Welcome to Speedy Piran

Free interactive family adventure stories that help you discover more about Cornwall

During this story, you will get a chance to ‘ride and decide’ with Speedy Piran.  Try your best to learn as much as you can about free trading, so you can help the smugglers keep their secret!

Speedy Piran's little adventure about the Free Traders' Run









Speedy Piran enjoys a cup of tea....


It’s early morning in Treeth, the little Cornish seaside town on the south coast of England.  

“Wake up Speedy Piran” gently calls Sophie, the owner of the boat repair yard next to the quay.   Speedy Piran slowly wakes up and smiles when he sees Sophie holding a cup of tea for him. 

“It’s made just the way you like it, Speedy Piran, with 5 sugars but not stirred” she says and she pours it in his drinks tank.

“Because I don’t like it sweet” he chimes in reply.

“Thanks Sophie” says Speedy Piran, “I could drink a barrel of tea every morning.  It is just the thing to wake me up.”

“I’m glad you like barrels” says the Captain approaching the quay, “because that is your job today.  You need to go to the spring, bring down barrels of spring water and take 'em to the Round House Inn.

“Aye, aye Captain” replies Speedy Piran. 

 “I’m off to help move barrels myself, this time for the free traders” he continues as he heads off.  “If you need me I'll be at the Keepers Inn” and with that he is gone.

Speedy Piran has his second cup of tea, then motors out of the quay and along the canal.

 “See you for your tea break later” Sophie calls after him.

Speedy Piran spends the morning moving barrels from the spring down the canal and around to the Round House Inn.  By 11 o’clock he decides that it is time for a rest, but where does he go?  Does he go to see Sophie at the boat repair yard, or does he set off to find the Captain at the Keepers Inn?















Speedy Piran decides to visit Sophie...

Speedy Piran decides to see Sophie at the boat repair yard.  She is glad to see him and puts the kettle on to make a fresh pot of tea.  As he is enjoying his drink, he asks a question.

“What is an inn, Sophie?”

 “It is a place where everyone can go to.  They gather together to talk, sing and exchange stories.  It serves drinks that are liked by the fishermen after long cold days and nights at sea, catching the fish they need to feed their families” she explains.

 “So the fishermen meet in an inn to drink and talk” says Speedy Piran. 

“Not just fishermen though” continues Sophie, “but other people who work as well.  “The lighthouse keepers, bakers and butchers all meet there too.  The Round House is particularly liked by the Revenue Men because it is near the port where the ships come in.”

“What are Revenue Men?” asks Speedy Piran.

Sophie chuckles.  “You will be the only one in Cornwall that doesn’t know that, I reckon” she starts.  “They check what is brought into Cornwall, such as tea we drink.  We are not allowed to have things if the Revenue Men don’t let us.” 

“Along time ago, the Revenue Men weren’t as nice as they are today.  200 years ago, they wouldn’t let anyone have any tea.  They took it from anyone they found trying to bring it into the country.  The people of Cornwall did not like this and so they would try and find ways to get goods like tea ashore without the Revenue Men seeing. 

“Those that did call themselves free traders, but others call them smugglers.  I’ve heard that the free traders sometimes use Cauldron Cove, just out of the river and to the right.  They dock the ship out at sea and float the barrels into the hidden cave.”

Speedy Piran thanks Sophie for the tea and the chat.  As he motors back to the spring to continue his work, he thinks to that this ‘free trading’ sounds very exciting. 















Speedy Piran decides to talk to the Captain...

Speedy Piran decides to find the Captain.  He calls him on his radio and is told to meet at the jetty.  When he arrives, he sees the Captain coming out of a rocky cave just above the steps.

“Hello Speedy Piran.  I’ve been working at the Keepers Inn, at the top of these steps.”

“But you just came out of that cave?” spotted Speedy Piran.  “Is that a short cut?”

“Aye, that’s right” replies the Captain.  “The free traders would use the steps between the cellar and the cave to warn that the Revenue Men had left the dock.”

“But what are free traders, and what are Revenue Men?” he asks.

The Captain laughs a friendly laugh.  “I forget you’re not from ‘round ‘ere Piran” he starts.  “A long time ago the Revenue Men were not very nice to the poor, hard working fishermen.  They were not allowed to have the things they needed such as tea to drink in the morning.  If they found ships trying to bring barrels of tea in to Cornwall, they would take it from them.

“No tea!” exclaimed Speedy Piran, “that wasn’t very fair.”

“It certainly wasn’t” continued the Captain, “but people in France were allowed tea, even though they weren’t allowed in Cornwall.

“So what did they do?” asked Speedy Piran.

“Well, the fishermen were out in their boats, so it was easy to go over to France to get a barrel of tea for themselves.  If they could get it ashore without the Revenue Men seeing then they could have a drink of tea in the morning after all.  They called themselves free traders.”

“Everyone should have a cup of tea in the morning” says Speedy Piran.  “That sounds a bit naughty though.  Did they get into trouble?” he asked.

“Well it was a bit naughty” replies the Captain, “but not as naughty as the Revenue Men stopping the Cornish fishermen drinking tea.  And anyway, the life of a fisherman was hard.  They needed the food and drink that the Revenue Men said they were not allowed.” 

“I see.  So how did they get all these barrels of tea on shore without the Revenue Men seeing?”

“They worked together to unload the goods and watch out for trouble” replied the Captain.  “The fishing families all supported the free traders because they got to drink the tea they brought in.  When a ship brought in barrels of tea, everyone would come down to the beach to help.”

“But what if the Revenue Men saw them?”

 “Everyone would work together to make sure that didn’t happen.  A free trader would sit in the inn at the top.  If he spotted the Revenue Men leaving the port in a boat, he would light a fire as a signal that they were coming.”

“That sounds very exciting” remarked Speedy Piran.

“Aye, it was” agreed the Captain. 

Speedy Piran thanks him and continues with his work.















Speedy Piran doesn’t get a rest....

He spends the rest of the morning moving barrels and is thoroughly worn out as he is heading back to the quay for a rest when his radio bursts into life.

“Captain to Speedy Piran.”

“Aye Captain, what is it?”

“Meet me at the jetty please.”  Speedy Piran was looking forward to his rest, but instead he motors out of the quay and down the river.  On his left are three towering pillars known locally as the Devil’s Fork.  He decides to go around them and soon arrives at the jetty where the Captain is waiting.  He jumps aboard and steers Piran for the centre of cove.

As they get closer, Speedy Piran sees a wide beach with lovely golden sands.   It is a well protected cove that is circled by sloping cliffs that meet at beach level in the centre.  The beach is packed with tourists, splashing in the waves, playing in the sand and enjoying the hot weather.    A stream runs down the middle and many children are playing in it, trying to dam the water with stones or diverting it to run through their sandcastle moats before it escapes into the sea. 

As Speedy Piran takes all this in, he arrives at the mouth of the stream.   The Captain jumps out into the breaking waves, wades over to a rope that waits in the stream and pulls it to Speedy Piran, tying it out of the way of his motor.

“Right, out to sea” he instructs and Speedy Piran zooms out of the cove.   The Captain takes over steering and soon they are well away from the cove and the cliffs.  They slow down and head for a large log of driftwood.  When they stop, Speedy Piran notices that there is already a rope attached to it, and the Captain ties the line onto that. 

“What have you done Captain?” enquires Speedy Piran, eager to know what is going on.

Tonight we shall be taking the tourists 200 years back in time.  They shall see how exciting a free traders run can be.  We shall be smuggling barrels of tea ashore without the Revenue Men finding out. 

That driftwood is anchored there and its location is known only to the free traders of Treeth.  I have tied it on using a fisherman’s knot so that I know it will still be there when I need it later. Now, not a word about what is going on in the cove tonight to anyone.”

With that, Speedy Piran races back to the jetty, steering clear of the rope in the water. 

When they arrive, the Captain sends Speedy Piran on a new job. 

“There are tourists waiting in the quay for a tour of the coastline.  Go and take the next person on a boat ride please” and with that the Captain climbs back up the steps and into the cave below the Keepers Inn.

Speedy Piran motors out of the cove and around the Devil’s Fork.  He arrives at the quay to find a Mum, a Dad and two children waiting excitedly for a ride.  They are just climbing aboard Doug The Tug, a large, powerful boat that usually guides the ships safely to the docks. 

“Hello m’lad” he calls.  “Just got ‘alf hour before my next ship.  Thought I’d take some tourists out.  You can do the next ‘uns.”

The next one is actually a large man that looks out of place in a queue of tourists.  He is dressed in a suit with wellies, all covered by a plastic yellow coat that is a little too small for him.  He doesn’t have a smile on his face.

“All aboard for a tour” invites Speedy Piran, and the man climbs aboard.  He zooms out of the quay and down towards the river.  

“Slow down” he cries.  “I just want to find out, er, a bit about the place” he finishes weakly.

Speedy Piran decides to zig zag down the river in order to excite the man, but it doesn’t work.

“Stop that” he complains, and hangs his head over the side of the boat as if he is about to be sick.  “Oh dear”, thinks Speedy Piran.  “That didn’t work.  May be a story will be better.”


Speedy Piran needs to decide which way to go and which story to tell.  Does he go left, back into Smugglers Cove or does he go right and show him Cauldron Cove?














Speedy Piran decides on Cauldron Cove...

Speedy Piran decides to go right.    He sees a formation of needle like rocks poking out of the sea, emerging in a line from a gap in the cliffs.  A large wave sweeps him towards the cliffs and so he motors on, to the right of the needles and into a huge, circular cove with steep cliffs.  The only way out is the way they have come in.  There is no beach and nowhere to moor.  As the sea sends in wave after wave, Speedy Piran has to work hard to prevent them crashing into a cliff face.  The rise and the fall of the huge waves is too much for the man, and he is sick over the side of the boat.

“Oh dear” thinks Speedy Piran. “I had better get this man back to the quay.”

As Speedy Piran struggles to turn around, the man notices a roughly hewn door with a small ledge below it.  He points but Speedy Piran doesn’t wait to look and motors full power to fight the tide and the incoming waves.  He finally breaks through the waves, back into the open sea and breaths a sign of relief. 

“What was that door?” the man demands as he wipes his mouth on the back of his plastic coat, “what is that used for?  I bet it is a door to a smugglers cave” he continues.                                                                        

Speedy Piran says this is right.  “The free traders anchor their ship out of sight of the Revenue Men and use row boats to bring in their barrels, all tied together and floated into the Cauldron.  There they are hauled in to the hidden caves and kept out of sight so the Revenue Men don’t get them.”

“That might prove useful tonight” the man declares.  “Very useful indeed to us, er, I mean the Revenue Men” and with that, Speedy Piran heads back to the quay.  The man thanks him for his time and his story and leaves. 

Speedy Piran smiles to himself.  


He has protected the fact that the smuggling will take place in Smugglers Cove tonight and not Cauldron Cove.















Speedy Piran decides on Smugglers Cove....

Speedy Piran decides to head left, around the Devil’s Fork and into the Smugglers Cove.  As they pass the Secret Steps Jetty, Speedy Piran starts his story. 

“The cave above those steps has a shortcut that leads to the Keepers Inn cellars above.  If a free trader spots a boat full of Revenue Men leaving the quay, he lights a fire to warn the free traders in the cove.”

The man seems to forget about feeling ill and seems interested. 

“What does he need to warn them about?” he asks.

“He needs to warn them because the Revenue Men are coming” he continues.  “They won’t like the fact that they are trying to land barrels onto the beach in the cove.  They will want to stop them and take the barrels of tea” he finishes.

“Very interesting” says the man with a smile on his face.  “I bet that will prove very useful to us, er, I mean the Revenue Men, tonight.”

Speedy Piran turns around and heads back to the quay.  The man thanks him for his time and his story and leaves.  

Speedy Piran is annoyed with himself.  

He has given away a clue that the free trading will take place in the Smugglers Cove tonight.















Speedy Piran and the line in the cove....

Speedy Piran uses his radio to talk to the Captain and report that he has returned to the quay.  He is given another task, to help the coastguard to patrol Smugglers Cove and make sure that the line they took out earlier is not a danger to boats in the bay.

Speedy Piran is approached by Lazy Dave Fisher, the local fishing boat that can be hired out from the quay by visiting tourists.  He has a boatful and has just returned from their fishing adventures. 

“Oh, hiya Piran” he calls, stifling a yawn.  “These tourists want a quick look around the cove.  What is all this coastguard activity?  Looks important to me” he remarks.

Speedy Piran needs to turn them away.  But what excuse does he use?  

Does he explain that there is a line in the cove that will be used later, or does he tell them that the coastguard have asked him to keep the cove clear of boats?














Speedy Piran explains about the line in the cove...

Speedy Piran whispers to Lazy Dave that there is a large rope from the beach that leads right out to sea.  He helped the Captain pull it out earlier although he doesn’t know what it is for.

“That sounds curious” says a big man in a yellow coat, a suit and wellies from the front of the boat.  

Oh dear, Speedy Piran has been overheard.  

As Lazy Dave turns around, Speedy Piran is annoyed with himself.  


He has given away a clue about the smuggling that is going to happen later in the cove.















Speedy Piran helps keep the cove clear of boats...

Speedy Piran replies to lazy Dave that the coastguard has asked him to keep the cove clear but he doesn’t know why. 

“That might be to do with the dangerous currents that can form in these parts” suggests a tourist at the front of the boat. 

“That might be it” agrees Piran, grateful for a diversion from the true reason.  


As lazy Dave turns around, Speedy Piran is glad that he has not given away any clues about the smuggling in the cove later tonight.
















Speedy Piran joins the Free Traders Run....

Later that evening, Speedy Piran is just trying to get to sleep by counting all the barrels he has loaded, when his radio bursts to life again. 

“Speedy Piran, this is the Captain speaking.  It’s time for some free trader adventures.  Meet me at the jetty please.” 

Piran zooms around and collects the Captain as requested.  They head towards the stream in the centre of the beach.  As he approaches, the Captain slows him down and explains what will happen later.  I am going to join our ship as he sails in carrying the free traders’ barrels of tea.  When we arrive some free traders and tourists will walk down to beach help pull in the barrels.  We will attach them to the rope we put out earlier.  Your job is to meet some tourists here, take them out to sea to watch the barrels being hauled in.  See you later.”

With that, the Captain gets out and climbs up next to a driver of a cart and horses, waiting for him.  On the Captain’s signal, the cart races off, up the slip road from the beach and heads left towards the bridge across the river and out of town.

Speedy Piran cuts his engine and waits, making sure he stays clear of the rope in the water.  As he bobs up and down on the gentle lapping of the waves, he starts to dream of his cup of tea in the morning.  As it gets darker, Speedy Piran realises that he can’t see very much on such a moonless night.  It starts to rain.  He thinks to himself what perfect weather it is for sneaking about.

After several hours, he hears footsteps, and then whispers on the beach.  Eventually a few tourists and a free trader wade out and climb aboard.  The free trader introduces himself as Charlie, a friend of the Captains.  He tells Speedy Piran to make his way as quietly as a he can, out of the bay and towards the ship.

“How do you know the ship is there?” asks Speedy Piran in a whisper. 

“We saw the signal from the ship” whispers back one of the tourists. 

“No more talking, or we’ll give ourselves away” urges Charlie, and so they quietly motor out of the cove.

In the darkness, Speedy Piran loses any idea of where he is, but Charlie seems confident and takes over steering.  Soon they can see the outline of a ship and hear the splash of barrels as they enter the water.  As they listen, the splashing stops and silence takes over. 


“All the barrels are in the water” Charlie tells the tourists as they head back to the cove.  “They are tied in one long line and the rope being hauled in by the free traders on the beach.  All we have to hope for is that our activities have not been spotted by the Revenue Men.  Piran, we don’t need you to be speedy this time, just quiet!” 

Not daring to speak as they get closer to the shore, Charlie skilfully steers Piran around the right hand side of the cove, just far enough away from the rocks to stay safe.  They are most of the way around when there is a lots of movement on the beach.

“The fire is lit, the fire is lit” shouts one of the tourists, and Charlie brings the boat to a sudden halt with a reverse of the engine.  “Quiet” he urges.  “We’re not caught yet.  Just ‘cause they have left the quay, doesn’t mean they are coming our way.”

Speedy Piran thinks about his day so far and wonders if they will get found out.   Did Speedy Piran manage to keep the free traders secret?  Or did he give away some clues about the free traders run in Smugglers Cove tonight?














Speedy Piran has given away some clues...

There is lots of activity on the beach.  A light can be seen from a row boat coming round past the Devil’s Fork.    

All of a sudden, there is a bump of wood on wood and a Revenue Man can be seen by the light of his own lantern, leaning over the side.  “It’s a barrel and a line” he declares.  “They must be on the beach!” The Revenue Men row as hard as they can towards the beach and after the free traders.

By the time they arrive, Speedy Piran can see that the beach is deserted.  A quick look at the slip way helps the Revenue Men decide what happened.  “They have loaded the barrels into a cart and rode away.  If we are quick, we shall catch up with them at the gatehouse as they leave the town.” 

The tourists start to whisper excitedly, but Charlie insists they stay quiet.  Then they notice some barrels floating in the water. 



“If we are quick, we can get those loaded up before they come back” whispers Charlie.  As fast as they can, the tourists heave the barrel aboard.  















Speedy Piran has kept the secret....

There is lots of activity on the beach as the free traders work as fast as they can to haul in the barrels.  Charlie is nervous as he watches the cove entrance for signs of a boat.  It is a tense few minutes as the free traders work furiously to pull in the last remaining barrels, but eventually it is done and the beach goes quiet once more.   Charlie laughs to himself.  “It looks like the Revenue Men went ‘round to Cauldron Cove instead” he explains to the tourists.  “I wonder if someone told them something was going on there tonight.” 

Speedy Piran can’t help himself. 

“It was me, it was me” he bursts out. “I took a man out earlier and told him about it.  We went right into Cauldron Cove and saw the hidden cave door and everything.”

Charlie gives another chuckle.  Well, you were lucky to get out.  It takes a strong motor and a bit of luck to get out of there” and he winked at Speedy Piran.  “There is more than one wreck at the bottom of the Cauldron.”

Just as they were heading back to the jetty, a tourist spots some barrels that have worked its way loose from the free traders line.  Charlie spots them too and they motor over to them.  


“Let’s get these aboard quick, in case the Revenue Men come round here nosing” he says, and a couple of tourists help him pull them onto Speedy Piran. 















 Speedy Piran carries more barrels....

 “Not more barrels” thinks Speedy Piran to himself once they are safely loaded on board.  Charlie opens the barrel up to reveal that it is stuffed full of dried tea leaves.  When Speedy Piran arrives at the jetty, Charlie and the tourists help unload the barrels and between them they haul them up the steps.  Out of the shadows appears Bill, the free trader that lit the fire as a warning to those in the cove. 

“Quick, in here” he beckons, and they roll the barrels into the cave below the Keepers Inn. 

“Let’s get them stowed safely away in the cellar” he says and they work together until all the barrels have been moved.

The excited tourists say goodbye to Speedy Piran.  It seems they are off to the Keepers Inn for a drink with the free traders to talk about their adventures.  Speedy Piran says goodbye and makes his way in the dark, around the Devil’s Fork and back to the safety of the quay.  He is glad the tourists have had an exciting evening but feels thoroughly exhausted after his free trader adventures.  “I hope I get a chance to stay asleep tomorrow” he thinks, and is snoring before his engine has cooled down.

The next thing he knows, he is being woken up by Sophie again.  “A cup of tea for you Speedy Piran” she says, “just the way you like it.” 

“At least it is in a cup and not a barrel” he says, and with that he goes back to sleep.

The End.
















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