West Penwith is at the tip of Cornwall, a little granite foot arching out cheekily into the Atlantic. Our walk was to take us on a circuit of four miles or so over one of its moors, the Ding Dong, a magical place scattered with ancient tombs, menhirs, stone circles and the great half- ruined engine-houses of Victorian tin mines.
The walk starts at the Carn Galver mine at Rosemergy. Here we crossed to the south side of the coast road and took a path marked by three boulders. It climbs gently between steep banks of bracken and late foxgloves, through National Trust land.
The granite "hedge" on the right was thick with bush vetch, cornflowers and, on the top, an unfortunate crop of barbed wire. Up and beyond this is the Bronze Age barrow of Watch Croft. On the left-hand side is a hill said to have been once occupied by the giant Holiburn and now marked by the granite remains of the Carn Galver mine.
After nearly a mile we reached a little crossroads, where skylarks hovered around us. A fine rain blew horizontally and delicately as we glimpsed the ruins of the Ding Dong mine in the distance.
The paths diverge here, following the boundaries of the four parishes Zennor, Madron, Morvah and Guval. We took the right-hand fork, passing by the side of a metal gate on to a walled lane, part of the Tinners' Way, an ancient trade route that follows high ground between St Ives and St Just.
On the immediate right of the lane is a small, triangular field of fragile, blue-grey flax. We climbed a stone stile and walked up a narrow path to the Men Scryfa sticking up in the middle of the field. This 6-ft stone, probably a Bronze Age menhir, is carved with a 5th- or 6th-century inscription. The words "Rialobran Cunoval Fil" lie under thick, patterned encrustations of lichen, referring to a Celtic hero, "the royal raven".
We climbed back into the lane and after about 300 yards turned left over a stone stile on to a marked track to the Men-an-tol.
There are various opinions as to the curative powers of these mysterious stones. To activate its powers one must crawl through it naked nine times. I am happy to say that I am now completely scrofula- and rickets-free.
Feeling a little chilly I walked on with my companion, using the Ding Dong chimney ahead as a marker. The path led through thick bracken, bell- heather, young brambles, gorse, (get out the gaiters) and tiny yellow tormentil.
The surrounding land, divided into old, small field patterns by drystone walls (Cornish "hedges"), is teeming with bird life. I was particularly impressed by a squeaky yo-yo bird bouncing happily in front of us, which I was later told was a pipit.
Red, triangular signs saying "Beware of mine shaft" began to loom up alarmingly in front of us, out of the increasingly thick drifts of sea mist. Luckily, a couple of minutes later we reached the massive granite walls and brick-finished chimney of the Ding Dong.
The mist disappeared and we followed the next left-hand path up to the Nine Maidens, two of whom were leaning drunkenly to one side. This stone circle was erected by the Beaker People, small, inventive folk who wore buttoned clothes, practised brain surgery and left beakers in their graves.
We bore left on to the Tinners' Way again, past the Four Parish stone, and then turned right down the track towards the walk's starting-point at Carn Galver.
We hitched our way back along the coast road to the village of Zennor, home of the famous mermaid. We called in at The Tinners' Arms, the local of DH Lawrence and his German wife Frieda, who lived at nearby Tregerthen until they were forced to leave having been suspected of signalling to U-boats. It was 1917; Frieda was a cousin of the "Red Baron" von Richthofen, and Lawrence had a suspicious beard.
Refreshed by gallons of lemonade and beer, we heaved our enormous rucksacks on to our backs and staggered off in the direction of St Ives.
At Rosemergy and Carn Galver take the path south of the B3306 for nearly a mile.
At the crossing, take the right-hand path. Men Scryfa is in the field on the right. Continue along the path for 300yds, then take the Men-an- tol path on the left. Follow the Men-an-tol path to Ding Dong mine.
At Ding Dong, take the left-hand path, bearing right when the path splits, to Nine Maidens. Take the path on the left about half-a-mile back, to the crossing. Turn right, down to the coast road again; Carn Galver engine- house is below, on the right.
Map: Ordnance Survey Explorer 7, map reference 421363Reuse content