Way back in 2006, I watched a program called Passport to Europe, on the Travel Channel. In this particular episode, Samantha Brown took me on a tour Cornwall. Everywhere she went in the region looked utterly magical. Cornwall was promptly added to my mental ‘places to visit’ list.
Until this past weekend, an opportunity to visit never presented itself. I only had the pleasure of visiting for a few days, but it was every bit as fairy-tale-like as I anticipated.
From walking on water, hiking above azure waters, visiting a cliffside open-air theatre and castles, to meeting reindeer and seeing rainbows, a full moon and fireworks, the only thing that could have made Cornwall more whimsical would have been a blessing of unicorn.
As far as basic travel logistics go, there are three ways to get to Cornwall, from London: 1) Car - This option requires approximately 6 hours each way, 2) Train – Similar timing to driving and costs about upwards of £65 each way, 3) Airplane – Flybe takes off from Gatwick and arrives into Newquay in about 40-minutes, for around £120, roundtrip. From a timing and monetary perspective, it seems like a no-brainer to me, but everyone I told that I was flying thought I was a maniac.
I arrived into Cornwall on Friday evening. My friend was kind of enough to come collect me at the airport. It was about a 40-minute drive from Newquay Airport to her place in Portreath. Since it was already late by the time we got settled in, we just had some hot chocolate and caught up before hitting the hay.
Saturday morning we got an early start, kicking off the day with a winding-road drive from Portreath to Marazion. There, St. Michael’s Mount beckoned. This castle island is accessible by a man-made causeway, at low-mid tide. Normally, you'd be able to take a boat back as the tide comes in, but this off-season, extensive building work was being undertaken and boats were not being operated. We made very sure to keep an eye on the tide times so we didn't end up stuck there with no open facilities.
In photos, the causeway appears to be quite a long journey, but, in actuality, is a fairly short walk. We arrived around 11am. The water was receded and all that surrounded the causeway and island was sand and seaweed.
After walking across and back, to kill time before the tides swelled, we went to get some lunch at Ben’s Cornish Kitchen in Marazion. Absolutely delicious and highly recommended! If you don’t fancy a full lunch, stop and treat yourself to a tea/snack at Godolphin Arms, with unobstructed views of the castle.
Our bellies overfilled, it was time to burn some calories, so we walked about half way back out to the Mount. However, the tide started to come in quite quickly, so we snapped some photos and then made a run for it.
After St. Michael’s Mount, we drove to the far west of Cornwall, to an area called Porthcorno. I would not have believed that a Caribbean-esque sea like this existed in Britain if I hadn’t seen it with my own two eyes.
There is a path up the cliffs from the beach that you can climb to reach the Minack Theatre. This world famous, open-air theatre is carved into the bluff, towers over Porthcurno Beach and has the sea as a dramatic backdrop.
From May to September, for the past 85 years, the Minack Theatre puts on plays, musicals, comedies, concerts and operas. The history of the theatre is as interesting as the theatre is magnificent. Rowena Cade, who moved to Cornwall after the First World War, built a house at Minack Point for £100. She decided that the cliffs below her dwelling would be the perfect setting for a theatre, so she and her gardener hauled granite boulders themselves to build the seating and stage. Shakespeare’s The Tempest was the debut performance, in 1932. All the names and dates of the shows that have run are carved into the seats.
On the drive from Porthcurno back to Portreath, as the clouds rolled in, a light sprinkling of rain began and we had the pleasure of witnessing a handful of vivid rainbows. I was unsuccessful at capturing photos of any of them through the windshield, but I promise they were there.
Our next stop was Feadon Farm to see a pair of reindeer, pleasingly named 'Merry' and 'Christmas'. Merry is not pictured here as she was snoozing in the other corner.
We also got to see some pygmy goats. Knowing full well that they wouldn’t respond, I couldn’t help but ask the mini goats if they were full grown. In fairness, they were probably looking at me thinking ‘Are you full grown?’
That evening was Bonfire Night (AKA the night before Guy Fawkes Day), so there were fireworks going off all over the place. There was also a full moon. The sky was lit!
Cornwall really couldn’t get any more enchanting! I look forward to going back again and seeing what other things weren't, but should have been on Samantha Brown's 2006 itinerary.