Cornwall Stories and Tips

Zipping around Cornwall

Beltane B&B  Photo, Wells, England

When we decided to do a road trip from Manchester to Cornwall, we decided it would be too much driving to go all that way without breaking up the journey. If we stopped over night part way south, we could take our time, stop and see things and have a look around the city where we were overnighting. Thus, the stop on the way down was the cathedral city of Wells.

We stayed overnight in a country B&B just outside Wells, the Beltane, which was a lovely small country place but close to the city. We got there in time to see the cathedral inside, at least, though had to scoot back to the car to re-pay and display. We didn't get to go into the Bishop's Palace but wandered around the garden and moat for a bit.

Wells is the smallest city in England because it has a cathedral (that gives it the right to be a city) and the cathedral is really nice. Loads of carving on the outside west front and a high vaulted ceiling inside with lovely old stained glass. There's also Vicar's Close, a very old street of houses that is still lived in so we also had a nosey around there too. I just love little places like that, and the architecture is just up my cobbled alley!

We were too late for the shops by this time so we found a restaurant in a building that used to be the city jail for a time. It's called the City Arms and the food was pretty good. We had steaks with lots of mushrooms and onions! Walking around again a bit more after we ate, admiring the old houses and shops and the market square which is in front of the Cathedral and Palace. There are two tall gates, one to the Cathedral which is called Penniless Porch where the poor used to beg and the other to the Bishop's Palace, called the Bishop's Eye. I'm willing to bet they shooed the beggars from that gate!

We drove across Somerset and north Devon along the north coastline. Very pretty drive that way with the Exmoor hills on one side and dramatic sea views on the other. We stopped in Cleeve Abbey to see the ruins of the abbey there and make friends with a horse that was grazing nearby and then drove through medieval Dunster but it was too busy to be bothered stopping.

We did stop at Lynmouth and Lynton, twin towns on the seaside a little further on. Lynmouth is right on the shore and Lynton is high up on a cliff over it, connected by a Victorian funicular rail car that goes up the side of the cliff in a couple of minutes. Yes, we went up and walked into the hilly town there to find somewhere for lunch. Found a nice pub called Queens Inn. We poked into a few shops but didn't stay too long as we still were only about half way to the hotel. Later we stopped at a hilltop visitor info centre for a wee break and some photos.

We stayed at the Pendragon Country House near Davidstow and Camelford in north Cornwall for a three night stay. It used to be a vicarage, dating to about 1871. It's beautiful, and they owners, Sharon and Nigel, have done it up in antiques all through out. Nigel is a cook and is amazing. We had dinner there the first night though they don't do it every night. It was presented like any posh restaurant you could go it and tasted out of this world. Breakfasts were good, too, more than just the standard continental or 'full Cornish', we had a menu to pick from in addition to the usual cereal, juice, toast, fruit and yogurt, most everything locally sourced. Breakfasts were absolutely amazing and our room was wonderful! We had a corner room overlooking views of Bodmin Moor.

The next day was a lovely sunny one and we went to the small harbour village of Boscastle in the morning. Nice views from the end of the harbour. Graham climbed up a path to see the outside of the sheltered harbour and then we walked back to the main reason we were there, the Witchcraft Museum! Awesome! It's small but packed with a lot of things to see. It talks about things like historical images of witches, persecution, curses, charms, symbols, healing women, stereotypes... all kinds of topics. Graham really loved it and bought a tshirt with a pentangle on it! We were surprised to find out that the owners of the museum get a few death threats each year.

Next stop, sort of, was a quick drive through Tintagel. We didn't plan on seeing the castle but i wanted to see the crooked old building that housed an old post office though that's not what is in there now. There were at least a half dozen busloads of tourists thronging about and the town itself was not that attracted, it's all geared to the tourists and the King Arthur connection. Places like that put me off, really.

Down along the *very narrow* country lanes, lined high with hedges so you don't see as much of the scenery as you think unless you're at the top of hills.We stopped at a little cove where there was a small beach called Mawgan Porth and had lunch at a pub across the way, the Merrymoor Inn. Graham enjoyed his huge 'Arnie' burger but my bowl of cream of mushroom soup was as thick as paste and my crab sandwich was just that, bread. Crab. nothing else. We walked on the beach a bit and then decided that we weren't going to have time to go all along the north shore of Cornwall in one day. I wanted to see the open air Minack theatre so we went over to the motorway and all the way down to the south coast to see that. Rowena Cade founded and created the theatre over several decades. It has rows of seats created by granite blocks with grass grown over for comfort! The stage is at the very bottom. It all overlooks the sea and a wide beach to one side. There are lovely gardens outside the theatre and the theatre itself is strewn with little patches of flowers. It would be amazing to see a performance there but it would be open to the elements for sure.

Back up the motorway to St. Ives where we managed to get through the narrow streets to a car park on the pier. St. Ives is a seaside town well known for being a centre for artists and craftspeople.Unfortunately we were there too late for the shops, again, but we walked around the place around streets too narrow to be actual street though barely wide enough to get a car down them. Just. We finally decided on a pub on the water front to have dinner and tried to get back out of the city but the GPS kept wanting to send us back into the warren of lanes. We finally found the way out!

We drove into the Land's End parking lot which normally costs you 3 pounds before you can go hike down to the actual land's end or go through a big tacky complex of arcades, exhibitions and probably an overpriced cafe and pub. That's another tatty, tacky place and I only stopped there to take a photo of the coast from the parking lot to say i'd been there. We followed the coast for a bit then took the motorway back up to the hotel and didn't get there until nearly 9:30. Too long a day to do something like that again. Will have to rethink our idea of how much we can fit in for a day!

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