Gwelen Podcasts – The Sea from Land in Mounts Bay

Posted on: 11th January 2022 No Comments

As you move around the coastline of Mounts Bay, your view of the Mount and bay shifts. As the weather and the seasons change, it shifts even more. Some views, such as coming along the A30 through Crowlas when the Mount suddenly appears, are treasured by many… the sign of “Ah we’re home”. And some are more private- the sit spots, the hidden coves and the less trodden routes still frequented by locals. Through the ‘Perspectives of Mounts Bay- The Sea from Land’ podcast, we wanted to explore different experiences of living and working on the land that surrounds Mounts Bay.

It was a treat to sit in the scorching sun in a field overlooking the Bay at Trevean and hear from farmer Andrew Thomas, who knows this land intimately. It may have been beautiful on the day we recorded, and many would agree that his view is one to be envied, however the bay also brings challenges. It was interesting to learn about what makes farming here unique and consider the history of this landscape which was once forest.

Someone who knows the bay from a different perspective was the wonderful poet and recently retired bus driver Gray Lightfoot. We loved hearing some of his experiences and poems inspired from his time in the cab of a bus driving around Mounts Bay.

Walking along the beach near Marazion we came across the fascinating Connie, who happened to be walking her dog and cat, whilst picking up plastic. Connie’s love and care for this place has led her to becoming involved with different local charities such as the Marine Stranding Network, as well as her regular beach cleans. She talked passionately about the wildlife that she encounters and her mission to educate as many people about the dangers of plastic pollution in our seas and on our shorelines. She also shared snippets of folklore from the bay that she had grown up with.

Storylines Gwelan- Connie with her cat and dog- Marazion copy Gwelan- Tom Chambers- Porthleven copy Storylines Gwelan- Sarah recording Rachel Lambert copy Storylines Gwelan- Ali recording Dr Jo Esra copy Storylines Gwelan- Rachel Lambert seaweed copy
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Sarah recording Rachel Lambert

Tucking ourselves away behind a sea wall for shade with local forager Rachel Lambert, we have the beach to ourselves. Calls from the seabirds punctuate our conversation and it’s fascinating to learn more about what might have been foraged in the forest that once dominated the Bay and how this would have sustained the local folk.

Heading for higher ground, we spent time in the NCI watch station in Penzance with the delightful Bobbie. Run by volunteers like Bobbie, the NCI plays an important role in keeping eyes on the coast and calling in incidents to the coastguard. It was interesting to hear what it’s like to volunteer here and listen to stories from the tower.

Another person we found sitting and watching the coast, this time purely for leisure, was the lovely Graham. On his regular walks along the prom in Penzance, Graham notices things. He reminds us how important it is to simply sit and be in the moment, to watch and to appreciate what’s on our doorstep. Talented poet Sonja, a member of Cobnuts poetry group, shares her poem ‘A Note to Self’ along the same theme.

Whilst Mounts Bay is undoubtably a special place, living and working here also brings its challenges such as the reality of fragile housing and the continual rise of second homes, clogged roads and pockets of poverty. We felt it was important to share some of these in this podcast.

Again we hear from the brilliant Dr.Jo Esra , this time focusing on tales from the rich heritage of smuggling along this coast. Her sheer enthusiasm and passion for her subject will keep you captivated and we could have had a whole podcast dedicated to her research into maritime history in this area.

A massive thank you to everyone who has shared with us for this podcast. It’s been a privilege to hear your stories. The music in this podcast was Gelasma composed by Robin Holmes, played by Jypsonian. If you enjoyed Gray Lightfoot’s poems then you can visit his website. Rachel Lambert is a Wild Food tutor, forager, and award-winning author. There will be more from Rachel Lambert on foraging and Connie on local sea life in later podcasts.

The full series of podcasts will be made available through the Newlyn Art Gallery website as well as other podcasting platforms.

The podcasts are part of the project led by artist Emma Smith, commissioned by Cornwall Council. The artwork is part of the EXPERIENCE project which promotes experiential tourism and sustainable economic growth during October to March. The project is co-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) through the Interreg France (Channel) England Programme under the Natural and Cultural Heritage funding category.

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