Friday, 10 April 2009


I remember the first time I came across it, on a drive from one place to another, long forgotten. It seemed to rise out of the ground, dark and brooding and fascinating. I asked a friend from that area about it and my brief glimpse was fleshed out and I learnt it could be climbed....

I always intended to go back but never had. One time we nearly went but it was a windy old day and didn't the most sensible plan.

Today however, we went back and I caught maybe my third look at it. This was the first time I had ever stopped to look, let alone considered climbing it.

The nearby village is called Roche which means rock in Cornish. It is not hard to see why for Roche's Rock sits just outside. The area around it is normal cornish heath with the odd granite boulder. A low hill grows out of the plateau and on top of this hill there are a number of pieces of granite jutting. Some are like jagged knives sticking out of the ground while others are lumps of rock dumped.

Many photos make it look a dark and brooding place but I think this is the contrast between rock and sky as seen by the camera. I felt no darkness there and certainly no sense of brooding. I could have stayed there forever, on top, in the sun, with a book and a flask of soup.

Once the hill has been climbed and a path wended through the rock knives to the foot of the biggest rock, you find a ladder bolted onto the rock which takes you up to a ledge. On this ledge is a wall with a doorway. This leads into the ruin of the chapel built in 1409 and dedicated to Saint Michael.

The chapel would have been two storeys high and a second ladder leads up to the top of the remains of the old stair case and then through a door, up some turning granite steps and you find an open precipice. Another doorway leads back on yourself so you can look down into the chapel and walk across the top of the granite, level with the old second floor.

I felt so at peace up there, even though I was not alone and other visitors were around.

There are many legends and it seems at one time a hermit lived in the cell of the ground floor of the chapel. The giant Tregeagle once trapped his head in the large upper window. It has been proposed by some that it must have been a religous focus long before the chapel was built. Some say the place is sinister. The rock has also provided a refuge for doomed lovers, from the hounds of hell and to many pios folk who became early religious figures in Cornwall and are remembered as local saints. I don't want to delve into the legends to far though, because they are somehow at odds with how the place made me feel...

One day I will go there on a quiet day, by myself, and sit, and watch, the clouds drift by....
From the half way up the low hill. The two stacks of granite are not joined in the middle and a path leads between the two.

Between the two main stacks, the chapel looms.
You can just see the first doorway in this photo, with it's ledge and the ladder up to it.
View from in the chapel back through the first door to the ledge, notice how there isn't much land through the door!
The top of the second ladder, in the chapel, leading to the second door. behind the wall, stairs climb to the left to the third door which is shown on the left. S climbed up the stone steps to nearly the third door but the openess up there was too much for him to continue!
View through the third door. Do you notice how there, again, isn't much land! The rock drops straight down.
From the third door the top of the rocks stretches along for the sure footed. This was as far as I went but there were climbers up there who went all the way to the far edge, twice as far as I went. You can see the second door and the window in which the giant Tregeagle got his head stuck. Really not for the feint-hearted!

Did I mention that Cornwall is so beautiful that this isn't even a major tourist attraction....

1 comment:

  1. Looks lovely Rose, what a fascinating place... can imagine it would be lovely to spend some time there on your own.