It’s now known by the less macabre name; Dodman Point, or just ‘The Dodman’.
Well known to sailors for centuries, it’s steep forbiding cliffs reached by rounding the Lizard, marked the real beginning of the channel, the end of the wild Atlantic and home.
It’s a hard, windswept place still. The granite cross stands mute and resolute at it’s head, facing the sea down.
The sloping gentleness of the Coast from the Gribbin to Gorran gives its thanks to this ragged and remote headland. If The Lizard protects the Roseland from the Atlantic’s brutality then the Dodman shelters St. Austell bay and beyond.
The Dodman is wholly ancient. You can feel this when you walk it. The peninsula is the remnant of a promontory fort. Too large to be a purely defensive dwelling, the most coherent explanation is this was a small enclosed Bronze and Iron-age town. Although this source states there was a village here as late as the early to mid 19th century.
This was the first place I walked on my own, late teens.
I’m no spiritualist, I shed the religion I was brought up with and am in no hurry to replace it. But. Here you can humble yourself with something. It’s intuitively and simultaneously ancient, powerful, wild, remote and dangerous. Those things together bring humans to earth. Which is, after all, where they belong.
The only building left on this little lump of land is an old Coastguard hut.
This has been restored by the NT (who own and manage the whole area) and you can shelter and sleep if the weather closes in. As far as I can tell (by the litter and graffiti but also past experience) it is mainly a well chosen spot to get drunk underage.
There’s a story that is told about this unassuming little place and it sums the area up. It’s hazy on the exact details so I made them up.
In a not too distant century, say before the automobile and after the Civil War, a middle aged and portly Coastguard had been sheltering in this little hut from a particularly punishing sou-westerly gale. As he grumpily and soberly huddled over a weak fire, something tugged at him, as sometimes happens to people when something needs to be seen. Reluctantly stepping out into horizontal rain he saw, after a minute, in a gap in the racing clouds, that the exposed moon was shining dolefully on a clipper, broken masted and on a lee shore.
He knew this was his moment to shine having been relegated to this position by the community due to untoward and lewd behaviour. Having also been somewhat athletic in his youth and full of hope of redemption and anxiety for the stricken sailors, the man ran the ragged and gale hammered two miles of coast to his birthplace, Gorran Haven, a small fishing hamlet situated comfortably in the armpit of the Dodman. Bursting into the pub, where the local fisherman inevitably drank each evening, he clearly and efficiently informed the red-faced coal-warm drinkers of the situation who dropped their pewter mugs and rushed to their boats. Dripping and panting in the doorway, watching the men run to their vessels the man promptly dropped dead, unforgiven.
Fun huh? Here’s a tree bent in respect of the sou-westerly.