People often mention how clear the light is in West Cornwall, and I would be the first to agree that there’s a clarity here that isn’t found everywhere.
This attracted artists from far and wide, and the St. Ives colony became so well known that it became a magnet for even more artists.
I would argue though that artists came here not just for the quality of light, but also for the quality of life as well, and one of those artists was Barbara Hepworth, a sculptor, who was born in Wakefield in 1903.
What impresses me most about this museum is its collection of Cornish rocks and minerals. To a lot of people that may sound a bit anorakish, but I defy anybody with an ounce of interest in the history of Cornish mining not to be impressed as well.
In fact this collection is internationally recognized, and it’s all thanks to a collection started by Philip Rashleigh of Menabilly, near Fowey. Other collectors have helped swell the number of exhibits to over 16,000 – which unfortunately can’t all be shown at the same time.
Of course, the museum has other things to offer as well, including a Cornish Gallery which transports you on a trip through Cornish history from prehistoric times to the modern day.
The Courtney Library has 40,000 books, manuscripts and such like on Cornwall, and the museum hasn’t forgot the nature and wildlife of the county either.
On the first floor they’ve ventured further afield with some artefacts from Ancient Rome, Greece, and Egypt including an unwrapped mummy.
As I mentioned in my article about Minions, the village was built for the industrial activities that occurred here during the 19th century – namely copper mining and quarrying, both of which were transported down to the port of Looe via the Liskeard and Caradon Railway.
Both of these activities can be seen on a walk from the village to Stowe’s Hill along the old railway track, but my preferred route is a circular one which also includes some ancient archaeology too.
I’m not going to describe a detailed walk here, but instead I just want to discuss the landscape which provided the reason for all this ancient and industrial activity, and even if you have no interest in any of these things, I’m confident that you will enjoy the stark beauty of this corner of Bodmin Moor.
Walking from Minions in the opposite direction to Caradon Hill is Stowe’s Hill. It’s quite unmistakeable because it’s topped with granite tors, much like those of Dartmoor. These tors are the most obvious signs of granite weathering which has been taking place for tens of thousands of years.