Peace Crane by Hilary Taylor

Peace Crane by Hilary Taylor
Picture by Justin Wyatt
To read Hilary's story buy this special book...

This magical story has a touch of the supernatural. When an injured crane is found and nursed, something happens, something magical and inspiring...

Gentle Footprints launched- AS SEEN ON TV

Gentle Footprints was officially launched Fri June 4th at the Hay Festival with guest speaker Virginia McKenna and some of the authors

Buy from Bridge House Publishing by clicking on the link BUY:


Virginia McKenna at Hay Launch

Virginia McKenna at Hay Launch

Animal Anthology To Raise Funds for Born Free

Bridge House Publishing announce new book coming Spring 2010. For more about Bridge House please see their website.
This book is the annual charity book for Born Free...if you want to get involved with promoting and selling this book- email me!

Visit the Born Free Website to find out more about their valuable work...

Visit the Born Free Website to find out more about their valuable work...

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

Mining and landscape restoration

The area where my story Homecoming is set -around the St Just district in Cornwall - is inextricably linked with mining. Remains of pre-industrial and more modern mining activity are scattered over the wild cliffs and surrounding fields, but the legacy of mining is even more deeply imprinted on communities here than on the landscape. Along with fishing, mining was the main way of life around St Just and the fortunes of the local population has in many ways charted those of the tin trade.
Mines in the area include Levant (now owned and renovated by the National Trust), the fabulous Botallack (where ruined engines houses perch precariously on the cliffside) and Geevor (which closed in 1990 and is now a tourist attraction). Since 2006, the area has been part of a World Heritage Site, which recognises the unique impact of mining on the region's landscape and history. In many ways, the story of the chough in Cornwall reflects the decline and recent renaissance in the county's mining heritage - a real sense of pride in the area's heritage has been rekindled in the last few years. The coastline is exposed to the full fury of the elements, battered by wind and sea spray, and is haunted by more than a few ghosts.
Mining was a dangerous way to make a living, though for most it was a way of life, rather than just a job. Miners could often hear the roar of the sea above their heads as they worked in cramped tunnels which extended out far under the ocean. Sometimes tunnels collapsed without warning or machinery could fail - in 1846, a mine flooded killing 53 miners, then the Wheal Owles disaster of 1893 claimed 20 lives, including a boy. Probably the most notorious incident occurred at the Levant mine in 1919, when the man engine carrying a load of miners to the surface at the end of their shift broke, plummeting hundreds of feet and 31 men were lost. Countless men were injured or suffered long term health problems due to the working conditions. At Botallack, one miner who was blinded in a blasting accident continued to work underground though he was totally blind in order to support his nine children. There was, though, a great sense of comradeship which got men through the bleak times.
Perhaps surprisingly wildlife is now thriving in the harsh environment of the post-mining landscape. Along with the assault of the weather, life has to contend with the heavy metals which contaminate the soils. Amazingly, some plants can tolerate the metal laden ground and new habitats such as heathlands have been created under land restoration projects. The old mine buildings provide shelter for birds such as swallow and raven, while the underground shafts and tunnels are perfect roosting sites for bat species. Mining spoil heaps create south-facing slopes which are ideal for reptiles to bask and even the lunar-like landscapes of bare rubble is home to rare insects. While it could be argued that man's impact has scarred the environment, for me it is inspiring to witness how nature can reclaim a landscape and will take up the slightest invitation to move in, when industry moves on.

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