St Agnes and Gugh
A Day on St Agnes and Gugh
Not wanting to waste time while the Low pressure system was slowly moving north Rob and I took the ferry across to St Agnes, taking a photo of Zoonie on the way, with the intention of walking around both islands. We were fortunate that the tide was low so we could walk across the sand and shingle spit to Gugh with its two wavy roofed houses, numerous rocky bays, swathes of wild flowers and self-sown narcissus and gladioli from the ongoing cut flower industry and some very relaxed pigs.
We climbed up and over the promontory along well worn tracks to the east side of Gugh and spotted four seals, safely afloat and making their way out of the bay for some essential fishing. The rock in the picture I have named the breaching whale.
Back on St Agnes, past the snoozing pigs we followed the concrete track to the lighthouse where a group of excited school children from the camp on the north of the island were posing for the photo their families would no doubt slide into frames or albums for posterity.
The sun was high and it was lovely and warm on the island and we were getting a little thirsty, when we came upon a tiny store which supplied not only us with water but the many holiday homes with more than basic produce; a nice selection of wines and a good selection of prepared meals and ingredients for the more inventive cooks.
We stood to one side of the track as a smiling tractor driver rode past doing his delivery runs from the ferry ramp to locations all over the island.
The sign to the Coastguards Café off to the left served two purposes, one a place for nourishment and two a route onto the path that led around the coast to the west, Bishops Rock lighthouse offshore in the hazy far distance.
We had the most gorgeous view over the sun blessed south of the island, tiny stonewalled fields many of them fallow, random rock clusters that provoked the same imaginations as cloud formations, the glistening Atlantic in the distance.
The sour cream icing on top of our moist carrot cake glistened in the sun, but as I took my first forkful into my mouth the immediate burst of flavour was cinnamon and then the most delicate carrot sweetness and lastly the gentle bovine and bittersweet icing, oh boy it was nice. The coffee was good too!
Talking of rock shapes how about Gonzo from the muppets for the rock that looked down on us as we passed?
It was thought to be a son of one of the lighthouse keepers who build the Nordic style labyrinth you see above the beach from which he took the stones. Could he have foreseen the fun future generations would derive from his creation?
have mentioned this before but in case you haven’t read, in 1707
on his way
back from an attack on Toulon, Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell
aboard his flagship
HMS Association struck the rocks near Bishops Rock in poor
falling light. His was not the only ship to founder, three more
from the fleet
of 21 vessels went down. Another grounded but floated off and a
saved by the skill of the sailors who turned her about within
one vessel’s length
from disaster. 1450 bodies were recovered and buried mostly
under what is now
the St Agnes playing field but it is thought that up to 2000
the admiral lost their lives. There are myths and stories
surrounding this one
of the worst British maritime disasters and they are well
recorded, so I’ll
leave you to explore them if you wish. The site of HMS
Association is now ringed in red on the chart as a maritime
The area of the church and boatyard were steeped in history but brought right up to date by the young descendant of one of the two most prominent family names in and around the church, Hicks and Legges. Jof Hicks is rightly proud of the fact the lobster pots that he designs are made of willow whiskers without so much as a whisper of plastic.
The islands in the past have been an asset to the maritime trade, building vessels, and provisioning and servicing ships and their crews for hundreds of years and this is evident from the two substantial slipways at the boat yard.
I wonder if they were ever under attack, see the shell Rob is standing beside.
I loved the stained glass windows in the church. With so much tragedy and loss over the years the church must have been a place of emotional restoration and peaceful reflection.
The birds on the island are tame and thrushes especially came to join us for carrot cake crumbs and as we walked around the final part through fields back to the pub by the slip, The Turk’s Head for a local brew and ploughman’s lunch, our imaginations stuffed full with all we had learned that fine sunny day.
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