Dover Castle is a big place

With rain threatening we thought we might have to go further afield to find something indoors, but we woke up to a bright day the rain had been delayed until after lunch. We decided that Dover Castle should be our destination, it was just a few miles down the road.

We left the hut at 09:00 and stopped off at the national trust White Cliffs of Dover visitors centre, where we attempted a walk along the coast to the lighthouse tea room, however we only got a third of the way there before the cold biting wind got the better of us. We went to the cafe to warm up and found out that but the lighthouse was closed so it was a good job we turned back, Helen would have been incandescent had we got there and the tea room was found to be shut.

After a pleasant coffee we had and enjoyable hour overlooking the port of Dover and the activities going. I tuned the scanner into the operations team choosing which lanes to load next while my camera took a timelapse of the boat loading. Next stop would be the castle.

The entry fee just shy of £20 seemed a bit steep, but Helen was paying, so i went with the flow. The wind was not letting up and the shelter of the tunnels that we looked at first was welcome. The tours of the medical wing followed by one with a multi-media show explaining the Dunkirk retreat wax very enlightening and done very well. We stopped at the NAAFI restaurant for a cheese scone and a coffee before getting the land train to the mail n event the iconic castle that you can see on top of the hill from the town.

There is an Anglo Saxon church on the highest point which is right next to if not connected to a Roman lighthouse. We had a look around the inside of the church. It was quite different and perhaps had a military influence very regimented and neat. Every pew had the allotted number of prayer kneelers and each was precisely spaced across he length of the pew. I did not spot a grave yard outside which is unusual for a church perhaps because the area id inhabited.

Finally we visited the great tower, and popped into a regimental museum which was a bonus museum on the site. The great tower was a bit disappointing for me because the place was made to look like they think it would have looked in the past but it all looked too new and colourful. We had had our time in the building because they announced it would be closing in fifteen minutes. We exited via the gift shop.

On the way home we heard on the radio that there had been a suspected terrorist attempt at Westminster, and when we got home we followed events on TV.

We went to the Zetland Arms for dinner.

Trip to La Belle France

We were up early for a 09:50 shuttle to France, in fact early enough to just miss the 08:50, but have enough time to grab a coffee before the 09:20. The terminal was very quiet unlike it suspect it would be during the holiday season. Our destination was Cap Gris Nez to have a look at the gun battery and take a walk, then to Wissant a little seaside town with a lovely beach.

It always seems like a bit of a barrier to travel the channel, in the sense that when you are on the continent you can just get in your car and drive to anywhere, even as far as Beijing, from England there is a stretch of water in the way and no easy way across it. You have to book ahead then drive to a place then wait for a while get loaded onto a boat or train then wait till you are delivered to the continent. It would be a bit different if the tunnel was a drive through one because the while booking ahead and loading would not be necessary. In reality you spend 30 minutes being shaken, while you talk shit on you blog.

It did not take long to get accustomed to driving in the gutter. We headed down the lovely smooth autoroute and got off following the signs Cap Gris-Nez, where there is a car park and awalk to some viewing points. Unfortunately the wind was cold so we did hang about. We did notice what we thought were Meadow Pipits and then a Marsh Harrier quartering a field. Next we headed to a museum in a gun battery, however it was shut till 14:00, so we went to Wissant, and parked up on the town square. Lunchtime was approaching so the town was shutting down, so we grabbed a coffee in the loacl bar, before heading down to the beach, where again we did not spend too much the fighting the elements, but headed back to a cafe for some lunch. I had a cheese sandwich and Helen a  cheese gallette.we were in the conservatory so it was nice and warm with the sun shinning in.

After lunch we went to the Twist build battery, where a very big 380mm gun was built by the Germans, opened by Hitler, and surrendered to the Canadians. Now it is quite a good museum with displays of  WWII artefacts and exhibits. In the museum shop you could buy antique war memorabilia, including done genuine Russian and Swiss baynettes!

Next was a drive along the coast towards Calsis., Which was enjoyable withe sweeping vistas as the road ascended and descended valleys. We planned to turn around before we got to Calais but there were road works so we had to go into Valid before turning around and heading to Cite Europe shopping centre.

At the shopping centre we stocked up on food we never normally buy, some wine for Hrkrn and i got a couple of local beers and a box of Cidre doux which is only 2.5% and is quite quaffable. By the time we had shopped Helen has seen enough of France so we headed back to the tunnel terminal and managed to just miss a train but ended up at the very front of the queue for the 17:19 delayed by 5 minutes.

We were back in blighty just a few minutes late, and feasted on out supermarche purchases for dinner.

Sissinghurst and Canterbury

Rain day so we decided to use the car, and do a tour for the day. Main stops would be Cranbrook, Sissinghurst and Canterbury. Whilst having breakfast iIbooked the tunnel for a trip to France on the Tuesday, then we left and drove through thick drizzle, to Cranbrook where we had a coffee and a look around the church and graveyard looking for Helen’s relatives.

By the time we got to the National Trust property at Sissinghurst, the rain had stopped, but it was a bit windy and damp. We had a look at the garden which I image would look fantastic in a months time. There is a tower in the middle of the property and I took the opportunity to trapse up to the top for a look at the view. It allows you to get a good overview of the whole garden which is very extensive, There is a cottage in the grounds where the most recent owners used to live, and we got on the 13:00 tour.

With some time to spare we had some lunch I had some lovely pea, lettuce and mint soup. The tour of the house was very interesting, just a few rooms but they were covered in book shelves and looked lived in. Next we had a look at the library in the main building where they had book conservators demonstrating their work.

We decided to return back via Canterbury where Helen got some Euro’s for tomorrow and a pair of shoes she hoped would be less slippery that the ones she was wearing. There is a great eclectic museum in the centre full of art, artefacts, stuffed birds and other random stuff, just the sort of museum Helen and I like.

We had burgers for dinner and had an early night as we had reasonably early start to get to France,

A Sandwich Deal walk

We made a leisurely start and headed out the house at 10:00 destination Deal train station, the plan was to get the train to Sandwich and walk back to Deal, via the local coastal path. We arrived early for the 11:00 train so we took a still around town and grabbed some supplies. The train was waiting for us, it was the London train to Start Pancras, I guess it takes a loop around from London via Margate.

The journey was only 6 minutes, and we headed in to town then turned right at the car park by the river and headed out towards the sea. We had a golf course cross and just before we spotted a Ring-necked Parakeet flying over. Once we had crossed the Royal St George golf course with its appropriately red crossed green flags, we to the sea where there was a gathering of Dachshund owners and their hounds. We stopped for a sandwich fittingly overlooking Sandwich Bay.

We walked past Sandwich Bay Estate which was by the sea and made up mainly of houses with more than 10 bedrooms. Apparently one was once owned by the Astor’s and another by Jonathan Aitkin. We noticed one had a robotic lawn mower not sure if that meant they could not afford a gardener. The wind started to pick as we passed another golf course, luckily it was not exactly again us it was coming from the land, and eventually we were able to descend from the sea wall to a path somewhat sheltered by dunes.

The seats on the edge of Deal were a welcome rest, especially for me who had decided it was time to take up running again. My first run in the morning had been 1.5 miles and taken me 17 minutes, not a four minute mile but you have to start somewhere. I used to do sub 10 minute miles for four miles. My aim is to be able to run for 30 minutes.

We stopped for a coffee on the seafront and then wandered back to the station to get the car and Helen booked at table at the Zetland Arms it seemed to be the best pub in the village so we thought we would try it first. On the way back we managed to find the “Ham Sandwich” sign at Finglesham. It was hard to park up but we managed to get a few shots before any traffic came.

Kingsdown – a bonus holiday day

It is holiday time again, in March because we both took a weeks holiday over from last year. We had plans to fly to somewhere warm but when you failed to organise something we ended up booking a cottage in Kingsdown near Deal in Kent. The night before we got a call from the cottage owner explaining that the cottage was ready and we could turn up any time. That meant we could drive straight there and not have to waste time finding somewhere to visit on the way. Essentially we could gain a days holiday, so we got up at 07:30 and headed out at just before 09:00.

The trip around the M25 was traffic free, but one unexpected task was to have to pay for the crossing at Dartford there are no longer pay stations you have until midnight the day after to pay up online. We missed a couple of sat nav instructions and ended up going via the port of Dover, but the detour only added a couple of minutes to the overall journey.

We arrived at the cottage at 11:00 and quickly unloaded the car. The approach to the village has some very tight roads, and there was a lot of giving way to other cars. We soon found the cottage for the week, an end of terrace on an unadopted road that leftover the sea.we were just over the road from a freehouse called​ The Rising Sun, and a hundred yards from The Zetland Arms a Shepherd Neame pub literally on the pebble beach, which after a quick look at the beach we sampled it’s wares. We has a cheese sandwich and a drink each, before taking a drive to Deal for a look around.

We chose Sandwich instead, and before that Pegwell bay, which is mud flat just outside Sandwich. We arrived at a good time as the tide was starting to come in, pushing the waders, closer to the hide. The pictures on the hide wall promised lots of waders but we were happy with Redshank, Curlew, and a start Avocet amongst some ducks.

Sandwich is a nice little town with old buildings that over hang the streets. It seems ytgat Saturday afternoon was notthebest time to visit as some of the shops were shut. We as a wander around then headed back to the car. On the way back we detoured via Finglesham where there is a sign with both Ham and Sandwich which I hoped to be pictured by, however we had not done enough research and would have to return another day.

Back at the hut i watched the Rugby which England lost to Ireland meaning they failed to break the record for consequtive wins and also the Six Nations Grand Slam, they did however win the Six Nations overall.

We were in bed early as the TV at the hut was tiny and we had to use my laptop to watch Amazon Prime.

St Agnes – Holywell and back via Pentile Point

Walk from Holywell via Crantock and Poly Joke beach
Walk from Holywell via Crantock and Poly Joke beach

Last day of the holiday in Cornwall and although it is an even day we went for a walk, as we had been in training all week. The plan was to park up at the Holywell car park then walk in land to West Pentile where this is pub called the Bowgie Inn, then walk back to Holywell beach via the coastal path.

Once parked up at the National Trust car park, free for members and adding to the savings to offset against the membership fee, we walked in land flowing a river and passing through a very extensive camping and caravan park. The we did an acute turning and headed up a hill that once at the top gave a great view of the area with the sea visible of three sides of the square so to speak.

Seals on a rock
Seals on a rock

We descended down from the peak and crossed a road and then the path went through a caravan park which was closed for the season, it had many activities including a fishing lake, and the notice boards promised entertainers, singers and comedians, including once called Jim Gutrench. A gold course followed with the path nicely protected by Cornish walls/mounds. Eventually we descended down into a valley where there was a car park for a beach we would pass later. The way out of the valley was confusing but we eventually hit the right path which lead to a road or track again up the hill till we got to West Pentire, the a the Bowgie Inn beckoned, and what a great find it was.

The Bowgie Inn is in a small village but as we approached we noticed it was quite busy and lots of outside seating, it was clear why when we got there. The view of Crantock Bay is fantastic and the light we we arrived was almost perfect. We stopped for a coffee and a bag of crisps and I took a time lapse sequence. We lingered for a while watching the surfers in the distance the breaks were quite a way out so a couple of them were getting really long run ins.

The path crosses the bottom of the pub garden, which was handy. The next few miles were spectacular, and the photo opportunities many. Eventually we came across Pentire beach which we had passed earlier, and found a spot to have our sandwiches, it was idyllic and the perfect spot to share lunch on our last full day in Cornwall. The sea was a deep blue and breaking in parallel waves onto the beach, and the sky was blue with the occasional passing fluffy cloud.

Walk from Holywell via Crantock and Poly Joke beach
Walk from Holywell via Crantock and Poly Joke beach

The walk back to Holywell bay was quite eventful, first Helen spotted some seals on a rock just off the coast. We watched them for a while and the total count at one point was 12, far out stripping our best tally of the week of two.  A little further on I went to look at whatever the couple were looking at over the cliff it turned out to be a sheep part way down the cliff. It was standing still looking like it could not decide which way to get out, I was not about to try and rescue it because the way out was fairly obvious.

The last mile and a half were down hill and then on the beach. It was tedious walking across the dry sand at the top until we found that the damp sand by the stream that runs down the beach was much easier walking. We were back at the hut at the same time as the owners who had been to The Eden Project as a treat for their wedding anniversary. We had a chat then retired to the hut to tidy up and pack so we could get an early start. We had fish and chips for tea from the chippy opposite the pub, my hake was very  nice and the chips were double cooked so very crispy.

St Agnes – Porthtowan back to to the pub

Walk from Holywell via Crantock and Poly Joke beach
Walk from Holywell via Crantock and Poly Joke beach

We had a plan to walk from Porthtowan back to the pub for a half, but the buses were not convenient either a early start or a late start. Then I remember that there is a museum in St Agnes and the bus stop was near by. So the plan emerged, we would walk up to the museum for the 10:30 opening time then we would have an hour before the 11:30 bus. That mean a leisurely start, we left the house at 10:00.

We walked up through the village which thus far we had only seen from the car. There is the St Agnes Hotel signs that the place was once and important town. Then we cam across the Railway Inn yet more evidence that the place was important. The museum would reveal all.

Walk from Holywell via Crantock and Poly Joke beach
Walk from Holywell via Crantock and Poly Joke beach

We got to the museum just as it opened and a friendly man welcomed us in. The museum is very interesting and very well done. It gives you a great insight into the history of the area right up to current days with a cabinet showing a multi-generation of doctors who have served in the village. We were early for the bus so I bought a paper and we sat at the bust stop and caught up with the news.

Walk through village hill There were quite a few people at the bus stop but when the 315 arrived we were the only ones to get on. I guess the rest were waiting for the 87 to Newquay or Truro. The bus takes a rurtal route and takes a least one detour to visit villages. Eventually we were dropped off near the beach at Porthtowan. We headed straight for the coat path and the hard slog of getting out of the river valley. Just before Porthchapel we came across a bench with a view where we had our sandwiches and did some sea watching. Helen spotted something which we took a while to figure out what it was, but eventually we realised that it was a Sunfish a rare but increasingly more common sighting in Cornwall.

Walk from Holywell via Crantock and Poly Joke beach
Walk from Holywell via Crantock and Poly Joke beach

It was a pretty short walk down to Porthchapel where we had a coffee at the National Trust coffee shack. We headed the beach to enjoy our beverages and the view. I took a timelapse set. We then headed on again up the steep hill towards St Agnes. On out left was the beacomn the man in the museum had explained about and Helen was interested in because of the arrow heads found there and on display, however after the slog up the coast path Heln declined the offer to walk to the top of the beacon.

Near the coat watch car park there the local radio control club were flying gliders, the steady breeze from the sea made it a great location, however I guess mistakes can be costly with the sea and the cliffs. As we left the coat watch I noticed a man on the floor ahead, in my binoculars they were not moving but then he started to get up slowly. I rushed ahead and check that he was OK, he was I think he was just embarassed at having fallen over.

The final mile or two was on familiar territory with great views as the sun dipped lower. Back in the village we used the excuse to book a table to eat to buy a sneaky half. We had had a lovely day in perfect weather.

St Agnes – Walk Holywell to St Agnes

Walk from Holywell via Crantock and Poly Joke beach
Walk from Holywell via Crantock and Poly Joke beach

Day three an odd day so it is a walk day, we had a plan to get a bus to Holywell then walk back to St Agnes, however the best laid plans do not always pan out. We were up early and in time to walk up to the bus stop for the 09:32 bus to Newquay. We set out earlier than necessary according to Google maps, I did that thing I have done many times. When you go for the public transport option in maps it includes the time to walk to the bus stop, I have a habit of taking the time as the bus departure not the start walking time.

Walk from Holywell via Crantock and Poly Joke beach
Walk from Holywell via Crantock and Poly Joke beach

We were very early for the bus so had a 25 minute wait, but it did turn up which is a good start. We needed to stay on the bus for 22 stops and get off at Cubert Crossroads which turned out to be in the middle of nowhere. It was not obvious where the bus stop was but we decided that walking towards a lay by in the direction of Holywell was the best bet, and it did turn out to be a bus stop. We were a bit late for the bus so we gave it 25 minutes before I convinced Helen we should give up on the bus and walk cross country Perranporth and miss out Holywell. We walked a few hundred yards down the road and lo and behold the bus drove past. Helen was not amused in fact she was hopping mad and I was somehow partly to blame (as logistics manager for the walk). Helen soo cheered up when we spotted some Goldcrest in a tree by the road.

The walk to Perranporth was mainly on a road but not much traffic and it made a change to be in the Cornish countryside rather than a cliff path. We turned towards the sea at the Perranporth golf club and eventually hit the beach and headed towards the town. Helen decided she had walked far enough so I waited for the next bus back to St Agnes with her then headed off up the hill and back onto the coast path, which was a bit of a slog.

Walk from Holywell via Crantock and Poly Joke beach
Walk from Holywell via Crantock and Poly Joke beach

I stopped after half and hour and enjoyed my sandwiches on a sheltered bench with a view. The path then headed even higher and passed some fairly significant mine sites and some very interesting geology, wtih layers of dark rock in a mainly lighter quartz or silica rock. There was also lots of mine spoil so much so in fact they appear to have dug a path through it for the coastal path. The route took me around the back of the Perranporth airport where a plane kept taking off and landing not sure if it was flight lessons or flight tours.

Eventually I came to the path that descends steeply into Trevellas Cove, where a sign suggest no walking around the beach to St Agnes. I threw caution to the wind as the tide was far out. It was a bit tedious stepping from rock to rock but it saved another massive up section then another down to get to St Agnes. Helen was wandering on the beach when I got there looking for the seal she had spotted the evening before, it seemed to like looking at the surfers from a safe distance. We had a regular half, well in my case a pint as I had done 10 miles of coastal path, then we headed back to the hut.

St Agnes – Trelissick and the Roseland Peninsula

Portscatho panorama
Portscatho panorama

Day four even number meant a relaxed non: walking day, our initial aim was Trelissick and National Trust property with extensive gardens, then we would see whare the wins took us. We left the house at 10:00 and arrives at Trelissick at 10:30 perfect timing of the house opening times.

We first headed to the house and had a look around, the contents were quite bear and I overheard some mentioning that all of all the content was from when the hose contents were auctioned off. Then we headed to the orchard garden area where there are lots of exotic trees. By then it was coffee and cake time a fruit slice went down nicely.Finally we walked out to the end of the Peninsula with fantastic views of the Fal estuary.

St Mawes harbour
St Mawes harbour

Trelissick is near King Harry’s ferry to the Roseland Peninsula we decided to give it a go and take a look at the isolated finger of land. The ferry saves a 27 mile round trip. To get on the ferry we left Trelissick and turned right, on to a road that steeply descends down to the river level. We did not need to wait to take the switch back and drive onto the ferry, infact we were the penultimate car on board. The cross does not take long, less than 5 minutes I would say. We headed first down to St Mawes the biggest population center on the peninsula.

We ignored the signs to parking instead choosing the signs to the castle which is an English Heritage property. We did not stop at the castle but carried on round to the sea front and were happy to find a space in the harbour car park. We had a sandwich  in one of the seafront establishments, my crab sandwich was generously filled, bit no cheap at £9.95.

Portscatho limpets
Portscatho limpets

Next we headed to St Antony the end of the less popular peninsula, where there is a gun battery from the war which we found out includes a bird hide. We walked out to the bird hide via a walled path, presumably to protect the soldiers. From the hide we the view was of a cliff opposite, which  we thought strange but then we realised that we were probably looking for a Peregrine Falcon, and we did manager to see it dive after prey. After a look around what was left of the gun battery then we drove back up a different road up the peninsula to a village called Portscatho which has a history of artists living there/ It was a quiet place and we had a walk around and a look at the beach.

It was time to head back to the ferry where I took to the opportunity to get a couple of timelapse sequences. The queue for the ferry was pretty short as one was half way across when we arrived. Truro traffic was busy, we went to Waitrose for some salad for tea, and got back to the hut just oafter 18:00 with plenty of time before Back Off started.

St Agnes – Trerice NT and metal detecting

Sea view near St Agnes
Sea view near St Agnes

A high was pushing away a bank of rain overnight but it had not done its job by morning. We decided a more less energetic day was in order, so we would start at a National Trust property called Trerice less that 30 minutes drive. It turned out to be an interesting drive as the satnav insisted on a single track lane for a significant part of the journey.

We arrive just before the house opened which was perfect timing. The house has quite old original bit is a very good state of maintenance. Quite a small house but interesting stuff within. I had to sample the famous lemon meringue pie in the café which went down nicely with an americano. We killed time a little writing postcards, to get that holiday task out of the way and to give the weather front a bit more time to move along.

Portscatho view
Portscatho view

We had a look around Newquay and parked up at Fistal beach to see if there were any surfers out, it was raining and wind swept there were not a lot of surfers out. Then we headed to Crantock beach stopping off at the village shop for some metal detector batteries, then parked up at the beach and headed out with the metal detector.

It took a while to get our hand back in but we did eventually find some stuff including a tent peg, a couple of screws, some tin cans and a few bottle tops, we are not going to get rich. Next we headed to Truro to get some provisions, from the Cornish shop at Waitrose this time beetroot salad and a mushroom salad. Back at the hut we headed down to watch the surfers taking advantage of the last of the summer, then had a half at the pub.