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Pathways through time

Wide-spreading oak tree, based in a Cornish hedge
Spreading oak tree, adjacent to a building development

As summer fades out and autumn draws in, the contrast of crunchy leaves on country paths - compared with the swept neatness of more urban routes, adds another dimension of difference to the experiences of walking at the edge of the urban landscape.

Along a path running almost parallel to the A30, and only 10 metres distant from it, the noise of the racing cars is muted by the still-lush vegetation: fruiting brambles, an arc of trees, and bushes of passion fruit, long-ago escaped from a garden. This pathway feels enclosed from the impingement of modernity, though new developments are close at hand. On this grey September morning, I am surprised to see a flash of bright blue above the hedgerow - summer returning? No - a new-build facility for the local College is painted in a cheery hue: on some days it must blend seamlessly in to the sky!

Along another path - once an extension of this one, but now offset by Cornwall's major highway - the noise of the road is similarly muffled by a hedge, and there is a sense of walking a boundary between two worlds - fast cars on one side, and farmland on the other.

Tehidy house tower in the midst of Tehidy Woods
The clock tower of Tehidy House is visible in the trees

Buried in the reams of trees to the northwest is the clock tower of a (rebuilt) manor house, marking the location of family-seat of the Bassets, owners of the mineral-rights across much of this metal-rich region for many centuries up until 1915 when the estate was sold. The Bassets are gone, yet this path - though amended by a duel-carriageway - endures, and provides thought-provoking views across the varied tapestry of land-use in the area, and a link from Illogan Churchtown to Pool.

Trevenson Church

Both Illogan and Pool grew significantly in size during the intense mining activity here during the 19th and early 20th centuries, and this path would likely have been a busy connecting route between the two: between April 1845 and November 1846 it would have been particularly busy, as in this period the Parish church at Illogan was being remodelled, and Trevenson chapel (now church) was used for communal worship, having been financed in 1809 by Lord de Dunstanville and Basset.

Walking this path, the links between landscape and people feel close at hand, and the varied lives of those who have trod these paths before provide texture to our own times. Preservation of these old paths - though the views from them are very different down the centuries - maintains a connection to history of the areas we live in, and feel much more human than sharp-paved footpaths. The soft edges with nature allow us to relax, away from the straight lines of the built environment, and we can traverse both the past and present, and think of what lies ahead.

References include:

Tehidy and the Bassets - Micheal Tangye (published in 1989)

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