Cornish stone stiles

As we gradually walk more bits of the South West coast path, we make new discoveries. Not just extraordinary saints’ names – Lansallos church is dedicated to St Ildierna, about whom nothing is known. The name may or may not be a female name, despite the ending; it may or may not be the same as a bishop called St Hyldren, whose remains may or may not have been buried in the church. And Lansallos Bay is another beautiful bay, just a few miles along from Talland.

But our big discovery, on quite a short circular walk from the National Trust car park near Lansallos church, was the number and variety of traditional stone stiles we encountered. There is one much closer to home, which we crossed this afternoon while walking to Empacombe again, but it is on a different scale from those near Lansallos, and we hadn’t really clocked it as anything special:

It is hardly surprising that stone, of which it could be said there is a surplus in Cornwall, was used to divide fields and to make entrances to paths that could not be climbed by livestock. Down near Lansallos bay one crosses a bridge and then this stile, while a waterfall tumbles down to the beach:

Other stiles are more elaborate, like this one which is more like a staircase than a couple of steps to help you over a wall:

And here is another of the same type – several steps, carefully placed, with a low wooden barrier to climb over before descending into the field.

This was the last, as we returned from our walk and climbed over it into the lane running alongside the church. But now that we are aware of these skilful pieces of work, I hope to see, and photograph many more. I expect that as we move westwards, and certainly when we get to the far west of Cornwall, they will be more frequent.

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