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.

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.

St Ives and The Tate

Seagull at St Ives
Seagull at St Ives

We had a really goods night sleep, but woke up to a rainy day, then Helen realised that she had bought 2 bottles of shampoo rather than one of shampoo and one of conditioner, it meant a trip to the shops. Not such a bad thing when it is a rainy day, we could take the opportunity to to take a drive out and visit an I outdoor venue whilst the could see emptied themselves. We decided that we would take a look at St Ives at least for the morning.

It did not take long to get to St Ives and we took a chance on the parking, we passed a parking at the top of the town but decided to try for one in the town it self. Luckily for us there were two spaces in the small car park almost opposite the Tate St Ives. We head straight for Sid gallery paid our £11 entrance each and headed up to the cafe for a coffee. The view from the cafe is great it is just about above all the roof tops and you can see both sites of the St Ives peninsula. After a coffee we heard down the stairs to the galleries. As you expect from The Tate the art is modern which I find difficult to understand, but we liked some of it and even saw a scheme that might work as a feature wall for our kitchen. Interestingly we got a book in the gift shop with the title “WHY YOUR FIVE YEAR OLD COULD NOT HAVE DONE THAT – modern art explained”.

St Ives viewed from the Tate Gallery
St Ives viewed from the Tate Gallery

Suitably cultured we headed into town which was easier said than done as the streets are narrow and despite restrictions there is quite a lot of traffic vying for space. We did eventually make to the quay side which was heaving, with people out shopping, or just aimlessly walking about like we were. Helen made a couple of purchase and I bought and artisan loaf of bread for sandwiches at lunch time. It went well with the Cornish blue I purchased on the way down.

We stopped off at M&S on the way back for a couple of evening meals, had a sandwich then headed out for a local walk. There was a sea fret moving in so even though I took my camera I did not have much hope of many pictures. We headed across the black to the far end then headed inland following the Red River, then around a small nature reserve, until we arrived at the village of Gwithian. We had a look around a art exhibition in the village hall, then a quick look at the village church. One thing I notice about the churches is that the bricks are not worn because they are made of granite rather than the chalk around Buckinghamshire, it seemed rude not to have a half at the Red River inn. I had the local summer ale which was Devine.

It was a short walk back to the hut for some more relaxing and dolphin watching. The sunset was stunning.

Bat mobile to Gwithian Cornwall

Stonechat
Stonechat

We booked the the four days following the late bank holiday, but we did not realise that it was half term too, so not only did we pay over the odds for the rental cottage, we would also Ben on Cornwall with a lot more people that we thought we might. We decided to set off at 06:00 to get ahead of most people.

Helen was up at 05:00 and I was up soon after, and we managed a coffee and some toast before leaving the house about 06:05, the planned route A41, M25, M5, finally A30 to the Lost Gardens of Heligan. The roads were quite congested when we got to Bristol then more so later on when we got onto the A30. Whilst on the M5 we spotted a Bat mobile on the back of a trailer which we guessed was heading towards a car show, as we saw a few more shiny cars heading in the same direction.

Beach at Gwithian Cornwall
Beach at Gwithian Cornwall

A quick review of the map and we had and alternative route heading south cross country on B roads to St Neot. Taking the B road allowed us to see what appeared to be the Lake District of Cornwall with lakes and rolling hills it was beautiful and an aspect of Cornwall I have never seen before. We noted some horses we guessed were similar to the the ones you see on Dartmoor.

The traffic was quite heavy again on the local roads but we got to the Lost Gardens of Heligan at 12:00. Heligan is a gat place to visit, and have a wander around it is set in a damp valley that is sheltered enough to grow some fairly exotic plants, as well as a lot of rhododendrons which unfortunately we’re past their best by a week of two. The gardens are fairly extensive but principally set in to two distinct areas one is a jungle in the damp valley and the other is formal gardens and vegetable plots. For lunch we had a sandwich each from the Stewards cafe, then it was exit via the expensive farmshop on site and back on the road destination Gwithian via Truro and Redruth.

Sunset Gwithian Cornwall
Sunset Gwithian Cornwall

At some point we passed through some towns and villages with interesting names; Fairy Cross, London Apprentice and Probus spring to mind. We drove through Truro and then stopped at Redruth where I managed to get an long over due haircut, Helen got a watch battery and we found and evening meal for later at the local Tesco. To get to the chalet we rented you have to go to Hayle then turn towards the sea and head back the way you came, the at the end of a two mile road is a group of beach hut like homes ranging from large beach huts to modern takes made mainly from wood.

We took a walk on the beach the weather was warm enough to just need a tshirt. Then we went back to the hut to have something to eat and settle in to watching some Madmen episode on the Amazon Firestick we we had bought with us and connected up to the wifi. Whilst we were watching with a view of the Sean through the windows behind the TV we saw a pod of many Dolphins pass by heading east. We were early to bed it had been a long day but don’t before watching the sunset.