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The lifeboat station at Sennen Cove, Cornwall


Some background information:


Sennen Cove is a small coastal settlement with about 180 residents in the parish of Sennen in Cornwall, not far from Land’s End. It still retains much of the atmosphere of an old fishing village. But it has become renowned for its perfect surfing conditions and therefore is highly regarded by local and non-local surfers alike. Sennen Cove is good at most tides, bar extreme high tide. However surfing works best with a westerly swell and a light easterly wind.


The oldest building in the village is probably “The Old Success Inn”, a 17th century fisherman’s inn with views across the bay. But there are also some other old thatched cottages.


At Sennen Cove there’s still a lifeboat station, which was already founded in 1853. It is run by volunteers and operates a Tamar Class all-weather lifeboat and an IB1 inshore lifeboat. They are manned by a crew of 24 people, who ensure that the boats are operational and on call twenty-four hours a day, throughout the year. Next to the lifeboat station is the restored 19th century roundhouse, now used as an art gallery and souvenir shop, but originally used to house a winch for hauling boats up from the beach.


Sennen Cove is not a cove in the geological sense and would be more properly described as a bay. This bay is said to have once been frequented by mermaids, but perhaps these mermaids were indeed dolphins, which can still be seen frolicking in the water close to the coast.


Not only was the bay frequented by mermaids (respectively doplhins), but also by the so-called Sennen Whooper.


The story of the Sennen Whooper:


In former times Cornish people used to believe that many of the of the small coves around the coast have their own guardian spirits. One of these was the Whooper of Sennen Cove.


The Whooper was a large so-called piskie, a legendary Cornish fairy being, who was small in stature with red hair, looking like an old man with a wrinkled face. Piskies were said to dress in the colours of the earth especially green, using natural materials such as moss, grass and lichen. They were seen as cheerful creatures with a prankish nature. As the word is, they were helpful but also mischievous, helping the elderly and infirm whilst sometimes leading the more able bodied travellers astray on the lonely moors.


As I already said before, the Sennen Whooper was such a piskie, but a large one. Sometimes, on a beautiful day when the skies were a lovely clear blue, a strange, thick mist would gather over the cove. From this mist came a strange whooping sound. It was said that the Sennen Whooper could predict storms and had a marvellous ability to prevent fisherman venturing out whenever a storm was impending. However, on one occasion two intrepid fishermen managed to put to sea by beating their way through the mist. Since then neither they nor the Whooper were ever seen or heard again.

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Taken on September 7, 2011