Alison and I have have just finished a marvelous two weeks (and a bit) in Cornwall (and Devon). We thoroughly enjoyed viewing the sights of South West Cornwall, generally sitting back and relaxing (Alison crafting and me operating the portable amateur radio station we’d taken along) and a couple of days around Dartmoor.
Camping near Lands End
Having camped at various places in South West Cornwall in the past, we have experienced the worst that the trade winds can draw up from the Atlantic with some disastrous results, for fellow campers if not for us. Choosing the right camp site in this neck of the woods is essential and we chose a site that we last stayed at in 2004 in a rented caravan.
We pitched up at the excellent Cardinney camp-site at Craws-An-Wra near Lands End. The site is very well sheltered from the weather and laid out in such a manner that everyone gets their own decent amount of space. It has all the amenities that you could require and the owners are most helpful.
From our base we travelled to various places in the area (the beautiful beach at Porthcurno and its Telegraph and Communications Musuem, the picture perfect Sennen Cove, the dramatic cliffs that surround Pendeen, Penzance, the busy little fishing port of Newlyn and St Ives, a place that’s amazing to visit come rain or shine – we did it in both weathers to check and confirm) and enjoyed great scenery, fabulous food (brilliant pasties from various local suppliers and amazing fish and chips from Lewsis‘ in Newlyn).
A few trips further afield saw visits to the awesome vistas at Godrevy and of the lighthouse, the Marconi Centre at Poldhu from where the first transatlantic communication was made, the Lizard, the East Poole Mine and it’s remarkable beam engines (one working) and the, always delightful, Falmouth and its award-winning Fish and Chip shop.
Day trip to the Isles of Scilly
The highlight of the holiday was the day trip to the Isles of Scilly. The trip over was a little lumpy on the diminutive and shallow draughted Scillonian III as we were running against the tide but we did get spectacular views of the coastline between Penzance and Lands End from the seaward side. Once over there we were treated to one of their famous five minute showers and then the weather was gorgeous for the rest of the day as we strolled along the coastal beaches.
Great food of Cornwall
We did spend more time eating salads, despite the fact that it sounds like we’ve been gorging on pasties and fish and chips all the time; I consumed an unprecedented amount of fruit during the trip (for me that is) and we also found a confectioner who’s products were low in processed sugar and still tasted amazing.
The Raw Chocolate Pie Company is to be found in St Ives and, as it’s name suggests, produces fudge and chocolate using raw ingredients that make them healthier and safer for folk with diabetes and various intolerances.
Treading in the footsteps of ancestors
Part of Alison’s family tree shows a large part of the family hailing from Bovey-Tracey in Devon. So on the way back, at the end of our visit to Cornwall, we stayed a couple of nights at the remote youth hostel in Dartmoor. This is a compact hostel, but warm and inviting.
The youth hostel was not far from Widecombe-in-the-Moor, in who’s church there is a plaque honouring Mary Gale whom family historians believe may be a distant relative of the Alison’s. From there it was on to the Heritage Trust Centre in Bovey Tracy to have a chat and discover that the Gale family was one of the largest and most influential families in the area. Who’d have known it? Contact details were exchanged and arrangements made to visit again next year with the family tree in hand so that more in depth investigations can be
made to fill in the blanks.
In search of greatness and an Intercity 125 HST
Having trod in the footsteps of Alison’s family we headed off south in search of what must be one of the most attractive, evocative and reliable trains of recent times; the Intercity 125 HST (High Speed Train).
The Dawlish to Teignmouth railway line, known as the Riviera Line, has to be one of the most spectacular in the world, if not the UK, as it clings perilously to the coast and cliffs. During rough weather it’s not unusual for trains to disappear in to walls of water as they thrown up by the severe winds; but the views from the carriages are like no other.
At Teignmouth Alison took up the past-time of waving at trains to see if she could illicit a response from the driver. More than half the many trains we saw tooted her and most of the drivers returned the wave. Four HSTs were observed in the time it took us to to walk the sea wall from the town centre to the cliff tunnels about a mile north and back.
Out with a bang on the last day
Last day and a big decision was required. Did we head north back home really early, or later in the day to miss the returning holiday exodus back through Bristol on the M5? We were determined to make our last day count so we opted for the latter and booked on the Dartmouth Round Robin.
This is a great value day out. We left Paignton Railway Station hauled by the steam locomotive King Edward II and made our way down the coast to Kingswear from where we took a short ferry ride to the very pretty town of Dartmouth, home of the Royal Navy’s officer training college. After a couple of hours of perusing the quaint little town and eating our pasties (these were the last we were to consume – promise) we boarded our river cruise that we to gently edge us up the River Dart to our next destination, Totnes.
Entertained by the boat’s commentator and his whit and sarcasm we enjoyed views of the Devonshire countryside and wildlife not visible any other way. Totnes is an attractive and historic town built on a hill and, after a tour of the very well presented charity shops, we made our way back to Paignton on an open-top bus; again seeing views not normally available to others due to the height of the vehicle.
It was a most satisfying day.
Bring me back some fish
We couldn’t visit Newlyn Harbour without sampling the fish and we did this several times courtesy of the fish and chip shop as mentioned earlier. However, we did want to take something home to remind us of the great time we’d had down in Cornwall. Now most people would buy a painting, or a piece of pottery, but we’re different – and I think most people would agree with that.
So what do we do instead? Well before heading north to Dartmoor a few days earlier we did make one last stop in Newlyn to visit Stevensons, whose own fleet of twelve traditional beam trawlers land their catch daily for sale in their own shop and in the auction. Whilst there we loaded up our camping fridge with lots of ice, Pollock, Dover Sole, Lemon Sole, Plaice and Whiting.
We’ll be eating a little bit of Cornwall for tea for some time to come yet then – at least it’s healthier than pasties.