One of my most favourite walks takes me on a lovely loop from Trevalga along a stunning stretch of coastline up through Rocky Valley and back to Trevalga via Trethevy. The Rocky Valley walk is quite famous in these parts and it’s close proximity to the surfing mecca of Newquay means that it gets plenty of footfall all year around. I have only ever been there once when there was no one but me and a three-legged dog. (And that’s another story.)
The valley gets all those visitors because it really is a magical place. When you descend from the cliff path into the valley itself the path then winds its way beside a stream gushing downhill towards the sea, it is lush and green and shady even on a hot day.
Part way up the valley is the ruin of a mill and it is behind this roofless shell on the cool, damp rock face that you find the carvings.
They are easy to miss but once you spot them I think they are fascinating. I have traced their gentle curves many times with my eye and my finger, it feels like a game and a spell. There is a plaque above which claims they date from the bronze age (probably) but in actual fact their origin is a complete mystery.
No one is really sure who carved them or when and there are several theories. One idea is that they were in fact carved by a bored worker at the now abandoned mill. During the 18th century mazes such as these saw a bit of a revival, it is unclear why but the labyrinth pattern started to pop up all over the place, in architecture and in gardens and in other odd locations too.
Above is a picture of me and a friend in the 1990s at the Troy Town maze on St Agnes island in the Isles of Scilly. The seven ring maze pattern is not particular to these parts it is common throughout Europe and it has been said that they were built on sea shores to protect sailors by sending them fair winds. The one on St Agnes dates from roughly 1790 which is also the date of other graffiti carved into the walls of the mill in Rocky Valley.
It would be nice to known the Rocky Valley carvings real origins but I doubt there will ever be any certainty over their true date. I do feel that the sign that is there now is a little misleading however and could perhaps do with a bit of an update to leave their provenience a more open to thought and perhaps our imagination.