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Blue Reef Aquarium in NewQuay
We visited Blue Reef Aquarium situated in the lovely Towan Beach, one of Cornwall's most popular surfing beachs. It gave us a chance to see what creatures live in the surrounding seas. Although not the cheapest attraction in North Cornwall, it is still good value. The aquarium recreates various underwater habitats from the Cornish coast to the Mediterranean and, even further afield, to the tropical splendour of the coral reefs of the Caribbean.
It has a stunning collection of marine displays. Many of these are on view in the ocean display. Its 250,000 litres of sea water contain numerous colourful reef fish, including angelfish and puffer fish, as well as stingrays, moray eels, giant wrasse, giant groupers and black-and-white tip reef sharks. The perfect streamlined shape of sharks just has to be admired. The walkthrough underwater glass tunnel offers views into the reef display. From the surface a boardwalk overlooking the coral atoll allows visitors to look downwards into the depths.
Other displays include octopuses, seahorses, giant crabs and lobsters. The freshwater turtle displays are stunning. In Turtle Creek, it is possible to see miniature alligators, mud turtles and fly-river turtles, some of which are bizarre. Some of the new species on display are prehistoric African helmeted turtles, snapping turtles from Florida and the Australian pig-nosed turtle. There is a rescue facility here for sea turtles.
Particularly beautiful are the Snakelocks Anemones found on the southern and western shores of Britain and as far south as the Mediterranean Sea. They are distinguished by long flowing tentacles and will usually be found in a bright green colour, sometimes with purple tips to the tentacles.
Strange but true facts I discovered:
• The cephalogod group which consists of octopus, squid and nautiloids are members of the mollusc family and have all evolved from primitive snails.
• Octopuses have eight legs, three hearts, a parrot like beak and blue blood.
• Egg wrack a species of seaweed around the Cornish coast is thought to be immortal.
• Squid, cuttlefish and octopus can change colour instantly.
• Common lobsters are usually blue and are only pink or red after they have been cooked.
• Lobsters have two different claws, one for cutting and one for crushing.
Blue Reef has a pioneering captive breeding programme for a wide range of species. The nursery displays everything from baby clownfish to seahorses. Other breeding successes at the aquarium include Bangaii cardinal fish, sharks, rays, pipefish and cuttlefish. Interestingly, the aquarium is propagating its own hard coral in a display highlighting the threats faced by coral reefs throughout the world.Related to:
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We had a free day in which we explored Newquay. We simply walked it although there is a land train that is a good option for the less fit. The town has a lot of history to it which is the kind of place we enjoy.
Newquay used to be a fishing village. There has been a small harbour here since 1439 but it wasn't until 1770 that its importance as a commercial harbour took off. Richard Lomax, a speculator from London, had the vision to create an enclosed three acre harbour from which to ship mineral ore to the smelters in South Wales. Joseph Treffry, a mine owner bought the harbour and built the Newquay Railway connecting the harbour to the tramway high above the cliffs. Cables wound around a drum and powered by two winding engines, known as Whims hauled wagons through a tunnel up from the harbour.
Up to the early 20th century, the small fishing village was famous for pilchards. From a "Huer's Hut" above the harbour the Huer on seeing the distinctive ripple on the surface of the sea, known locally as 'the shirming' and the reddish purple hue just beneath the surface would shout down a megaphone-like trumpet "Hubba, Hubba," or "Heva, Heva," and this cry would spread throughout the locality, causing much excitement. Everyone would rush to the quay and to their boats, urged on all the while and guided by their Huer.
The Hut dating back to the 14th century is now a Grade 2 listed building. It appears that the hut may have been a Hermitage. While Newquay no longer has any involvement in pilchard fishing there are plenty of other fish to catch. The Harbour is still a working fishing harbour but is also home to pleasure boats and is a hive of bustling fishing trips. In season and out, there is a trip to suit the most ardent angler. Surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean on the North Cornwall Coast, Newquay is a fantastic place for fishing.
You may see out on the water during your holiday, six oared rowing boats either racing or practicing. Built of Cornish narrow leaf elm, 32 feet long with a beam of 4ft 10inches, Cornish Pilot Gig boats original use was as a pilot vessel in the 19th century. On sighting a large ship making its way to one of the major ports of Bristol, Manchester or Southampton, crews raced their gigs out to it. The winner got their pilot on-board to enable safe passage and receive the payment.
Gigs also served as one of the first shore-based lifeboats that went to vessels in distress, with recorded rescues extending as far as the late 17th century. Nowadays the sport of gig boat racing is growing in popularity with over 100 clubs, the majority being in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, however clubs also exist in Devon, Dorset, Wales and London. Internationally there are pilot gig clubs in France, the Netherlands, the Faroe Islands, Australia and the USA.
One of the town’s attractions is Tunnels Through Time or as it is now known Bucaneer’s Bay. This is popular with those into pirates and Cornish history. Situated at the top of a hill in St Michaels Road next to the church overlooking a car park, is the museum.
The tunnels feature famous stories of people such as Merlin, mermaids, pirates, smugglers and cavemen. Here we met Captain Calico Jack and his trusted wench Anne Bonny in a swashbuckling adventure in the heart of Newquay. Travelling through The Sunken Village of the Damned as the fiend kept jumping out at us and screaming my wife was like a jumping jack rabbit by the time we emerged from there.
Newquay has claimed the title of ‘UK Surf Capital’. I can’t say I have ever been into surfing but I do like to watch those that can. For those that cannot but would like to have a bash there are surfing lessons available. These are quite expensive but if it’s something you want to try it’s probably worth the money.
Newquay contains many arcades which provides fun for some and can pass an hour here or there especially if you get a rain shower and want to stay dry. There are seven miles of coastline with 11 beaches all different in their own way some offer excellent surfing conditions, others are suntraps for that beautiful tan whereas some are just fun for the kids. Fistral Beach is one of the most popular with surfers. It has many facilities such as a surf school, shop, toilets and café. It is a good place for families, couples and surfers. Protected by a lifeguard it is safe.
The newly built A30 makes Newquay an easy resort to reach by car. If you prefer, you can fly in. The local Airport has flights from Ireland (Cork, Dublin and Belfast), England (Leeds, Manchester, Bristol, London Stansted and London Gatwick) and Scotland (Edinburgh and Aberdeen). There is also a train station in the centre of Newquay close to the major hotels. National Express also provide a regular coach service from major cities over the UK, you may need to change coaches near Plymouth or Exeter but several services enter Newquay daily.
Newquay is a great place to go whether there is group wanting to celebrate a hen or stag do, if you have children and fancy a short break, if you have just got married and want a cheap honeymoon or if you just want a break away from urban life.Related to:
- Water Sports
- Arts and Culture
- Historical Travel
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The Eden Project
The Eden Project was our number one reason for visiting Cornwall. Dubbed 'the Eighth Wonder of the World', with its distinctive white domes, the Eden Project is Cornwall's best-known tourist attraction. But it's much more than just a big green theme park and visitors can expect to come away with a better understanding of the environment we live in. As they say at the Eden Project, 'we aim to reconnect people with their environments locally and globally'.
Tim Smit conceived the Project in 1994. The site chosen was a former china clay pit; a huge crater, 60 metres deep, south-facing and sheltered, but with no soil and prone to flooding. In October 1998 building work got under way and the project opened to the public on 17th March 2001. By June 2001 the millionth visitor had passed through the gates.
The biomes are the biggest conservatories in the world, split into a 'humid tropics biome' and a 'warm temperate Mediterranean biome'. They contain more than a thousand plant species, mist sprays and dramatic waterfalls. The bubbles consist of inflated hexagonal transparent 'plastic' windows with a life-span of more than 25 years. The panels are transparent to UV light and have a triple-membrane which provides them with excellent heat insulation properties.
The Rainforest Biome is the larger of Eden's two covered biomes. 100 meters wide, 200 metres long and 55 metres high it is tall enough to hold trees from the tropical rainforests. It contains over 1,000 plant species including palms and bananas, rubber trees, rice, coffee, sugar, pineapples, bamboo, and flowering plants such as peace lilies, capsicum, and the lavender striped aubergine. The steeper slopes resemble the Steppes, the Prairies and Chile.
The temperature in the Rainforest Biome ranges from 18 to 35°C. A network of misting sprays and a waterfall preserve humidity. Computers help regulate the climate, but it also relies on the natural properties of the environment such as the rear cliff wall which absorbs heat from the sun during the day and releases it at night. The plants themselves also help control the environment, releasing moisture to cool the air when it gets too warm.
Themes in the humid tropics biome include Malaysia, West Africa, tropical South America and tropical islands. Rainforests have up to 60 inches of rain in a year, but in the tropical biome soil irrigation preserves soil moisture. It is possible to climb to a viewing platform high above the canopy of trees below. This we did in a temperature of 38°C and 70 per cent humidity. It wasn’t long before I resembled a wet rag with the sweat pouring off me. The view was worth it but definitely not recommended for anyone not physically fit.
Eden's Mediterranean Biome is 65 metres wide, 135 metres long and 35 metres high. In this biome air temperature varies between 15° and 25°C in the summer and a minimum of 10°C in the winter. Summers are hot and dry, whereas winters are cool and wet. In its warm temperate climate, natural gardens bloom as in the Mediterranean, California and South Africa. In the controlled environment of the biomes there are insects, butterflies and some lizards. It also contains cork trees from the Mediterranean, an ancient knarled olive grove containing trees up to one hundred and fifty years old, the copper sculpture of a bull representing Dionysus and a vineyard. The size of the Biome is such that although it is indoors it feels very much like actually being in the Mediterranean.
The out-of-doors site is a huge biome in its own right. Part of it contains plants found in our own British temperate climate. An apple orchard, plants unique to Cornwall, both native and introduced and thriving in the mild Cornish climate, a tea plantation, over 300,000 daffodil bulbs, in bloom from early March to May- bulb mania in all its glory. In July and August the joy that is the British Allotment. In late summer a dazzling display of sunflowers, and of lavender in rows- their scent wafting in the breeze. However no two visits are ever the same. Part of the enjoyment is seeing Eden change, not just through the Seasons, but over the years.
The Eden Project is extensive, requiring much walking, often up and down sloping terraces. The land train that tours the steep part of the site has wheelchair spaces and staff to help. Although the Eden Project has been designed as 'wheelchair friendly' it must be accepted that in a project of this type and on this scale, that not all 35 acres can be accessed by wheelchair.
The Eden Project exceeded our expectations and we may well go back again as it changes with the seasons. It is best to visit the Mediterranean Biome first to get acclimatised before visiting the Tropical Biome for the latter is truly an exhausting experience. We were glad to escape its clammy interior. Allow around four hours to fully enjoy the site.Related to:
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Land’s End was one of the places we visited on a coach tour of Cornwall. Both Land’s End in the south-west of England and John o’ Groats in the north-east of Scotland are famous landmarks. Between them is the longest distance you can get in Britain. Some cycle from one to the other for charity and others walk it. The distance by road is 874 miles. Both have a ‘First and Last House’ and Land’s End have a Land’s End John 0’ Groats club for those who have completed the journey in-between.
From Land’s End the Atlantic Ocean stretches beyond the horizon until it reaches the shores of America. From the spectacular granite cliffs, a person on a clear day can see the Isles of Scilly on the horizon. We couldn’t! Much closer is the Longships Lighthouse, while about six miles south-west is the Wolf Rock Lighthouse. There is a well-known signpost here, giving distances to faraway places. Visitors can have their photographs taken in this famous spot, overlooking the churning sea beneath spectacular cliffs.
John o’ Groats is in a gentler environment. From there the Orkney Isles are clearly visible and a passenger ferry only takes 45 minutes to cross. A few miles to the west a car ferry runs from Gills bay and makes the crossing in an hour. The castle of Mey where the Queen Mother lived is just a few miles further on. I pass through John o’ Groats once a year so I’m familiar with it. Land’s end I have only visited once.
The tourist complex at Land’s End features the history and heritage of Cornwall and Land’s End, with emphasis on ships and not surprising the hazards of the sea. A lifeboat forms part of the open-air display. The main exhibition is the Lost Labyrinth, an audio-visual experience encompassing everything from the lost land of Lyonesse and the legends of King Arthur to the present-day exploits of the air-sea rescue service. Being on a bus trip we didn’t have time to experience its wonders.
The area encompasses the Land’s End Hotel, various exhibition halls, play areas and craft shops. The Land’s End Cornish Sweet Manufactory is a traditional sweet factory where visitors can watch sweet-makers at work and sample the results. Greeb is a small animal farm in a setting where man have lived since the Mesolithic Age. This 200-year old restored farmstead allows a look back in time. It is the place to go for arts and crafts with a glass engraver, leather maker, wood turner, potter and a jewellery makes creating unique gifts.
The Relentless Sea Exhibition tells the story of the Cornish coastline and the tragedy of shipwrecks, the skulduggery of pirates, or visitors can watch the documentary of the Air Sea Rescue Services helping fishermen in difficulties. There are also the "End to Enders", tales of people who have travelled on foot and by other methods of transport from Land’s End to John O’Groats in Scotland.
There is plenty of shopping for those who are that way inclined. The Land’s End & John O'Groats Trading Company offers a selection of souvenirs, gifts, books, clothing, silverware and pewter. In the First & Last Toy Shoppe there is plenty on offer for the younger visitor. Penwith House has maritime gifts, paintings, toys and linen. Food is readily available at Land’s End from various restaurants.
Access to Land’s End is by road along the A30 from Penzance, or along the north coast road from St Ives. There is plenty of car parking and, for those not wishing to visit the theme park, reduced cost parking is available. There is free pedestrian access to the coastal path and buses run from Penzance throughout the year and from St Ives during the summer season.
I couldn’t help being struck by the difference in commercialization between Land’s End and John o’ Groats. The John o’ Groats Hotel has been shut for years. This white Gothic building, a local landmark needs to be brought back to life to breathe life into the community. Visitors can however explore a number of gift shops as well as a coffee shop and a small museum. The Tourist Information Centre doubles up as a shop offering a very good selection of books of local interest. The craft village provides accommodation for various crafts. The camping and caravanning site offers superb views over the Pentland Firth, a Firth that if it had its tidal energy harnessed could practically power Britain.
The car park at John o’ Groats offers free parking and the roads at John o’ Groats are much better than some of the roads our coach had to travel through from Land’s End.Related to:
- Road Trip
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Places to see
Heres all the place we visited in just 4 days:
-Padstow - nice little village made famous by Rick Stein the chef, so its his name plastered over everything. It has a cute harbour and some lovely small nik nak shops. Quaint but not the best.
-Newquay - i'd imagine in summer its ok but in winter it looks like a hole. Its all a bit typical of a british seaside resort, tacky! didnt hang around long and headed off. The beach looked awesome though.
-St Ives - lovely little town with a nice harbour and narrow main street and promenade with some great cafes and restaurants. We stayed the night.
-The drive on the back road from St Ives to Lands End was awesome, no one around and real rugged scenery.
-Sennan Bay - just before Lands End, this little place has a bay and a harbour. We parked up in the bay car park and just took a picture of the huge lovely beach, but was too cold to do much else.
-Lands End-completely different from when id been as a child 25 years before - now it has a grand entrance with what can only be described as a theme park with 4D rides etc...but the trusty famous signpost is there - although you can no longer take your picture next to it as thats reserved for a company to charge you £10 to do so! so you have to stand 3 metres away and take it. Commercialism! Its still a landmark spot as the waves crash and the wind howls, but otherwise nothing there!
-Merry Maids - 19 stone blocks in a circle, like stonehenge but less impressive, didnt actually find out any history on them apart from the legend they were maids turned to stone for dancing on a sunday.
-Mousehole - one of the best spots on the trip, a truly cracking gem, with a lovely harbour, some great nik nak shops, plenty of galleries and some lovely old cottages oozing history.
-Penzance-just drove through as its looked like a dump
-Marazion/St Michaels Mount-Marazion is a nice little place with just a few shops, pub and church. We were lucky to get the tide out for St Michaels mount and so walked across but everything was closed there and so walked back. It was damn windy.
-Mullion (LIzard) - this is where i stayed as a 11 year old but i remember nothing. We stopped at the chocolate factory here which was good with a lovely cafe doing awesome chocolate brownies.
-Lizard point-the village of Lizard looks lovely but we stayed at the YHA under the Lizard point lighthouse, an awesome place that feels on the edge of the world
-Cadgwith-cracking little fishing village with an real oldy feel with boat and boat yards, a pub and some beautiful thatched roofed cottages. The waves were spectacular as they crashed up against the rocks in the winter sea below. Couldve spent all morning just watching them if it wasnt for the rain.
-Coverack - another fishing village just up the road, narrow windy streets, we just parked the car for a min and took a pic as was so wet and cold.
-St Keverne - this place just up from Coverack has a lovely little town square with whats seemed like a pub on each side! a church and a local shop.
-Helford - on the Helford river, some huge houses round here and some incredibly tight windy streets to drive the car down. It has a ford, hence the name, and is worth just a drive down its main street
-Falmouth - we liked Falmouth, some lovely street, fascinating shops, and plenty of cafes, including the awesome Gylly cafe on Gylly beach which was even packed when we went in winter. Beerwolf books pub was recommended to us and it didnt disaapoint, right in town with good beer and a great chilled atmosphere.
-Truro - huge cathedral, a decent winter market and a few shops were all we found in our few hours here.
-Pandorra Inn, a pub recommended in the lonely planet, located nearer Falmouth than Truro, meaning we had to back track on ourselves. Its located by the river in Mylor. We had a beer by the log fire, its got a real old feel to it and great character.
-St Austell - what a hole. We hadnt planned to stop here but we just stopped for Anya to go to the toilet in Macdonalds and after calling around the accommodaition and no luck saw a travelodge right next to us, so we took it. Everyone from the town seemed to be in Macdonalds or KFC next door, when we went to town we realised why, they were the only two buildings open in the whole of town! The pubs were even shut on a sunday night. We found one open but it was ***. We ended up finding one a few mins drive away. The town itself didnt look much and explained why its not even mentioned in the guidebook.
-Fowley - just 5miles from ST Austell, this place is lovely and could potentially have been one of our favourites had it not been for the storm that had kicked in and got us so so wet and windy. Lovely windy streets and old building right but the river. Lovely little place.
-Dartmoor NP - we drove through Dartmoor NP on the way home, technically in Devon, it was so wet and grey it was grim but it was barren as i'd expected it to be. We stopped at a pub that was just about average with average food and a boring landlord but nice log fire.
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Lost Gardens of Heligan
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.Related to:
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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!
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Another day out in Cornwall
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.Related to:
- Travel with Pets
- Hiking and Walking
- Family Travel
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.ukRelated to:
- Women's Travel
- Arts and Culture
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The Awesome Tintagel Castle
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.Related to:
- Castles and Palaces
- Road Trip
- Family Travel
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St. Michael's Mount: a nice stop on the road 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-mountRelated to:
- Castles and Palaces
- Family Travel
- Road Trip
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Eden Project: a good 3 or 4 hours with family
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.Related to:
- Family Travel
- Theme Park Trips
- Road Trip
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Land's End: a point on a map and tourist trap
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.Related to:
- Road Trip
- Hiking and Walking
- Family Travel
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.Related to:
- Historical Travel
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.
Now, I'm sure that when we're old & grey(er), we'll be glad of a nice rest home in which to enjoy...more
The Boskerris is a small, family run hotel located in Carbis Bay, a few miles out of St Ives. We...more
Part of the Premier Inn chain, as far as I’m concerned these hotels offer good value with the added...more
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