If you throw enough pebbles in the great pond of life the ripples will spread outwards, possibly resonating for ever. So I believe. Thus I found myself volunteering to light a beacon to mark 125 years of the founding of Europe's largest conservation body, the National Trust. However, this was not just any beacon but one atop the Neolithic-sensed Chapel Carn Brea at Cornwall's Lands End. Amidst the granite, ruined tin mines, chough-tossed cliffs, seascapes of the far off Scillies and the ancient (World Heritage Site) landscape hewn from hard rocks and harsh soils, we gathered in dark shivering dribbles of half-seen human curtains of moving scenery. In the pre-dawn starlight on a stumbling West Penwith hillside, lit by a full moon with sparsely scattered lights of random farmsteads and faraway shipping, an intrepid clan of crazy people consumed by the romantic notion of making fire in the dark came together.
An effusive loud and proud address in Cornish atop a granite boulder with a skirl of Cornish pipes triggered a soulful howling chorus of singing dogs and set the scene for more unnatural and natural drama. Then, as the wolf moon sank towards the black sea and glimmered orange in anticipation, I stepped up to light the beacon basket of dry wood and straw. It slowly sparked and then roared into combustible life. A short speech, held together by frozen fingers and illuminated by head torch, to celebrate the great foresight of the founders was delivered in the windy, crackling dark to an audience of maybe 40 people, 5 curious wild ponies, I Cornish piper, 1 keen BBC reporter and a canine choir of possibly 15 darling muddy mutts.
As the sparks blew harder and the firelight grew, Will Coleman, the piper, (see below for contact details) played on to summon the dawn, and sang songs in the old tongue of Kernow. My job as a member of the National Trust Council is officially (and legally) to act as 'the Guardian of the Spirit of the National Trust', a term written into the Trust's Act of Parliament. It is not exactly clear what this means but at moments like this it becomes much more understandable and everyone present became deputised to the cause of spiritual guardianship. I like to think that the curious ponies and the singing dogs got it too. Furiously windy torrents of sparkling fireflies of burning embers and magic moments like this are rare in any lifetime but it was a pleasure to be part of this awesome dark to light transformative gathering on the first and last hill in Cornwall and England. It is places like this that are precious to us all and now preserved for everyone, for ever by the spirit and deed of the people of the National Trust. There are future, joyful, spirited transformations yet to come. Join it and enjoy it and help make the next 125 years a glittering stream of sparky places and deeds where whispers of better things can happen to bring light and positivity out of darkness.
Will Coleman maintains a brilliantly welcoming website www.gocornish.org.uk where you can learn the Cornish language and much more. There is also the soon to be happening things around www.goldentree.org.uk including the creation of Kerdroya the £1 million art and landscape project that teaches and makes new Cornish hedges including a spectacular new labyrinth on Bodmin Moor. Catch a peek here at https://vimeo.com/349442492 me'ansome.
As Will said to me: "Da o dha metya yn dann an Loor Leun war agan Kynsa ha Diwettha bre!" (It was good to meet you under a Full Moon upon our first and last hill). I couldn't agree more.