Cuddan is the point in the middle. To the left is Perranuthnoe, then Stachkouse Beach with Acton Castle (now appartments) to the north. Right of it is Keneggy beach, and Pengersick, part of Praa Sands, is to the right.

The part of Cornwall to which the autobiography chiefly relates is the district lying between the two small towns of Marazion and Helston, a distance of about ten miles on the north eastern shores of Mounts Bay, comprising the parishes of Breage, Germoe, St. Hilary, and Perranuthnoe. The bay is practically divided into two parts by Cuddan Point, a sharp small headland about two miles east from St. Michael's Mount. (Now spelt "Cudden", but I have retained the old spelling throughout.) The western part runs into the land in a roughly semicircular shape, and is so well sheltered that it has almost the appearance of a lake, and, in fact, the extreme north-western corner is called Gwavas Lake. From the hills which surround it the land everywhere slopes gently to the sea, and is thickly inhabited. The towns of Penzance and Marazion and the important fishing village of Newlyn occupy a large portion of the shore, and around them are woody valleys and well cultivated fields.

Map and aerial view from

To the eastward of Cuddan is a marked contrast. There, steep and rocky cliffs are only broken by two long stretches of beach, Praa Sands and the Looe Bar, on which the great seas which come always from the Atlantic make landing impossible except on a few rare summer days. With the exception of the little fishing station of Porthleven there is not a place all along the coast, from Cuddan Point to the Lizard, large enough to be called a village. Inland the country is in keeping with the character of the coast. Trees are very scarce, and the stone hedges, so characteristic of all the wild parts of West Cornwall, the latches of moorland, and the scattered cottages make the whole appearance bare and exposed.

Porth Leah, or the King's Cove, now more usually known as Prussia Cove around which so much of the interest of the narrative centres, lies a little to the eastward of Cuddan Point. It is said that this name is derived from the fact that John Carter, a brother of Harry Carter, and the most famous of the smugglers, lived there. He was nicknamed the King of Prussia, and the house in which he lived is still known as the King of Prussia's House. (Now Cliff Cottage.) The origin of this nickname is explained by a story that when they were all boys together, they used to play at soldiers, and John would always claim to be the King of Prussia. Clearly an echo of the fame of Frederick the Great had reached these boys about the time of the Seven Years' War. There are really two coves divided from one another by a point and a small island called The Enez. The western cove, generally called Bessie's Cove, is a most sheltered and secluded place. It is so well hidden from the land that it is impossible to see what boats are lying in the little harbour until one comes down to the very edge of the cliff. The eastern side of the point, where there is another small harbour, called the King's Cove, is more open, but the whole place is thoroughly out of the world even now.

The high road from Helston through Marazion to Penzance now passes about a mile from the sea, but at the time of which Harry Carter was writing this district must have been unknown and almost inaccessible. From all accounts West Cornwall at that time was very little more than half civilised. The mother of Sir Humphry Davy (born at Penzance, 1778) has left us a record that when she was a girl of six West Cornwall was without roads, there was only one cart in the town of Penzance, and packhorses were in use in all the country districts. (Bottrell, iii. 150). This is confirmed by a writer in the Gentleman's Magazine, who says that in 1754 there were no roads in this district, the ways that served the purpose were merely bridle paths 'remaining as the deluge left them and dangerous to travel over' (Gentleman's Magazine Oct. 1754) ; and by the official records of the town of Penzance, which show that in 1760 the Corporation went to some expense in opposing the extension of the turnpike beyond Marazion, to which place it was then first carried from Penryn (Millett's Penzance, Past and Present).

The places of which the names are mentioned in the autobiography, such as Rudgeon, Trevean, Caerlcan, Pengersick, Kenneggey, and Rinsey, are all in the immediate neighbourhood of Prussia Cove. They are merely little hamlets of four or five cottages each, and there is no reason to suppose that they were any larger one hundred years ago. Helston, the market town of the district, is about six miles off, and had then a population of some two thousand people.