A week of documenting: Cornwall – Day 3

Day 3: Cape Cornwall


The Brisons or General de Gaulle in the bath

Just north of Land’s End, Cape Cornwall is quieter and probably more beautiful than the real ‘end of Britain’. The area between here and St. Ives is probably one of my favourite parts of the Cornish coastline.  Spectacularly high cliffs are backed by small fields and disused buildings dot the landscape from tin and copper mining. Today we have come in search of choughs. These birds (which are included in the Cornish coat of Arms) vanished completely from Cornwall in the 1970’s because of a loss of their preferred habitat (grazed cliff and heathland), but good land management has encouraged them back and it is always a thrill to see them. A blackboard by the caravan selling tea and cake in the carpark tells us that they have been sighted that day along with a pelican (!) and several seals.

We climb down to the Coast Watch lookout and sit in the bright sunshine and look. I draw The Brisons. These are rocks just off the shore and I have been told to look out for them by my father who reliably tells me that they look like General de Gaulle in his bath! I think he’s right. The Brisons come from the French ‘brisant’ meaning breaker or reef.


Looking north from Cape Cornwall


Looking north from Cape Cornwall – detail

The sea is jade green churned water. White frothing foam gives way to indigo blue with a white sparkling shimmer on the tops of the waves. Where it crashes over rocks it is milky or creamy, almost viscous.

We see seals. Four of them are floating in the water just feet away from sharp rocks. They are playing and are obviously enjoying the strong push and pull of the waves.

We don’t see any choughs and we don’t see the pelican either.


4 thoughts on “A week of documenting: Cornwall – Day 3

  1. bill.sewell@care4free.net

    Great drawing. My recollection is that he looks even more impressive when the tide is further out.

    I’ve looked up Gillian Cove on my Google view. The little beach we moored on is clearly visible (with water!) on the south side of the little creek just south of St. A’s Head.



    PS l think it was ‘74 when we were there..

    Sent from Windows Mail

  2. Terry Donaldson

    Loving this series – one of my favourite places. I have a very similar drawing of the Brisons done from the window of a holiday house in Sennen Cove one year. Looking forward to having you with us at InStitches at the end of the month …


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