Pass the Duchy? Never!
Just returned from a short break in north Cornwall, blessed with endless autumn sunshine. Here are the potted (but lobster-free) highlights…
Our first stop, St Ives, was as pretty as all its postcard depictions, the gentle blue bay and slumbering harbour vastly improved by admiring it while slurping a double scoop of Turkish Delight-flavoured ice cream (in fact, my whole trip was defined by the amount of ice cream slurped).
A brisk circuit of its winding streets and a few art gallery browses later, it was off to Land’s End, where we met a matey mog, some goats, a shaggy-footed rooster and the same tourists we’d already encountered en route to St Ives (sans cats, sacks or wives). From Land’s End, we could have walked along the coast to Sennen Cove but being a) lazy and b) full of ice cream, we didn’t.
Next we moseyed down to Mousehole, where I varied my dairy-based diet with a late lunch and a stroll round the harbour (this was very much a strolling holiday, the emphasis on ‘rolling’ with the inclines rather than climbing them). Anyway, we* probably worked off more calories trying to manoeuvre the car round hairpins or in and out of quaintly narrow access roads without flattening the nearest flowerpot or curious local.
*’we’ in the sense that my navigational duties burned a lot of energy, mostly in exercising restraint when met with, ‘I thought you said there was a car park at the end of this flippin’ switchback!’
Finally, it was off to Marazion, via Penzance, to watch the sun set over St Michael’s Mount.
And so to Newquay, to meet friends John and Bernie for lunch at Lewinnick Lodge overlooking the sea, and then stroll the length of Fistral Beach with J&B and their lovely, excited cockapoos (I think it’s probably obligatory to visit north Cornwall with at least one dog: I’m surprised we weren’t stopped at the border of the Pasty Belt and fined for being poochless).
Bernie pointed out the ‘hue and cry’ house perched on a bluff; from here, an eagle-eyed lookout would set up a hue and cry to alert locals that the pilchard shoals were drifting in.
We finished the day catching sunset over Constantine Bay, a surf-pounded strand of darkly gold sand cross-hatched with slabs of black rock, the violet-tinted twilight redolent of a Turkish Delight ice cream…
To acclimatise for our afternoon visit to Tintagel, we tackled the vertiginous, twisty streets of Port Isaac, home to TV’s Doc Martin (which I admit, I’ve never watched). Ice cream was imbibed, naturally, shops patronised and narrow streets negotiated.
We were now ready to conquer the very steep walk to Tintagel Castle, notionally the ruins of the castle of Uther Pendragon, King Arthur’s dad. With its craggy remnants perched at the very edge of the sea, visitors have to make like mountain goats to snap the best angle or peer into Merlin’s cave. I’m proud to say I contorted with the best of them (see photo below as proof!).
Staggering back into the village and making a mental note to Google ‘shin splints’, I bought a jar of heather honey – and an ice cream.
We did a lot more besides, yet still I realise I’ve no more than skimmed the surface of the cream of Cornwall. With more time, we’d have picked our localised spot and followed each and every byway to the fretwork of secluded coves and stone ‘hedges’ tapering into the Atlantic.
But we’ll be back – dreckly, as they say in those there parts.
Sightings of pirates – none
Sightings of Poldark – none
Ice cream consumed, in litres – unquantifiable. I particularly recommend blackberry & clotted cream
Things fallen off or into (included but not limited to, five-bar gates, cowpats and boats) – none (a record!)
Amount of residual sand discovered later in socks, car, hair and suitcase – negligibly less than amount of ice cream consumed
On our return, we found a new robin in residence, currantly (sic) besieging us every five minutes for helpings of my mum’s homemade fruit cake. I’m not convinced this robin didn’t murder our previous incumbent, to be honest, but I’m prepared to give the benefit to get the bird.