Words & music (c) David Harley.
A song which has been nagging at me for several years.
Close to where I stand on Trecobben
Pilgrims walk St. Michael’s Way
Few today reach Santiago
Most will cease their journey at the Bay
The Mount is rising from the distant water
Yet barely seems an arm’s length away
Causley on the road to Marazion
Dreamed of one last summer in the Med
Sheets are dancing Morris in the wind
A buzzard slowly circles overhead
Engine houses march along the skyline
A sea fret daubs the coast in brown and red
Beyond the darkening horizons
Beyond the hills to the West
Beyond Pendeen and Cape Cornwall
The Longships founder off Lands End
Sea nymphs and mermaids pluck the heartstrings
But the bells no longer ring in Lyonesse
Around me march the ghosts of long-dead armies
Recalled among these ancient stones
The engine house beyond the farm
Still offers shelter to the crows
I watch the sun sink slowly to the West
Back into the sea from whence it rose
Trecobben is an alternative name for Trencrom Hill and the giant who is supposed to have lived there and passed the time by throwing stones at his counterpart Cormoran on St. Michael’s Mount, which can clearly be seen from the top of the hill (weather permitting).
The St. Michael’s Way is part of the network of pilgrim’s paths that converge on the pilgrim route that leads to St. James Cathedral in Santiago de Compostela. It’s believed that pilgrims and missionaries from Wales and Ireland would land at Lelant and walk overland to Marazion rather than risk sailing/rowing around Lands End.
The second verse refers to Charles Causley’s ‘The Seasons In North Cornwall’ where he talks of meeting ‘Old Summer’ on the road to Marazion.
Living around Trencrom, we’ve had lots of time to observe that the horizon is often obscured by low-lying red-brown cloud, especially when pollution levels are high.
The Longships are a series of islets a mile or so off Lands End, known for the lighthouse on Carn Bras. In Arthurian legend, the kingdom of Lyonesse was said to have bordered Cornwall but to have sunk beneath the waves between Lands End and the Scillies. Walter de la Mere’s ‘Sunk Lyonesse’ refers to Nereids playing lyres in “sea-cold Lyonesse”, while the Mermaid of Zennor has her own place in Penwith mythology.
There is a plaque on the Iron Age fort at the top of Trencrom that reads:
“This property was presented to the National Trust by Lt Col C L Tyringham, of Trevethoe in March 1946 & at his wish is to be regarded as a memorial to the men and women of Cornwall, who gave their lives in the service of their country during the two world wars. 1914 – 1918, 1939 – 1945”
There are a good many engine houses in the area, but the one beyond Trencrom Farm is the one variously known as Wheal Alice and Wheal Foxes, part of the former Trencrom Mine.