Port Quin to Port Isaac the high road and the low road

The nearest place to the east of Polzeath is the little hamlet of Port Quin, on a previous holiday we had walked from Port Isaac to Port Quin and back, we had taken the coast path but the overland route back. Today we decided to do the route the other way, more for convenience than anything, there were coffee shops and loos in Port Isaac but Port Quin only had a coffee van and a car park.

The road into Port Quin is very narrow and quite steep in parts, but it is worth the thrill. The port itself is a natural feature, a rocky inlet that stretches a couple of hundred yards in land, apart from a storm in a perfect direction it is hard to imagine that waves of any significance reach the port.  The coastal path starts very steeply between a couple of cottages nestled into the rocks.

The weather was a treat again with blue skies and white fluffy cumulus cloud, perfect seaside photography weather. The coastal path however was far from perfect clinging to every contour and believe me there are lots of them, and for good measure the downward ones are matched equally with stretches of upwards ones, for the whole 3.2 miles. I am not sure if the distance on the signs was measured on a flat map or reflected the true distance a tape measure placed on the ground would have measured, it seemed longer and took more than the hour 3 miles should usually take. (ed: Cornish cliff miles!)

After several rests, one for lunch, we descended the final set of steps to Port Isaac, which is where the ITV series Doc Martin is filmed, it stars Martin Clunes as a doctor, dealing with his patients and getting into lots of moral dilemmas. That all I know about that as I don’t watch it myself. Down in the town itself it started to rain and we were fortunate enough to get a seat in the terrace for a coffee and a packet of crisps, where we nursed them until the rain stopped and the sun came out.

The walk back was quicker and simpler, although the first hill was a long up hill trudge. We took the direct route straight over the top avoiding the undulating coastal path. We also avoided cow fields until the very end, much to Helen’s relief, as she does not feel she can trust cows. (ed: sensible woman!). Back at the car park Fiona’s coffee wagon was still serving coffee and biscuits, I had an Americano and a white chocolate and raspberry shortbread.

They had had trouble at the mill today, so I took the opportunity when we had a mobile signal to check in. The outage was just about cleared by the time I checked in which was good to hear. Back at Polzeath we headed to the beach and enjoyed a well earned pint in the late afternoon sun. We had had an energetic day with great weather, all in all another great holiday day.

Two historic houses in one day

The weather was not promising to be as warm or as dry with a deep low resulting from storm Henri passing just to the south of Cornwall. Just to keep a pattern going rather than a walk we decided a National Trust property was the order of the day. Llanhydroch was the closest so that was to be our first destination. We have visited before but if I am honest I can’t remember it. (ed: worth reading something about the Victorian family who lived here before you go. I read up after and wished I had known the details prior to the visit. It explains the warm, friendly atmosphere in the house).

There seemed to be a lot of roadworks on the way there perhaps they avoid the peak season and fit them in before the winter. They only delayed us by 5 minutes compared to the sat nav estimate. The family who owned Llanhydroch seemed to own a fair chunk of Cornwall with farms and pockets of land scattered all over the most south west county of the united kingdom.

I would recommend a visit the house is extensive and there are lots of rooms to see, and it has a lived in feel about it, very homely. There is a good Cafe where the food and sandwiches looked appetising, and the coffee was well made. I noticed that the barrista knew what they were doing by having up to 3 brews on the go, they need to send her down to Castle Drogo to train the barrista up there. It was almost 13:00 when we had finished the house, so rather than have lunch at the house we thought we would take a look at another house called Pencarrow which was not far away.

Pencarrow is a private historic house so not covered by our National Trust membership, but we did find a voucher online to get a £1 discount, which although they state you have print out they accepted the one I showed them on Helen mobile. There was confusion over whether we could get on the 14:15 tour as the lunch time relief person had not tallied the numbers correctly. Eventually after a phone call to the central administration to office we were allowed on the be the tour!

We had time for some lunch before the tour and the cafe, not National Trust quality, had sweet potatoes and butternut squash soup on offer. We both had a healthy and tasty lunch. We had a ten minutes to spare before the tour so Helen had a fag and I did a couple of photospheres.

The tour was quite interesting with the guide pointing out the expensive antiques and the more interesting facts about the stuff on display. China by various famous manufacturers featured prominently, as did quite a few artists that I had heard of. Photography was not allowed in the house so you won’t see any photos here.

We stopped at Wadebridge for some provisions then I dropped Helen off at the shops in Polzeath then I headed down to the beach for a look.  I set up the time lapse camera on a rock and had to wait longer that usual because a couple went and sat below where I had placed it. We had a pint at the Waterfront, chance for another time lapse, before wandering back to the hut for pasta.

Polzeath and back via Pentire Point and the Bee Centre

We had a lay in finally surfacing at 09:00, we are really recharging our batteries. By the time we had had breakfast and got sorted it was 10:20. We headed away from the hut by climbing to the very top of the garden and then taking the footpath down into Polzeath we thought it might save some time but in the end it didn’t. The storm had passed overnight and the sun was out, but we went prepared for showers. The sea was quite rough and lashing the rocks at the bottom of the cliffs. We stopped for a rest, a look at the view and a time lapse on an out crop. Helen pulled her usual trick of being the first to spot seals, an adult and young pup. Her day was now fulfilled!

Just around the headland there is a plaque marking the spot where the poet Laurence Binyon composed the poem “For the Fallen” in 1914:

They shall not grow old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning we shall remember them.

I’m sure you will recognise it from the remembrance services, and it was quite fitting that we were there on the day of the Battle of Britain anniversary.

On the lee side of the Headland out of the wind it really was quite hot and we decided that rather than walking the long way to the Bee Centre we would head back across the inland part and onto the beach. The far side of the beach we found a cafe that sold a nice coffee and we sat there and watched the world go by for a while. We were back at the hut by 15:00 and although we had forgotten to put the rubbish out in the morning we noticed that the bin men still hadn’t come so I did two sets of steps up to the house to put the rubbish away.

We spend the rest of the afternoon lounging around on the terrace watching the sea in the distance and reading the newspaper. We went down to the beach to watch the surfers before we ate, the light was not good as it meant shooting into the sun and through haze. The meal was OK I had seared tuna and chips, and Helen a pizza.

Plymouth and a Legend on a rainy day

We woke up to the blue skies disappearing, as the storm clouds moved in in front of the promised deep low. By the time we were ready to leave the house it was raining hard, and the wind was blowing a gale. The plan was to drive to Plymouth and take a look at the National Aquarium and then take in a new film called Legend about the height of the reign of the Kray twins. Although it would take over an hour to get there we had seen the trailer and decided the drive was worth the effort, particularly as we had not see a decent film at the cinema for some time. Needless to say the drive was a wet one, and the one highlight was the chance to pay £1.50 to cross the Tamar bridge.

By the time we had parked up we thought we might have made a mistake the storm was clearing, the sun was out. The National Aquarium costs £14.75 to get in, not unreasonable for a big venue attraction. The building is part of the renovated dock area, and was modern and bright, glass steel and wood exterior. There were lots of families visiting probably with the same idea as us, a good place to be on a rainy day. The museum itself is a procession of aquariums of differing sizes, some small some several stories high including 3m sharks. It would have been nice to see some of the behind the scenes stuff but there did not seem to be that option. Once we had done the full tour we gave the cafe a miss it was full of screaming children because there were two bouncy castles in the cafe.

We headed round out of the museum and round the port but had to wait for the harbour gate to open, and let a fishing boat in. We soon found a place to have a sandwich, a cocktail bar at night and snack and coffee place during the day. I had a chille prawn sandwich and Helen a feta cheese and oregano salad sandwich, both came with a salad, coleslaw and tortilla chips. They made a good coffee too. The name of the place was Rakuda Kitchen and Cocktails http://www.rakudabar.com/

We walked the full circuit of the harbour area back to where we had parked the car, and took the short trip to the Vue cinema. The film lived up to the trailer and reviews, it was beautifully filmed and the same actor played both of the Kray twins which was quite cleverly done, both twins looked different and had different characters. The drive back to the cottage was tedious as we were in the middle of Plymouth rush hour. We stopped off at the Sainsbury in Bodmin for some quick supplies and were back by 18:30. The seas was quite rough in Polzeath but there were still a few body boards mucking about near the shore.

Castle Drogo on the way to Cornwall

Polzeath Beach Cornwall
Polzeath Beach Cornwall

We were up earlier than anticipated and left the house to go on holiday  just before 8:30. Our late summer holiday was going to be in Polzeath down in Cornwall followed by a week in Devon. Sat nav told us the best way to go was via Bicester and Oxford then down to Swindon and onto the M4 before joining the usual road  to the south west eventually ending up on the A30. We hit the usual big traffic jam at Bristol but the traffic pretty much kept moving and by the time we stopped at the Sedgemoor motorway services just after Bristol we had only lost half an hour which is pretty good going.

As is traditional we had planned a stop at a National Trust property on the way there today choice was Castle Drogo. Helen was not amused when I decided to follow the single track signs to the property. It meant having to stop a few times to let cars and buses go by. In any event we got there without any mishaps parked up and got our tickets to have a look around the Castle. It turns out the castle was in the middle of a very extensive renovation project. The whole Castle is completely enveloped in scaffolding and plastic sheeting. On the inside of the castle they have some of the stuff in storage but they had special art exhibitions on in various rooms where you could see some of the historic things that might have been out had the house was open. The building itself is grey granite which looks very structural and it is a house I would like to return to someday. Our timing was not that great the trips up the scaffolding tower were shut for lunch, so rather than wait an hour we went to get some lunch at the visitors centre.

The queue at the cafe was interminably slow they needed someone to come in and do a time and motion study to get things moving a bit faster. We didn’t fancy the soup of the day or sandwiches so we both settled for cake, we are on holiday after all. Suitably replete we got back in the car and headed to Wadebridge where we wanted to pick up some supplies before heading the cottage in Polzeath.

Marina Vista Polzeath Cornwall

On the smallish road that got us over the A30 we came across some slow traffic, a couple of caravans, which looked more like chicken huts on wheels and were being towed by vintage tractors, they were from Germany!

We did a quick tour of the shops of Wadebridge and I managed to get a hair cut without queuing, the hair dresser corrected my pronunciation of Polzeath apparently it is zeath pronounced like wreath. The co-op supplied us with some salad ingredients and emergency pasta meal, so we were all set to arrive at the cottage.

We had earlier got a text to say that the cottage was ready which I thought was a nice touch. The final few miles to the cottage were very rural. We found the cottage easily by the instructions provided. It over looks a valley which is a caravan park and even has a distant view of the sea. We were not prepared for the many steps up to the front door. I was regretting buying a new large holdall for holidays, I had to stop for a rest on the way up.

We unpacked and had a sit down then walked down to the beach to have a look around, it was a bit grey and the sea was a bit rough. Luckily for us there was a bar Cafe on the beach where we could get a beer, and some WiFi. Helen had committed the ultimate crime of booking a cottage with no WiFi!

We had salad for tea and I was in bed fairly early with a book.

Journey Home From Gwithian Cornwall

Lacock Abbey NT
Lacock Abbey NT

We set the alarm for 0730 and had the place a ship shape ready for 0900 when we sadly left the hut that had been home for a week. The traffic was fairly light as we headed down the A30 but it got a ore busy the further away we got. The usual tail back was still there on Bodmin moor the one we had circumnavigated the week before.

The traffic got quite busy as we hit the M5 but we had a plan which was to turn off before Bristol (an anticipated traffic jam) and head to a National Trust village called Lacock where there is and abbey and an exhibition about Fox Talbot the photography pioneer. The sun was shining and it was good to stretch our legs. We finished the visit by grabbing a take away coffee and a cake to share on the rest of the journey.

We were soon back on the M4 and back in the traffic which was becoming even more congested. We hit the M25 and all was good until we passed the M40 turn off where the traffic are to a stand still. We were stationary for 10 minutes, it turns out because of an accident which the police were clearing and everyone looked OK. We had fish and chips for tea and a few more episodes of Madmen.

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.