Roald Dahl once said, “those who don’t believe in magic will never find it”, however Cornwall is a place where you’ll find magical things around every corner. Tales of mermaids, Cornish piskies and knockers are deeply entwined with our heritage, and you’ll find folklore familiar to every village you visit in the south west. For many people, these tales are far more than just stories, and you’ll find evidence of the existence of magic carved into the rocks in Tintagel, the church benches in Zennor and the caves in Crantock… Read on to find out about some of our favourite ghostly goings on and local legends along the Cornish coast.
The Mermaid of Padstow
The Doom Bar is a stretch of sand that runs through the middle of the Padstow Estuary that is exposed at low tide. We can watch the tide pass over it from the terrace of Greens – but this local legend makes the sand bar seem a little sinister…
There are a few different tales around the Doom Bar, but they all tell of a siren, who called the estuary her home, before she was killed by a local sailor. Some say he was in love with her but she refused his affections, others say he mistook her for a seal, however each tale says that just before she died, she whipped up a terrible storm and cursed the estuary. This weather brought with it the sand that formed the Doom Bar which causes strong rip currents and can wreck unsuspecting ships.
Crantock Cave Carvings
Crantock beach, located on the south side of popular Newquay, is a beautiful spot for surfing, swimming, fishing and sunbathing. It is also home to the mysterious cave carvings for a lover lost to sea…
These amazing carvings were etched into the rock by a heartbroken young man, when his lover and her horse were lost to sea when they were suddenly cut off by the tide. He wandered the beach, praying for her return, but she was never seen again. The cave where the carvings can be found is said to be where he would wait for her to return and they stand as a constant reminder of his love for her.
The tale of Mother Ivey tells of a spooky spell that was cast on a local family from Harlyn. The story goes that this family of pilchard farmers refused to feed the starving people of Padstow with their left over catch, and instead chucked the fish back into the sea. Mother Ivey couldn’t believe the greed of the family and showed her wrath by cursing the farm they owned. The spell caused much misfortune and the farmers even asked a local priest to exorcise the land!
You can feel the magic of Mother Ivey all over the headland at Trevose, where beautiful wild flowers grow and the sunsets are unmatchable.
The Labyrinths at Rocky Valley
The area around Tintagel is famous for King Arthur and his knights of the round table – but many people also visit north Cornwall to feel the magic of St. Necturn’s Glen and walk along the river at the Rocky Valley. This particular valley is home to two mills, that were once powered by the force of the river. One mill has been converted into a home, but the other, an 18th century building known as Trethevy Mill that produced cloth and yarn until 1861, is now only a crumbling remain. However, this beautiful derelict building holds an unexplained mystery. There are two labyrinth patterns carved into the rock face alongside the mill that no one can explain. It is unknown who carved these patterns; whether they are from Celtic times in the Iron Age, 4000 years ago during the Bronze Age or were more recently carved by the previous mill owners in the 1800’s. As the area is saturated in magical tales, fairy stories and ghostly happenings, there are many theories around the labyrinth patterns – some believe they were carved by witches to induce states of altered consciousness… Spooky!
Cornwall is a magical place and we hope these tales have convinced you to unleash your inner child, explore the coastline and let your imagination run wild – we’d also highly recommend mermaid watching from our sunny terrace this summer…