No longer just for solstice, a new type of tourism means these mysterious formations are being visited year round. Our writer joins a stone hunt on the Cornish moors
Up on Cornwall’s Penwith Moors time takes a strange quality. Here the landscape is a morass of knotted bracken and bristly gorse, a soft marigold tinge signalling warmer summer days. A grey smudge of cloud sags on the horizon and the wind whirs like white noise, a low and disorientating murmur. The topography is a palimpsest, with working farms etched over ruinous mines and prehistoric settlements. And at its heart is a scattering of ancient stones, the enigmatic quoits, barrows and stone circles that have captivated and confounded societies for millennia.
It’s an enchanting place just to wander, but to help me dive deeper into the mysteries of the moors, I am meeting artists and stone enthusiasts Lally MacBeth and Matthew Shaw. Almost immediately I feel underdressed in hiking boots primed with mud and a hardy waterproof – in Cornwall, we come perpetually prepared for the threat of showers. MacBeth, on the other hand, looks the part of an antiquarian in an emerald-green blazer and matching beret finished with a swipe of ruby lipstick. The only muted part of her outfit is a monochrome badge, the size of a small pebble, that reads: “The Stone Club”.