Wednesday, 17 March 2021

Treasure those Memories … part 5 … Lelant Sand Dunes …

 

We are now moving south-east along the coast, following the scenic St Ives to St Erth coastal branch railway line past the dunes at Lelant – with its stunning beaches – which would lead on to Lelant Saltings always with an array of wetland birds …

 

Showing Hayle inlet ... it is small - looks bigger 
than it is here; St Uny Church is marked; Lelant
Saltings railway station marked ... line following
coast and round sand-dune golf links.


… history abounds here too – the Iverni, an early Irish people … first mentioned in Ptolomey’s 2nd century Geographia … as living in the south west of the Ireland … were known to have travelled over, now seen as skeletons dug up from the Towans (sand dunes).

 

 

First map of Europe - based
on Ptolomey's Geographia
The 15th century church of St Uny was built on the easterly corner of the towans facing over the inlet towards Hayle.  The railway skirts the Church … but there’s a path down to the sands.

 

 

St Uny Church
There is a thought that an earlier settlement was overwhelmed by huge sandstorms, whipped up by the sea winds … the Church itself was in danger of being lost, but marram grass has been planted which has kept encroachment at bay.

 

 The sand dunes have been put to good use as it is the most westerly golf links in the country … play is always possible here – the rain sinks in – leaving the golfers wet … but always with magnificent views – be they dry, sunny and sparkling, or damp, gloomy and sea-thrashed …


Edge of golf course looking east towards
Hayle
My grandparents were members of the golf-club – but probably used it more as a social … as kids we played occasionally … mostly whack and hack!  Seeing how many seagulls we could hit … we were kids!!

 

 

Marram Grass holding
the dunes
Usually we would walk across it to the dunes and sea, with its miles of golden sands … certainly one summer we hunkered down out of the wind in a deep dune, to play tag* of some sort … hard work in the sand but which kept us occupied. 


 

Towans, the sea at mid-tide

Then we’d scamper down to walk the walk far away to the sea … and wander back with it as the tide turned and came inexorably in …

 

 

We’d walk from the golf-club car park towards the Church and what is now the South West coastal path … over the railway line – keeping an ear out for the chuntering steam train as it hooted its way towards St Ives, or back towards St Erth – always waving if we were in sight.



The train on its way round the links -
St Ives is in the background
Round the corner up the Hayle River is Lelant Saltings, one of the station stops of our little train, where many birders will alight to spend time at the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds reserve …


 

Hayle Estuary

… an estuary that does not freeze – in the genial, mild climate of west Cornwall … where palm trees grow …



 

Lelant Saltings

… the estuary, tidal pools, and marsh have long been havens for migrating birds … many a twitcher spends time twitching around this coastal retreat.

 

 

Each season offers a variety of wetland birds from … flocks of teals and wigeons in winter and maybe a vagrant ring-billed gull from North America. 


Ring-billed Gull

Migrant waders are starting to return (it’s Spring: almost) … oyster catchers, ringed plovers, sanderlings, dunlins and whimbrels.

 

Summer is quieter … though ospreys are regular visitors – but rarely seen.   Autumn sees the main wader passage through the reserve.  Vagrants often turn up sheltering from the gales … while Winter is the best time for a spectacle of thousands of birds …


Eurasian Curlew
We didn’t go bird-watching … but were educated about them at home in Surrey … we were encouraged to learn … but other childhood times were on offer when in beautiful Cornwall.


 


An oil painting I own - showing the runnels and
ridges in the sand, at a moment in time 
We would wander back very tired from a day in the sun, wind and sand … up from the dunes, over the railway line, across the links, over the Iverni skeletons, past the church and home to Carbis Bay – the tiny village for 2021’s G7 Summit – and sleep!

 

*Strange but true ... I first heard about the 2018 film 'Tag' last night ... which I'm fairly certain was the game we were playing ... odd how life confirms things for us.

Hilary Melton-Butcher

Positive Letters Inspirational Stories


28 comments:

Hels said...

Children who grow up near the beach are very privileged: stunning beaches, wetland birds, golden sands, old churches, tidal pools, seagulls, railway side lines, dunes, picnic lunches and above all a more moderate climate.

They are my fondest memories from childhood and teen years.

Sue Bursztynski said...

What a peaceful place it must be! I live near a beach, but nothing as beautiful as that.

Natalie Aguirre said...

Your pictures of the beach and sand remind me of times at the beach off Lake Michigan when I was a kid. It's one of the few things I miss from where I grew up. Thanks for sharing all the great pictures.

Joanne said...

I love the night after a day on the beach - it's a good kind of tired. So much fresh sea air, wind blown cheeks, legs and feet heavy from churning in the sand. Your descriptions are sheer bliss.

Yamini MacLean said...

Hari OM
such happy and carefree memories - I could almost smell the seaside as I read through and looked at your images!!! Tag is definitely a game we played as kids; fun AND exercise &*> YAM xx

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Hels – it was only holiday time … but each year we’d go down and see all the various sights – very fond memories, as you had too …

@ Sue – it was only for holidays but Lelant beach is bliss – very few people … while Cornwall will always be special …

@ Natalie – thank you … so pleased you can remember your happy times at the beach off Lake Michigan …

@ Joanne – yes … that sheer exhaustion after a day full of wonderful holiday spirit … so pleased you ‘could see my world’ back then …

@ Yam – oh yes … very carefree and happy times … that seashore smell – I get it here in Eastbourne, but it’s not the same as Cornwall!! That’s great you enjoyed the post …
I was just amazed that I heard about the 2018 film made about ‘Tag’ – amazing those friends have been playing it for years …

Thanks for visiting – we’re about to go into a chilly few days, after which I hope Spring will break through … stay safe one and all - Hilary

Elephant's Child said...

What wonderful memories. My mother spent much of her childhood in Cornwall and told us how much she loved it.
We spent more time on the banks of rivers than by the sea, but the memories of those busy and idyllic days sound very similar.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Definitely a scenic course.
Those poor birds you whacked...

Janie Junebug said...

How I enjoy these posts about your memories.

Love,
Janie

Anabel Marsh said...

Idyllic! I can almost smell the sea (which I miss greatly at the moment).

Sandra Cox said...

What a wondrous place to run and play growing up.

Liz A. said...

Wet is definitely a small price to pay for good views, although it would depend on how cold it was that day.

Jo-Anne's Ramblings said...

Oh so very lovely

Mason Canyon said...

Enjoying the dunes sounds like such fun. Your post brought a smile to my face this morning, thanks for sharing. Take care my friend.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ EC – how lovely … I’d forgotten about your mother spending much of her childhood in Cornwall … and lovely that you were near a river being able to enjoy the sight and sounds of those youthful days …

@ Alex – yes the golf course is just beautiful. It was only one and totally unintended! Pure luck or unlucky … poor bird – it did recover … but it’s future: I’ve no idea!

@ Janie – thank you … I’m glad you’re enjoying the read …

@ Anabel – I bet you’re missing the sea at the moment – our sea here is different from the Cornish sea, as too it is from your Scottish sea … strange but true … !!

@ Sandra – yes we were lucky with so many choices of places to visit …

@ Liz – we rarely got caught in the wet … the elders knew what the weather was going to do! Hence we were ‘hiding’ in the dune out of the wind …

@ Jo-Anne – thank you …

@ Mason – the dunes were wonderful as was that stretch of sand down to the shoreline – long walk if the tide was out. Delighted you had a smile reading the post …

Thanks to you all – so pleased to see you’re happy reading – all the best - Hilary

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

What a beautiful place to spend time as a child growing up! Sounds like lots of happy summers.

Jacqui Murray said...

What a great post. So much to mull over. Ptolomey’s 2nd century Geographia--a book I've considered reading often and never have. ... Planting groundcover to avoid sandstorms--who knew (thanks for including the picture)? What a beautiful oil painting of the sand!

Keith's Ramblings said...

I so enjoyed wandering with you! Wonderful memories of a wonderful place.

Sherry Ellis said...

Those sand dunes are pretty. When I was young, I lived in Florida, and I spent many happy hours exploring the sand dunes there. Always interesting to see the wildlife I would find!

David M. Gascoigne, said...

You get full marks, Hilary for featuring birds in this post, and I even bestow on you total absolution from the grave sin of whacking those birds when you were a youngster! You have really painted idyllic scenes for us and it has been a pleasure to meander along. I think that many of us have enjoyed time at the shore and the recollections are the stuff of remembered happiness, enhanced by time and distance. Miriam and I had planned trips to Vancouver Island and to Canada's Atlantic provinces last year, but of course COVID scuttled them. At some point we still hope we can follow through with these trips, but when is anybody's guess. Stay well, stay safe, eat cheese, sip wine.

Nick Wilford said...

Cornwall is a lovely place and a great setting for childhood holidays. The story about the skeletons in the dunes is quite eerie and could spark many a story, I'm sure.

Rhodesia said...

Another great post and I had to laugh at the golf, if you were anything like me you would hit nothing let alone get the ball done the hole!!

I have never spent a lot of time near the sea, I have to say I am not fond of saltwater and we used to go to places like Lake Malawi where we could see tropical fish in freshwater. I always loved the resorts around freshwater lakes.

Hope that all is well. Keep safe, cheers Diane

Dan said...

Great post - I love the photos, especially the trains working their way down the coast.

retirementreflections said...

Hi, Hilary - It is strange (but kind of wonderful) how life repeatedly confirms things for us. I am greatly enjoying this series of your posts with a mixture of history and your family's history as well. I am learning a great deal!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Elizabeth – yes … we were lucky to be whisked off to Cornwall for one or two holidays a year …

@ Jacqui – thank you – Ptolomey’s Geographia is such an amazing book to know about – and I too want to know more.
Marram Grass is an interesting plant: Their extensive systems of creeping underground stems allow them to thrive under conditions of shifting sands and high winds, and to help stabilize and prevent coastal erosion – so important here …

@ Keith – many thanks … it’s a fascinating area of Britain – so many connections from the early days of history …

@ Sherry – how lucky you were to be able to enjoy the dunes in Florida … and see what wildlife you could find – great upbringing for a child – freedom to roam …

@ David – I thought you’d enjoy the Saltings Reserve – crossing it to get to the road ‘down’ to Carbis Bay – always a joy to see the estuary. That poor bird … it was only one – never to be repeated …

We were fortunate to have those times growing up so we have those memories to think back on today – especially in these Covid times. I do hope you can get over to VI and up to the Atlantic Provinces – that I’d love to do … but in the meantime I will eat cheese, and sip wine!

@ Nick – Cornwall is lovely isn’t … soon to be swamped with incomers I fear. I was interested to find out about the Iverni in one of my 100 year old books – often fascinating snippets are to be found. I have to say I’d never realised there were skeletons under the dunes that we walked over to the sea – or playing golf.

@ Diane – thank you … it was a shock when I hit that poor bird … I actually had to give up golf, as I was quite good at hockey … but never hit a hole in one.
I think we grew up with holidays at the seaside, and at Lake Windemere … so always watery holidays – I was happier at the shoreline.
Your visits to Lake Malawi sound idyllic … I’d never thought about Rhodesians or South Africans going north to the lake – thanks for letting me know about it … sounds gorgeous. I’m going to ask (‘African’) friends here – if they ever visited …

@ Dan – thank you … glad you enjoyed the photos – the little train is a wonder – stunning scenery (if the weather is kind!) …

@ Donna – that’s great … thank you – I’m sure many of us have similar tales of yore. Excellent you’re enjoying the mix of history and the cultural snippets …

Thanks so much to you all – delighted you’re enjoying these posts of early days in Cornwall – have good weekends enjoying, as David suggests, some cheese with a sip or two of wine – enjoy! - Hilary

mail4rosey said...

It's nice to be around the beach. How cool that a train runs right by... I've never seen such a thing!! The birds are cool. I've never seen an Osprey in real life. That would be cool to come across.

DMS said...

The beach is one of my favorite places and I have many wonderful childhood memories there. You wove a beautiful trip down memory lane with interesting history sprinkled in. A treat to read! Sounds like you have wonderful memories!
~Jess

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Rosey - it's a stunning area to live ... if during summer you don't need to travel far. That little train is a complete delight - I love the journey along the coast.
I've seen fish eagles (ospreys) in South Africa - stunning birds as they fly in and catch their fish in flight.

@ Jess - our childhood memories are often the best - not a care in the world, the sun, the beach and the sea - what more could kids want - though that's perhaps not a question to ask today!

Delighted you enjoyed the trawl down memory lane .. thank you.

All the best to you both - Hilary