I love long weekends. I love them even more when they’re in places like Devon and Cornwall. Even the grey English weather couldn’t bring me down! On a Wednesday (March 2017) my partner shared his surprise weekend plans with me:
- explore and stay the night in Clovelly, Devon
- picnic lunch at the Minack Theatre
- a night overlooking the ocean in St Ives, Cornwall
Little did I know, there was another surprise. Skip to the Minack Theatre on Saturday if you can’t wait!
Friday – The lovely Clovelly
The drive from London takes 4.5 hours. Totally worth it to experience Clovelly, a small village in the Torridge district of Devon. Along the way we stopped for lunch at The Fox at Peasemore, a country-style gastropub in Newbury. The food was fresh and full of flavour and the prices out here are so much cheaper than London! And the air! Oh so fresh!
Back to Clovelly… it has a history of fishing and royalty and has been associated with just three families since the middle of the 13th century. Population numbers are small. It has cobble stone streets, no cars and people use sledges (mostly old milk crate style) to carry their things up and down the steep hills. Lucky we packed light as the no car rule meant a walk in the rain from the visitor centre car park!
Our room at the New Inn had a bay window facing the water. As the mist swirled outside underneath the rain, we took full advantage of the view with a pre-dinner picnic. We couldn’t get too comfortable though because dinner at the inn was only available between 6 and 7pm. Downstairs there were no other diners so we kept ourselves company and enjoyed good old fashioned fish and chips. Well, my partner did. Pie is usually my favourite but don’t try it here…
It was tempting to stay in but we got our waterproof jackets on and explored Clovelly at night. Most streets were lit up well as we slowly headed downhill on the cobble stones towards the Red Lion pub on the waterfront. The Snug Bar inside the Red Lion was full of people (and 1 dog) sharing stories over a pint. If only the dog could share THEIR stories too! The uphill walk home was tough but full of happiness when we were greeted by an orange cat, patiently waiting outside for their owner to let them in.
Saturday – Surprise at the Minack Theatre, Land’s End Cat and St Ives Pub Crawl
We woke up to the beautiful peace and quiet of Clovelly. A tummy full of bacon and eggs later we explored the village in the daylight. Everything is so quaint and colourful (even in the grey weather!) I felt like every corner we turned, we met another cat. All different colours and sizes. All friendly and stopping for a pat before continuing on their daily routine. One cat chose to break their routine and followed us towards the jetty before turning back when the oncoming dogs were spotted. Probably a good thing because the crashing waves sent a high splash up over the wall. We were soaked but that didn’t stop us waiting for the next one. And the next one. It’s a bit quiet in Clovelly at this time of year but given its beauty I’m happy we got to explore it without the summer tourists.
Time to visit the Minack Theatre for the fourth time! I love it so much I will never get enough. If you read my last blog post about Cornwall you’ll know that Rowena Cade is my idol and she was the mastermind behind the Minack Theatre. Even to this day there are performances there at the theatre on the side of the cliff, overlooking some of the bluest seas I’ve ever seen. It’s simply stunning.
Instead of packing a picnic thanks to the weather, we decided on a scone and coffee inside the cafe after exploring every corner of the theatre. Rowena hand carved the theatre production names and years onto the concrete seats and designs on top of the concrete posts. Each time I visit I find something new. This time we found a new pathway leading down from the stage level to a hidden seat overlooking the water. Which is where it happened. My partner got down on one knee and opened a jewellery box with a beautiful diamond ring inside! The rest is a blur and we happily skipped along the beach below the Minack Theatre afterwards, hugging dogs and dodging fast moving wave foam along the way. As you may have guessed, my answer was YES!
With just enough daylight we drove about 5 minutes to Land’s End. Literally the end of the land. I went there in 2013 and met a cat that welcomed us to the Greeb Farm, a small animal farm. This time there were no animals at the farm BUT! There were bunnies hopping in and out of bushes and THE SAME CAT from 4 years ago ran towards us! Ironically despite me wearing a jumper with the words ‘free hugs for dogs’, Land’s End Cat climbed onto me for a cuddle. He even had this name, ‘Land’s End Cat’, engraved onto the name tag on his collar. Second favourite moment of the weekend (the first one is obvious).
Given that we just got engaged, celebrations were in order! After a short drive we started with a picnic and wine in our room at the Carlyon Guest House overlooking the water in St Ives, followed by a stroll to the Union Inn for a pint and live music. From there we stopped in at Firehouse for pintxos (aaaaand another drink), then decided to dance the night away. Firstly to a band at the Castle Inn, then at the Balcony Bar and Kitchen along the waterfront where we proudly started and owned the dancefloor. A fun impromptu night out!
Sunday – St Michael’s Mount
With an impending 6 hour drive home, we only had time for one last activity in Cornwall. We chose to visit St Michael’s Mount, the castle on the rock. Turns out it was their opening weekend for 2017. Lucky timing! Cost is £9.50 per adult. If the tide is in you’ll need to catch a boat over to the island for £2 per person. That’s what we had to do to get there but luckily the tide was out after lunch for us to walk back to shore.
St Michael’s Mount has been the home to the St Aubyn family and their 12 generations since the year 1650. They partnered with the National Trust to open St Michael’s Mount to visitors. It has an interesting history filled with giants, Jack the Giant Killer, war, leaders and pilgrimage. Don’t worry, you don’t have to be a history buff to enjoy the visit, the buildings and gardens alone are worth seeing and exploring. Keep your eye out for the giant’s heart!
The highlight of the long drive home was a cornish pasty, passed back and forth between us until it was gone, and singing along to some old favourite songs. Well! That was a weekend we will never forget.