14th July – Lanhydrock, Exeter & the long drive home

The last day! And one that would see me driving back to my Sisters house. A journey of about 170 miles, the longest drive I’ve undertaken in one day, and all whilst very tired.

I planned to break up the journey with a couple of stops; firstly near Bodmin at a National Trust property called Lanhydrock. The second stop was in Exeter to pick up some clothes I ordered when I was sat in my tent!

The first leg went fine and I reached Lanhydrock house with no problems. I’d only decided to visit the evening before, I was looking for places to break up the journey and this place was in one of the many tourist leaflets I had picked up.

The current  estate dates from the 17th century, however the house as it stands was mostly rebuilt after a massive fire in 1881.

This is one of the better houses I’ve wandered around, lots to look at and lots of different rooms. Including the dressing/bedroom of one of the sons of the family. He was killed in the First World War not long after deploying. In his room are his cases that were sent back to the family after his death. At the time they were stored in an attic and were only discovered many decades later. They are on show exactly as they had been packed.

The Gate HouseFront of the House.The gardens are very nice too.If you are down this way the house is well worth a visit.

Back on the road, I headed for Exeter. I mentioned that I may visit the city before I left on my trip, and was warned by my Brother-in-law that the one way system was horrendous.

Well he wasn’t wrong! The traffic in the city was nearly at gridlock, and it took me 30 minutes and 3 different car parks before I was finally able to find a space.

I was only nipping into the centre to pick up my order, but I’d failed to realise just how big Exeter is. The shopping area is huge, and I had to find some wifi (thank you Apple Store) to actually find the shop I was looking for.

I saw the Cathedral very briefly and would like to visit again but I think I’ll let the train take the strain.

As I was approaching the city I was getting low on fuel, so my priority on leaving was to get fueled up. Which was harder than I expected. It took me a while to even get near the motorway, and although I knew there was a service station before getting onto the motorway, I just could never get into the right lane to get me in there!

On my third attempt I somehow missed both the turning for the services and the motorway and headed back into Exeter! I doubled back on myself and headed for the motorway, as I knew there was another services about 15 miles down, my only worry was that my fuel gage read 20 miles left!

I made slowish progress along the road, driving at 60 when I had to but dropping my speed down to 50 when the traffic cleared in an effort to save fuel; the sight of a service sign has never been so welcome!!!

The final third of the journey should have been straightforward; drive on the motorway for an hour and then I’d be in Burnham….It was a very long hour. The previous 12 days of sleeping in a tent, driving everyday, visiting somewhere everyday and not eating as well as I normally do, all started to catch up with me.

I’d only been on the motorway about 10 minutes when my concentration lapsed and I veered over into the next lane, coming very close to a caravan. That woke me up a bit but not for long enough.

In my last few months at work, I wasn’t that occupied and in the afternoon if I sat still for long enough, my brain would feel like it was going into shutdown/sleep mode, concentration would go and my eyes would slowly lose focus before closing and I would nod off.

That happened twice on the journey home – very scary. Thankfully nothing serious happened, and I was able to make it back to Burnham without incident.

My camping trip was over.

I’m writing this over a month later so I can reflect on the trip. I really enjoyed it, the weather wasn’t great but it didn’t stop me from doing anything I’d planned to do.

I coped quite well being on my own, I spoke to more people than I expected to, and being in a tent for 12 days wasn’t so bad. Although I’m in no hurry to repeat the experience. Perhaps next time I will go for a shorter length of time, or I’d get a bigger tent, campervan or motorhome. It’s quite easy to get cabin fever in a small tent.

13th July – Lizard Point, Mousehole, Lamorna, Land’s End, Sennen Cove & Minack!

My last full day in Cornwall was a busy one.

I started early and headed over to Lizard Point to stand at the most southerly point in mainland Britain. Once parked it’s a short walk to the Point.

Unlike Land’s End which I would get to later in the day, this place is very understated. There is a small shop, a cafe and oddly, a man selling clocks.

This is the view from Lizard Point and is about as far south as it’s safe to stand.

In this picture you can see a small jut of the cliff where I’m presuming people used to stand, it’s not possible to get to it safely anymore, there is a very prickly bush and a couple of very large rocks in the way. The way the wind was whipping across me, I was more than happy to be on a larger section of the point rather than that rather exposed bit.

I had a cup of tea in the cafe, which has one of the best views…that I didn’t take a picture of!

There’s not a great deal to here unless you want to walk along the coast, as I didn’t I made for my next destination; Mousehole.

Another small fishing village but a pretty one. The harbour was decorated for the Jubilee.

This is one of those Cornish towns who name isn’t pronounced as it’s written; Mousehole = Mowzle.

I didn’t hang around as I had other places to get to!

When I was at St. Michael’s Mount I had a chat with the lady on the till and she said that the best cream tea was at Lamorna. Which just happened to be on the way back from Mousehole.

It took me a while to find it as the cream tea is served in the Pottery, and I was looking for a town or villiage, I ended up at Lamorna Cove and was directed back by the helpful staff, who tried to persuade me to try their cream tea instead.

Lamorna Pottery does indeed serve a very good cream tea, and it was the best of the three that I had during my trip.

Heading back towards Land’s End I went looking for The Merry Maidens, my satnav even had them listed as an attraction but when I arrived at the destination, I was none the wiser. Something for next time.

I popped into the Minack Theatre to see if I could have a look around but there was a performance on, so that wasn’t possible, there was another performance that evening so I bought myself a ticket, and went onto Land’s End.

I came to Land’s End on a family holiday many years ago, I was going to scan a couple of pictures but my Sister saw them, and on the occasion of that holiday She was badly dressed and in a dark mood, so She asked if I would refrain from adding them to the blog, and being a good brother….I will oblige.

Land’s End is now promoted as an attraction, my general impression was that it was very tacky. The attractions aren’t that good, the price to gain entry to them all is about £10, cheaper on the day I went as one wasn’t working.

The sea rescue ‘sim’ just rattles you about on some very hard seats, very dull. The Merlin adventure is okay, obviously not aimed at adults but I was trying to think how the Young People at the Youth Club would react, and I don’t think they would have been entertained.

As every visitor does, I headed for the sign and to get a photo. I had my camera with me and once I had my official photo taken I asked if they would take one with mine. When I left my job amongst other good stuff I was given a Welsh Dragon, and I took it with me on the trip (as I will when I go across the US) and..well see for yourselves.The windswept hair also prompted a drastic haircut on my return home.There were two very noticeable changes, at least as far as memory served; The bridge behind the sign is no longer there, and the farm has had an overhaul. Where the farm is now there used to be a model village.

Farm

Bridge?Whilst I was on my way out of the complex I saw a cyclist with a few charity banners/balloons and some members of his family, as I passed him I asked him if he had ridden down from John O’Groats, which he had, good on him.

Despite camping at Sennen, I’d not actually been into the town (other than to have a meal a the First & Last pub) or Sennen Cove. So as it was my last day I thought I better had.

Sennen itself is quite small, I’d driven through it several times on the way to other places, or when I got lost on the first day. The beach however was quite large (once again on this trip I didn’t set foot on the beach), with a few shops and restaurants off it.

In the evening the theatre beckoned. The Minack is an open air theatre, built into the cliff face. Which means you have a great view of not only the stage, but the sea and horizon.

I was supposed to be sitting on a grass seat, but as I was on my own I was told to follow an usher and ended up on a stone seat (much better) and in the section reserved for ‘Friends of the Minack’.

The patrons are packed in, and the seating has a certain angle, where if you stood up a bit too quickly you may find yourself tumbling towards the stage.The play was ‘The Hypochondriac’ by Moliere adapted by Roger McGough. It was very funny and well acted, I’d come all the way to Cornwall, turned up to see a play and the players were from Newport!! They were the Newport Playgoers Society.

If you are ever down near Land’s End, it’s worth popping into to the Minack, when there isn’t a show on it’s possible to go down and have a look at the stage, and of course you could always take in a play. It being outdoors though, you may want to wrap up. This was the only occasion other than wearing my waterproofs in Penzance that I actually put trousers on. I’d not taken that many layers with me, I was still deluding myself that because it was July it WAS summer; but by the end of the performance I was wearing everything I’d taken with me and was considering asking the lady next to me for her spare blanket!!

So final day done, all there was left to do was drive all the way back to Burnham-on-Sea…without falling asleep at the wheel.

12th July – Penzance & St. Michael’s Mount

A very wet start to the day. Since I stopped working it has been my mission to not wear trousers whilst outside, however the rain was so heavy and persistent I had to go and get a pair of waterproof trousers.

This was pretty much how the weather was in Penzance whilst I was there.I was going through Penzance to get to Marazion where I could get a boat over to St. Michael’s Mount.

Being only a few miles down the road, the weather was just as bad.From the car park it was only just possible to pick out the castle at times. The tide was in, so I knew I had to get on a small boat. I made my way to the pickup point to find a boat and rather grumpy Captain. The weather wasn’t bringing in the tourists, and he had to take me over as his only passenger. The trip over was rather bumpy!

Here are couple of other boats waiting for passengers.The tour of the castle doesn’t take long, I though it would have been longer. There are some fantastic views from the castle and some impressive drops too. I had a combined ticket which meant I could go around the gardens, however I didn’t make it all the way around as the weather wasn’t nice on the exposed bits of the Mount, and my shoes were very soggy by this point.

I’d like to go back on a nice day, where I’m sure it’s a bit more inviting. There are a lot of steps and exposed bits that aren’t too much fun in the wind and rain.The boat back wasn’t as bad, the boat was full and the sea a little calmer. I went for lunch in a local pub, I had soup, something involving tomato and spices, warmed me up a treat.

In most places I’ve been to there is a museum and I think I’ve been in all of them so far. There not fantastic, just everyday stuff really but you do get a little history of whichever place you are in. In the Marazion museum I asked the lady behind the counter about the pronunciation of the town name. Turns out it’s pronounced as it looks Mara-Zion, I thought it was different like Mousehole or Mowzle.

I was coming up to 4pm so I had to find something else to do and one of the many leaflets I had picked up was for the Penlee Gallery and Museum back in Penzance. After a bit of a panic getting a parking space; the gallery has no onsite parking, something I only found out when I tried to turn into the entrance. I went in and had a look around.

The main exhibition was of an artist called Laura Knight. Another of the many I’d not heard of, she died in 1970.

She lived and worked in the area around Penzance, and even lived around and painted in Sennen, which is where I was camped. Without realising it I was already familiar with one of her pictures, which was in the exhibition.

After WW2 she was the official artist of the Nuremberg War Trials and painted a picture called The Dock, which featured the Nazis in the dock but in the top left of the picture was shown the devastation war caused.

More about Laura Knight.

Culture fix complete I headed back to the campsite and a very easy tea…the local chippy van visited and a very long queue was formed!

11th July – St. Ives

Before I go much further here’s a picture of the inside of my tent.It doesn’t look that tidy but I had a system going by this time. Electric at the front, tea & coffee front right, then headphones, satnav, journal, glasses and misc bits and then my iPad. Everything has a place, and everything’s in it’s place 🙂

My original plan was to go to Land’s End but after speaking with the site admins they advised that I go to St.Ives instead. The weather was going to turn nasty again, and they said I needed to see the town in the sun rather than the rain.

To get to St. Ives I went via Zennor, the road is very windy and has been written about as a good driving road since cars were first driven down here.

On the way I stopped to get a snap of these buildings which were just off the road, perhaps a home or something to do with the mining industry?I’d read a little about St. Ives before setting off and I knew there were a few beaches, a Tate gallery and that the light was really good which is why artists flock here. I thought the light thing was a myth and then I arrived.

It was amazing, the sky was so blue and everything did seem so much brighter and clearer, whether it was really or it was just my imagination I don’t know.

This is the largest beach and was full of people learning to surf, it was also the location of my encounter with the swooping ice-cream assassin a.k.a. a seagull

I’d walked along from main street towards the Tate gallery which is at my back where I’ve taken the photo above. I bought a lovely ice-cream, one of the best I had on the whole trip, a white chocolate and raspberry creation. I got to beach and was taking in the view when from out of nowhere a seagull swooped and took the ice-cream from my cone and it fell to the beach below.

I was stunned and held forlornly onto the cone, lamenting its loss! Not finished the seagull swooped down again this time for the cone and narrowly missed my fingers,I cut my losses and put the cone in the nearest bin and headed for the Tate. The current exhibition is of Alex Katz, I’d not heard of him before, I’m not into art a great deal so thats no surprise. His painting are visually striking, again not a real art fan so can’t critic but they seemed to me; simple, not using many colours to show his subject which is usually people in his life.

I’m not going to include any here so as not to infringe any rights etc but google him and have a look. Bear in mind when looking at the pictures that the real ones are massive, wall sized things.

Culture fix done I headed back to get another ice-cream! I explained to the seller what had happened and he gave me an extra scoop, and a word of advice, never got to the beach with an ice-cream in St. Ives!!!

I really enjoyed St. Ives and it’s one of the few places that I wouldn’t hesitate to go back. In all the time I spent in Cornwall & Devon at no point did I stay on the beach or even paddle in the water, so perhaps a beach holiday down this way is in my future.

10th July – St. Austell (Briefly, again), Falmouth & Sennen

Before heading down to the Land’s End area, I pitched up for one night at Tregurrian, just north of Newquay.

This was a much busier site that the others I had been on. There were a lot of families here, which is probably due to its proximity to Newquay.

In the morning I packed up and headed towards my final destination at Sennen Cove. To get there I decided to take in a few other places on the way.

The first of these was St. Austell. A place that I thought was by the sea, but once I’d parked up I realised that wasn’t the case.

So I decided to have a wander around the shops and find a coffee, which I found at the Eden Place Café.

A wonderful place, very relaxed and a great coffee. They are on Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/edenprojectcafe

Refreshed I pressed onto the next destination which was Falmouth.

I liked Falmouth, what I didn’t like was getting to it, as there were lots of double roundabouts, something I’d not experienced before, and I’ll admit I don’t like them. I was never quite sure if I was okay to go or if I was about to get ploughed into.

On the way I saw signs for ‘Park & Float’ which intrigued me, so I went and parked at the Marina and had a look. It does what it says on the sign; you park and take a boat across the harbour. It cost £12, which is much more than I would normally pay of course, but where else can you get on a boat for £12?

I was a little queasy on the journey across and once back on terra firma I made for the nearest café for a drink and a sit down!

What I liked about Falmouth was that it caters for both the tourists and the residents. There are all the expected tourist shops; ice-cream, clothes, nick-knack’s etc but at the other end of the street are all the regular shops you would find on a normal high street.

I must have been engaged with what was around me as I only took six photos the whole time I was there.

Here’s some boats in the harbour Another showing the Maritime Museum (the tower and sloped roof) Lastly a Passmore Edwards Free Library Passmore Edwards was a proper Dude!  I first read about him when I spotted one of his buildings in London, that was a library too although it wasn’t being used as such, this one in Falmouth is still a library.

You can see a bench to the left of the bus stop, I stood there and took a photo whilst having a look at the building. A pensioner sat on the bench remarked ‘It’s a lovely building’ he didn’t know who Passmore Edwards was, so I told him the little bits I remembered and about the one I’d seen the one in London.

The main attraction in Falmouth is the National Maritime Museum, opened in 2003 it contains all sorts of boats from the ages. I’m not into sailing or anything but it was very interesting.

Time was getting on and I still had an hours drive to the next and final campsite at Sennen Cove.

Once again the SatNav got me lost (yes I’m still persisting with that excuse), this time only a 1/4 of a mile from the site. I was supposed to be on the A30 but with my SatNavs penchant for B Roads I ended up on the B3306 and at one point even drove past the site entrance but their were no signs facing that way!

To make matters worse I got to Land’s End a few days early and had to turn around in the car park before finally reaching the site, 40 minutes later than I could have been there!

The two site admins were brilliant, if you’ve been reading this from the start you’ll know I’m a novice camper, and although my tent had been water tight so far, one of the site admins laughed at how I’d put up the tent.

As I was on my own, he came around to check I was okay and then he saw the tent and asked if I’d finished putting it up and I thought I had…turns out that once I had pegged the tent out, I should have gone back around all the pegs and pulled them out a bit more for the proper tension. When he’d finished it looked like it did in the picture on the web! Lesson learned!

9th July – Port Isaac & Padstow (briefly)

When I drew up a list of places to visit, Port Isaac was at the top of the list.

The reason for that? Doc Martin.The ITV series starring Martin Clunes as the eponymous Doc, is filmed on location in Port Isaac, although it is called Port Wenn in the series.

I used to watch Doc Martin with my Mum, I must have seen all the episodes at least twice if not more. I even watched half an episode a few days ago when I was channel hopping, although that may have been because I’ve now been there.

From what I could see there is very little in the town that screams ‘This is the home of Doc Martin!!!’. There’s a coffee shop at the top of the road that has some photos and some merchandise, but isn’t actually featured in the show itself.

Considering most visitors come here because of the show, I find that a little odd.

The only place featured in the show that actually makes any kind of reference, is the sweetshop which doubles as Mrs Tishell’s Chemists. There is a small display of candid on set photos, and the proprietress is happy to answer questions about filming and the use of the shop.

After walking down the hill (there’s that recurring theme again) and having a quick look around, I walked up to the Doc’s house. There is a sign at the bottom of the street directing visitors to the house but when you get there…There’s a little chain link rope thing and a ‘Private Property’ sign. The door’s the wrong colour too 😉

If you watch the show, then you are aware Bert had a restaurant not too far from the Doc’s house; there isn’t a mention of this place at all.Another view showing Bert’s and the Doc’s house.At the bottom of the hill is the sweetshop/chemists, I was wandering around trying to work out where it was, when it dawned on me this was the only shop I hadn’t been in.

I walked in expecting a chemist (the power of TV!) and found shelves stacked with sweets.Not a great photo, I didn’t take one when I went in, and by the time I realised I hadn’t the place had filled up. If you had a postcard from Port Isaac from me, it was on the left hand side by the door as you look out. So if you see Doc Martin and there’s an inside shot of the chemist, your postcard was bought there!

Port Isaac is a working fishing port and to the right of where those three chaps are standing, is where the fishermen sell their catch. You can go in and have a look, I’m not a fish person but it was interesting to see the ladies (perhaps fisher-wives) cleaning and prepping the fresh shellfish.

After a quick coffee I went back up the hill to see the school and Louisa’s cottage.

Here’s the school…a terrible photo!It was originally a school but is now a restaurant.

Walking up the hill I tried to spot various other locations. The gallery is the TV grocers and I couldn’t work out if the chipshop was the chipshop in the show or whether they used the ice cream parlor next door.

Virtually opposite is Louisa’s cottage; at least I think it is. It could be the one with the blue door.I really enjoyed being in Port Isaac and would come back, perhaps when the filming takes place next year (fingers crossed), or to hear the Fisherman giving a concert.

Once again I had planned to be somewhere all day and that hadn’t worked out. As nice as it was I couldn’t stay any longer in Port Isaac. I was also on the way to my 4th campsite, so I looked on the map to see what was about that I could visit.

Not too far away was Padstow, so I drove there and I don’t know why, I really can’t put my finger on it but I didn’t like it. I could have been the amount of people, it was the busiest place of my trip at that point and I was possibly used to having a bit more space.

Although I didn’t stay long, I did go and have a look at Prideaux Place and found myself on the tour. The guide was an older gentleman and he was soooooo boring. It was a bit like he had read up on the house the day before and was now trying to remember as much as he could, all without making it sound interesting.

The tour was supposed to last an hour, which would have been fine as my parking ran out in one hour 15 minutes. However on the hour mark we were only 3/4s done, so I had to make my excuses and make a dash to the car park.

It was then off to my 4th campsite for a one nights stay before heading towards Land’s End.

8th July – Boscastle

When you mention Boscastle to a Brit over 25, the first thing they will say is “that got flooded”, and it did in 2004. Which is also the reason I went to visit it, which is probably the same for everyone else there on the 8th July.

It’s a pretty little town, and will probably be a tourist destination for ever due to the devastating flood that day.

Looking upstream towards the main town.

Looking towards the harbour.The visitor centre which was re-housed after the flood, has a display relating to that day and also video footage of the flood waters ripping through the town. It was an odd experience to be watching the flood waters flowing through and passed the very building I was standing in. From my vantage point I could see the video and back out of the door, to the very serene view of the town.

To give an example of how much water was flowing that day, if you look at my photo above, the water would have reached the top of the hedgerow on the left.

Here’s a video of the flooding: The building I was watching the video in is the one story white one you can see at 37 seconds.

The other reason for visiting Boscastle was the Witchcraft musuem; it had been featured on Sky News in the days following the flood.It was a really interesting place, yes some of it may appear odd but each to their own I suppose! I was quite happy when I saw a ‘Meg & Mog’ book as I used to read (look at the pictures) as a youngster. There are all sorts of artifacts from witches, books, potions, ingredients, costumes etc.

When I got back to the entrance I asked the lady at the counter about the flooding, She was happy to tell me it was her day off that day! However they were open and her two colleagues were able to get out safely, she said that they tried to save some exhibits but as soon as they realised what was happening outside, there just wasn’t time to do so, they just had to get out.

From there I walked down to the harbour, which was nice and peaceful, when the town flooded the cars from the car park at the top end of the town all ended up here. I didn’t actually think about that when I parked!!

On the video playing in the tourist centre, there is a quick shot of a parade of shops, one of these is called Crafty’s. I went in and bought a couple of postcards and asked the man in there about the flooding, although he didn’t own the shop then, he told me that all the shops had been ripped bare by the water. The walls may have been standing but that was about it, everything else had gone. Before I left he pointed out a discrete marker above the door, which marked the water level.

This is the parade of shops. The water level here rose to the top of the witch you can see to the left of ‘Crafty’

A little fact the man in Crafty’s told me: It is known that no people died that day, what is less known is that no domesticated animals died that day either.

I liked Boscastle, although I think it’s a place you go to once and never again; unless you are taking someone for their first visit.