Four Days in Cornwall " A Journey to the End of the Earth
Cornwall’s coat of arms bell is a memory of an unforgettable trip to the far southwest of England. I wanted to tell it at length, but the pace of our move through English towns is so fast that for now I have ventured to publish only the letter I wrote to my children on my return and then sent to friends with slight modifications. I regret that we did not bring bells from all the places we went. But they are, and so a sequel is sure to follow.
“The End of the Earth,” “Mousehole,” a town of smugglers and pirates, the oldest Turk’s Head pub, a fishing village, a fashionable resort, a haven of inspiration for many artists (our favorite Turner, among others), a pier, where Charles Darwin arrived from his famous voyage on the Beagle, the church named for the executed King of England, the bell from the old school church, and the gallery of Rodney Peppe (a new name!), the master of mechanical toys and illustrator of children’s books. ).
And, finally, Mount St. Michael, whose abbey was visited by an endless stream of pilgrims.
And then there was Cornish-style tea with cream (Seryozha laughed outright when I spread butter and blackberry jam on the rolls, which are part of the “program” of regular tea with milk). Except that he didn’t take into account the richness of the Cornish cream and the fragrance of the jam, infused with the scent of Cornish herbs, neighboring blackberries.
Ale and Cornish honey beer.
Cornish pies with all sorts of fillings (we took some with lamb, potatoes, onions, spices) in the thinnest crispy puff pastry (if you’re lucky with the chef or the establishment where you buy – we’re 50/50).
We were indifferent to the seafood assortment, maybe just the anchovies and crab salad, but shrimp are still shrimp in Montreal.
And finally, the Cornish fish pie. Oh, this is really good. I’ll withhold the recipe for now, I don’t really know myself, I assume the contents – but you have to try it out. Eaten three times: the first time – were unexpectedly pleased, the second time – satisfied, the third time – admired and became fans forever.
There is a great variety of flowers. I do not know the names of most of them, and I saw many of them for the first time. I was admired by blue, blue, lilac, pink hydrangeas – hundreds of bushes!
For some reason there are palm trees.
All kinds of bushes and shrubs, blooming anywhere and clinging to anything: the branches of trees, rocks, wires, roofs. Sometimes you can marvel – how is it possible that a bush of daisies survives among two rocks on a steep cliff.
But most of all you are amazed when the giant crowns of century-old trees intertwine over the narrow road and form a bizarre green corridor, through which the double-decker buses literally tear through. Good if the buses are roofed, but some are open and the passengers crush their heads in terror and their hats and caps fly off.
And finally, English roses. They are beauties! The colors and shades can’t be counted. Too bad they were already in bloom in those days.
And why am I always talking about food and flowers? When the main thing here is the water element. The first thing we saw was the English Channel (no, we’re in England – it’s more correct – the English Channel; our sweet companions were wincing when we exclaimed: “La Manche!”) And in “Lands End” the open ocean – the Atlantic. As we shuttled between Cornish villages, we found ourselves on the ocean, then on the strait. And wandered, suddenly realizing that this was the ends of the earth.
The ebb and flow of the tides amazed us. In the evening – boulders, covered with wet greenery, shells, seaweed. In the morning – two and a half miles along the beach to Mount St. Michael (a bright local point of interest) – waves, one after another with a noise rolls on the shore to the road. And get to the mountain-island had to take a boat. It had not passed 2 hours, while climbing the path of pilgrims to the tops of the castle, as from the balcony we saw that people are already stomping from the former abbey to the village of Morazion on the red-gray stone lined path.
And at St. Ives? Upon our arrival, we saw: everything that should have been swimming was resting lazily on the sandy-silty bottom, and the people were splashing far from shore in the clear turquoise-blue water. And then – one last parting glance at the harbor – the water returned and came up to the stone parapet and lifted all the contents. The boats are bobbing merrily on the faint wave, and the boys are diving(!) headlong down the high ladder. Only a little while ago there was sand, and now there is water. It’s deep, for diving!
And the color of the water? Not a day, not an hour, that it stays the same. I am not an artist, I can’t list all the colors and shades. But it is not for nothing that romantic Turner came here (there are about ten paintings of this place). His palette was able to reproduce all the variability of colors of the water element.
I will notice only some transitions of color: from various shades of gray to blue, from purple to turquoise, from azure-blue to emerald green. And then there was water – pink, lilac, orange, and black.
And the color of the cows? Oh, the cows were something! All the way, and we drove to Cornwall for a long time, six and a half hours. Not to say that a lot of mileage – just stopped often, and for Bath even changed the direction of the train: I was glad, because we had seats not in the direction of travel.
But back to the cows. There were a great many of them in the green and lettuce fields. They were black and white in spots, then red (did someone dye henna?), brown, brown. And so gigantic with big udders swollen with milk. And the bulls? And there were calves. Some were munching lazily, others were watching our train with googly eyes (they were so close to the track that they had a close-up view). In the evening (on our way back), they were lounging so picturesquely in the dark green fields – you could tell they were tired after the day. And really – so much to chew on!
And there were beautiful horses, also multicolored. Horses in love, galloping horses, little colts clinging to their mothers. And suddenly – a wild doe, bouncing among the sprawling ferns. Followed by a herd of llamas! Mother llamas and baby llamas. They were so big, fat and tall! And a turkey (or turkeys) blocked our way. The drivers had to get out of the car – chased, chased. Didn’t get out of the way – created a traffic jam!
And finally, the sheep. Cute little darlings – pale, milky gray, so-so fluffy, and some with black and brown ears! The only thing missing were pink and red ribbons and bell bows around their necks. But I kept thinking about barbecue when I was looking at them. I was ashamed. Then I realized that I was hungry and asked Sergey to get a cheese sandwich! A sheep’s cheese sandwich!
“There once was a shepherdess, tra-la-la-la-la. She made sheep cheese, tra-la-la-la-la, for the whole village. “. Oh, it’s an English, no, Cornish, song to sing.
We were struck by the tall chimneys made of stone and tapered to the top. We kept seeing them along the road, in places with the remnants of some ruined structures. When we spotted two or three, we assumed they were something ancient, but when we saw how many there were, we realized they were the legacy of the Cornwall mine. Once upon a time there were solid mines and mines here. These places were famous for their tin. Then, apparently, the iron-containing ores were exhausted (or was it more profitable to buy them on the side? We should read about that), and now these stone giants are silent witnesses of the glorious labor past.
And, it turns out that Cornwall is not only a port-fishing-maritime (in the not-so-distant past a pirate-smuggler) and meat-and-wool (sheep-and-cow) area, but also a mining area. Later I remembered that there are rare minerals here that are found almost nowhere else. I saw many magnificent specimens in the Fersman Mineralogical Museum in Moscow and the Natural History Museum in London.
I did not even notice that I have already written an entire essay. So I’ll call it a day. We liked the people: friendly, hospitable, sociable and helpful. There were interesting meetings. Our compatriots came across, cordially exchanging impressions and coordinates.
The pubs are good. Colorfully decorated, some are very old, with entertaining stories, such as “The Turk’s Head”, leading its history since the Crusades. Seryozha finally started to like some ale.
Lots of interesting stores and colorful stalls. The ceramics are quite distinctive, and the works of local artists are nice to look at. And the glass! I didn’t get into it, but there are some glassblowing workshops here: there were some fantastic vases in the windows!
One bad thing is that it’s hard with the bells. The crystal one on the counter in the hotel pub teased me so much! But we got a few – most importantly, from the “End of the Earth” and from Saint-Michel (wrong again, out of habit to pronounce it in French). Found more with the coat of arms and flag of Cornwall.
Cornwall Bell. Collection of Irina Lapina.
I can’t resist a bit of history here.
It is not easy to decipher the coat of arms at once. So far the presence of a fisherman and a miner is unequivocal – by the way, a prime example of coats of arms with figures. But why a black raven? I read somewhere that it is not a raven at all, but another bird, which once abundantly inhabited the rocky shores, and now a rare guest. I think we met it on our way to St. Michael’s.
Even more interesting with the gold circles on the shield – there are fifteen of them – I wasn’t too lazy to count! Some have written that they are ingots of gold stored in the caves of Cornwall (a pirate legend). Others claim they are “Byzantines” – gold coins that were minted in the East.
This takes us back to the time of the Crusades. According to legend, the son of the local king went to save the Holy Sepulchre and was captured by the Saracens (how many fairy tales I read as a child with a similar beginning). They did not leave the poor guy in the lurch. The Korneans gathered a ransom and the prince returned to his native shores! Since then the coat of arms was marked with gold circles and the motto of Cornwall “One and All”, which reminded me of the three musketeers’ cry: “One for All, and All for One”.
A more prosaic version is that crusaders often placed gold circles (also called bezants) on their shields upon their return from the campaign. As a sign that they had been to the Holy City. But why fifteen?
And why did the bird move its golden crown to the side? Evidence that the Cornish (also called Cornish) had repeatedly resisted the conquerors? Alas, the struggle was unsuccessful – few people speak the Cornish language now.
And this is the first time I’ve seen such a grim flag – black (horror!) with a white cross (smuggling past?). I feel something uncomfortable with such a flag, and therefore the bell with it only took a picture, not bought.
And also – the title Duke of Cornwall is held by the eldest son of a British monarch. The tradition began in 1337 by King Edward III, passing his own title to his eldest son Edward, nicknamed the Black Prince.
Now, understandably, the title is held by Prince Charles. He received it at the age of four, when his mother Elizabeth II was crowned to the throne. Charles was officially installed as Duke in 1973.
But here’s what made me laugh. The prince received: a pair of white gloves, a pair of greyhounds, a pound of pepper and cumin each, a crossbow, a hundred specially minted shillings, wood to make a fire and a harpoon to catch salmon!
You’ve got to hand it to Prince Charles – he’s fighting to preserve Cornwall’s nature. And Seeley Island (that’s where to go!) is an ecological paradise.
And yet, where have we been?
It’s southwest Cornwall – Penzance, Lands End, St. Ives, St. Michael, Morazion, Falmouth, Newlyn, Mousehall and more passing through some interesting townships by bus. And from the train window we saw the majestic Truro Cathedral (capital of Cornwall) and Plymouth, a huge harbor with boats, yachts and warships.
Cornwall, because of the Gulf Stream, is the “Crimea” for England. And because palm trees, 150 eschatnyh beaches and warm (I did not risk a swim, although the swimsuit was taken) water. Yes, I was afraid because of his leg – pestering, in some places the force did not go. Well here the distance is written in miles. Illusion that passed a little, but in kilometers – you stomp and stomp!
And another thing – although Cornwall is festooned on tourist maps with images of umbrellas marking the beaches, it is in fact open to all winds and storms. It bakes hard, but it takes a cloud to cover the sun and you pull on your jacket.
The beauty of Cornwall is anything but serene, with granite cliffs rising behind sandy beaches and green pastures flanked by sturdy walls of boulders. And despite the cheerful windows with freshly painted white frames and frivolous curtains, the houses look like impregnable fortresses. They were built by their great-great-grandfathers, as they say, for centuries.
Where to go on holiday in England: Devon and Cornwall
If you’re not sure whether to go now or not (because autumn is kind of on the nose), then let me clear your doubts! The weather is promising, and the word from the Cornish is that the warmest waters for swimming are at the end of August and beginning of September. So carve out a few days to spare and hit the road! The information below is on how to decide where to head, or how best to think about the route.
From Dorset we headed into Devon County. I highly recommend taking the road that runs along the coast, you’ll have a lot of fun. There are lots of places and villages along the way, and you can pop in for at least half an hour for some ice cream or the famous Cream Tea.
One of my favorites is the village of Abbotsbury, a magical place where none other than gnomes and other fabulous creatures live. In the village you can visit the swan nursery and subtropical gardens. Be sure to stroll down Rodden Row and dine in the courtyard garden of the Ilchester Arms gastro-pub with a picturesque view of St. Catherine’s Chapel. Catherine’s Chapel.
Our first stop in Devon was Torquay. If you’re driving direct from London it can take up to 5 hours, depending on traffic. But if you don’t want to drive half a day it’s better to overnight in Exeter when the roads are not busy, you can drive 3-3,5 hours. To see the main attractions (The Cathedral, Devon County Hall, The Iron Bridge) will take a couple of hours, Exeter is also known for its university. It’s very easy to find a place to stay in the city, both in hotels and private homes.
But back to Torquay, what is it famous for? It is where one of the most famous detective writers, Agatha Christie, was born. By the way, the summer house where her family spent the vacations is open to the public, and even if you are not a fan of her work, I still recommend a visit. The Greenway House is located on the scenic Dart River and is about a 25 minute drive from town. And downtown, you can take the Agatha Christie Mile tour; signs are located all over town about her work and some stages of her life.
Torquay is one of the first cities to be called the “English Riviera,” they say it has a very pleasant climate most of the year. I was lucky every time – the weather was sunny; the bay is planted with palm trees, yachts bobbing on the waves, ice cream melts in your hand and the feeling that you are not in England is guaranteed! My advice is to walk around, gawk around, spend time at the beach, the main ones being Oddicombe and Meadfoot beaches. If you miss the Ferris wheel then be sure to get to the top of the town on the tracks, you will have a great view of the bay.
If your plans include exploring just Devon County, Torquay would be a great place to base yourself – it’s a very easy drive to just about everything of interest in the area. A word of advice about parking – there is, as always, a parking fee in the center, and the price tag in the center is through the roof. Don’t be lazy, drive 2 kilometers deep into the city and you will find a free space that you don’t have to pay for.
Dartmoor Forest deserves special attention, it wasn’t part of our plans this time, but I’ll write a few words nonetheless. It is an ancient royal forest that covers a vast area of the county. If I had my way, I would have spent a week in these parts, no less. The place is perfect for mountain biking and hikers, picnickers and walkers. The views are fabulous, the experience unforgettable!
Salcombe is another coastal town that I recommend for a visit – it’s called the “millionaire town” and not surprisingly, as this small settlement is second only to London in property prices – a small terraced house will cost an average of £800,000. Unfortunately, Salcombe doesn’t fit in the camera at all, all because of its amazing natural location at the mouth of the river. The clear water and white houses with verandas on the cliffs will make you think you’re not in England at all. The beaches and coves on the opposite shore are a must-see, check out Sunny Cove Beach – great place!
Parking in this city is very tight, the streets are tiny, and I suggest using the Park and Ride service. (It’s a secure out-of-town parking lot where you leave your car and take a bus to the center and back. Buses run every 15 minutes and the whole experience costs £3). There is a Park and Ride system in many cities and it will save you a lot of time and money if you stay somewhere all day from morning to evening. The only downside is you can’t leave your car in this parking lot overnight.
From Salcombe we headed into the town of Plymouth, stopping at Bigbury-on-Sea. For the future, I planned to return to the beach at this location to meet the sunset or sunrise. It’s all about the tidal road that connects the shoreline to a small island that can be reached by walking on the soft sand at low tide. We, on the other hand, arrived at the peak of beach-sun season, and aside from the tide covering the road with water, there was simply nowhere to sit down. We ended up getting to Plymouth in the evening, and it served as another overnight stay for us – the town is big, and it was very easy to find a hotel in it.
You’ve probably noticed that a lot of coastal towns have similar names – Weymouth, Bournemouth, Dartmouth, Exmouth? It’s very simple: mouth means not only “mouth” in English, but also “mouth” of the river, so the names of the cities are made up of the names of the rivers. So too, Plymouth is a city founded at the mouth of the river Plym. In terms of attractions, in my opinion, the city is not very interesting, and I would not recommend spending a whole day on it. It might be worth a stop at the port, lunch or dinner at one of the Main Street restaurants, and a visit to the current exhibition in the Roland Lewinsky Building of the University of Plymouth Art Department. It is, by the way, the ninth largest university in the UK, and its main areas of study are maritime business, marine engineering and biology.
One of my favorite Cornwall towns – Looe – is a 40-minute drive from Plymouth. It’s funny, considering that “loo” is English for “toilet” and is pronounced exactly like the name of the town. But the place is not what you might call a “toilet”, in Cornish “looe” means “a bay with deep water, and for me personally – it’s a little English Venice. The town is charming from the first minute, it’s so cozy and nice, that you don’t want to leave it.
I thoroughly recommend getting on a boat and taking a couple of rides from the west bank to the east bank (£0.50 one way). Never mind that the river of the same name is crossed by a bridge (which I also suggest taking a walk on). Have a fresh crab sandwich for me or just ask for its baked meat in the shell! Watch out for the seagulls, they are very cheeky there. If the weather permits, go straight to the beach – unlike in Devon County, almost all of Cornwall’s beaches are sandy, not pebbly.
If you don’t want to sit still, you can go. Whether by boat (ask at the pier) or on foot (look for signs), there’s another delightful village called Polperro just 6 kilometers away. The locals are all hereditary fishermen and we spent hours looking at their houses and wandering through the souvenir shops. Be sure to try the Cornish ice cream, I don’t know what recipe they make there, but the taste of what goes by the name of “clotted cream” will forever remain in my memory. For the male gender who doesn’t always appreciate sweets, there is also a great option – ale! I don’t know much about these kinds of drinks, but all the ones I chose at random and tried were very pleasant tasting. Don’t be afraid to experiment, ask the bartender for advice and they will definitely recommend something special.
If you go from Looe to Polperro by car, again, I do not recommend entering the city center, it is incredibly crowded. You can certainly take your chances, but all the possible parking lots will probably be occupied by tourists staying in nearby hotels. Leave the car on the outskirts and safely go to the center on foot, the road will not be long – the village itself is tiny in size.
On weekdays in Polperro you can watch the fishing boats return to the bay – it seems like nothing special, but we hung out at the sea outlet for a couple of hours, watching the fishermen folding their gear.
The next stop on our route was Fowey. For those who travel by car, it will be especially appealing because of the ferry crossing. It’s a small crossing, not even five minutes, but the view from the middle of the river will be etched in your memory for a long time. For a passenger car with a driver and one passenger the fare is £4, if there are more passengers the cost of the ticket increases slightly. Just after the crossing there is a (paid) parking lot where you can leave your car for a couple of hours and see the town, don’t miss it, it’s very pretty!
For orientation, a day will be enough to see all three of the above towns, but that’s assuming you are traveling by car.
St Austell, the next town we stayed overnight in, didn’t turn out to be anything special, but we did find a few places near it that we enjoyed visiting. For men, a visit to St. Austell Bewery is a must! Even though I don’t know anything about brewing, getting into a Victorian brewery was very educational. No need to book anything in advance unless you plan to stay there for lunch or dinner. If you’re interested in gardens and plants, you’ll probably like a place called The Lost Gardens of Heligan. I chose it on purpose and was very pleased with my visit. The area of the gardens is huge, it would take the better part of a day to see everything. You’ll find wild fields of flowers, manicured gardens, greenhouses with unknown plants, and even a small section of jungle.
And another place nearby that is worth a visit for botany lovers is the Eden Project, where plants from all over the world live under futuristic hubcaps. Tickets can be purchased upon arrival, and if you buy tickets online you will save 10% off the cost.
All Doctor Who fans are advised to take a drive to Charlestown Village, it is where episodes of one of the show’s episodes were filmed. It doesn’t take 10 minutes to drive from St. Austell to the village.
The southwest of England is full of fabulous settlements, and one of them is a fishing village with the funny name of Mevagissey. The village is only 8 kilometers from St. Austell, and if you’re in the area, be sure to stop by for a walk or lunch.
For those who don’t know, Cornwall County (besides ice cream and ale) is also famous for its pies. Cornish Pasty is so famous that you’ll find it not only in the bakery, but also in souvenir stores – on postcards, as magnets, on tea towels, aprons, etc. For meat-eaters I recommend to try the traditional one with beef and potatoes, and for vegetarians there’s a wonderful variant with rutabaga. But the simple stuff with potatoes and green onions has remained my favorite. The village of Mevagissey is good not only for the bakeries where you can sample the coveted pies (by the way, you can find delicious pastries in every town in Cornwall), but also for the fact that you can take a fishing tour on one of the actual real fishing boats in the bay! And an added bonus will be the incredible view from the boat of the village itself from the open sea. By the way, there are ferries from Fowey to Mevagissey (this is information for those who want to skip Heligan and Eden Gardens).
In Cornwall you’ll find Britain’s southernmost point, called Lizard Point, on the edge of the town of the same name. An hour and a half by car, and you are on “the edge of the earth”. The place is very quiet and peaceful in the morning, but full of tourists by noon. I’m a big fan of “collecting” the most extreme capes (and not just in England), so I could not miss it. There is a small cafe and gift store on the cape itself, having a coffee and sending a postcard to a friend right from there is a pretty good idea.
On the way out of Lizard, be sure to stop at Kynance Cove! I have it circled in red on my map and I can’t wait to visit it again. It’s another world, even a planet! It seems like there should be dinosaurs walking around and pterodactyls flying around somewhere, but alas, other than cows you won’t find anyone there. We got there on a very foggy day, but it was even handy – no tourists around, and despite the lack of sunlight, we still climbed into the water, it was impossible to resist! Tip for those travelling by car – before you get about a kilometer to the official parking lot (cost £3.5/hour), there’s an “unofficial” one. You can leave your car there for free, walk straight out to the path by the sea and have even more fun getting to the bay on the rocks. By the way, you do not have to climb, even a child can cope there and do not need special shoes for such a walk.
Did you know that it takes less than an hour to drive from the south coast of the county to the north? On the north shore, my favorite place is the town of St. Ives. It’s one of those things they say about love at first sight. Do you like modern art? The Tate Modern is here! Want to learn how to surf? Here’s one of the best schools on the coast (lessons continue through November – wetsuits be praised!). Sunbathing and swimming? Both the beach and the sea will surprise you! I still find the combination of city and beach life incredible, and for the locals, it’s business as usual. Advice to those who want to stay here: book lodging heavily in advance, the city is incredibly popular, you can’t find any free hotels and B&Bs when you arrive without booking in advance!
From St. Ives I suggest that we go back to the south coast and visit the town of Marazion. It takes only 20 minutes by car! Surely you’ve heard about the French mountain-fortress of St. Michael in Normandy? Well, Marazion is the “English copy” of the fortress with the exact same name – St. Michael’s Mount. Ask at the pier about tidal times. Walk to the fortress, see the gardens and return by boat when the tide is out to sea (if you arrive early in the morning) or vice versa – take a boat there and walk back (if you arrive in the afternoon). Fortress in England, unlike the French, is not as popular, and you will not find crowds of tourists. A visit here is definitely worthwhile.
The next stop was my favorite place in the whole county – Porthcurno. If you can’t find a place to stay in Porthcurno, I suggest you try looking in the neighboring village of Treen. Porthcourno and Pedn Vounder beaches are two of my favorites in all of the UK. Such clear azure water I have never seen anywhere, it seems that the sea is not the North, but the Mediterranean!
Near the beach Porthcurno, on the rocks is an open air theater – Minack Open Air Theatre. Be sure to buy tickets for the show in advance, and if you can’t, just take a sightseeing tour. I didn’t know what was more amazing there – the performance, the theater itself, or the view from our seats. This time we were unlucky with the weather – it rained during the performance, but even that could not spoil the mood and the impression was the warmest.
For all hiking and trekking fans, I highly recommend the walk from Porthcurno Beach to the westernmost point of Britain – Land’s End. It will take more than 2 hours, but I promise that you will not regret it: the views on the sea are breathtaking, you want to stop and take photos every minute. As a reward for the 5 miles on the cliffs, treat yourself to dessert at the cafe at the edge of the land, the ice cream there is delicious!
For anyone going to Cornwall to spend their days at the beach, I advise you to read online about rip currents, how dangerous they are, and what to do if you get caught in one. And that’s the end of my notes, I hope very much that any of the above was interesting and useful for you. I also wish you all a wonderful weekend in these parts!