It is difficult to be suitably modest about St Agnes - whatever the season, it has
And it is
Something of the essence of Cornwall, the landscape, people and history on which it has built its reputation is to be found here in the parish St. Agnes. Those involved in the production of these walks have sought to draw upon this blend of Cornishness to enrich the lives of locals and visitors and help them to enjoy and understand a little more about their landscape.
Newcomers to the parish comment on the friendliness of its people and the huge variety of social events and local clubs, societies and charities.
Mining has shaped much of the St. Agnes landscape; many engine houses are still silhouetted against the skyline and miners' cottages cluster in tiny settlements surrounded by small fields that helped keep workers' families fed. Grander Georgian and Victorian buildings from the boom days of Cornish mining, when copper and tin were pre-eminent, indicate the way in which some of the wealth derived from mining speculation accumulated across the social scale. Spoil heaps or mine burrows litter the area, these and the occasional boundary stone serve as reminders of the abandoned industry.
The Beacon dominates the area, giving St. Agnes Churchtown its original name of Bryanek. The barrows at its summit and the remnants of the Bolster Bank earthwork on its southern slope are evidence of early settlement in the parish. The views from the Beacon are stunning; on a clear day you can see from St. Ives to Trevose Head, Carn Brea to Caradon Hill. When local people return from their travels, the Beacon clearly marks the direction of 'home'.
With the sea bordering about a third of the parish its influence has been significant. Once it supported pilchard fishing and shipping, tin was 'streamed' on its beaches, and ships were built at Trevaunance Cove. Today the harbour is a ruin but the sea is still vital to the area. Much of the coastline is now managed by the National Trust, protecting the landscape and attracting holiday makers. Beaches are given over to bathers and surfers, the ships are gone, but one small boat, the Blue Peter IV inshore lifeboat is known countrywide by children who raised money for it via the television programme of the same name.
Somewhere as old as St. Agnes predictably has Legends. Our most famous is that of Giant Bolster, who, in giving a token of his love for Saint Agnes, bled to death at Chapel Porth. Not to be forgotten either is the tale of the men of St. Agnes who tried to hedge in the Cuckoo so as to hold on to spring as long as possible.
The parish is rich in wildlife. A Voluntary Marine Conservation Area has been established between Trevaunance Cove and Trevellas, safeguarding life underwater and on the seashore. Sea birds are prolific, and walks along the cliffs can often be rewarded by sightings of seals and very occasionally, dolphins and basking sharks. The flowers on the cliffs are particularly beautiful in April and May, and in the summer, heather and gorse provide a patchwork of purple and gold on the Beacon and cliff heathland.