If it wasn’t for my friend Simon inviting is to share his 50th celebrations in Cornwall, I would never have wanted to explore this fantastic region. In hindsight, it was a bit of a drive at the time for a weekend in Cornwall, especially living up North in Cumbria. But it was so worth it. A different vista than living in the Lake District but so beautiful in a different way. We were so struck by its beauty we decided to do a week’s holiday here in January. For the birthday weekend we were staying at Whitsands Bay, so for our holiday went even further south staying near Marazion.
Holiday cottage found with my requirements of hot tub, wood burner and within a reasonable walk a good pub. It was a lovely lodge, nicely decorated and scones with clotted cream on arrival..
First up was Portleaven to get some coffee. It is the most southerly port on the island of Great Britain, it was originally developed as a harbour of refuge, when this part of the Cornish coastline was recognised as a black spot for wrecks in days of sail.
Then a short drive to lizard point. Lizard Point (from Cornish an Lysardh, meaning “the high court”) in Cornwall is at the southern tip of the Lizard Peninsula. It is the most southerly point on the British mainland. The first sighting of the Spanish Armada on mainland Britain was off Lizard Point at 3 pm on 29 July 1588. I can see what it is noted as an area of outstanding beauty.
We met Martin and Jen(twitter friends who lived in the lakes) they had recently relocated to the area. We joked didn’t meet them when in the same county but meet up when we are hundreds of miles from home. After a walk down to the shore and then a restorative cuppa in the cafe. They suggested we must visit Kynance Cove.
It was a short drive round the coast to Kynance cove. The cove became popular in the early Victorian era, with many distinguished visitors including poet Alfred Tennyson. The BBC has described Kynance Cove as “one of the most beautiful stretches of coastline in the South West.” I would have to agree with that statement. The weather was coming in, but compares to the Lake District it doesn’t stay as long.
Mondays are so much better when I’m not at work. A favourable forecast for the week so that always helps when playing tourist.
First stop was the Minack theatre, as you will see from the blue skies in the pictures, we could have been on a Greek island. The theatre was the brainchild of Rowena Cade, who moved to Cornwall after the First World War and built a house for herself and her mother on land at Minack Point for £100. In 1929, a local village group of players had staged Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream in a nearby meadow at Crean, repeating the production the next year. They decided that their next production would be The Tempest and Miss Cade offered the garden of her house as a suitable location, as it was beside the sea. Miss Cade and her gardener, Billy Rawlings, made a terrace and rough seating, hauling materials down from the house or up via the winding path from the beach below. The path is very steep so I certainly wouldn’t want to be hauling stuff up and down. It’s an incredibly feat of determination this theatre. I definitely need to come back and see a production here.
Then onto Lands End. Land’s End is either the start or finishing point, of end to end journeys with John o’Groats in Scotland. One of the earliest was by Carlisle who left Land’s End on 23 September 1879, went to John O’Groats House and arrived back at Land’s End on 15 December; taking 72 days (exclusive of Sundays); covering 3,899 miles (6,275 km). To prove his journey, he kept a log book which was stamped at any Post Office he passed. An early end to end on bicycle was completed by Messrs Blackwell and Harman of Canonbury Bicycle Club. Starting at Land’s End they covered 900 miles (1,400 km) in thirteen days in July/August 1880. We paid the £12 to have our photo actually taken at the sign, plus you can personalise the sign. I found it very moving to be at the end of the country I grew up in.
St Ives, wow, reflecting back this was my fav place. The beach is just beautiful and the quaint town picture perfect. The Tate was closed for refurbishment so disappointed couldn’t visit here. Had the best cream tea on the harbour side and the first pasty of the holiday. The Cornish way is jam first and clotted cream piled on top. Yummy.
Boscastle. I’d heard about this when it flooded back in 2004 and again in 2007. It’s a picturesque fishing port. Couldn’t believe the water engulfed the National trust building. It was reminiscent of the floods we suffered in Cumbria.
A short drive from here was Tintagel. The castle was closed but can walk down and see some of it. The castle has a long association with legends related to King Arthur. This began in the twelfth century when Geoffrey of Monmouth described Tintagel as the place of Arthur’s conception in his fictionalized account of British history.
Port Isaac the setting for Doc Martin. Another fishing harbour. A walk round recognising locations from the TV. Had to go and see if the the Doc was in. You can stay in the fictional surgery as it’s a holiday home.
Carrying on down the coast and a late lunch at Rick Steins in Padstow. The fish and chips were incredibly disappointing, like lots of celebrity chefs just putting their name to things. Padstow is another working harbour with some nice shops.
Started the day with a long run to Penzance. Was lovely running along the sea and getting some fitness back. Seeing St Michaels mount in the early sun was breathtaking.
Heligan, seat of the Tremayne family for more than 400 years, is one of the most mysterious and romantic estates in England. A genuine secret garden, it was lost for decades; its history consigned to overgrowth.
At the end of the nineteenth century Heligan’s thousand acres were at their peak, but only a few years later bramble and ivy were already drawing a green veil over this “Sleeping Beauty”. The outbreak of WW1 was the start of the estate’s demise as its workforce went off to fight in the trenches; many sadly never to return.
Unlike many other estates, however, the gardens and land at Heligan were never sold or developed. In fact, it wasn’t until the 1970s that Heligan House itself was eventually sold and split into private apartments.
After decades of neglect, the devastating hurricane of 1990 should have consigned the now lost gardens to a footnote in history.
Instead, events conspired to bring us here and the romance of their decay took a hold on our imaginations. Our discovery of a tiny room, buried under fallen masonry in the corner of one of the walled gardens, was to unlock the secret of their demise. A motto etched into the limestone walls in barely legible pencil still reads “Don’t come here to sleep or slumber”, with the names of those who worked there signed under the date – August 1914.
Trebah gardens. The wonderful garden at Trebah today is the cumulative result of almost 200 years of horticultural endeavour. Charles Fox, a wealthy Quaker, pioneered Trebah as a 26-acre pleasure garden, followed by his daughter and son-in-law. In 1907 Trebah was sold to Charles and Alice Hext, whose stewardship lasted until the outbreak of the Second World War and brought the garden at Trebah to its peak.
During the war years the garden maintenance was reduced to a minimum and the beach was used as an embarkation point for a regiment of 7,500 of the 29th US Infantry Division for the assault landing on Omaha beach.
At the end of the war there was a succession of changes of ownership, including the Martyn family, who cleared the moor at the bottom and introduced the massed planting of Hydrangeas and Donald Healey the racing driver and car designer who oversaw significant projects improving the lower lakes and reclaiming the beach, removing the infrastructure and concrete installed during WW2.
There is a nice signposted walk around the garden and the cafe is very good.
Eden project. Today was a bit overcast so decided would be a perfect day to visit Eden project. In 1995 the crater in the ground is a working china clay pit that is nearing the end of its economic life. This became home to the Eden Project. Biomass domes housing a rainforest and Mediterranean experience.
As soon as you enter the rainforest dome you can feel the humid heat. Weird and wonderful exotic plants as far as the eye can see. We went high up into the dome onto the viewing platform.
To Truro, pub quiz fact about Truro is it’s the 9th smallest city in the UK. It’s a lovely city, went to the cinema to see Trainspotting 2. The cinema is a wonderful Art Deco building with the most comfortable leather cinema seats.
Time to say goodbye to our home for the week and head to Whitsands to meet friends. On the way over called into Polperro. Another lovely fishing village.
Onto Whitsands where our love affair with Cornwall began. A nice end to the holiday meeting up with friends.