Journey home via Stourhead National Trust

There was not much to do in the morning as we had cleared most of the house the night before. We left the hut at 09:35 with Helen’s parents with us for the journey home, lunch would be at Stourhead NT which was about the half way point and convenient for lunch. The traffic was heavy but nothing really held us up apart from the odd queue at major junctions. Stourhead Was busy as the sun was out and it was warm, but we easily found a table in the Cafe.

The courgette and minted pea soup went down well, as did Helen’s cheese scone. We did a light stroll around the park via the gardens, but did not bother with the house. There was a wedding on and I suspect there is most weekends, the photographers seemed to be numerous on the ground so probably an expensive one.

The rest of the trip was fairly uneventful other than wasting 30 minutes having to stop at a Tesco to check the pressure of the tyres as the warning light had come on. We stopped at Waitrose in Berkhamsted for some dinner then dropped Helen’s folks off at home before getting home to have a ready made curry, watch the rugby, and start to download the 600 odd pictures that need to be sorted and filtered.

Cley NNT, Blakeney and double crumble

Norfolk Sky
Norfolk Sky

We were up around 0800 in time to get croissants from the deli next door, where there is a sign which says if you don’t want to be disappointed turn up at 0830 or order for collection. I changed my mind when I saw they had baguettes for sale but the woman in n front of me bought the last three! We had planned to get the bus to Cley but by the time we had got ready it was too late for the 0940 and the next one was not till 1020, so we got the car and just about beat the 0940 to the visitors centre at the reserve.

The centre was shut till 1000 so we hung around so Helen could have a pee before the tour of the marsh. We set out anticlockwise not our usual way and stopped off at the group of three hides. We realised it our I’d skills were rusty when we could not is the ruff in front of the hide and the sandpiper. We left the hide and headed to the beach car park where the Cafe used to be, and when we got there sat on some rocks and looked out to sea. Amongst the wind turbines was what looked like an accommodation pod, the sort that is a boat which up ends when you fill the pointy end with water. Terns were conspicuous by there absence all departed south for the winter.

Blakeney High Street
Blakeney High Street

We headed in land along the east bank, I was hoping for a sit down on the bench, near the sluices, but some one was already there, but as we approached they got up I thought that was lucky, but it turned out he was sitting on the grass bank, the bench has gone after being there at least as long as we have been visiting Cley. We stopped and sat on the grass bank in the hope of seeing some bearded tits but we had to settle for sandwiches, perhaps the wind was keeping them low in the reeds. Before we went to the visitors centre for a coffee we stopped of in the last hide on the anticlockwise route, there were plenty of waders, including an avocet spotted by Helen.

The lunchtime queue for food and drinks was long so we decided to whizz round to Cley Spy for some coffee and cake, and some binocular browsing. The Art Cafe at Glandford is a real specialist coffee brewing emporium. They roast and sell the beans. The Cafe offers four ways to brew filter, cafietier, espresso, and Aerobie. I went for an americano and it was great just about the right blend of bitter and nutty, and the apple crumble cake went down nicely too.

Norfolk sky over reeds
Norfolk sky over reeds

Helen and I now have matching binoculars because after a coffee Helen tried a few compact models, some priced at over £600 before settling on a more modestly priced pair just like mine. After that Helen needed a rest so we went back to Blakeney, where we parked at the village hall. After a look round the book sales at the village hall I went off to take some photos and Helen did some light tut shopping.

We had a table at The Moorings booked for 1800 so I headed off to move the car from the village hall to the quay side car park. I found a space at the high end of the car park then did a quick time lapse with the mini Cyclops. The food at The Moorings was excellent, Helen had a risotto and I had a seared tuna steak, then apple elderberry and gooseberry crumble with custard. After eating we headed down to the harbour to watch the cars left to the mercy of the tide a white fiesta was there long enough to get water inside. We hung around long enough for a great sunset. At one point someone tried to get away with my mini Cyclops which I had positioned on a traffic cone.

D Day landings the British angle

French Church and Cemetery Ranville France
French Church and Cemetery Ranville France

Another early start today we are going to do the English parts of the D day landings the beaches to the east of Utah and Omaha. We had to meet up outside the hotel as a market had been built on the car park where the coach would normally park. It gave us an opportunity to forage for some food for lunch. I went with John up to a boulangerie we grabbed 2 cheese sandwiches, but I went for a baguette and then went into the market for some flat Peaches and a small Camembert which was washed in Calvados.

Unfortunately the weather was rather inclement we expected rain until lunchtime ish. We had quite a few targets for the day and our first mission was the Pegasus bridge at Ranville but first we were going to visit a British Cemetery which a couple on the bus had a connection with, I believe a close relative was buried there. It started to rain when we got there we had a look at the cemetery and then at the church cemetery nearby which had some English graves.  By the time we got back on the coach it was absolutely pissing it down with rain, the poncho came in handy.

Vintage tractors Normandy France
Vintage tractors Normandy France

The Pegasus bridge museum is well worth a visit with plenty of artefacts relating to the capture of the famous bridge. It really was chucking it down during our visit sort the museum visit was good timing. After a 15 minute stroll in the museum a film was arranged for us which was introduced by Prince Charles himself ( not in person of course). After that there was an opportunity to walk outside and see the bridge it self had been moved to the museum after being replaced back in the 1993. The museum purchased the bridge for 1 franc but never paid it over but it did cost half a million Euros to have it move from where it was to museum around 2001.

We boarded the Coach and went to Ouistreham where we went to a monument where there is a view of the sword beach. The British paratroopers landed on Sword Street it’s fairly flat and pictures. They landed an hour later than the Americans because of restrictions due to the tide times. Another stop another walk on a Rainy beach this time to look at the few more memorials. Back of the coach I had half my burger and a quarter of the Camembert which had slight taste of Calvados.

Views of the Mulbery Harbour and Arromanche Beach
Views of the Mulbery Harbour and Arromanche Beach

Bernniers sur mer was the next up where they were monuments to allied troops. The locals were out on the village football pitch showing off vintage tractors which they use around here to pull boats in and out of the water on the beach. The locals had very broad Normandy accents. On the way to Arromanches we stopped off to watch a a 360 film at another monument on a rise just outside the town. The place was heaving with children, waiting to see the film too. There was a count down clock on the viewing hall entrance we had s 20 minute wait but at about 9 minutes the doors opened and everyone rushed in only to realise the clock was the country down to the start of the film! The film was good but slightly bias, possibly unintentionally due to the fact they used the US Archive. We were rushed onto the bus to go to Arromanches.

The war cemetery at Bayeau was next, the Nick the guide showed us a couple of interesting individual graves, one who got a VC then a couple connected where a whole Lancaster crew were remembered. I am not sure what the stones are made of but they are very smooth and tactile to the touch. Once again we were late getting back to the bus ( I wasn’t) I had a chat with Sammy the drive he was a bit wound up and about to conduct a mutiny. He said he would take control of timings for the rest of the day.

Bayeux war cementery
Bayeux war cementery

Bayeau was heaving with medieval stuff, stalls all over the place selling weapons, honey, traditional food, and leather goods. Performers were entertaining and street entertainers were performing in the streets. There was a medieval festival weekend. They had had to put straw down because of the rain we had in the morning. Sammy’s plan did not work because the usual crew were late for the bus, he was not impressed and neither were we.

It took less than half an hour to get back to the hotel, when we arrived Sammy took control of things and made it clear that tomorrow morning it was a 07:30 start. He even offered to carry people suitcases down from their rooms if they couldn’t manage them. We agreed to meet up at 19:30 for some dinner.

We wandered up to the old town and chose an Italian. I had knocci with squid and octopus which was great, Helen had a pizza and John had pasta Neptune. Back at the hotel a medical student brass band was entertaining the neighbourhood, we listened for a while then went to the hotel bar for a glass of wine and then to bed. Another long day.

French Stork a life list bird

German war cementery La Cambe France
German war cementery La Cambe France

The air-conditioning in the room meant that we got a very good nights sleep although Helen was up in the night reading at one point. We had an early start  8 clock UK time so we were at breakfast for 07:00. Breakfast was a continental affair the usual cheese ham other meats bread croissants fruit compote etc. Interestingly there was a boil your own egg device, basically a toaster size machine with water in it you put your egg in a basket which you then put into the bath of water returning to get your eggs after a time depending on your preference.

I had a chance to have a wander around the local block and take some photos before the coach left. I tried a new technique for taking Panorama photos which involves taking two slightly tilted up and two slightly tilted down photos so the whole 360 is covered by 4 photos. Whilst out taking photos I could see that there was storm clouds gathering in close and was delighted to see a few lightning strikes.

The coach took less than an hour to get to the German cemetery at La Cambe we had about 25 minutes  to have a look around. It is quite an interesting site layout very different from the allied cemeteries that I’ve seen, there are plaques in rows on the grass but each group of plaques, maybe about 40 or 50, has five stone crosses in the middle of them. At the centre of the site there is a large mound which has a kind of sculpture or statue on top from there you can take in the whole of the site.

Tank at Airbourne Museum Sainte Mere Eglise
Tank at Airbourne Museum Sainte Mere Eglise

The first town liberated in France during the D-Day Landings was St Mere Eglise we parked up and wondered into the town to have a look at the church with a mannequin of a parachutist tied to the church tower, the story of which is a scene in the filmed The Longest Day. There is a museum associated with the American second airborne division but we went down to the High Street first to have a coffee and buy some baguettes for lunch from a great proper French bakery and patisserie.

The museum is very well done there are three main buildings the first contains one of the gliders used for the D day landings and there are plenty of display cabinets around too showing American and German things from the war. The second building contains an American air plane that was used to tow the gliders across the channel and again contains more artefacts from the war. The third is a multimedia experience which as you walk through the sound effects ate very realistic and it is dark. this films have to walk over a glass floor can be a bit of putting specially when it’s dark, however it’s all very well done. At the end of the multimedia experience there’s a big open space with memories and things from the war photographs of Ronald Reagan who has links to the museum. They are also building a new building called the Reagan meeting house or something like that in the grounds.

Utah Beach France
Utah Beach France

We left St Mere Eglise and headed to Utah beach on the way we stopped off at a German battery which was quite interesting. In the distance you could see the sea and a row of houses which I believe are familiar from war footage I’ve seen from films of the war. On the way to Utah beach we went down small country lanes and the tour guide Nick pointed out three storks nesting in a farmhouse I’ve never seen a stork before so that makes it a life list bird. As if we haven’t seen enough concrete there was still time to stop off and view some bunkers by the sea on the west end of Utah beach. There is quite a lot to see at Utah beach apparently a young lad injured by friendly american fire, was shipped to England for medical attention, to be returned later and settled near by eventually becoming mayor of a local town. He decided to spend time to promote the idea of a museum and memorial at Utah, eventually seeing it built in 1969.

Next up would be La Pointe Hoc which is a out crop between Omaha and Utah beach. Due to being quite strategic the American Rangers were sent to take the cliff and point. As it happened the guns they after there were in land and taken by the Canadians. However it was still a very heroic episode. The site is a field covered in bomb holes, some concrete bunkers and gun emplacements. We were told we had half an hour to do this but we stuck with the tour guide and it was at least 50 minutes.

Next stop was Omaha beach where the american national guard came under intense fire from the Germans. My fellow travellers were told off by the Life Guards for standing in the way of the tractors that pull the boats out of the water. By that time I had gone to another part of the beach and then went back to the road. Feeling a bit peckish I went over the road to a cafe stroke camera caravan selling ice creams are there when I got there I realised they were selling chips so I spent €4 on a plastic tray of chips.

Pointe Du Hoc France
Pointe Du Hoc France

There was some confusion when we got to get back in the coach because the driver had turned around while we were down on the beach but the tour guide had decided that he wanted to go the way we had come into the town, so the driver then had to reverse round a junction pull back out to pick us up then he realise that there was no room for cars to go round so he beeped and we will all had to get on the coach quickly while the French drivers around were beeping their horns.

We made our way through some country lanes to the American War cemetery at Colleville-sur-Mer. Agreement was that we could go with the tour guide or make your own way round there but we must be back of the Coach bye 10 to 6. I followed the tour guide for a bit and then broke off to take some photographs in a field because they were nice views of the shoreline with wildflowers in view.

American War cementery Colleville-sur-Mer
American War cementery Colleville-sur-Mer

I then took a wrong turning and ended up on a path which looked around went up a hill and then Morris put me back where I started which wasted a bit of time. I have had it all up to the cemetery itself where there are Monuments and lots of white crosses and star David headstones. I must say the Americans do cemeteries very well the grass was cut to a uniform length was very lush obviously watered often and all the edges perfectly trimmed. Later in the bus with debated how they might trim around all the headstones in the grass we couldn’t decide between them having to lift the headstones every time they cut the grass or have some sleeve they put round the headstones when they strim them.

The American Cemetery was our last stop after everyone got back to the couch at about 18:10 we eventually were en route back to Caen. As we got towards the city there was another unexpected stop as we needed to fill up with petrol. we eventually got back to the hotel at about 7:25 so we agreed to meet up reception at 8 o’clock gun get something to eat, in the old town. It had been a very long day.

We walked up town about 08:00 and found an area with kids of food establishments. We picked an Italian. They did a special disk where grappa was flambéed in a half of parmesan the mushroom and cream pasta added, all done in front of you by the chef. We were tired when we got back and hoped tomorrow was going to be a bit less relentless.

Coach trip to Caen D Day landings day 1

Motts Coach
Motts Coach

Up at 05:30 with plenty of time to get ready for the 7 o’clock pick up from the Bell Inn. John pick us up at 6:45 and we were at the bus stop in good time for the coach which was 10 minutes early. The driver explained that the coach we were on was the coach that was going all the way to France but that some of the people that we would pick up would be dropped off at the Hub in Thurrock. That would save unloading and loading the luggage.

We stopped first in Tring, then Berkhamsted followed by Hemel Hempstead. In Berkhamsted I noticed a an estate agents called Proffitt and Holt interestingly the name Proffitt was spelt with 2 F’s and 2T’s I guess if they had been accountants the correct spelling would have saved money on signage.

At 08:40 we arrived at Hemel Hempstead and some passengers were delivered in a mini bus. Then we were on the the M1 and M25 to Thurrock where we stopped for about an hour while other coaches got to the hub. We took the opportunity when we got back on the bus, at Thurrock we managed to bag a set of four seats around a table as they were not reserved for anyone. Lucky for us the drver said help yourself and do it quick before someone else had the same idea.

The traffic on the M2 was flowing well, we wondered whether we would be going on the M20 as operation stack was still in force despite the French strikes finishing the day before. We arrived at the Dover docks without any problems but the stack operation was clearly visible as all the lorries were queued up all the way out of Dover. For us there is a separate queue for the coaches and cars so after stopping to drop off some passengers we were straight into the queue and onto the tarmac waiting for a boat.

P and O ferry Dover
P and O ferry Dover

It looked like we might not get the next boat as we were directed to an empty car park however the driver went and had a word with the person taking the tickets and negotiated us on to the next very full crossing. We only had to wait for 20 minutes before Driving up the ramp to the boat. It makes you realise how big these boots are when you find out that you are on deck five. We had to climb 5 flights of stairs before we go to the lounge area.

The passage was rather routine with loads of school children running around the decks it was a bit tedious. Helen found the smoking zone at the back of the boat and was happy there until I persuaded her back inside and out of the strong wind. John found a quiet cafe on an upper deck where we were able to watch our approach to the Calais Port in peace. Getting back to the coach was quite difficult because the stairs were full with everyone rushing to get back to their vehicles, however because we’re on the top floor we were able to get in the lift with the lorry drivers who clearly knew what they were up to.

Moorings at Caen France
Moorings at Caen France

I chatted to the tour guide who told me that the journey to Caen would take about 4 hours however we would stop about an hour and a half before we arrive for a break. That would mean that we would be at our destination at about 07:00 to 07:30 which was just in time for dinner.

There were no hold ups on the French motorway we stopped about an hour and a half away from Caen for a break and leg stretching opportunity. We looked around the shop Helen had a fag and we got back on the Coach and headed on to Caen.

The final leg of the journey seemed to take an age eventually we turned in to the port area of Caen which is where the Ibis hotel situated. The hotel had air conditioning which was a bonus we quickly hotels we quickly checked in our room then met up in reception to go for something to eat. We found a pizza restaurant very close to the hotel John and I had pasta and Helen had a pizza. Everyone enjoyed the food except Helen thought the pizza was a bit bland. By the time we had finished our meal we were happy enough to just returned to the hotel and go to bed because we had an early start. We needed to be in the Coach by 8 o’clock in the morning which in English time is 7 o’clock so it meant another 6 o’clock start.

The North Coast Of Cornwall Can Be A Bleak Place

Cloud porn Bottallack and Levant Cornwall
Cloud porn Bottallack and Levant Cornwall

Rain was forecast for the morning and the wind was coming from the north, so it looked like our plans for the last day might be spoilt somewhat. Having driven along the north cost around St Just we thought it would be good to have a look as the coats line is very remote and bleak, even more so with a northerly wind and some rain.

Our destination was the Levant Beam pump, which is a National Trust place. We took the B road there along the coast and arrived just after 10:30 when it opens. We made our way from the car park to the reception when Helen decided to head back to the WC and managed to get wet in the down pour that included hail. Needless to say she came back a bit damper than when she left.

Beach views at Gwithian Cornwall
Beach views at Gwithian Cornwall

We waited a while for the tour to start, the tours guides were happy to hang around for the rain to stop just as we were. When the tour started we quickly progressed to the engine room out of the rain and in the warm. The guides explained how the engine worked with the steam going in only to to be damped by a spray of cold water producing a vacuum which moved the piston the same thing happening on the other side of the piston to make it return. Then they fired up the engine using steam generated by a modern stem boiler

The weather was brightening when the tour was finished so we reverted back to our original plans to walk along the coast but in land a bit which would allow us to see the landscape a bit more. It turns out that the footpaths in land are not so well trodden as the ones on the coast, so it was easy to get lost even when I had and app to help me. This put Helen in a bit of a trough of disillusionment, getting wet trouser bottoms from the wet grass and having to cross slippery styles. Eventually we got a a small village called Bottalack where we found a pub that did sandwiches. I had a crab one which was apparently caught only a couple of miles away.

Sunset at Gwithian Cornwall
Sunset at Gwithian Cornwall

Suitably refined we headed inland to the coast where we saw the iconic mine heads you see in lots of pictures of Cornwall. I went down the cliffs to have a look around while Helen sensibly stayed at the top and looked for Coughs. While I was down there the sun came out so I was hot, sweaty and puffing. The walk back to Levant was glorious in the sun and we both agreed that sticking to our plans had worked out great.

We had an hour to spare and so we headed to Cape Cornwall to have a look but when we got there it was not where both of us thought it was. We had been there before but we had the Lizard on our mind for some reason. I took a few picture from the top of the prominent hill, then we headed back to the hut via the direct route.

We went to the Red River Inn for something to eat I had the Moroccan fish stew which was very spicy, but great, all washed down with a couple of pints of real ale. We walked back to the hut to watch some more episodes of Madmen then and early night.

A Three Centre Holiday

Beam engine
Beam engine

We decided on a three attraction day, some culture, some nature and some history. The culture was the Art Gallery at Newlyn. The traffic was quite heavy as we got towards Penzance, but we did it in the time that the sat nav said. We parked up near the harbour with a £2 ticket for 2 hours. To get to the Art Gallery we walked along the promenade towards Penzance. The gallery is free and there are just a few rooms with temporary exhibits in each. As with most modern art a lot of it was “interesting” but there were a couple of thought provoking pieces. We had a great coffee in the cafe from Pantone mugs and headed back into town.

We had some time to spare so we had a look around the harbour, which was almost exclusively proper fishing boats. We found it very interesting, seeing the boats being maintained and unloaded into lorries. One of the boats unloading was from Inverness and was unloading in to a lorry from Scotland, which was a bit perverse. I took a few panoramas on the quayside. We noticed that sadly the fishermen’s mission was to be closed due to the expense of running it.

We had a twenty minute slot when we got back to the car, so decided to have some lunch at the cafe just next to the car park. Helen had a cheese toastie and I had a very nice crab, cream cheese, and chilli toastie which was very nice. We over stayed the parking ticket by about 10 minutes but we were sat right in from of the car and ready to pounce if a warden came round. When we left our table the sea gull that had been stalking us took the opportunity to finish off Helen’s crusts.

Newlyn Harbour
Newlyn Harbour

Next stop was Hayle estuary RSPB at high tide the birds get pushed off the estuary into an area in front of a hide where they forage whilst waiting for the water level to drop again. We armed up under the road bridge and went to the hide, it was only when we got there that we noticed the sign that indicated that the event we were expecting is a September to March one. The birds over winter and would be in their spring and summer Arctic breeding grounds in May. Our total tally was 3 Shelducks, and a Little Egret.

Next up was to be some industrial archeology at a Cornish beam museum maintained by the national trust. We followed the signs and found the pump house next door to a Qwikfit and a Jewsons, I though this is not what I expected from the website, just the one building. Once we had checked in with the volunteers they explained that the main bit was at the end of the Morrisons car park about half a mile away. We looked around the pumps house then headed over to the main event. There is an exhibition, a film about mining, and some ruined buildings to look at.

After a busy day we headed back to the hut I went to the beach to take some photos as the sun was out, then we went to the Red River Inn, which is a twenty minute walk,for some food. I had Indonesian mackerel and Helen had a veggie burger names after the God of North wind Boreas!

Trans-Atlantic cables at Porthcurno

View of Porthcurno beach Cornwall
View of Porthcurno beach Cornwall

The weather was predicted to get a bit colder and the wind would be from the north so we took the opportunity to head south to Porthcurno. It took about 35 minutes to drive there, and the roads became narrower the closer we got. We had to reverse up as we got to the car park to let a bus through, but not before a BMW had forced its way through.

There were two adjacent dark parks, and we noticed before we parked that the one for the museum was £5 for the day but the council one was £6.40. We parked at the museum but had no change so I had to walk up the hill to the museum entrance to ask them for some change, they were very obliging even more reason to use their car park, and proceeds of the parking go to the museum which is all good to.

Our plan was a walk along the coast path, and possibly the museum after. The museum is all about communication and the history of the cables that circle the world. We visited it some years ago and thoroughly enjoyed it.

At the bottom of the expensive car park we followed the path to the beach but took a left fork up the coast path. We knew the path was step because we have done it before. The sun was out and light layers were the order of the day. The air was clear when you looked west and the sea a lovely shade of turquoise, and there was hardly a breath of wind. At times in exposed places a fresh breeze was welcome especially after a long climb in the heat.

Porthcurno Cornwall
Porthcurno Cornwall

Eventually we got to our intended destination Penberth cove where there is a working fishing village, with a stone quay where the boats are winched up out of the water. We sat on a bench for a rest before talking the very step path back out of the cove and back along the path we had just descended. Our destination was Logan rock about half way back where we could have lunch with a view.

We had our sandwiches on the narrow price of lad that leads to Logan Rock. You get a great view of the beach at Porthcurno in the distance. We also opted a nudist on what looked like and inaccessible beach (perhaps he swam there?). It was difficult to tell given the distance and despite binoculars but we decided it was a male. He was lying on a rock, in plane sight. We spotted seem canoeists heading his way and their presence made home hide his dignity.

I crossed the narrow bit of land to see if I could get to the rock. It took some doing especially with my camera in one hand. But I got almost to the rock before turning back and taking a couple of panorama sets.

Fishermans cottage Penberth Cove Cornwall
Fishermans cottage Penberth Cove Cornwall

Here is some information from Wikipedia about he Logan Rock. “The Logan Rock (Cornish: Men Omborth, meaning balanced stone) near the village of Treen in Cornwall, England, UK, is an example of a logan or rocking stone. Although it weighs some 80 tons, it was dislodged in 1824 by a group of British seamen, intent on showing what the Navy could do. However following complaints from local residents for whom the rock had become a tourist attraction and source of income, the seamen were forced to restore it. Today the stone still rocks but it takes a lot of effort.”

We were quite tired by the time we got back to the car so we gave the museum a miss. We headed around the cost past lands end to St Just where we fondly remembered a great coffee shop, and we hoped it would still be there. The parking is free (yes free) in St Just, and the cafe is still there. We had a coffee each and I flicked though an interesting book that had some very detailed theories to explain that the twin towers collapse was caused by weather and magnetic storms and the like. Very strange I though as it was clear from the video footage that airplanes had hit the tower and that was in my mind the reason for them falling down.

We had a walk around the church yard and the church it self and had a look at the rest of the town, then we got back to the car and headed back to Hayle via the coast road. The north end of Cornwall is very isolated with few houses and only a couple of farms that can be seen from the road. Back in the Hayle we got stuck in a queue to leave the town so we popped into the Coop to get some food for tea. Quorum sausages in a bun was what we ended up having.

St Michaels Mount and a quick dip in the Sea

St Michaels mount Cornwall
St Michaels mount Cornwall

Didn’t get up till 09:00 which is unusual for us. There are a lot of places to visit within a short drive at this end of the South west peninsula, so we decided that St Michaels mount was only 20 minutes drive and we have never been before.

The mount is well sign posted when you get close, and there is plenty of parking. One tip is that there is parking nearer the ferry boats you don’t have to park at the first one you find. National trust member do not get preferential treatment and have to pay for the parking,

A 5 minute walk got us to the Orange jetty which was in use a the time we arrived. You can use a causeway at low tide but it would only be cross able early evening and we were there a few hours off high tide, so we would have to get the boat. There are quite a few boats who very people across the bay to the mount, and they could not load the passengers quick enough. I imagine it is quite a good business if you can get the licence or franchise.

The boat across costs £2 per person each way which seems reasonable. They drop you off in the harbour of the mount, then you can choose between the castle or the gardens first. We choose the castle which turns out to be a very steep walk. The castle is still home to the landed gentry whose family inherited it, but there are plenty of room to look around, and lots of antique weapons on display.

Symmetry in nature
Symmetry in nature

We did the house and then worked our way down the cobbled path back to the harbour where we had lunch at the sail loft restaurant, and sandwich each was great. Next up was the gardens which are mainly on the south side of the island, I guess that is where the sun shines. Again there was a lot of walking up and down cobbled paths , but the flowers and terraces were looking great with all the spring flowers. Helen chose to sit on the grass at the bottom while I did the gardens.

We queued for the boat which did not take long the boats seem to be able to load people in about a minute or two and the boats queue up too. Near the car park was an RSPB reserve so we took the opportunity to have a wander around. There was not much about, Helen heard chiffchaff and saw a reed bunting. We grabbed some food at the local M&S on the way ack to the hut.

Helen decided that she wanted to go for a swim, so I went down to the beach to hold her shoes, and take some photos as the atmosphere was clear and good for pics. It turns out the water was cold, so Helen only managed to get wet up to her waist.

The smell of rotting seaweed

Beach at Gwithian Cornwall
Beach at Gwithian Cornwall

Bank holiday Monday we decided to do a walk from the hut to save having to battle with traffic and parking. We left the hut a a reasonable 09:30, and headed north across the beck towards where the Red River hits the beach an d the Godrevy car park is, twin we headed up the coastal path towards Godrevy Point then on to Navax Point.

There were plenty of flowers to see on the Cornish walls including Shrift or Sea Pink, Spring Squill, and Sheep’s Bit. At Mutton Cove thee is an inaccessible beach where we saw a load of seals hanging out on the beach doing that thing where they lie on their site and lift there heads and tails, it looks very uncomfortable but they seem to do it naturally.

RNLI on duty at Gwithian Cornwall
RNLI on duty at Gwithian Cornwall

We were hoping to take a track and footpath to avoid some of an inevitable bit of road but it was not clear that it was a right of way so we ended up taking the road for about half a mile back to the Red River, and a welcome coffee at the cafe on the National Trust car park. It was a short walk across the dunes back to the hut it passed through the local nature reserve where we saw a reed bunting on the small reed bed.

Back at the hut we had a rest and watched the surfers withy Madmen in the background, then we thought we we have a drive to Portreath. An interesting place and apparently the busiest port in Cornwall, however the tide was out and the smell from the seaweed filled harbour was over powering. The town it self was looking a bit worn at the edges like it had seen better days. There were very few shops to service the many holiday homes.

When we got back to the hut our friend the Herring Gull was sat on the wall. I suspect that someone has fed him in the past and he turns up late afternoon in the hope of being fed again.