so far this year)

Associated artwork for Ricketyrambler by Andrew Major:

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