We breakfasted early on salmon and scrambled eggs, sausages and porridge, not all in the same bowl. Wife had come equipped with a Cornish secret beaches book and the pages fell open on Donkey beach…the decision was made…that was our destination. Half an hour, one car ferry and 4 miles through perilous country lanes and we were there, or almost there. All the book required us to do now was hike up a hill, over the top of a cliff and down a mountainside and we were there..Donkey beach. surrounded by steep cliffs, rocks and a host of little rock pools the place was big enough for 2 families and we had it to ourselves. Or we thought we did….a discarded pair of pants and the love heart scrawled in the sand , initialled E and S should have been warning enough….Lovers About! Sure enough round an outcrop of rocks lurked a middle aged couple who clearly thought the beac was theirs alone. Or son has a naturally LOUD voice! Within about 10 minutes of our arrival we had the beach to ourselves, it’s amazing how quickly a noisy Little Boy can chase off lovers… For a good four hours we explored the beach, its rock pools and mysterious cave. a couple of hours in we sat down for a lunch of chorizo and chicken pie, roasted veg quiche and sour lemonade we’d procured from a Fowey deli on our way to the ferry. Talk turned to the name of the beach and it was left to Daddy to spin the yarn:
I wonder how the beach got is name wife mused. I stepped up. “Donkey beach got its name during the war, the first one. Trench warfare was costing lots of lives and Lord Kitchener the man in change of the war wanted to start building tunnels under enemy lines in order to mount surprise attacks. He needed expert tunnellers so he conscripted a battalion of Cornish tin miners along with their pit ponies. Well they all boarded a transport ship at Penzance and set off for France. Unfortunately after only traveling a little way down the coast it encountered an experimental German submarine and was torpedoed and sunk; everyone on board was lost.
Three days later a family was picnicking on this very beach when the little boy pointed at the water and said Sea Horse. The family looked at where he was pointing and saw a raggady small donkey walk right out of the sea onto the beach. Much later it was established that the donkey was a pit pony called Lucy who was on the ship that was sunk. The sheer cliff sides and steep cliff path prevented the donkey from leaving the beach so the local took turns on bringing the donkey food. They built it a small shelter and for the next 12 years the donkey lived on the Beach, now known as Donkey Beach……”
Wife was totally convinced by the story. Boy a little less…