Roche Rock Chapel

Friday 18 December 2015 – Roche, Cornwall.

I cannot believe that another working year has passed. My first full working year in the UK, and it has been a difficult working year. When I left my IT Management job in New Zealand, just over four years ago, I vowed I would not do stressful work again, and there I was back in it in my first UK job. At least now the main piece of the project is well out the way the second half of the year has not been anywhere near as stressful and tiring as the first half, but I am still doing IT. I guess I just like the money too much!!

To end the year on a positive note I have decided to do one last road trip, no walking this time, well not much walking anyway. I have hired a car, loaded it up with the DLSR and tripod and clothing appropriate for another rainy weekend in Cornwall and headed off to Falmouth for three nights. El is working until Wednesday so I thought I should make the most of those days and head out into the wild.

I chose Falmouth mainly because it has a castle, plus I have not been there before, and of course it is on the South West Coast Path and that is always an attraction. Having a rental car meant I could take my time heading down and stop off on the way.

It was a slow start, it took ages to get out of London, the traffic was actually pretty good, but I am impatient, I do not drive often and when I do I want to be nailing it down a highway out into the country, not crawling along the north circular. I have a diesel Audi A1, it is pretty basic, but it is so much better than the Peugeot 3008 we had in St Ives. Functional and easy to drive. Once I worked out to how get my phone connected via Bluetooth and my sounds going it was sweet as and the miles just flew by – mainly because of the clear motorway and my heavy hoof… One thing Britain has over NZ is a decent speed limit – and less fear of getting nicked for speeding.

A few weeks ago I bought a book called ‘Wild Ruins’ that listed a whole bunch of small and unusual ruin sites in the UK, one of those sites was Roche Rock and it is located just off the A30 about 40 minutes from Falmouth. It was on the way, looked really intriguing in the book so I decided to pay it a visit on the way down. I am so glad I did!

I found the village of Roche OK, but took a wrong turn before finding the site and ended up passing by the back of it, wow! The instructions in the book must have deliberately made you walk around the long way so you get a more mysterious introduction. Nice one !

As I was looking for a spot do a u-turn I found this old kiln site, so stopped for a quick photo. I actually thought it was an old tin mine/foundry site, but reading about it in the hotel later on I discovered it is in fact a 1950s brick kiln. It still looks cool though, and was a good spot to do a u-turn.

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I headed back up the road to Roche, looking for a place to park so I could walk to the ‘Rock’, in the end I parked where the book suggested – which was pretty much the only spot. Wisely I changed shoes into a new pair of trail running shoes I recently bought. The walk in was muddy, slippery and in some places a bit dodgy as the layer of foliage hides the holes in and between the rocks. A bit of grip was a good idea.

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The ‘rock’ is a small pinnacle of granite that pops magically out of the countryside, it has been a spiritual site for centuries. The town name of Roche, is French for Rock. Site preparation for a recently built housing complex found pottery and other artefacts from the Neolithic period, so this is a really old place.

The main reason for coming here, is not to see the rock, and but to see the chapel, and it is mostly hidden from view from the path I took until you get to the far side of the rock and get the first hint.

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The chapel was constructed in the 15th century, there was not a clear reason why, possibly by a hermit who did live there for a long period of time. The chapel is dedicated to St Michael, and perhaps was used as beacon or resting place for pilgrims on the way to St Michael’s Mount near Penzance. No one really knows. One of things I like about it.

It slowly reveals itself as you walk around to front and see it in all its majesty. Yes, it is not the Tower of London, or Salisbury Cathedral, but it is a magnificent ruin. How it was built up there, precariously balanced on that rock is as much as a mystery to me as to the why. That so much of it remains 600 years later in this harsh landscape is quite remarkable.

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There is a ladder up to the ruins, but it was very very windy and I did not have a bag for my camera, and I had the big DSLR with me, I wasn’t going to risk it (or me, if the truth be known) by climbing up that ladder in a high wind. So the mystery of what lies up there will remain for me.

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As I headed back to the car, a murder of crows arrived, adding to the bleakness of the ruin, the rock and the boggy moorland surrounding it. I was even more glad I did not venture up that ladder!

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I walked back around the far side of the site to the one I had come from and took a couple of last shots before heading back to the car. I wish the weather had been worse or better. Big clouds or bright sun would have been good. Flat grey sky was photographically dull !!

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I drove onto Falmouth and arrived at the hotel late in the afternoon, just as the forecasted weekend rain arrived. \it is fairly quiet in town, and Falmouth is a log bigger than I thought, as there are not too many guests I have been upgraded from my single room, to a much bigger twin room with a view over the houses to the sea. it is a nice room. I hung out in my room for a bit and went out for a walk and tea in the very early evening – luckily as the rain had stopped.

I took a walk around the outside of Pendennis Castle, my plan for tomorrow. It was very dark, no street lighting at all and even though it is only 6:30 night has fully descended. There was quite a nice view of the castle from the road near my hotel – it is a lot further away than I thought, too far to take a photo hand held and far to windy to use a tripod.  I was hoping to get a clear shot up close, but the walls are too high. I am really glad I thought to toss my head torch in my bag as the walk around the walls was very very dark, and a bit slippery too.  It was really nice up there, completely alone and all I could hear was the waves and the wind in the trees. I took a photo with my phone.

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I walked around the headland, hoping to get into town and find somewhere to eat, walking off the tree lined headland I was really surprised to find a working ship yard – I have done no research into Falmouth – and a longer walk into town than I thought. I investigated the main street of Falmouth before finally settling on a small tapas place for a glass of red and some food. It was quiet and enjoyable, apart from the bloody Christmas music.

I was back in the hotel by 9:00, nothing on the telly so listened to music and typed this. Going to get ahead of the photo editing and blogging this time !

About wheresphil

Originally from Auckland, New Zealand, now living in London.
This entry was posted in Blog, Britain, England and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Roche Rock Chapel

  1. Pingback: Capturing History Challenge Week 18 | Ed Mooney Photography

  2. Ali Isaac says:

    Wonderful images, and what a fantastic place Roche Rock is! I have never heard of it before, but it is exactly the kind of place which gets your imagination running wild! You can always add some stormy clouds into the background during photo editing, if you want, but I think the images are simply stunning as they are.

    • wheresphil says:

      Thank you Ali 🙂 I had never heard of Roche Rock until I bought this book on unusual ruins. It has some fantastic places to check out, much as I love a big old castle, these obscure ruins in out of the way places are what really rock my boat !

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