Blog - The Lost World

04th June 2011
Isn’t it a wonderful feeling when you discover somewhere new which takes your breath away? Like a child in a sweetshop, you don’t know where to look first. This was how I felt when I first visited Kennall Vale – and if truth be told, I still feel this each time I go back.

Kennall is one of Cornwall’s hidden gems, and in my opinion one of the most beautiful and impressive spots in Cornwall. It’s a steep sided wooded valley, with a river tumbling down a series of falls and cascades. The site used to contain an old gunpowder works, and quite a big one too, with seven mills dotted along the river, and several other buildings. The works closed down 100 years ago, and now the site has been allowed to go back to nature.

A walk through the reserve really is a journey of discovery into a lost world – from the amazing variety of the flora to the twists and turns of the river, from the derelict mills to the complex and ingenious system of leats which took the water from the river to drive the water wheels. That such a large industrial complex should exist in such a remote location seems astonishing, and totally at odds with the beautiful surroundings. It really drives home the importance of power – the fast flowing river which was harnessed to drive the mill. 200 years ago, this source of power was so valuable, that the industry literally came to it, despite the difficulty – although the gunpowder was probably easy to transport, and much in demand at local mines.

Kennall Vale is a fascinating visit at any time of year, but really comes into its own in the spring and autumn. In spring the valley is home to a wonderful collection of wild flowers, including plenty of bluebells. However, I timed my first visit just as the autumn colours were arriving. The trees were a patchwork of colours as the leaves started to shift from green to yellow. There are lots of fallen trees at Kennall, adding to the ‘forgotten world’ atmosphere. I found a derelict mill just where two such trees had fallen across the river, which gave a great visual lead in to the mill. The details here were superb, with mill stones visible in the river and on the banks, waterfalls, ferns growing on the fallen trees – it was difficult positioning the camera to fit it all in! I opted here for a long exposure to soften and blur the falling water as a counterpoint for all the intricate detail of the mill and wood.


Photo comment By LaCee Hodge: I really want to go to a forest when I look at this picture.

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