Warning: This is a long post!
Todays post culminates from a week in Cornwall for the half term. Cornwall has always been a special place for me. Maybe because its where we holidayed when I was a child, and so I have very happy memories from here. It was then that I fell in love with this county and what I consider to be the best coast line in the world – not that I am that far travelled! But wherever I have been I always compare other beaches to Cornwall.
The landscape, a mix of slate rocks topped with grass and fields and the beautiful sandy coves and caves sculptured by years of battering by the sea make it a place like no other. When we were children we stayed in a caravan on a farm in Bodmin Moor. We had no running water in the van, just a cold water tap outside next to a cow field. We would collect milk from the farmer in the morning – it was goats milk – yuk, and spend our days either heading out to visit places or exploring the farmland. We were free to explore but had to stay away from the craig – this was a very rocky steep bank – of course we didn’t! We got filthy dirty playing with the farmers children cleaning out the chicken coop and generally having a ball!
I still remember that feeling of excitement at the sight of the sign for Cornwall on the motorway after a middle of the night start to beat the traffic. Padstow was a favourite back then – 40 years ago! and was quite different to the one we see today, quainter, and quieter. There was a little shop that made leather belts and handbags and they hand cut cute pictures on them, they even personalised them for you with your name if you wanted. Of course this was also pre Rick Stein, and although I love Rick’s programmes and I have a couple of his books, his presence is a little overpowering in Padstow now – he’s everywhere! Maybe its a good thing for tourism, I don’t know, I’d like to know what the locals think.
This time we stayed in Maenporth Cove, near Falmouth. We discovered this part of Cornwall some years ago as previously had only visited the north and west coasts. Considering the time of year we were blessed with amazing weather after a couple of days of storms. The sea was a bit wild to say the least and I was glad that our holiday cottage was up a steep hill and not on sea level! Maenporth is a lovely beach with a beach cafe and a very good restaurant called The Cove. From here you can take the coastal path to Swanpool beach – which we did and the views were amazing. There is no better place for rock pooling than cornwall and near Maenporth Cove there is a place that we call rock pool heaven. You have to find the path that cuts through the fields and makes a sharp decline down to this gem of a place. I can’t tell you exactly where it is though because it’s a secret!
From our base we visited The Minack Theatre for the first time. We were meant to see Smugglers tales at the theatre but due to my husband and I firstly getting the time wrong, then not believing how long it says it takes to get there, as it was only 11 miles – that’s 11 miles through narrow windy country lanes sunken between fields and lined with slate walls covered in ferns and moss. So not only was the journey definitely not as the crow flies, we also got stuck in some road works and then behind every tractor going. So we missed the performance, however, it was definitely not a wasted journey as the Minack is a truly unique experience. Perched up on the cliffs high above the atlantic it really is incredible and even more so when you read about the story of Rowena Cade, the awesome lady who built the theatre with her builder Billy Rawlings. Together they moved endless granite boulders, earth and sand to create the lower terraces of the theatre. I would love to come back and see a play here another time. We had stunning weather on our visit which made it even more enjoyable.
From the Minack a short drive down the hill brings you to the beach at Porthcurno. This is one of my favourite beaches so far and again it was a first this time. We even managed to take off our shoes and socks it was that mild – the sea however was bloody freezing!
We took the children to see Tintagel at the start of the week as the older two couldn’t remember it from before and our youngest hadn’t been. It was very cold on the day we went and there was a bit of a storm heading in. It wasn’t too bad on the beach and around Merlins Cave but as we headed up the steep steps to the top it got windier and windier. By the top my middle girl, who was actually moaning about everything on this particular day, was very uncomfortable about being up so high on a cliff that she sat down. The picture I took doesn’t convey how windy it was, I had trouble holding the camera steady and myself! So we didn’t hang about up there and headed back down to lower ground and a pub with a real fire and alcohol!
We have visited a few gardens in Cornwall over the years, Heligan is a must see if you ever go. This time though we went to see Trebah Gardens. You wouldn’t think in February there would be much to see but Spring comes early to Cornwall and due to its micro climate there are species of plant that flourish here. The gardens are beautiful and lead you down to a lovely beach, it is a gorgeous place to spend some time. During the war the beach was used as an embarkation point for a regiment of US Infantry for the assault landing on Omaha beach. Most of the poor men didn’t come back as you can imagine.
From Maenporth it isn’t too far to Kynance Cove, stated as one of the best beaches in the world, and you can see why. You have to go at low tide so you can walk between the little coves, rocks and pools left by the sea. It is a steep path down and then a little scramble across the rocks but it is more than worth it. I got some nice shots down here but I was going down with a stomach bug would you believe and felt very shabby by the time we left the beach and I had to walk back up the hill. Nothing like a lack of public facilities to fill you with sheer panic when your stomach is churning and you are desperately holding on! They say there is a story behind every picture and that’s the one behind these two!
So that’s a bit of our week in Cornwall. Is it worth the six hour drive from Essex? Definitely yes – and does it still feel magical to a 45 year old – yes and I think it always will.