Crag Notes: Fairground under Wraps

© stuart100

It's like breaking into the crag. Sennen in February, out-of-season. You duck under the barbed wire of rain, dodge the clifftop gale until you find a muddy gully, obscured by jostling boulders trying to sell tickets to day-trippers who've come for the spectacle. The blocs elbow each other, gaberdines on, collars up, grey with glints of bling.

You're through. Next, Big Wheel of the descent, up and over giant rocks, water pooling in cradle-chairs of granite, fixed in place, over-wintering. A white-grey tarpaulin of cloud drapes the whole apparatus. You don't care. Tear at the toggles and slip under. Clamber down the framework. The waves are huge. Their howling overwhelming. They circle and leap at you, security dogs hemmed in by the stone fence. Slobbering. Any closer and they'll bite. You perch, coconut-like, on a wet slab of rock.

Wave breaking over Sennen  © stuart100
Wave breaking over Sennen
© stuart100, Oct 2006

Below and to the right is the main fairground. It is shut. Shrouded in the tarp, clumps of seafoam whip over like old candyfloss. Where are the crowds? That music of human chatter, metal clatter of hexes and quickdraws? Each ride with its own bespoke soundtrack of laughter and screaming - the ghost train of Samson Arête, merry-go-round of Demo Route, wincing comedy of Tears of a Clown. All those Bananas to slip on! Surely it's time for the electricity of sunlight? Flick of the switch - a thousand bulbs, crystal intrusions, sparkling, turning the platform into a golden amusement park.

Nothing. It is closed. It has been closed for months and it is still closed. You knew this, when you broke in.

The author would like to thank Rowlands Funfair, who were kind enough to grant permission to photograph their equipment.

Sarah-Jane's book, A Feeling for Rock, is out now.

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1 Feb

I love what you did here. Thanks for writing SJD.

1 Feb

Well, I must say I do not like the comparison of Sennen with a fairground. The images at the start of the article imply, without saying it, that Sennen Cove has a fairground / end of pier / amusement arcade atmosphere, it doesn't!

1 Feb

They imply that only if you are not paying attention... and if you're not paying attention it doesn't really matter as you'll forget anyway.

Nice piece.

2 Feb

I have to disagree, I'm really fond of Sennen and the climbing there. To me, all the fairground comparisons really jar.

I'm with the others on this Mark - I really enjoyed it too.

I have no doubt that the Sarah-Jane loves Sennen, as do I, but that's not the point - it's about a highly unsuccessful out of season visit, where the crag is very much closed (in spite of the author's greatest efforts). The fairground metaphor fits in nicely, or at least it does for me: visiting crags such as Sennen reminds me of the same fun I used to have visiting Cornwall, and fairgrounds, as a child - so many new rides and exciting experiences to be had!

That said, when the crag is wet (and/or the fairground is closed) what else can be done than to look back to those halcyon days, hope for more, and admit to yourself that today of all days (and this year of all years) - the crag is indeed closed.

Dare I say it, but this could well be my favourite Crag Note of all time for that very reason.

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