Zennor: Visiting with D.H. Lawrence in Cornwall

Zennor, a small village on the north coast of Cornwall, is one of my favorite places in England. The village's few houses, the excellent Tinner Arms Pub, and square-towered St. Senara's Church, are bookended by a patchwork of farms and fields lined with stone walls. The historic pub, with a stone floor and log fire, was built in 1271 to feed and house workers building the church.

The great writer D.H. Lawrence came to Zennor with his German wife Frieda, cousin of the Red Baron von Richthofen, to escape the horrors of World War I. "It is a most beautiful place," he wrote to friends. "A tiny granite village nestling under high, shaggy moor-hills, and a big sweep of lovely sea beyond."

Lawrence rented a cottage for 5 pounds a month, but rather than write, argued with his wife. He later used the pub, calling it Tinner's Rest, in his short story Samson and Delilah.

Just north of Zennor is Zennor Head, a blunt peninsula surrounded by cliffs that fall into the surf far below. Here's a photograph I shot of a couple standing on the rocky headland as the sun sinks into the western sea horizon.

Zennor makes a good basecamp if you're a climber since you can head west along the coast to nearby Bosigran, a 200-foot granite cliff poised above the raging sea at Porthmoina Cove and the Great Zawn. It's an atmospheric place with superb climbing on perfect rock covered with flakes, edges, and crystals. Classic multi-pitch routes, done in the 1950s, on the Main Wall include Doorway (5.6), Little Brown Jug (5.8), and Doorpost (5.7+), while the Seaward Cliff, dipping into the sea, offers Black Slab (5.4), established by Colin Kirkus in the 1930s.

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