Merlin’s Travels: Cornwall, United Kingdom

Me at Portreath beach, on April 23rd 2016

Hello everybody,

I could not avoid to dedicate my first post after our one-week holiday in Cornwall to this fantastic county, of course! It is also an introductory post, meaning that I will also give a bit of general information about Cornwall and then I will upload a few pictures of beaches and villages, in some cases where we only spent a few minutes, just in time to stop and take the the camera out 🙂 At the end, there will also be a post dedicated to the journey itself, we drove for 20 hours from West Cumbria to South Cornwall and then back.

Unfortunately, as you can see from the header photo, weather was not very merciful to us… Well, let’s admit it, weather was downright awful! I was able to take as many pictures as possible, yet it was a matter of ‘being at the right place at the right time’. We were told beforehand, and even there by our cottage’s owners, that Cornish weather is a bit… ‘naughty’ and it changes from cold to warm, and viceversa, in a matter of hours. To give you an idea, in one week temperature went from 16 degrees to 3 degrees, then back up one day, then half freezing the next; in only one day, sunshine, hail and snow all made their appearance!!

Our rented cottage was situated between Illogan, a tiny village not far from the main road A30 and Redruth (where you can find supermarkets, petrol stations, etc.). To be honest, the choice of location was really great, because it was central and it allowed us to drive around in any direction with complete ease and not wasting much driving time to get anywhere. Regarding the road network, Cornwall has basically only the A30 that is a dual-carriage way for the most part; many other roads are one carriage way. An impressive amount of roads are single track ones and unfortunately our satnav didn’t make any difference between dual/one/single roads (or even warned us about it!), so we had to drive around following the OS map…. Needless to say, we often found ourselves driving in reverse too, especially when we encountered tractors ‘face-to-face’, and avoided a couple of collisions with speeding drivers….. Imagine that my husband and I both came from the Highlands (where single track roads are the only roads available inlandthe !) and we now live in Cumbria, so we are quite used to narrow roads. However Cornish single track roads take the top prize in narrowness: they are lacking a lot of visibility if compared to both the Highlander and Cumbrian ones because nobody ever cuts the hedges on top… (in the Highlands of Scotland very often there are no hedges!). It is advisable to go around by bikes, if possible. So if you’re travelling in a motorhome or caravan take a couple of bikes with you or alternatively you can rent bikes in many coastal villages and towns in Cornwall. Furthermore, walking shoes, waterproof clothes and a walking stick can be useful things to have with you, in particular if you want to reach beaches and places that are off-track.

Last bit of advice, first… book a lot in advance, there was nearly any available accommodation anywhere!! Secondly, have a lot of cash and coins with you, because there is rarely free parking spaces near beaches or towns; we also had a few issues to withdraw cash for free (without commission). Having said that…. our week was certainly eventful, lots of farm shops and tea rooms visited when the weather was dire outside and we looked for ‘shelter’ (fruit scones and Cornish clotted cream made the shelters really welcoming 😀 ), and out and about when the sun was shining 😉

Mevagissey port
Mevagissey harbour

Mevagissey was packed full of tourists and given the extreme narrowness of places and that parking spaces were not available at that time we visited, we left and only drove through the centre. It seemed a gloomy place to me so we chose not to go back. I took this picture from over the harbour.

St. Ives
St. Ives from the parking with the shuttle bus

Same situation at St. Ives, no parking spaces available in the town and a 40-minute queue to make it over the hill. We went to look for the parking lot where there is the shuttle bus going back to the centre but overall we needed 5 £ in cash (often 2-3 £ is the minimum to pay for 2-3 hours) and given that we were tired because of the 10-hour journey, we settled for going back to a later time, which we never did in the end. However, we dined in a lovely pub just out of St. Ives and then we went sightseeing.

Hayle Towans beach

From St. Ives you must stop at Hayle’s beach, because we got there at sunset but it must be awesome during the day 😉

Portreath beach
Portreath beach

Portreath was really close to where we were staying so we visited it on our first day 23/04/16; the village is quite small and full of holiday cottages and apartments, mostly empty at this time of the year. Beach and sea are awesome, although the sand is quite rough and not very fine. But do stop!! A view from the top of the hill is a ‘must-see’!

Porthgwarra beach
Portchapel beach

Porthgwarra and Portchapel beaches are, as you can see above, are amazingly beautiful. Long single track road to get there but it was worth it. Parking is 2£ for 2 hours, or 4£ for the whole day. Stop at Porthgwarra cafe’, because the coffee is very very good, and the walks around are worth the visit and to stay the whole day there.

Sennen Cover, near Sennen – Land’s End

This was one of those beaches I had put at the top of my must-see list. I was a bit disappointed because the pictures I had seen they were probably taken with low tide. Unfortunately very often nobody signals a low-tide beach and the sea was also a bit rough, which detracted from the overall colour of the sea water. I’d have avoided to drive down there if known beforehand.

Porthleven, Helston

That day was stormy so the photo appears all gloomy. However, the trip down to Porthleven was done in a rush and late in the afternoon. Surely worth a visit at another time of the day and the village is also nice, pictures came out very dark though so it’s not even worth posting them.

Portholland beach

One of the beaches we stopped whilst on our way to somewhere else (St. Mawes in this case). It is amazing but parking places available near the beach are, probably, only 5 or 6 (they’re free though).

St. Michael’s Mount – Marazion, near Penzance

One of the things I regretted not to have seen is St. Michael’s Mount. I only got to Marazion in time to get nice pictures. A whole day is needed, whether you want to get there by boat or walking following the tides. Unfortunately we got there too late to do anything, having wasted the day at Land’s End (which will have its own post!).

Watergate Bay, Newquay (caption from the road)

There wasn’t a shred of parking place anywhere this bay, however it seems that the majority of beachgoers were surfers so we just passed by without stopping.

Holywell Bay, Newquay (right side of the beach)
Holywell Bay, Newquay (left side of the beach)

Last but not the least, this bay is simply amazing. We got there at 4 pm in the afternoon and stayed for 2 hrs/2 hrs and a half (we paid 2£ for the parking). Beach is under the National Trust care, like Crantock, and it is worth a visit for the whole day, because there are countless walks to do around the area. A pity we left it to the last day and after a whole day spent walking, we were too tired and barely walked to the main beach. On the right side of the beach there is a St. Cubert’s cave, very interesting but the pictures I took came out all blurred.

I hope you enjoyed the pictures of the beaches and villages; hopefully I will see you soon again on these pages 🙂

Merlin x



2 thoughts on “Merlin’s Travels: Cornwall, United Kingdom

  1. Che bella la Cornovaglia! ci sono stata 10 anni fa! Peccato non hai visto St. Michael Mount, è molto carino (e tanto ventoso anche!). Forse ho letto male (l’ho letto solo in inglese), ma non sei stata a Tintagel? Dice ci sono le rovine del castello di Re Artù. Non l’ho visitato perché costicchiava, ma dice essere bello. Mangiati i “Cornish Pasty” e gli scones con crema e marmellata? buonissimi!!! Bentornata fra noi! ci sei mancata!!! un abbraccio!


    1. Mi sembra che la Cornovaglia sia tutta ventosa!! Tintagel e altri luoghi in cui ho passato più tempo avranno un post per conto loro, ho programmato posts fino alla prima settimana di luglio 🙂 e no, non è chiaramente il castello di re Artù anche perché lui stesso non è mai esistito (o perlomeno, non c’è prova storica o archeologica al riguardo). Contenta di essere tornata tra voi!! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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