We went to Cornwall for 3 reasons. To see the Eden project, The May Day festial in Padstow, and to see the Lost Gardens of Heligan. These gardens have been restored to what they were before the First Great War.
We joked that no wonder the gardens wee lost, because they are very difficult to find! We seemed to drive in circles for ages following signs and losing ourselves. So, do use a very good map, or perhaps sat anv -of which I am highly suspect. It was worth looking for as the following pictures will show. Everything from walled gardens to woodland paths and staff who are not only brilliant gardeners, but also very willing to talk about their work.
There is of course, a shop, very good restaurant with lovely soups and Cornish specialties.
Land's end , at the very south western tip of England has Beautiful, rugged unspoiled scenery - some of the best in England.... We got there nice and early to get our photos next to the famous signpost and the first and last house in England!
Today I opted for a run from Redruth down to Gunwaloe on the Lizard Peninsular in Cornwall. A run of about 45 minutes on generally rural roads
Gunwalloe, sometimes called Winninton which is probably as a mix of old names, and, in Cornish, is known as Sen Gwynnwalo. The name evolved from the sixth century Breton Saint Winwaloe, whose mother is said, reputedly, to have grown a third breast when she had triplets!
St. Winwaloe founded a monastery at Landevennec in France and emphasises the link between this part of Cornwall and Brittany
Getting there is relatively simple. From any starting point you will need to head to Helston and at its southern edge take the A3083 leading onto the Lizard Peninsular. Head past the military air base and 400 mtrs or so past the gated entrance to the air base (Marked HMS Seahawk) look out for a small right hand turn onto a small road. It is marked Gunwalloe & the Halzephron Inn.
This narrow road leads to the small hamlet of Gunwalloe, sited between the sprawling military air base just to the south of Helston and Mounts Bay and terminates at a vast beach heading around the bay past Loe Bar to Porthleven.
Be aware that parking in this area is limited.
The village was historically owned by the long standing Cornish Penrose family but was sold off bit by bit over the years with parts of it being purchased by the National Trust.
The hamlet depended on fishing in the past, but this industry has, in the main, died out. I understand that there was a fleet of small boats here in the distant past which fished the bay for Pilchards. There are also stories of smuggling which, reputedly, was a more profitable sideline!
Nearby stand the Halzephron cliffs, on which the bodies of many shipwrecked seamen have been buried, the name comes from the Cornish als and yfarn, meaning 'Hell's cliff'. This is an area notorious for shipwrecks and there is reputed to be lost Spanish treasure at nearby Dollar Cove.
Near to Dollar is Gunwalloe (or Church) Cove. A stream runs down the fine sand and pebble beach to the sea, the beach is often visited by treasure seekers but to date little, other than a few coins, has been discovered, so maybe the main treasure is still to be found.
The village pub is the five hundred year old Halzephron Inn, said to be a former haunt of the smugglers. It stands on the cliff top set back some distance from the edge and has an outside seating area offering superb uninterrupted views across Mount's Bay to Mousehole, Newlyn and Penance. For walkers, the SW Coastal path runs nearby so this could be a convenient watering hole.
The inn has recently come under new management, offers accommodation and serves excellent food. I stopped here for lunch today and found a speedy, helpful and cheerful service. There is a good comprehensive menu and wine list and a dedicated restaurant area and sizable bar with other eating areas. Dogs are permitted, and welcomed, in the bar. A little more expensive than some rural pubs but the quality of the food, the service and the views make it worth the extra small expediture.
Head further south into the Lizard on the coastal path, or on the road past the pub, for a mile or so and you will come to Church Cove. There is a National Trust car park here and a church made of wine. There are several dotted around the world on coasts where sailors have been close to drowning.
Having survived they build a shrine in thanks to their Lord, and if the ship in which they were travelling happens to have been carrying wine - they ritualistically pour some into the mortar mix.
There's a lonely church here in Cornwall with a similar story - St Winwaloe's is here at Gunwalloe, and it is probably closer to the sea than any other church in the Westcountry. When the tide is up and there's a blow from the west, spray must beat against its ancient door, which is situated just a few feet above and beyond the sandy acres of Church Cove.
I did my search here for Spanish treasure and doubloons but gave up after an hour but not completely in vain – I found a five pence coin in the car park dated 2012, so not exactly ancient treasure, but the dog had a good play around on the beach.
In all a pleasant day out with a very good lunch as a bonus.
I recently spent two days at an amazing art school in Newlyn, Cornwall doing an experimental painting course. The school has really well known artists teaching short courses to the public. Brilliant fun in a really friendly encouraging environment. www.newlynartschool.co.uk
We went to Tintagel Castle, an English Heritage site, in time for the 10:00 opening. It was a good time as there were only one other couple and us. There are remains of a private castle and chapel. There are magnificent views of the cliffs and the Celtic Sea below, and when we were there it was very windy.
This involved a lot of climbing up and down steps. My daughter and I also went down to the beach and into the tunnel.
The site has been inhabited since the 5th century AD. The legend of King Arthur has been reinvented many times over a thousand years, and the iteration in the 12th century places this island as his birthplace. They figure that the Earl of Cornwall built his castle here in the 1230s because of these tales, as the site has no strategic value.
Maybe because we were early, but we parked in a lot much closer than the visitor centre. There was a misleading sign to "Castle View Point", which makes you walk to the awful Camelot Castle Hotel. The closest place to walk down is at the corner of Fore Street and Atlantic Road, just to the left of the "King Arthur Bookshop". There is a spot there where a Land Rover will pick you up and take you down for a fee.
This visit will take a couple of hours. My daughter agrees with us that it was a lot of fun and definitely a highlight of our whole trip.
The National Trust property of St. Michael's Mount is a tidal island off the coast from Marazion with a chapel and a castle on it. At one point is was owned by the Benedictines, the same religious order of Mont Saint-Michel in Normandy. Apparently, both places are quite similar. We arrived at high tide, so had to take a boat over. (At low tide you can walk.) There is a small fleet of independently run open boats that hold about a dozen passengers each (£2 per adult and £1 for children, each way). As it was a holiday weekend, the line-up was at least half an hour. Once on the island, there were many people, but it wasn't too crowded. The St. Aubyn family still lives there and there are large immaculate gardens.
The long weekend we were there, the car parks were jammed but we still managed to get a spot, another £4. I imagine you could find a free spot to park on a weekday when schools are on. Admission to the castle was £7.50 for adults and £3.75 for children, or there is an £23 family pass.
Aside from the long line-up for the boat going there, it was an enjoyable two hours and a great opportunity for our daughter to burn off some energy climbing the steps.
In addition to the link below, the National Trust link: www.nationaltrust.org.uk/st-michaels-mount
Eden Project is a theme-park of large domed greenhouses and plants. This was a long weekend, so it was quite crowded, and there were one or two line-ups, but it wasn't too bad.
For some reason, I had thought that this was an experiment with a small number of humans living inside the domes, totally separated and even air-sealed off from the world. I thought they were growing their own food, recycling the water, and tending the plants to provide their own oxygen. (I have since spoken to a few other British people and most of them thought the same thing.) It isn't. It's just two very large biomes made up of geodesic domes, some other exhibition and educational buildings, and 27 acres of outdoor gardens. It's still very impressive and worth visiting, though once is enough.
We explored the Mediterranean Biome, the Rainforest Biome, and the outdoor gardens (on the way from and to the car); and we had tea. Having been in real rain forests in Malaysia and Borneo, I can vouch that the temperature, smell, humidity, and over-all atmosphere is 100% authentic the moment you enter the Rainforest Biome. This houses the world's largest rainforest in captivity, is 50m tall, and even has an indoor waterfall. My daughter and I went up 9 flights of stairs hanging by cables from the roof to the Rainforest Lookout at the top.
The message that the Eden Project would like its visitors to take away with them is this: "An area of primary forest the size of this Biome is destroyed every 10 seconds. The rainforests are our life support system. They help keep us fed, watered and cool every day, they control our planet’s climate. If we are to win our battle against climate change we need to save the rainforest."
All in all, we enjoyed our time there and we're glad we went. Our 10 year old daughter said it was a highlight of the whole trip. Mind you, one visit is enough for us.
Land's End is the furthest west point of mainland England, in Cornwall. I cannot describe it better than Paul Bloomfield, one of the authors of the 5th edition of Lonely Planet, Britain:
"Standing at the tip of this island, gazing out over the vast expanse of the Atlantic, is quite a magical experience. At least, it probably was 20 or so years ago, before the site was blighted by the Legendary Land's End theme-park development, with various 'attractions'."
The parking lot was absolutely jam-packed with cars and campers and it cost £5. We were able to just walk around and view the cliffs and ocean for free, though. They have this tourist-trap singpost where after lining up for 20 minutes, they add your home town and its calculated distance from here, and then charge you for photos next to it. We just took pictures of our daughter standing off to one side of it for free.
The contact details below are for the tourist attraction.
There are many standing stones in Cornwall but one of the most famous to visit is Lanyon Quoit and it is right next to the road between Morvah and Madron. These quoits were originally burial chambers and were covered by earth making a mound. The top stone ways over 13 tons, which fell down a few years ago during a storm, breaking one of its supports but some years later it was repaired with the three remaining supports but lost a little of its height. The stones are around 5000 years old. Nearest big town is Penzance.
Padstow had been recommended to me before we went to Cornwall, so I was really looking forward to finally getting there. However, it was a bit of a disappointment. It's a nice little town, but extremely touristy and lacking the charm of similar places like St Ives. There are simply too many souvenir shops and restaurants. The harbour is a nice place to pause for some time, but apart from that I didn't enjoy Padstow too much. Apparently, you can get a great meal there if you're into seafood, but as I don't eat fish that was no reason to stay. It might be better to skip Padstow in favour of nearby Port Isaac.
This 7km hike is in parts really exhausting, but takes you along some of the most spectacular cliff scenery. Starting at the tourist trap Tintagel Castle, you'll soon forget everything about the legendary King Arthur and admire the beautiful landscape instead. Hiking up and down the hills and cliffs, you'll eventually come to the Rocky Valley, a narrow valley which was already mentioned as a place of outstanding beauty as early as in 1897. Sit down at its lowest point where the Trevillet River reaches the sea and listen to the waves pushing back the creek. The hike continues up and down with some spectacular views on the way. Eventually, after approximately 3 hours of strenuous walking, you'll reach the natural harbour of Boscastle, tucked away behind a massive club-shaped rock. Boscastle itself is a pleasant, albeit rather touristy village. Nonetheless, you should treat yourself to some homemade cake at the cafe next to the youth hostel (sorry, I forgot the name) and visit the interesting and highly entertaining Museum of Witchcraft. To get back to Tintagel, take the bus from the village's main car park.
Among the countless breathtaking panoramic views of Cornwall Zennor Head must be among the most breathtaking. It is tucked away behind the hamlet of Zennor where D.H. Lawrence once spent some time to write and to found a writer's community which he would have called Rananim. Quarrels with his friends and the villagers, however, made him leave again. Therefore, Zennor sees only the occasional visitor, and most of them stick to the village and its inviting looking pub (which we didn't visit). In order to reach the dramatic cliffs of Zennor Head, pass the pub and turn left immediately behind it. Follow the footpath for 10 minutes until you've reached the shore. Sit back and relax, taking in the wonderful view.
A very nice walk of approximately 1 hour takes you from Lizard Point to Kynance Cove, the whole time along the cliffs. There are only a few slightly more difficult parts, so this walk should be suitable for almost everybody. Start next to the shabby cafes of Lizard Point and follow the Coast Path to the west. You'll soon have left any sign of civilization and can enjoy the breathtaking views over the cliffs and the crashing waves 50 meters below. Try walking barefooted for some time - the soft and bouncy grass makes this a must! Once you've reached the Kynance Cove parking lot you have to follow the footpath down towards the cove. The fine sand and a cafe make for a pleasant stay. Be careful not to get stuck, though, as the waters are completely surrounding the rocks at high tide. Walking back to Lizard, you can either take the Coast Path again or just follow the road until you reach the first house. A footpath branches off here and brings you back to the central square of Lizard.
Britain's southernmost point is only an hour's drive away from its westernmost point. However, the differences between them couldn't be stronger.
While the facilities at Land's End are a textbook example of the negative influences of mass tourism and greed for profit, there are only a few rather shabby souvenir huts and cafes at Lizard Point. While hordes of tourists flock to Land's End, Lizard Point is rather calm and you can even go there without having to pay for parking your car. Okay, the cliffs are not as dramatic or spectacular as those further west, but you can still get your photograph on one of Britain's "corners" - and, again, there's no fee for it. We very much enjoyed this more tranquil atmosphere as well as the informative plaques about the countless ships that were wrecked on the rocks. Moreover, the walk to nearby Kynance Cove takes you along one of the most beautiful stretches of the Coast Path.
Coverack is a sleepy fishing village on the Lizard Peninsula. There are the obligatory lime-washed cottages, many of which featuring a well-kept garden, a tiny port and a few hundred meters of beach which disappears almost completely at high tide. As Coverack is a little bit bigger than other fishing villages, you will also find the occasional shop there. In general, it is not as tucked away as others so it feels almost like a small town.
The village's proximity to the infamous Manacle Rocks, which caused a number of shipwrecks, led to the introduction of a lifeboat which has been stationed at Coverack ever since. Apparently, the bar in Paris Hotel displays photographs of the many catastrophes, but we haven't been there.
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