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Watch for the Greenwitch

I re-read Susan Cooper's Over Sea Under Stone, and Greenwitch, since it was summer, and the season seemed right - and then it occurred to me that I'd never visited Mevagissey (the village that Trewissick is based on).  So we resolved to go and do that.   It's only about 40 miles to Mevagissey, but the roads are narrow, winding and busy at this time of year.   So rather than going all the way there by car, we decided to go to Fowey, and take the ferry the rest of the way.

We got to Fowey a bit early for the ferry, so had to hang about a bit admiring the view.  We had not actually come to admire Fowey, but since we were there... Fowey

It was a bright sunny day,  and it was very tempting to paddle in the estuary.
I resisted the temptation for all of ooh, about ten minutes.
Waiting for the Ferry in Fowey

The ferry took us out past the matching pair of castles, built one either side of the estuary on the orders of Henry VIII to defend Fowey harbour.  They seemed unmoved by the ferries and other little boats coming and going.

Fowey castle

It took about half an hour to get to Mevagissey.  I was pleased to see that as promised in OSUS, there was a harbour-master's office (grey building at the back).  Given the failing state of the fishing industry in Cornwall, it was a nice surprise to see so many little fishing boats, clearly still in daily use.

Mevagissey Harbour 2

The inner harbour.   The water looked very clear and green, apart from some scum and weed right in the inner harbour : a swimming competition didn't seem improbable, though I don't think they have one as part of the current Carnival now.  There were plenty of Grey Houses to choose from.  I'll have to have another look at the books to see if I can work out if Captain Tom's Grey House is identifiable.
Mevagissey Harbour

These flags were flying on the Aquarium, for some reason.  Surely the Celtic Nations flag is the most complicated flag to be found anywhere! 

Celtic nations flag...

The Aquarium was fairly obviously an ex-lifeboat station, and was mostly stocked with things the fishing boats had brought in.  You seem to get these little aquariums full of sea bass and catfish and lobsters in small fishing ports, and I wonder why.  I'd love to know what causes a fisherman who has just caught a nice lobster to decide 'hmm, this one's too good to eat!'   Or maybe it's not too good to eat.  Maybe the ones in the aquarium are the ones that looked a bit manky?  I'm not that good at identifying mankiness in living fish, let alone shellfish.

I don't seem to have photographed the aquarium, but here is the coast looking East, with the Fowey ferry, the little red and white boat on the right,  just coming in.
Mevagissey Harbour 3

We went up both cliffs, to both the east and West of the village, although we did not go far enough to find any headlands that could be Kemare Head.

  I think that the cliff in the photo below, just to the East of the village, must be the one that you'd throw a Greenwitch from.  The ones to the West had rocks at the bottom whereas this one is pretty much sheer down to the little green cove at the bottom, which looked like it sloped away reasonably steeply.

View East along the coast from Mevagissey

At the top of the sheer cliff, there is an open field, ideally suited to the building of Greenwitches.  Sadly, there is a chainlink fence and a hedge to stop small children, tourists, etc falling off the cliff - but if you took the chainlink down, you'd have a perfect slope down to a steep cliff, ideal for flinging.   There's a path that goes up to this field straight from the harbour too, for grimy fishermen to trudge up at dawn (and also, part of the South West Coast path).

View West along the coast from the cliff East of Mevagissey

More fishing boats, more tall grey houses....   Mevagissey is bigger than I'd thought : it does have quite a few little shops and cafes, although I bet it's dead in the winter.   It even has a rather good second-hand bookshop.  They had a copy of The Dark is Rising, but not of OSUS or Greenwitch.  This seemed like missing a trick, although maybe it just means that anyone who comes to Mevagissey for the Susan Cooper connections already has their own copy.

I looked out for a fishing boat called the White Lady, but I didn't see one.  There was a big yellow one named 'Valhalla' though.
Mevagissey Harbour 3

This is the cliff on the West.  We went up and stood on the round viewpoint thing. It had excellent sea views,  but was not particularly Dark Is Rising-ish.
Place of Views

And then back on the ferry to Fowey, where I found a rather lovely balcony.

Balcony in Fowey



( 13 comments — Leave a comment )
7th Jul, 2013 00:32 (UTC)
Oh, this is exciting! I just finished OSUS, and it's like seeing a bit of it brought to life to see these photos of the fishing village it's based on. Thank you so much for posting them!

And that is an awfully nice balcony in that last picture. I hope whoever lives there has tea on it often to enjoy the harbor view.
8th Jul, 2013 13:00 (UTC)
Oops - sorry! It did not occur to me that you might not have got to Greenwitch yet. Although I don't think there are really any spoilers here.
7th Jul, 2013 00:41 (UTC)
That looks like a lovely day. I also like your assessment of the cliff as "ideal for flinging," though I haven't read the books in question.
8th Jul, 2013 13:01 (UTC)
Flinging is an important part of it. :-D
7th Jul, 2013 02:17 (UTC)
How pretty! I should reread the series.
7th Jul, 2013 08:06 (UTC)
Yet another series I've never read ...
7th Jul, 2013 10:49 (UTC)
Oh, you're in for a real treat then!
8th Jul, 2013 13:02 (UTC)
They are quite short and easy reading. Hard to say more than that about them: it's difficult to critically assess books that you have grown up loving.
7th Jul, 2013 08:45 (UTC)
Very nice photos! I must re-read the books sometime! (was massive fan of them as a child).
8th Jul, 2013 13:03 (UTC)
On the whole, I think they stand up pretty well to a re-read. I have re-read TDIR fairly recently, as I sometimes read it as a 'coming up to Christmas' book, but it's a very long time since I tried OSUS, which feels rather more fifties. Has a charm of its own though.
11th Aug, 2013 15:02 (UTC)
Hello! Was browsing your Lj after looking at your Eagle artwork :) and just had to comment here - omg! Over Sea Under Stone & Greenwitch!! I think you're the other person I've met whose read that ( possibly because I'm Asian and live in Asia, goodness knows how I managed to get those books as a kid. ) In fact, I JUST re-read them in June!

Er- ok.. That was it. Sorry for the odd squeal!
12th Aug, 2013 21:41 (UTC)
I'm glad you enjoyed the post! I think they are fairly popular with British readers of a certain age, but yes, I guess they don't have the widest international appeal.

There is the http://thedarkisrising.livejournal.com/ community, which is not hugely busy, but does get the odd post!
13th Aug, 2013 09:28 (UTC)
Wow, really? Thanks for that - checking it out immediately!!
( 13 comments — Leave a comment )

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