Cornwall – you beautiful masterpiece you. You are my most favourite part of the UK yet. I still cannot get enough of the enchanting Minack Theatre near Lands End, where I have now been 3 times. Rowena Cade – you are my life hero! In your early 30s, you decided to do something magnificent, unique and inspirational – to build a theatre on the side of a cliff with a clear blue bay of water as the view from the theatre seating. You had helpers but you were known as a mountain goat, bringing bags of sand up a steep climb from the beach yourself. But let’s rewind a little.
This is my second visit to Cornwall (November 2015) and despite a blistering hangover coupled with a 5 hour drive (don’t worry I wasn’t driving), I was very excited on the inside. Excited to see the same places I’d discovered 2 years ago, and a few new ones in our short weekend away. There are so many places on the map a short drive from one another! And of course some longer drives. I definitely recommend car hire so you can get from each town and village in Cornwall and experience each of their personalities, but also so you can get lost in the winding roads and greenery, and discover the amazing views on offer.
Our adventure in Cornwall started in St Ives, one of the more popular tourist areas. At this time of year, it’s actually nice and quiet. It was a Friday and we’d spent the afternoon driving to arrive there in the dark. Along the way when it was time to look up our hotel details online, we discovered that Harry’s parents had booked us into a Christian Guild hotel by accident. Harry read some of the reviews which included an odd sing along now and then at breakfast! We checked in, and of course all was fine. I was more concerned with no fridge in the room for drinks that we’d brought all the way from London. Oh well maybe tomorrow night.
We drove down to the main town area in St Ives and enjoyed the fresh air and sound of the waves in the water, against the shore and along the sides of the walkway. There are lots of cute restaurants here including pubs and certain cuisines. Being a sea side town there was also lots of seafood. As we weren’t feeling 100% in the mood for seafood, we went to the same pub I went to in 2013 – The Union Inn. Whilst the food and drinks were okay, our favourite part was the dogs inside, relaxing with their owners. They were friendly and I got as many pats and cuddles in as I could before it was time to leave.
After a big driving day we were pretty tired, so after a bit of looking around by foot and then by car, we made our way back to our hotel for the night.
Day 2 – Saturday
An early night meant we were up and at em at the earliest possible breakfast time! I must say, the breakfast was good. No singing. And the view was much nicer in the day time. We went for a short walk to a lookout area before setting off for St Ives town to experience it in the light.
We did a spot of shopping and even some tasting of a Cornish strawberry and cream liqueur. Delicious. I bought some small bottles for my team mates at work – xmas presents done! Harry and I went into a surf store and there was a cat chilling on the counter. Love this place! So many animals! Even at the parking meter this morning, there was a lovely cat sitting there waiting to greet us and welcome us back into town.
Minack Theatre time! It was still as beautiful as ever. Perhaps the sea not as blue today. We went in and climbed all over the theatre as I usually do, trying to find something new or appreciate another corner of Rowena’s creation, however the extra delight today was thanks to the actor who was playing Billy Rawlings, the man that helped Rowena build the theatre. The actor, or Billy Rawlings, had such passion for the theatre and told us stories about the theatre many years ago, including when they filmed the 1944 Love Story film there. He also joked that when an actor left the scene on one side of the stage and was required to enter from the other side, they had to scale the cliff, run behind the audience and scale back down the cliff. It might sound weird but I’m definitely going back, and I intend to explore the beach at the bottom of the cliff for hours and hours. Something about that place keeps drawing me back to explore. Go there! I promise you won’t be disappointed. Better yet – see a play there.
It was well and truly time for lunch so we drove towards Penzance town for lunch. This is when we discovered the very nice looking village – Mousehole. Strange name for a village though right?! Looks well worth a proper visit. The funny thing about some of these villages is that when the tide is out, the boats are literally sitting upright on sand and mud! I wonder if they have to be special boats to stay upright without water… We kept on going through to Penzance and saw St Michael’s Mount from a distance. This place is also worth a visit. You can either walk to it when the tide is low or catch a boat to it when the tide is high. After a short drive around Penzance, we didn’t see anywhere for lunch we were super keen on so we drove back to Newlyn which was back towards Mousehole. We saw a few pubs and parked the car. I met another gorgeous ginger cat who, as my arms were outstretched towards it, ran over towards me to say hello. We parted ways and went into the first pub. It was yet another pub on a Saturday in the UK NOT serving food. What the? You can read about a similar experience in my Long Weekend… Long Boat blog we had a week before Cornwall. Luckily another pub a short walk away was serving food. Strangely we were the only people in the pub for a while, but we were soon joined by a few more people and the odd policeman. Apparently a local man had been missing for some time and they were very worried about his mental state after a break up with his wife. I hope they found him safe and well!
After lunch we drove on towards Newquay where we were staying for the night. Upon arrival, and initially trying to check into another place with a very similar name, we checked into the right place which was in a great location near the main street. We noticed again that we had no fridge but had no time to worry about that and made our way by foot to the Walkabout pub where we knew the Rugby grand final between Australia and New Zealand would be showing. The game had already started but we were still going to see plenty of it. Plenty. Can you tell I’m not a super fan?!
When it was time for dinner, I was sure I could use my navigation skills to find us somewhere great that I had walked past last time I visited. Well. One of the pubs I went to last time was now actually closed down! Sad! It was also kind of ghostly in the main street so we settled for a place very close to our hotel that looked quite busy. It was halloween and there were lots of scary ghouls out! My ‘ghostly’ reference to the main street just reminded me! As the night went on, we became increasingly aware of the fact that we stood out as people not dressed up for Halloween. There were some pretty good costumes around! After dinner, Harry and I decided to go on a mini pub crawl which started with Belushi’s, the bar under the St Christopher’s Inn hostel I stayed in last time. It was still a fun place with a band and dancing going on quite early. They also have a very nice view of the beach from their outside eating area, and this coupled with the large orange moon made for a bit of romantic atmosphere!
We walked around a bit more and rediscovered the Red Lion, though it seemed very quiet inside so we passed by. Harry had seen a place earlier he thought would be good, and he was right! It was back down near the Walkabout, and had a very cool alternative vibe to it. There was some crazy dancing going on, but we loved that noone seemed to care what they looked like or how they were dancing. The DJs were impressive with their old school scratching and even I, not usually a super DJ fan, was watching very closely and dancing along in my seat. Why weren’t we up dancing too? They were on a whole ‘nother level. And the people watching from our vantage point was fantastic! We ended our night once it was no longer acceptable to be sitting (aka taking up precious dance floor space) and made our way safely home before the pure evil of halloween was unleashed.
Day 3 – Sunday
Padstow and Port Isaac – our two villages on the agenda today. Both places I hadn’t been to before. Little bit (ok, a lot!) excited to check them out. Padstow is a beautiful little village where as we started walking in from the car park area, we found a small market selling cheese, chutney, spices… basically all the tasty stuff. Somehow in our short 10 minutes in Padstow we’d managed to buy one of almost everything in the market. It was a very small market.
There are lots of winding back streets with different shops and things to explore. There is also some delicious looking cornish icecream and of course many cornish pasty shops. Harry and I had to have one. We found ourselves in an area with about 3 pasty shops all next to one another. How to choose! Somehow we made our choice then shared it as we walked around more of Padstow.
Harry’s parents wanted to see Port Isaac because that is where they filmed Doc Martin. So we kept driving north to see what it was like. I would say it’s definitely a lesser known place to visit as a tourist, unless you know of Doc Martin which I didn’t. It was more quiet and peaceful with pretty and colourful houses, a not so pleasant smelling fishing area (though this meant the seafood was fresh!), and was more difficult to drive into and around which meant most people were walking. It was a clear blue sunny day which added to the feeling of freedom and adventure.
We enjoyed a roast lunch with our seagull friends on a balcony overlooking the boat ramp area. There were a few boats going in and out as we watched on, and people walking their dogs. It was such a lovely day, and there was definitely more to explore in Port Isaac and Cornwall generally though it was time to start the drive back to London!