In 1919 Black’s Guide to Cornwall was published more in the style of a travel guide, with routes that could be followed.
The book describes a combination of places, landscape, local customs/industry and the route to take to move between the places, so it works as a Walking Route. Black’s explain this in the Preface to the book:
In the present edition of our Guide to Cornwall greater importance has been given to the popular coast resorts, some of which are coming more and more into note both as summer and as winter havens.
With these, as far as possible, we have connected the various points of interest most often visited on excursions from them, so that different sections will serve as small handbooks to Fowey, Falmouth, Penzance, the Lizard, the Land’s End, Newquay, Tintagel, and other spots where strangers are most likely to take up their quarters.
Newquay has a few short pieces as it’s included as part of a long walking route. Black’s Guide describes Newquay as:
This rising watering-place differs from most Cornish resorts in being no higgledy-piggledy, half foreign-looking port, for which the epithet quaint must not be done to death.
There was here an old village, once a new one, the home of fishermen, smugglers, and wreckers, if all stories are true; but since the opening of the railway from Par, this has been overlaid by a modern town of over 3000 inhabitants, with room for more; and the stranger might walk from end to end without seeing any relic of antiquity but the curious little weather-beaten ” Huer’s House” on the Beacon, now overshadowed by a big hotel that makes a conspicuous landmark for many a mile, and has a rival within a few hundred yards.
The Huer’s House, small as it is, was once the most important public building of Newquay, from which through the summer keen watch was kept for the appearance of the pilchards, proclaimed by joyful outcry and the blowing of huge trumpets heard far over the country round. But for several years the pilchards have fought shy of this bay; and its old, more disreputable occupations being also things of the past, Newquay now mainly relies on shoals of visitors, who have gone on increasing from hundreds to thousands. These are chiefly summer guests as yet, often tempted to linger late into autumn, but the Newquay people would have us understand that theirs is a pleasanter winter haven than might be supposed, little sheltered as it might seem to be to the north and east, but washed by the Gulf Stream, and chiefly exposed to the prevalent southwest wind, not to be guarded against by any shelter.
The climate certainly seems to be mild and equable, while more bracing than that of other south-western resorts, and with a rather more moderate rainfall than is common in this quarter.
It’s interesting to see the hotels that were present in 1919, that are still in existence today!
This book covered Wadebridge, Padstow, Newquay, Crantock, Piran Sands, St Agnes Head, Mawgan, Bedruthan, St Columb and Par.
Using old guide books to re-walk a route and spot the differences between when the author wrote them and what’s happened in the past 100 years is a fascinating hobby. I love discovering places that are mentioned in the old books that still exist today.
These old books can be a much more exciting way of doing a walk, or discovering a town, as you’re engaged in hunting down the landmarks the authors mention, rather than following blindly a more modern book that can feel ‘bland’ by comparison.