If there is one thing that Cornwall does well, it is hide it’s industrial past. The desolate mining landscapes of 200 years ago have been largely reclaimed by nature and many have become unlikely havens for wildlife and recreation.
One of my favourite walks takes in such a landscape, although you have to look hard to find any sign of its industrious history. Scott’s Quay lies on the Helford River roughly a miles walk from the village of Constantine, not far from Falmouth, and was built in the early 1800s by Charles Scott.
Scott was a wealthy landowner who lived at the manor of Trewadreva and also owned a number of local mines and quarries. He saw an opportunity to move large quantities of minerals and stone via a system of merchant schooner on the river, so built himself a quay.
A hard road was built from Constantine village, down the hill to the quay, which at the time it was constructed was much bigger than you see today. Horses and carts trundled up and down the road delivering the heavy loads of minerals for sale and bringing back goods such as coal, timber, salt, lime and any other materials that were needed for the local industry.
This peaceful place was once a hive of activity, now all that you hear are the cries of birds and the splash of fish in the slowly retreating tide.
The quay fell into disrepair in the 19th century with the arrival of the railways but it was restored in the 1930s by Mrs Hext of Trebah. She arranged for the derelict quay to be rebuilt, put in place the public right of way and built stone stiles along the route, all so that local people could enjoy the wildlife and the river. These days Scott’s Quay is one of the very few places that allows public access to the Helford river.
On the quay you will find a small board with some local history information and a note of welcome from the present owners, the Pugh family of Goongillings Farm. The family came to Goongillings in 1954 and have continued Mrs Hext’s plan of keeping this spot unspoilt and open for the community to enjoy.