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Interview with the Tour Guide

Translation - with special thanks to Seraphina

Cornwall – German travel guide published 2016 by Merian

Author ANTJE GERSTENECKER

ISBN 978 3 8342 0447 9

Cornwall is a land of myths and legends. Even today the many legendary figures are a part of everyday life, shamanic rituals are practiced and traditional customs are celebrated.

Mystical stone circles, mysterious monuments and sacred sources - many places in Cornwall are said to have very powerful energy, and there is hardly an old mansion or a castle, that is not haunted. One might believe such stories or not - if you are traveling in Cornwall, one often feels an intense connection with nature. Many people come here to rest or recharge their batteries. Whether this is due to the unique beauty of nature, the pleasant climate or special energy remains to be seen.

Going after the "Hocus Pocus"

This also happened to Susan Hockey who spent the holidays in Cornwall since her childhood. Even then this land held a very special fascination to her. Later, she went in search of a holiday home in Cornwall, where she wanted to spend her vacations. "The whole thing finally ended with the fact that I decided to abandon my life in London and to move all the way to Cornwall," she says with a grin. The stories and legends of the Southwest of England have always fascinated her: "It's not that I really believe in the whole 'Hocus Pocus'. But I love to read more about the legends, to talk to the local people about it and to look for the places myself. Especially in winter, I use the quiet time to research the old stories extensively.“ So she has acquired a unique knowledge of the mystical past of Cornwall and the mysterious locales of stories and legends.

Fascinating King Arthur

Particularly fascinating is the legend of King Arthur to Susan Hockey. There is no evidence that he is a historical figure that really lived. But many legendary scenes that tell us about his life, the druid Merlin and the Holy Grail, can be situated in Cornwall. From this, the idea of ​​offering tours on the trail of myths and legends arose: "It is fascinating to discover a country in this way. Many places are very difficult to find - and that's a good thing, because in this way the very special atmosphere and mystique stay untouched. I love travel with guests, tell the the old stories, show the very special places and explain its significance. There are so many interesting places off the typical tourist track, and it is this very special side of Cornwall I want to show my clients,“ says Susan.

Discover new things beyond the beaten path

Here, the secret lies in the slowing down: "I plan every trip individually with the guests and understand of course that many would like to see the places they know from the guidebooks - that's okay with me. But I am particularly pleased when guests embark on discovering new paths, and take the time to experience the places intensively.“ The success of this concept proofs her right - these guests are especially enthusiastic and often return for more trips.

There are mystical places in all of Cornwall, but especially many can be found on Bodmin Moor and on the Penwith peninsula - both are areas to which Susan leads her guests often. Anyone traveling on Bodmin Moor, should definitely look at the stone circles ‘The Hurlers’ near Minions. A nice hike leads from there across the moorland to the fascinating rock formation Cheesewring. Approximately 200 meters northeast from the stone circles lies the Rillaton Barrow, a grave mound from the Early Bronze Age. The grave was discovered in 1837 by miners and besides numerous grave goods also contained a well-preserved gold cup, which is now on display at the British Museum in London. Also worth seeing, but not easy to find, is King Arthur's Hall, a formation of 56 rectangular stones arranged together with a sacred spring. And another interesting destination is Dozmary pool, about 2 km south of Bolventor. „There are many legends around Dozmary pool," says Susan. „It is said, King Arthur has received the sword Excalibur at this lake and on it’s ground  the legendary sword lies until today." But that's not all - the spirit of Jan Tregeagle is said to haunt the shores of Dozmary pool. He made a pact with the devil to get power and wealth and at the end of his life was doomed to empty the lake with a holey shell. His howls can still be heard on Bodmin Moor. According to legend, he fled to Roche Rock in St. Austell Moor - appeares there as a ghost from time to time. "Aside from the history, Roche Rock is definitely worth a visit if you're near," says Susan. "In the middle of the rocks the ruins of a church can be seen. A bizarre sight and quite a place with a special aura."

Mysterious places that not everyone knows about

On the Penwith peninsula are numerous menhirs and stone circles. The most famous are certainly the Merry Maidens and Boscawen-un and the megalithic formations Men-an-Tol. "Personally, I prefer the unknown and lonely places. I believe that an experience is much more intense when it has a little bit of work to it. The more difficult a place to reach, the more interesting for me,“ says Susan. "It requires a little time and effort to really get to know Cornwall. But it's worth it! Perhaps the unknown small places are not quite as spectacular, but it is an intense and unforgettable experience, to be there with nature, to feel the mystique of the country - to be on places, where not all the others are. "

There is hardly an old, historic building in Cornwall, without a spirit to haunt it. It is said in the venerable Headland Hotel in Newquay, wandering nurses and soldiers in uniform are seen repeatedly. The walk through the walls, where there used to be doors, when the building was used as a hospital during the war. Also mansions as Lanhydrock and Trerice, Tintagel Castle and the Poldark Mine are supposedly haunted. No wonder these occurrences somtimes get commercialized. The Bodmin Jail has ghost tours, and you can spend the night in the most haunted room in the pub Jamaica Inn.

Ghost stories and special magic

As for spirits and supernatural occurrences, Susan is skeptical: "I am more interested in the historical background, and I'm more of a person who tries to find logical explanations for allegedly supernatural phenomena." And yet there is one or the other experience that she can not quite explain. There are special places, that move and touch people - this is certainly a part of the magic that Cornwall exerts to its visitors. "For me, Cornwall is an inexhaustible source of stories and associated locations. I constantly discover new things, but love to return to places and to discover more details,“ Susan says enthusiastically.

She founded Cornish Heritage Safaris in 2011 and passes on her love and enthusiasm for Cornwall to her guests on her individual tours. Her tours can be booked on request through out the year. Her tip for the best time is the month of June - as the weather is usually relatively stable, and it is still very quiet.